Ian has just had word that the car won the Concours D’Elegance. In English that’s the best turned out car in the rallye!
Monte Carlo or Bust!
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Monte Carlo: Ian and Ben with the Aston at the finish
We made it! All that effort to shed 16lb so that I could carry a spare battery paid off - the original one died somewhere around Orange and we needed to swap them round for the run to the finish. Sunshine all today until hit by a terrific hail storm in Cannes. Got separated from the support crew going into Monte Carlo thanks to Tim’s navigation skills, or lack of them, but fantastic to stand on the podium with Ben – very proud father and son! Met up with Sandy and Tim outside the Fairmont Hotel where the Aston was given poll position right outside the front door! Ended the day dressed to the nines for dinner at one of the most prestigious clubs in the world – Automobile Club de Monaco.
All ready for dinner with Aston in poll position
I undertook this challenge as a tribute to my Dad, Bill, who owned the car before me and died of cancer in 2009. I hope he would be pleased to see the family rally tradition continued down the next two generations. Massive thanks to Sandy and Tim, to everyone who had a hand in getting the car road worthy and to everyone who has supported by donating to the Rosemere Cancer Foundation.
Now we’ve just got to get home …
PS In case you’re wondering, our Jelly Baby bailed somewhere north of Valence!
The rig in Monte Carlo
Got to Valence mid afternoon to find the usual chaos - Ben and I took the Aston onto the park with no trouble but the Gendarmerie sent Sandy round and round in ever decreasing circles. He did an excellent job negotiating the rig through narrow streets and finally got it parked up. The hotel was miles away outside town and as we’d come to expect, only had one room reserved for us! Showed them the booking confirmation and waited till they sorted it out.
Complimentary drinks at the evening buffet so of course we were the last to leave!
Champagne reception for all the teams in a massive marquee back at the park and met drivers from all across Europe. The oldest car in the Classique is a Triumph but it’s fan went in Reims so it’s stuck there till it can be recovered on Monday. Really delighted we got this far despite radiator and battery issues. Onto La Provençal now and hope to drive into Monte Carlo around 3pm. The sun has come out at long last!
Earlier start - we’re not time trialled like the modern cars and we can choose our own route to Valence, stopping and starting where we like which makes life a lot easier. Make good time and hope to be in Valence mid afternoon in good time for the party tonight. Still very cold and still no sign of the sun!
Didn't get chance to unblock the radiator but made good time after leaving Banbury so decided to press on to Folkestone and forgo popping in to Gerrards Cross. Put the car into its trailer and managed to get on an earlier shuttle. Standing around in the tunnel we realised we've had a hitchhiker since Paisley - a yellow jellybaby stuck to the back of the trailer. I noticed it before we left but thought it would drop off along the way but it has clung on and survived 500 miles of snow and wind! Into the Holiday Inn in Calais by 7pm to find they'd lost the booking for Ben and I. After bit of a 'discussion' during which I adjourned to the bar to calm down, we ended up with a suite so result!
A puzzled eastern European gentleman photographs four suspect individuals posing by a Land Rover in the Channel Tunnel
Our start time today was 12.30 which gave us time to fix the radiator but managed to bring that forward and were off down the Route des Anglais by 11.30 heading for Reims. Hopefully the radiator will hold and we can get south of Dijon by tonight. Sandy took to the wheel for the first time as Ian played the nervous passenger.
Weather grey and cold - our beautiful new hood was a good idea but in practice cuts down visibility and you can't clear the windscreen manually when it snows so not very practical. Think it's going to be a long cold day!
Jellybaby hitches a ride to Calais
It’s still grey and very cold and there’s no sign of the sun Sue promised as we got further south. The cold and dark meant we didn’t get as far as we’d hoped yesterday and we stopped just south of Troyes after 8 hours at the wheel. 4 steaks and a couple of bottle of wine later, we’d thawed out and were ready for a good night’s kip.
In Ben’s words, last night was ‘a bit intense’! We left Paisley in a blizzard with strong winds and very limited visibility – in fact we were driving blind at times so far from ideal conditions for our first ever night drive in the Aston. Leaving Glasgow in the dark and the snow Ian says to Ben "I'm blind" as the headlights of the on-coming lorry glare towards them, "Your not filling me with confidence Dad", Ben replies.
But we made it safely to our overnight stop at Barnby Moor near Doncaster by 2.30am. Up again in time to get breakfast and go through all our checks ready for a 9am start and managed to get the Rosemere name out there when we were interviewed for TV! Good run this morning but think we may have got debris of some sort wedged in the radiator as the Aston started to overheat as we pulled into our lunch stop at Banbury as the traffic slowed. - it wasn't built for traffic lights and town centre stand stills. With no clue where we were heading we bellowed for directions at a car that pulled along side of us; "Follow me" the man replied as he lead us to the destination. Ignoring the event wardens' efforts to direct us to our allocated spot, the Aston pulled to a halt at the first available space and to cool down.
Cooling-off in Banbury
On to the Channel this afternoon with a quick stop for tea at Tim’s in Gerrards Cross before packing the car into its trailer for the 7pm shuttle through the Tunnel and parking up for the night in Calais. Still bitterly cold – hope things warm up as we travel south!