WEEKLY CAR DIARY – LANCASHIRE LARKS & VOLVO XC60

I had two trips to the county of Lancashire this week, including a visit to Wallace and Gromit’s home town of Wigan. Apparently, they live at 62 West Wallaby Street but  strangely, I couldn’t find it on any map:-

Monday: Nissan Juke 1.2 DIG-T Envy, Leicester to Wigan, Lancashire

Tuesday: two Ford Transit Customs, Doncaster to Nottingham

Wednesday: Audi A1 Sport 1.4TFSI, Syston, Leicestershire to Grantham, Lincolnshire; Bentley Continental GTC Speed W12 (2015), Grantham to Syston; Volvo XC60 D5 Power Pulse R-Design Pro AWD (auto) in and around Leicestershire; Bentley Continental GT W12 (2008), Syston to Rugby, Warwickshire, Peugeot 2008 Active 1.2T (82hp), Rugby to Birmingham to Syston.

Friday: Range Rover Velar D180 S, Derby to Colne, Lancashire

From what I saw of Lancashire, it certainly lived up to an image. Victorian towns built in a uniform, yellowy grey stone, hidden amongst the hills of an imposingly bleak countryside, made bleaker on Friday’s visit when grey clouds crept ever lower and blew drizzle across the landscape. Remnants of those dark Satanic Mills from the days of the Industrial Revolution can still be seen, some starkly empty and haunting, others put to more modern uses. When the trains eventually arrived, the trip from the small town of Colne in the Red Rose county of Lancashire across the Pennines to the White Rose county of Yorkshire was fascinating. The vista alternated between the grand but often grim Victorian industrial architecture and nature’s daunting best.

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The natural Lancashire landscape. The Forest of Bowland, in fact.
So, from the perspective of an ignorant non-Lancastrian, what characterises Lancashire which, historically, included the great cities of Manchester and Liverpool until 1974? I have done a little research:-

– Industrial Heritage. Although most of the county is rural, Lancashire was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. Liverpool and Manchester grew and dominated world trade. Many folk swapped a hard life in the fields for what was arguably a harder life in the cotton mills that sprang up in many Lancashire towns such as Accrington, Burnley, Blackburn, Bolton and Colne (there are places in Lancashire beginning with letters from further on in the alphabet by the way). By 1830, 85% of all cotton manufactured worldwide was processed in Lancashire. If you are interested, The Road To Nab End, an autobiographical book by William Woodruff, is a very readable and vivid insight into the grinding hardship and miserable poverty endured by those living in the Lancashire mill towns as late as the 1920s. Lancashire also boasted one of the country’s most important coalfields, Britain’s first proper canal (the Bridgewater Canal) and the world’s first properly signalled and timetabled inter-city railway. This line between Liverpool and Manchester was opened in 1830.

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Burnley’s industrial landscape of yesteryear.
– Rivalry.  With neighbouring Yorkshire that is. This reached its bloodiest peak during the War of the Roses when the House of Lancaster and the House of York were constantly at each other’s throats. Think Game of Thrones, subtract a witty dwarf, a Wildling or two and a bit of incest and you get the picture. This bit of medieval fisticuffs lasted about 30 years and culminated in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 when Lancastrian Henry Tudor won the game (and the throne) after the infamous Yorkist king, Richard III was stuck with a few pointy ends. He lost his horse and his life. In more modern times, battlefields became cricket pitches and Yorkshire tends to get the better of things (33 County Championship titles to date versus Lancashire’s 9).

– Comedians. Has any other county in the UK produced so many top class comedians? Stan Laurel, Eric Sykes, Arthur Askey, Ken Dodd, Eric Morecambe, Les Dawson, Peter Kay and Lee Mack to name but a few. I guess there is a joke in there somewhere about needing a sense of humour to live in Lancashire. And no, I haven’t forgotten the utterly brilliant Victoria Wood who is now, sadly, beating angels on the bottom with a Woman’s Weekly.

– Food. Lancashire hotpot (lamb stew with a crispy, sliced potato lid), Lancashire cheese (a white, creamy cheese which comes in hard or crumbly varieties), black pudding (a blood sausage), Eccles cakes and the similar Chorley cakes (both flattish sweet pastries filled with raisins and/or sultanas). All good hearty, no nonsense stuff.

– Sport. A hot bed of Rugby League (13 rather than 15 men running around with odd shaped balls); many old and famous footballs clubs, several in the Premier League (Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton, Burnley) and others dreaming of past glories (e.g. Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers, Preston North End). And cricket, with Lancashire County Cricket Club having been founded in 1864 and managing to finish as runners-up in this year’s County Championship. England’s best ever Test bowler hails from Lancashire – the Burnley Express a.k.a. James Anderson. Jimmy is generally more reliable than the trains in Lancashire. Hopefully, he can work his magic this winter in Australia and help England retain the Ashes (but I must confess, I’m not optimistic!).

– Countryside. I suspect Lancastrians would say that Lancashire has it all (except the weather to go with it): rambling countryside, hills, deep valleys and challenging moorland some of which is covered by two officially designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Forest of Bowland and Arnside & Silverdale. And there’s coastline too, including that most famous of old seaside resorts, Blackpool.

And what of the cars? I had not driven the new Volvo XC60 before Tuesday. The old one was a worthy car but a tincy bit unrefined. So the new one has that sorted, right? Well, I’m not sure. It was unmistakably a diesel and road noise was more noticeable than I expected. The much cheaper VW Tiguan is quieter. However, the Volvo definitely feels more upmarket and is something a little bit different. I quite liked it. And it has the best 360 degree camera I have come across so far (i.e. where the touchscreen gives you a shot as if you are actually looking down on the car). How do they do that? I even stuck my head out of the window to see if there was a camera drone hovering above the car. To see what I think of the other cars (and van), click on the links in the list above. The Juke was still bumpy but I liked the 1.2 turbo petrol engine. The Peugeot 2008 was still horrible.

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Volvo XC60. Smart.
By the way, as well as being grey, damp and cold, Friday was also one of my worst days travel-wise. En route to Colne, the M6 was closed which resulted in a lengthy detour and over an hour’s delay in delivering the Velar. Plan A for my return trip was scuppered by a bus which didn’t turn up – another hour’s delay. Then a train cancellation caused yet another sixty minute delay and all five trains needed to get home ran late. But at the end of the day, many people in this world have far bigger problems than coming home to a congealed curry. So, am I bovvered? No, I count myself very lucky.

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Friday evening. After six hours and five trains, I began to hallucinate. On the last train, I thought I was sitting behind Martin Clunes doing an impersonation of Vincent Van Gogh.
Colin

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HEREFORD – MOATS, MAPS, APPLES & CHAINS

We had never been to the very old city of Hereford before; in fact a lot of the area west of Birmingham to the Welsh border is a mystery to us. All we really knew about Herefordshire is that it is famous for apples, cider and its own breed of cattle. So, it was time to put that right last weekend. En route, we stopped at Brockhampton Estate, a National Trust property in Herefordshire just off the very scenic A44 (nice drive). What a hidden treasure this is. Not the usual, grand stately home but a remote manorial farm house surrounded by a moat and hills. Built sometime between 1380 and 1420, this half-timbered house sports a wonky gate house which was basically a 15th century status symbol since electronic gates had not been invented. We were so lucky to visit on a quiet weekday and in almost sunny weather. It is such a truly magical, rustic place that it was surely built by pixies. For a short period of time, the pixies lived at Brockhampton, bog snorkelling in the moat each morning in search of the much-prized white bog truffle (slice, pan fry in butter, add a handful of chopped, wild grungewort for a traditional accompaniment to roast pop weasel on pixie feast days).  In the fields around Brockhampton, the pixies could be seen bareback badger racing (brock is an old English word for badger by the way) until a reckless wager with a human saw the estate pass to one John Dumbleton in settlement of a crushing gambling debt (actually, it may have been Mr Dumbleton who built Brockhampton). Pixies have lived underground ever since. Eventually, the estate passed into National Trust ownership in 1946 (when badger racing and bog snorkelling on the estate were promptly banned).
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Brockhampton farm house complete with moat and gate house. Beautiful. Makes your quaint bone tingle.
On to Hereford; not in the Premier League of quaint historic cities like Bath and York but capable of some giant killing – as Ronnie Radford proved in the 1972 FA Cup third round replay against Newcastle United. Radford’s 30 yard wonder strike helped non-league Hereford United beat top-flight Newcastle and became one of the most famous and muddiest FA Cup goals ever. Today, Hereford’s giant-killing wonder strikes are the Mappa Mundi, the Chained Library, the 12th century cathedral and one of four originals of the 1217 Magna Carta still in existence (not the first version famously signed by the infamous King John in 1215 which was actually a bit of a failure). The picturesque River Wye adds to Hereford’s attractions. The city itself has a long and eventful history involving civil wars, fire, sieges, executions, bishops, flirtations with Welshness (during which inordinate amounts of cheese on toast were consumed) and a castle that has long since vanished, although part of the moat remains (no bog snorkelling though).
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Hereford Cathedral viewed from a Victorian suspension (foot) bridge across the River Wye.
It costs an entirely reasonable £6 to see the Mappa Mundi, Chained Library and Magna Carta which are all housed in a modern building attached to and styled on the cathedral. The Mappa Mundi is a map representing the Christian world in or around the year 1300 when the map was produced by one Richard of Haldingham and Lafford while he was still at enfants school. No, I mustn’t joke. Yes, at first glance it appears childishly simplistic but actually if you rotated it through 90 degrees, pulled and stretched it somewhat, it’s quite a good representation of Europe, Asia and Africa (the known world in 1300 unless you were a native American or kangaroo). Being a religious map, it has Jerusalem at the centre and the east at the top. Considering the majority of people in that era probably travelled no further than their local corner shop, the map shows a remarkable level of knowledge. It measures 1.59m by 1.34m (the largest medieval map known to exist) and is drawn (or painted?) on vellum – calf’s skin to you, me and the poor baby cow. It’s a wonderfully “busy” picture, covered in hundreds of place names (most recognisable in today’s world) and little graphics like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Sphinx in Egypt and the Labyrinth on Crete. We spent a good while studying the original and an English translation of the map … but we still couldn’t find Wally. You may remember the map making the headlines about thirty years ago when a man from Sotheby’s valued it at £7million. Part of Hereford Cathedral was falling down and the bishop or whoever considered selling the map to pay for the restoration. Happily, donations flooded in, the Cathedral was repaired, the map stayed in Hereford and everyone went home for tea as happy as can be.
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Where’s Wally? Hereford’s Mappa Mundi. Amazing.

After a long, interesting chat with the guide about the map and a brief peruse of the 1217 Magna Carta, it was into the Chained Library, so called because there are still dusty skeletons chained to the walls as a stark warning to users of the library. The penalty for overdue books and for not shushing when shushed at by the librarian was harsh in those days. No, hang on, that was just a nightmare I once had when I forgot to take a copy of The Railway Children back to our local library on time. In reality, the Chained Library contains rows of books chained to their early 17th century bookcases, clearly for security reasons (the need arising after Rufus Gable, a shady roofing contractor, stole several editions of What Tiler from the library in 1601). There are many ancient manuscripts and crusty old printed works, some dating back to the earliest days of printing – 1473 is the oldest printed book. Each weighty tome is tethered to a metal bar on the bookcase by a chain attached to the leading edge of its front cover.

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The Chained Library. Books go in spine first because of the chain. The framed document hanging on the end of the bookcase provides a key for locating each book.

The cathedral itself is not in the major league in terms of size but it is still impressive. Last year, a new stained glass window and memorial to the UK’s most famous (but still secretive) elite military unit  – the Special Air Service – was unveiled. The SAS is based in Herefordshire and there is an SAS cemetery in another of Hereford’s churches.

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Hereford Cathedral in a distinctive pinky stone. The building on the right is the modern annex housing the Mappa Mundi, Chained Library and Magna Carta. “Does Magna Carta mean nothing to you? Did she die in vain?” Tony Hancock in Hancock’s Half Hour (Twelve Angry Men).
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The new SAS memorial in the cathedral. Above it is a striking new stained glass window, also part of the memorial.

After that dose of history and culture, we did something very unusual for us – we went on a guided tour of the city for more of the same. We normally like to explore places on our own but it was worthwhile tagging along with a guide. Hereford has loads of old buildings, churches and history and our guide had plenty of anecdotes to bring it all to life. I asked him where the statue of Ronnie Radford was and was a bit shocked to learn there isn’t one. Later in the afternoon, I was tempted by Hereford’s Cider Museum but we were quite exhausted by that time so gave it a miss. To make up for it, I had a bottle of Herefordshire cider when we got home (by coincidence, we happened to have a bottle of Henney’s Exhibition Cider ready and waiting in the fridge – excellent buy, £1.29 at Aldi!). Another coincidence we discovered over the weekend – with the exception of Chrissie Hynde, all of the original members of The Pretenders came from Hereford. We are going to see The Pretenders in Nottingham tonight. The Chained Library was the inspiration for their hit, Back on the Chain Gang. No it wasn’t.

Colin

WEEKLY CAR DIARY – FOOTBALL BOOTS AND BENTLEYS

My wife and I spent this morning watching our son represent Boots in the Corporate Games at six-a-side football (he has a one year work placement at Boots head office as part of his university course). The Corporate Games is a large, multi-sport event and Nottingham is the host city this year. It was the clash of the titans as Boots faced two teams from Asda and one from accountancy firm, Smith Cooper. There should have been a fourth team from Nottinghamshire Police Force but I think someone put in a bogus 999 call so that they didn’t turn up and Boots were awarded a win by default.

Anyway, I spent most of this week worrying that passers-by may think I was an over-paid Premier League footballer (actually, I probably could have been a Premier League footballer but I peaked way too early – for regular readers of this blog, it was during that match for the Cubs against the Brownies when Jimmy Spannerfoot disgraced himself):-

Monday: Bentley Bentayga Diesel, Leicester to Ascot; Bentley Continental GTC W12 (2013), Ascot to Leicester

Tuesday: Bentley Bentayga W12, Leicester to Basildon, Essex; Bentley Continental GTC V8 (2013), Basildon to Leicester

Wednesday: Bentley Continental GTC V8 (2012) to Wolverhampton; Bentley Flying Spur W12 (2014), Wolverhampton to Leicester

Thursday: Bentley Continental GTC W12 (2013), Leicester to Ascot; Bentley Bentayga Diesel, Ascot to Leicester

Friday: Vauxhall Movano van, Cannock, Staffordshire to Nottingham

In truth, it was very pleasant driving these swift and comfortable cars up and down the country but the journeys themselves were rather uninteresting – basically all motorway and quite a bit of congestion. Some relief from trial by motorway came on the second trip to Ascot, when I went via a different route. From Maidenhead to Ascot was a green and pleasant trip through classic Home Counties scenery, including a beautiful little place called Holyport Village. Basically it’s a very large green with the quaintest of pubs and some old houses overlooking it. Apparently, Stirling Moss used to live in Holyport (pronounced Hollyport) and was in the Bray and Holyport Scout Group. I wonder if they ever beat the Bray and Holyport Brownies at football?

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One of the Bentaygas outside the pub in Holyport Village, Berkshire. I’m afraid I cannot tell you what the inside of the pub is like!

Here are a few thoughts on each type of Bentley based on these rather one dimensional journeys (although in the case of the Continentals, I did drive two last week on more varied roads):-

Continental GT and GTC: Despite the Premier League footballer image, these cars have grown on me! I absolutely love the sound of the smaller V8 – even steady, progressive acceleration is rewarded by a deep, loud and lazy fluttering beat like a very laid-back pneumatic drill – or maybe some sort of pod racer from Star Wars Episode 1. My descriptive powers may not do it justice but it is fabulous. By contrast, the faster but more expensive W12 sort of whirrs in a muted way although if you really mashed your right foot into the Wilton, I’m sure it would be more vocal. When cruising, the Continental is appropriately quiet whichever engine is under the long bonnet although you do notice more noise from your surroundings when passing other vehicles in the convertible (no big deal though). The Continental is a true Grand Tourer which is another way of saying that it does not go round corners with much aplomb but would be good at crossing continents quickly and comfortably. In fact it could probably cross a whole continent more quickly than it took me to get to Wolverhampton but that wasn’t the Continental’s fault. So, unlike the Mitsubishi Carisma, the Continental GT has a totally appropriate name. In terms of ride and handling, the V8s and the older W12s I drove felt very similar but last week’s new-ish W12 Speed was noticeably different with heavier steering (despite being in full comfort mode) and being more prone to tramlining. The Continental GT has been around since 2003 and inside it does feel a bit dated. However, the interior is less blingy than the Mulsanne and Bentayga which (from my point of view) is a good thing. There is a new Continental due out soon with underpinnings developed jointly with Porsche and apparently it should be better at twisty bits.

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Continental GTC V8

Flying Spur: A sort of stretched, four door Continental GT but a bit softer. The W12 engine was even more muted than in the Continental GT and extremely quiet when cruising. To emphasis this more restrained approach (compared to its GT sibling), there were no flappy paddles to play with but, no surprise, a very quick car. The dashboard is taken from the Continental GT but the materials in the Flying Spur that I drove were more understated. A very quick way for four adults to cross continents.

Bentayga: Won’t say anything about the looks. I suppose Bentley had to jump on the SUV band wagon. More wood and bling than in the Continental GT and Flying Spur but of course comfortable, quiet and fast in a straight line – like a Flying Spur on stilts. The diesel Bentayga is the quietest diesel (almost silent!) I have ever driven but then again it is the most expensive diesel I have ever driven. In addition, it lays claim to being the fastest diesel SUV in the world. It can also manage 35 – 39mpg in the real world. Not bad for such a big and quick lump. By comparison, the W12 Bentleys managed mid to high 20s and I did 33mpg in the Continental GT V8 on the 130 mile journey from Basildon to Leicester.

Incidentally, I drove these Bentleys while working for the Bentley dealer in Leicester – collecting customers’ cars for service and returning them. Two of these customers lived 120-130 miles away but have their Bentleys collected and taken to Leicester for their oil change. And these two customers had loan cars while their Bentleys were in the workshop. Not your run-of-the-mill courtesy car like a Ford Fiesta or clapped out Renault Clio with “Bert’s Autos” written on the side but new Bentley Bentaygas. Different world. So, I was on my best behaviour, tugging my forelock and only speaking when I was spoken to.

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Gratuitous supercar photo – Lamboghini Aventador at the Bentley/Lamborghini dealer

Colin

 

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

WEEKLY CAR DIARY- FOOTY & GOLF IN ROCKIN’ EPPING

Survived decorating and even slow torture by IKEA this week. I noticed you can’t get a phone signal in the depths of IKEA. That’s because they don’t want anyone calling for help. Fortunately, I had some work to otherwise occupy myself:

Tuesday: Citroen C1 (2015), Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire to Market Harborough.

Wednesday: Vauxhall Vivaro van,  Thurleigh Airfield, Bedfordshire to Milton Keynes.

Friday: Volkswagen Golf GTD (184hp), Nottingham to Epping, Essex.

The office phoned to ask if I could do the Epping job just as I was making my escape from IKEA (normal phone service resumed as I neared the razor wire and machine gun towers). “Am I delivering to Rod Stewart?” I quipped light-heartedly. Sir Roderick used to live near Epping in a mansion complete with the usual tennis court and swimming pool plus …. a full size football pitch. Apparently, the Faces versus the Rolling Stones was always a fiercely contested derby but Ronnie Wood used to get confused as to which side he played for. Keith Richards didn’t care. The two goalkeepers, Kenny Jones and Charlie Watts were apparently good between the sticks and also drummed up a lot of support among other rock stars. Rod’s good pal, Sharon (Rod’s pet name for Elton John) would sometimes turn up with his own team but given their professional status that was a little unfair …..*

“No, not unless he lives in a flat,” came the answer to my question. “But we did once deliver two Lamborghinis to him, one red and a sort of green one just so he could see what colour he liked.” Seems rock stars don’t have to go to a showroom or consult a brochure when choosing the colour of their new runabout. I once had two different coloured Kias delivered to my house just so I could …. no I didn’t. That was just a fantasy.

I have driven older Golf GTDs before but yesterday’s was the first brand new one and a good drive it was too. A subtly aggressive front end compared to lesser Golfs, smart monochrome tartan upholstery à la GTI – and yes, it’s very tasteful – but no golf ball gear knob because this was an automatic (would have preferred a manual!). This sporty Golf feels very upmarket and mature, the clear electronic instrument display giving it a really premium feel. On the go it is swift and rides well on its sports suspension and 18 inch alloy wheels – just a little harsh over the few unavoidable potholes. There is always a bit of a growl from the engine when accelerating (even under light acceleration) to remind you that this is a hot hatch but cruising on the motorway was very civilised. All in all, it was a fine, comfortable ride for the 130 miles between Nottingham and the fair county of Essex to the northeast of London.

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The Golf GTD I delivered yesterday ogling two cool cats at Peterborough services on the A1(M).
Colin

* I have never admitted it on this blog before but I am a Watford FC fan and season ticket holder. On current form, we would struggle to beat a bunch of ageing rockers in their seventies. In case anyone does not know, Sir Elton is a life-long Watford fan and owned the club for many years. He is now honorary life president of the club.