Sunday, 13 July 2014

Va, Va, VROOM!!!!!!! Part 1 - Getting there.

Hiyo everybear,

What tocitement, I've been off playing with cars and meeting new peeps and bears (well I only got to meet one bear, but I saw several).

A great idea

It all started with a phone call in January when the staff's brother Ian rang up and said, "Hi Jock, how d'you fancy coming with me in my E-Type to the Classic Le Mans races?"
"Great idea. Will there be beer?"
"Oh, I expect so, just a bit." It turns out that because of a logistics foul-up we got 4 flagons of beer and I had to help them to drink 17 pints each in the 3 days we were at Le Mans itself .  At this point I must interject to say we didn't quite manage it even with some help from random campers. Thank goodness it tasked good and wasn't too strong.
Whatever, I said, "That sounds good, and can I bring the Staff to carry the cases and the cameras."
"Oh, I suppose so," said Ian, "If you must. He can keep us amused, bring the tent, and supply the
wine gums."

Let's get going

 Cut to early July and we're at Toad Hall, Ian's house, and I finally get to try out the E-Type while the mugs staff squeeze everything into the car.  I tried out several positions to see where I'd get the best view. Behind the windscreen seemed good.
 On the other hand sitting on the boot mean I could see behind me and thumb my nose wave at all the cars we passed.
Alternatively, sitting on the sun visor gave the best view, but the staff pointed out that it would be a tad windy and maybe I'd get squished if they had to put the roof up. So I contented myself with sitting behind the screen as you'll see.
So, we climbed aboard, himself learning quickly how to fold himself into the passenger seat, but I don't know what he was fussing about. I just jumped in and sat down.
Ian started the car.  First there was a whirring sound that got higher pitched as it went along and then vroom, VROOM, burble, burble, and we were ready to go. We got some petrol and set off to meet our travelling companions at Portsmouth, where we went on the ferry. Here I am sitting on the fence (unusual for you to be uncommitted bear.) No, stupid, I mean really sitting on the fence, while the capting started the engines.

When we got to the other side, I hid 'cos I hadn't brought my passport, but we were safely delivered to our hotel in Ouistreham. Here I got to see the other special cars in the group. First it was Damon's Volvo Amazon, that he and his Dad race up hills.  I looked and looked but I couldn't see any lady warriors, but it did make quite a noise when it got going.

Here I are with Phil's TVR Chimaera. It has a very very Vroomie engine. When we were following it it was noisier than the Jag.

There was a big Peugeot estate that was boring so I didn't bother with that. It was useful bear because it carried the tents and the beer. True, but boring.

The Normandy Landing Sites

 We had a spare day and a half before went to Le Mans, days added on so we could go and see the Normandy Landing Beaches and stuff. It's is really lovely zooming along with the hood down and the sun out, looking along the very long bonnet of the E-Type and getting the wind in your fur.
 This is the museum at Ste Mere Eglise.  This is where the brave American paratroops landed (but without a tank). Can you see the man dangling on the church tower?  I asked Alan if he'd been there 70 years and he laughed.  No, he was there for six hours and he managed to survive until he could be rescued. He was the battalion barber!
 Next we went to the battery at Azeville and it was huge, with tunnels and places for gun to stick out. One of the gun emplacements is now the office, and you can see it behind me.  Places like this made it awfully dangerous for the soldiers trying to land.

 At Pointe du Hoc the US Rangers climbed the cliffs to stop the guns firing on Omaha Beach.  What courageous men they were. All around in the limestone are huge shell craters. It must have been terrible place to be on 6th June 1944.
 At Arromanches, it all looks so peaceful on a sunny calm day, but in 1944 this was one of the British Beaches and afterwards the site of a Mulberry Harbour, and  lot of it is still there for us to see.
 When we'd see'd was was to be seen I thought, "I can't go to the beech without playing in the sand." So I did, as you do.
  Next morning we went to the control bunker at Ouistreham and then on to Pegasus Bridge.

 We were lucky enough to see the new bridge in action.
 This was the first place to be liberated in France in 1944 when British Airborne troops stormed it after landing their gliders on what looked like postage stamps to me.  You can see just how close Major Howard and his troops were to the bridge. The first German to see them is still alive. He said that as soon as he saw the British soldiers he lit a flare and ran away - sensible man.
Here I am sitting on the end of the old bridge.The museum there is also fascinating and sad too, reading the stories of the men who survived and those that didn't. Unless the British, US, Canadian and French soldiers, sailors and airmen hadn't been so brave and persevering we dread to think what our world would have become.

Off to the main event.

After lunch we headed south for Le Mans, with me in my customary position.  While it was sunny it was very nice, but we got some nasty showers and the windscreen wipers were going swish, swish, swish and it got a bit hard to see out. The staff got the co-pilot's job of mopping up the rain that go in under the hood.
Never mind, we soon arrived on our campsite. Here I are sitting on top of our tent after the Staff and Ian had put it up. We slept on sleeping mats, but the humins weren't too happy with that. (They're old, old and they couldn't help it.) Here, watch it you.  What do you mean? I are 2 and you are 62, and Ian is even OLDER. So you're both old, old. See!
 Anyway, once the tent was up a beer was called for - it's thirsty work directing operations you know.

Come back later this week and you'll get all the fun of the racing.




  1. Hi Jock,

    Prudence and the little kids are at camp, but I certainly enjoying reading about your travel adventures too. Prudence usually tells me all about them but it's fun to sit down and read every word.

    You are one smart cookie, um , bear......(just an expression), getting the staff to do all the labor and the grunt work.

    Have a great trip, be careful in the convertible, don't smile - bugs on the teeth are a killer to get off. Giggle.

    "The Mom"

    1. Hi Mom,

      Cor, it must be peaceful without having your life originated all the time by Prudence.

      Thanks for the advice, but the windscreen helped. We got back safe and sound as you'll see in the next edition.



  2. Well we do hope you got a straw with that beer, fancy the staff burying the glass so deep in that chair!

    The Clan, Jack & Boo

  3. Jock I love your adventure. Be careful, you will have a wave in your hair with that roof down and all the wind blowing . It may be permanent...
    Enjoy whizzing down those roads, I do think you need a cap on.
    Hugs Wilbur

  4. Hi Jock,

    I'm so glad that you were able to get your staff to document your Le Mans adventure. Just the colorful photos of the cars have me impressed but then you are in many of them so that makes impressing me an easy job.

    Do tell your 'toters' that I'm glad they were able to go with you to Normandy. That's another place I'd like to see one day. Sebastian says it would be a good idea to take him along as well and well, you know, bears get the final word. I'm looking forward to reading about your trip to the races and seeing you looking all spiffy and such as the world traveler that you are.

    ~ginger and Sebastian too


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