My brother invited me to be his navigating passenger on Saturday’s annual fish and chip run organised by the Taffia (Welsh branch) of the Lotus 7 Club. One slight problem – my navigational skills are not brilliant. Use the satnav you might think…well the carefully planned itinerary doesn’t take the shortest route from startpoint Chepstow to Aberdovey, but the most fun to drive and scenic route possible for a posse of head turning, roaring, topless Caterham cars.
Around 75 of these two seater legends lined up in the car park of the Piercefield Pub in Chepstow. Coffee and bacon butties obligatory whilst we admired each others shiny cars. It would have been good to see them lined up in the colours of the spectrum but alas that was not possible in the confines of a pub car park. Two arrived with their hoods up, to mutterings and chortles…some had umbrellas strapped behind the passenger seat as a precautionary measure…the weather forecast was not brilliant but 7s drivers are not disprins – they do not dissolve easily .
We collected our route instructions, listened to a safety briefing (sticking to the speed limit, waving to the local constabulary in a polite manner etc etc) and set out in batches of six so as not to break the sound barrier of sleepy Chepstow at 10 am. We made an impressive convoy on a Saturday morning in sleepy Wales – a lovely sight; the rear end of a 7 with scenic surroundings as we drove through Usk and onto the very challenging ‘Blackmountain’ testroad immortalised by Top Gear etc. Now a chance to show what a 7 can do…hairpin bends sideways, and a bit of speed, with the hearty throb of the engine scattering the local sheep a little. Exciting stuff! On to Brecon and another scenic stretch of road (complete with military red flags) at Upper Chapel towards Garth and on to Beulah and Rhyader.
We all re-grouped at The Halt Cafe as some needed to refuel, coffee and pee; (amazing how quickly gentlemen can remove their ear defenders, release their 4 point safety harness and vault out from their beloved 7s without touching anything (especially the windscreen and exhaust pipe) in a bid to be first to the toilet!
Much refreshed we drove on down the B4518 to Llyn Clywedog/Staylittle – another scenic, open throttle road, over a few bridges, startling a few more sheep; waving at curious passers by, before finally coming to park in the sea front car park at Aberdyfi. A Net’s Catch (annette being the owner and her husband apparantly being the catch) had been prewarned about the descent of around 120 starving motorists and we formed an orderly queue. Everyone knows fish and chips taste even more delicious in sunshine, out of paper, by the sea. We were not disappointed and still no sign of the threatened rain. Slightly disappointing that the 7s didn’t have the chance to line up (on a previous event a few years ago to Aberystwyth they all lined up along the promenade much to the delight of the locals).
We were then free to follow our own journeys home – these 7s owners came from all over the UK to join this day out. At Chippenham we were hit by hail, which swirled around the cockpit like lottery balls during the Big Draw. Boy did they sting any exposed bits of face! My brother assured me that if you drive fast enough the following rain would skim over the top, and low and behold, we did not really get wet. We passed the shower.
The route (to this passenger) was superbly planned although I have dented my brothers driving credibility by managing to nod off for half an hour on the way home. (Considering the car is noisy, bumpy and draughty this is quite impressive and he feels he can’t have been driving fast enough – I should have been gripping the passenger door!) I sincerely hope I get invited again – I didn’t get us lost (ok we followed others most of the way!), met some lovely people and admired some much loved and polished cars. I WANT ONE!!