WEEKLY CAR DIARY & STEAMY CLASSICS AT THE GREAT CENTRAL RAILWAY

Following my incarceration in IKEA the other week, I was subjected to a new sport last weekend: IKEA sliding door wrestling. I eventually won but only after extra time and penalties. Didn’t feel much of a victory though. Bit like when I was in the Cubs and we scraped a 1-0 win over the Brownies at football but only because our centre forward, Jimmy “Rewind”* Spannerfoot, tripped over his own woggle in their penalty area and won a dubious spot kick. Hollow. Started building an IKEA wardrobe Saturday afternoon, finally finished Tuesday afternoon after several hard fought rounds with the sliding doors (OK, I did do a few things in between – like eat and sleep and a little bit of work). Most cricket test matches are shorter these days. Although I won, I do not intend to defend my title; at least not for a very very long time. IKEA is an acronym for the Swedish equivalent of “Death by Allen Key”. Didn’t know that? No, I wouldn’t believe a word I say either. This whole episode proved what I have known for many years: that DIY is not my forté (until recently, I thought Screwfix was a seedy dating agency). Still, at least I had the foresight to build the wardrobe in our bedroom. Not like my brother who once constructed a wardrobe downstairs in the lounge so that he could watch television at the same time. You can guess the rest of that sorry tale (which is, in fact, absolutely true). Don’t worry Little Brother, this will only be read by three other human beings and a computer-literate cat in Basingstoke so your secret is more or less safe.

….. * “Rewind” because he was not a fast forward.

Fortunately, there was some work to enjoy this week (more of a lightly-spiced korma after last week’s vindaloo):-

Monday: Volvo V40 R-design D2, Leicester to Rockingham, Northamptonshire.

Wednesday: Range Rover Evoque TD4 and Jaguar F-Pace 3.0d S, Rockingham, Northamptonshire

Friday: Ford Focus 1.5TDCi Zetec (2016), Leicester to London; Nissan Note 1.2 Acenta Premium, London to Swindon

First Jaguar F-Pace I have driven. Nice. Plenty of laid back muscle from the 3 litre turbo diesel, restrained black leather interior (no traditional Jaguar wood) and comfortable. Only drove it 25 miles – in pouring rain.

Had time off for good behaviour on Saturday morning (thus putting off the wardrobe building) to go to a small classic car event at the nearby Great Central Railway in Quorn together with my neighbour who has an immaculate MG TF replica (a Gentry kit car for those in the know). The Great Central Railway is, apparently, “the UK’s only double track, main line heritage railway and the only place in the world where full size steam engines can be seen passing each other”. So there you go. Actually, its great to visit, even if you are not a train buff.

The GCR runs for just over 8 miles from north of the city of Leicester to the market town of Loughborough. There are four stations along the line, each restored to represent different eras:  Leicester North (1960s), Rothley (Edwardian), Quorn and Woodhouse (1940s) and Loughborough Central (1950s). All wonderfully atmospheric! There are moves in progress to link the line to a heritage railway in Nottingham and to build a new museum at Leicester North. If you are tempted to visit, check the Great Central Railway’s website for any special events that may be happening (e.g. 1940s weekend, modelling events, real ale train!!). You can also dine on board.

We only spent a couple of hours at the very quaint Quorn and Woodhouse station because the weather was a little gloomy. A good portion of that time was spent in the Butler-Henderson café having a cuppa with my neighbour and two “Friends of the Great Central Railway”. A lot of conversation revolved around railways and, I must confess, I didn’t understand all of it. Butler-Henderson? Yes, there is a connection with Vicki Butler Henderson (well-known petrolhead, motoring journalist and TV presenter). Captain The Honourable Eric Butler-Henderson was the last new director of the original Great Central Railway, appointed in 1918 and the great grandfather of VBH.

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R-L: Beautiful TR2; my neighbour’s Gentry and my Sprite (rare moment with hood up due to a few spots of rain; have never driven it with hood up)

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Classic steam and classic cars

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L-R: Porsche 356 replica (Chesil Speedster); pristine Triumph TR4; Jaguar MKII  3.8

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Forget your DB11, this is a DB950 (Taskmaster)! David Brown was still making tractors in 1974 despite buying Aston Martin in 1947. This RAF tug was beefy enough to pull a Victor bomber.
Colin

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