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Old 6th September 2018, 21:10   #1
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Default Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

I have just come back from a five day road trip with my good friend and spanner mate Peter. We have a bit of a tradition when it comes to these road trips. We used to travel with the Dutch Alfa Romeo Spider Register all over Europe as their technical support team. Always good fun. But apart from club events we try to go out on a short road trip, once a year, just the two of us.

I have written about one of our earlier trips before:

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...es-eiffel.html (Touring the Ardennes and Eiffel)

We have quite a few members and several threads on touring/travelling through Europe. So I will talk about how we plan and make our way through Europe. Bear in mind, I am not pretending our way to be the best or the most efficient way. It just happens to be our way and it suits us.

First of all you need to understand our road trips are about driving our Alfa Romeo Spiders at least 6-8 hours a day, preferably along nice, windy, hilly country roads. So it’s the driving, not the destination that is important for us. And by and large we don’t plan much ahead at all. We sort of pick an area, maybe an event we might want to go and see and more or less decide day by day or sometimes as you will see during this trip per hour what we will be doing or where we want to be heading.

This year we actually did have a special area in mind: Wales! We have been planning to go to Wales for probably the last 15 years. It never happened. All sort of other trips and events, all over Europe. Peter even came to see us when we lived in Kansas City, USA. The two of us went on a road trip there as well.

But Wales was definitely on the bucket list. We started planning for this trip earlier this year. As it so happens the dates we agreed on, happened to be also the weekend with a very interesting Classic Car event, The International Autojumble at Beaulieu. (https://www.beaulieu.co.uk/attractions/).

Peter and I had been there once before, about 15 years ago. I had been back by myself last year. Peter was supposed to come along that time, but couldn’t make it after all.

I wrote about that event:

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/inter...aulieu-uk.html (Outdoor sale of unique cars & parts at the International Autojumble, Beaulieu (UK))

Whilst Peter and I were discussing how to combine Wales with Beaulieu we also decided that this time we wanted to drive around the Isle of Wight. Both Peter and I have visited this island before, but never together and never in an Alfa Spider. High time we changed all of this!

So all of a sudden we had several places to go, see, explore and a lot of driving to be done too.

Here’s our itinerary:

Thursday evening 19:00:
We both make our own way to the StenaLine terminal at Hook of Holland where we will meet
Friday morning: 07:00
Set off from the Stenaline terminal at Harwich, head for Portsmouth for the 14.00 hour ferry to the Isle of Wight
Drive around the island and finish at our pre-booked B&B by about 1700
Saturday Morning 08.00
Drive from our B&B to a different ferry that will take us from Yarmouth to Lymington, sailing at 08.45
Arrive at the ferry terminal at Lymington at around 09:30 and drive to the Beaulieu estate, where we will spend the whole day at the International Car Jumble.
Leave by about 16.00 and drive towards our pre-booked B&B near Salisbury. About an hour’s drive.
Sunday morning, 08:30 leave for Wales. Nothing planned for Sunday, Monday and Tuesday other than by Tuesday 1700 we would meet up with friends of ours in Suffolk for dinner and make our way back to Harwich to board the 2300 ferry back to the Netherlands.
Wednesday morning: 08:00 head home from the ferry terminal in Hook of Holland.
0900: Home, at work in my office, behind my laptop on my first Skype call for the day

Contrary to what we usually do, we did reserve and book the first two B&Bs in advance. Usually, we just play it by ear. But this time we knew exactly where we would be, rather had to be, to ensure the first two days of our trip, Isle of Wight and Beaulieu, went according to plan. This was also the first weekend in September and Beaulieu is a huge event that draws tens of thousands of people and many stay several days. So getting accommodation on the day itself is going to be nightmare.

Even booking our accommodation almost half a year in advance and online was quite the challenge. It took us considerable time to find something suitable near the locations we wanted to be. During season, most places don’t rent out just one night. They are happy to take you for the full weekend, but not just one night. Eventually we managed to arrange everything online.

All ferry tickets, accommodations, entry to Beaulieu were booked on line by credit cards.

Some information on going across to the UK from mainland Europe. There are actually quite a few different crossings.

Calais - Dover (by ferry, one hour and of course the Chunnel 30 minutes!)
Oostend/Zeebrugge - Dover (both about two hours)
Rotterdam Hull (about 10 hours)
Hook of Holland Harwich (about 5 hours)
IJmuiden Newcastle (about 12-14 hours)

So plenty of choice. From where Peter and I live it would have been about a three hours drive to Oostend/Zeebrugge and another half an hour to Calais. The ferries here are very convenient, they run almost every hour or so.

We decided to go for the Hook of Holland to Harwich night ferry. We owe some property in Suffolk so I have done this particular crossing dozens and dozens of times. It is very convenient, we always take the night boat. You arrive early in Harwich and hit the road at around 07.00 o’clock.

For both Peter and myself it was less than an hours drive from home to the Stenaline terminal. Both of us had worked all day, so we decided to have dinner on board. When you book your trip you get 10% discount on dinner and breakfast if you including these in your reservation. When you are doing the night crossing you have to get a cabin. A crossing, with a car, dinner, breakfast and a cabin will cost you about Euro 350.

We arrived promptly at 19.00 hours at the Stenaterminal. We had both filled up our petrol tanks just before reaching the terminal. You drive past a check in booth where they confirm your details and hand you your cabin key, dinner- and breakfast voucher. Next you pass immigration.

We lined up behind a few other cars waiting to be called to board the ferry.
It was a gorgeous evening. This is one of the reasons we really like this night ferry. You leave home and an hour and half later you are on the ferry, having a drink, a meal, enjoying each other company. The best and quickest way to start a holiday. Much better than to have to drive for hours on a motorway. The holiday feeling and comfort sets in very quickly and very early!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3354.jpg

In all my years of using this ferry crossing, it is rare to have to wait more than 5-10 minutes. Stena did not disappoint and within 10 minutes the barrier was raised and they let us board the ferry. Our Spiders are fairly low and they have two decks for regular cars. But as our cars are low they keep us on the lower deck. Quite a steep ramp to get upon the upper deck. The spiders might get stuck! Being on the lower deck was fine with us, because usually the lower deck gets to drive off before the upper deck!

Both Spiders, hood up, handbrake on, in gear, left for the night. Unless very rough seas are expected they don’t tie the cars down.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3356.jpg

Lots of motorbikes, scooties and bicycles. All of those get tied down always, all the time!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3357.jpg

Our cars were parked on deck 3, our cabins were on deck 10 and the restaurants, bars, shop and cinema are on deck 9. These are the largest ferries in the world!!

https://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferries/stena-britannica?fbType=destPage&destPageName=ferry-to-holland&destPageId={1CFE3BFB-BAB7-4CFE-9FCD-2128D477A52F}

As it so happens, an old naval college friend of mine, heads up the local Stenaline outfit in Hook of Holland. About two years ago on one of our many crossing he arranged for me a visit to the bridge and engine room. I have included some images from that visit here as well:

It will give some idea on how large these vessels are.

Here the main control console on the bridge

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_1037.jpg

Several views on the main diesel engines:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_1039.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_1041.jpg

One of the auxiliary engines driving a generator

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_1047.jpg

If you are interested always ask the crew if you could have a little tour. Especially during the day crossing, the crew might be more accommodating!

So after securely parking our Spiders we took the elevator up to the deck 10, threw our bags into our respective cabins and went to deck 9 for some relaxation, a drink and of course our dinner.

We went to bed early, about 22.00 hours. Going from the Netherlands to the UK you loose one hour. There is a wake up call at 05.30! Shower, shave and have breakfast. By then the ferry is actually already docked and they have started disembarking trucks. Regular cars and passenger don’t start to disembark until about 06.30.

Again, because of it still being late touristy/holiday season we had also pre-booked our ferry from Portsmouth to the Isle of Wight. Set for 14.00 hours

http://www.wightlink.co.uk/?gclid=Cj...BoCuW0QAvD_BwE

We had booked the 1400 hours ferry because we were not quite sure how long it would take us to drive from Harwich to the ferry terminal in Portsmouth. We wanted to make sure we had enough time. Problem is you need to go around London on the M25 and that tends to be a problem. Lots and lots of congestion.

We were amongst the first cars of the ferry and through Customs and Immigration. Below an image on what our Tomtom were telling us, whilst still on the ferry. Only three hour drive! Peter and I have very similar TomTom’s and both have active traffic information. So at least early in the morning there was no traffic, no congestion along the route at all.

The vertical bar on the right also shows some of the petrol stations along the route and also a speed camera. In this case it is an average speed check area. If you look at the map you can see quite heavy congestion (those orange fat stripes) south of Canterbury.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3358.jpg

The weather was pretty good and we set off. About ten minutes into our trip we saw this huge balloon in the distance. Makes for a nice early morning shot.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3362.jpg

As it turned out, we had no congestion all the way to Portsmouth! Quite amazing really! When we cruise on the motorways in our Spiders, we go in fifth gear and keep the RPMs at around 3500. That means we are doing about 70 MPH (just under 120 km/h) which makes for pleasant cruising in these little rag top sports cars. Mind you, we of course, always, and I mean always, drive top down!! Sun, rain, snow, fog!

Soon we came to Dartford crossing. Which happens to have a toll! Completely forgot about that. These days it is all fully automated and there are no toll barriers. You are supposed to arrange payment online. Either ahead of your intended crossing or before midnight the day after you crossed.

Check the TomTom. The bar on the right shows we are on an average speed check stretch. It tells the maximum speed and it continually calculates your average speed in that stretch of road!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3365.jpg

We pulled over at the first service station after the crossing for a coffee stop. Using our mobile phones we made the payments for our crossing retrospectively by credit card. Works really well!

After some twenty minutes or so, we pressed on. We arrived at the ferry terminal around 10.15. We checked if we could cross earlier and they put us onto the 10.30 ferry straight away. No extra charge, no extra paper work. Just a pleasant guy telling us to head over to lane number 23 for the 10.30 crossing.

Very convenient! Within five minutes of arriving they started loading the cars onto the ferry. This, obviously, is a much smaller ferry. It just shuttles back and forth between Portsmouth and Fishbourne.

A panoramic image makes it look a bit bigger!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3370.jpg

There is also a hovercraft service. Just passengers. Pretty cool to see these still operating. Not too many commercial hovercraft services about these days.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3369.jpg

Whilst we had another coffee on board of the ferry we also plotted out our route on the Isle of Wight. We wanted to follow the coast as much as possible.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3371.jpg

First hour of driving was very much through little costal towns and villages. All quite touristy. The typical English way.

But after an hour the coastal scenery became quite magnificent:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3372.jpg

We stopped at a nice looking country pub for some lunch. At the pub they had stacks of touristy brochures. We looked through them for something interesting not too far and decided to go and see St Catherine’s Lighthouse.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Ca...27s_Lighthouse

You can actually see it in the far distance on the previous image. (When I took that image we did not know we were going to visit the lighthouse)

You get to do a little tour and lots of explanation about the history of Lighthouses in general and this one in particular. Very interesting. It is still fully operational, 24x7, 365 days a year.

You get to climb all the way to the top (some 100 steps or so) and you can see the actual light and lens. Quite impressive:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3374.jpg

I took a little video:



After the Lighthouse we also stopped at what is known as the Needles:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3378.jpg

Although very pretty, the whole surrounding area was one large tourist trap. So we did not stay long. By now it was end of the afternoon and we decided to drive to our pre-booked B&B.

Over the years, we have developed certain routines that have helped us during these tours. When on an Alfa Romeo Spider Register tours, we always made everybody fill up their tanks at the end of the day. Don’t leave it till the next day. You want to get going. Just make sure you find a petrol station during the last half hour to your hotel / B&B. Even when it’s just the two of us, we still follow the same regime!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3380.jpg

Lucky us, the petrol station was 200 meters from the B&B.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3381.jpg

Very nice and comfortable B&B. Run by a very nice and amicable couple. This was my room. Not that big, but totally adequate for one night. The bed was very comfortable. Everything worked, was well maintained and the internet had decent speeds too!

Prices for B&B vary depending on the time of the year and location. We ended up paying around UKP 65-75 per person per night, per room. But that always included a full English Breakfast as well!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3382.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3383.jpg

After making ourselves comfortable and freshening up, we asked our host for a good restaurant. There was only one, within walking distance onto the beach.

We probably spend three hours sitting there on the deck, sipping a drink, eating and talking. Witnessed a stunning sunset.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3384.jpg

The next morning after breakfast there was a problem. Peter’s Spider would not start at all. Initial diagnose: Battery completely flat. We had no time to think it through to0 much.

Jump started Peter’s Spider and made our way to the ferry terminal.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3386.jpg

With the jump leads attached to the battery of my Spider, Peter’s Spider started fine. We drove to the ferry terminal at Yarmouth, only 10 minutes or so. There were quite some cars waiting already and we joined the queu. Peter kept his engine idling just so the battery would recharge. Once safely on the ferry he shut down the engine. Just as a precaution he disconnected the battery.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016553.jpg

Last edited by Jeroen : 7th September 2018 at 17:22.
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Old 6th September 2018, 23:28   #2
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Default re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

They let us on the ferry, here you see Peter disconnecting his battery.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016570.jpg

By now we had figured out why the battery had drained overnight. The ignition lock /key set up on Peterís Spider is a bit wonky. It probably needs a new one. It was like that when Peter bought it. The previous owner had mounted a small, hidden, switch, which essentially overrides the electrical contacts on the ignition lock. If you leave the switch on, the electrics are powered as if the ignition has been switched on by the key. It appears as the switch was left on overnight. On a Spider that means the fuel pump is powered on. So the fuel pump had been running all night and that is more than sufficient to drain a battery.

We had to wait about 15 minutes after boarding before the ferry departed. I was on the top deck admiring the view. Just on the other side of the pier a couple of sailing yachts were moored. I watched this little girl (she was probable 6-7 years old) scrub the decks very vigorously. All by herself. Boy, could that little girl scrub. She just kept at it! The two doggies were sitting there staring into the cabin all the time too, maybe waiting for their breakfast?

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016560.jpg

Itís a short crossing, you sail from Yarmouth across the western Solent to Lymington. They have two ferries going back and forth. We met the other ferry coming our way. It will give you some idea of itís size. Nothing like the Stenaline ferry obviously. But still two decks full of cars!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016563.jpg

The one thing I saw very little of during our years in India, was yachting. In countries such as the UK there are endless marinaís catering for tens of thousands of boats. From very small dinghyís to very large powerboats and everything in between.

A view of Lymington marina as the ferry comes into port.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016569.jpg

As we docked Peter hooked up his battery and his Spider fired up immediately. We never disconnected the battery again. Battery was fine for the remainder of our trip, so it must have been the switch that was left on overnight.

It is only a short drive to the Beaulieu estate. You drive through a huge national park called the new forest. Itís a protected area and it is known for itís many wild horses that roam freely. Inside the new forest there are a few small towns and villages and the horses roam freely around the streets too.

What I did not know, or at least had not seen before, there are free roaming donkeys too. This is a few miles before we got to the Beaulieu estate.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016571.jpg

We arrived at the estate and were parked at 09.50 Perfect, a ten minute walk to the main entrance. The auto jumble opened at 10.00 so our timing was spot on.

I did not take any photographs of the auto jumble. Just have a look at last years:

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/inter...aulieu-uk.html (Outdoor sale of unique cars & parts at the International Autojumble, Beaulieu (UK))

I did buy a few things though: Couple of more ornaments and or measuring instruments (depending whether they are still working)

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3396.jpg

By about 1600 hours we were done. If anything leg muscles and backs were aching from the endless strolling around. But it was very good fun. And the weather had been absolutely gorgeous. The event is held at the estateís grounds. So if it is wet, it will turn into one very large mud pool very quickly. What with tens of thousand of visitors.

So we made our way back to the parking lot, Peterís Spider started all by itself and put the address of our B&B into our TomTomís. Made a few modifications to the route proposed to ensure we kept to little country lanes and set off.

First stretch still though the new forrest. So slow and careful driving because of all the wild horses and donkeys

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016576.jpg

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Around 17.00 hours we arrived at our B&B, The old mill, near Salisbury ( http://www.salisburymill.co.uk )

A gorgeous old water mill and the view from my room overlooking the pond was just stunning!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3401.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3399.jpg

That evening we had dinner in a local pub. Just a nice little evening stroll back and forth.

The next morning at breakfast, we planned out our route into Wales.

We use maps, TomTom and our mobile phone.

For years we have been using these maps. A brand new one cost less than UKP2 but very often you can pick one up from a previous year for as much as 50p.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3492.jpg

We check the weather online for the area we might want to drive through and the destination. We check the map for little countries roads. In the UK look for roads starting with a B and then four digits. Or better yet, no formal road designation at all.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026599.jpg

We enter our destination in the TomTom and then let it plan the shortest route. Then we check that route on the TomTom against the map and add additional waypoints that get us along the narrowest and most rural roads.

Finally we check the times and destinations on the TomTom if it makes sense. We usually plan 2-3 hours drives at the time. We might want to include some interesting things we have noticed on the map. A particular town, museum, viewing point as well.

We both have the route in our TomTom and we alternate who drives up front. Usually, after about an hour and a half we start looking for a coffee stop.

As initial destination in Wales we had programmed Brecon. We also had entered the information centre for the Seven bridge crossing. It looked like an interesting place with some information on the building of the bridges, history and such.

So here we go, rural country roads a plenty!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016590.jpg

Here you see me barreling down a 14% decline. Keep the revs at 4500 in third gear, so no braking necessary!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016596.jpg

Anywhere in the Uk you will come across any number of train bridges, viaducts and such. During the very early years of Railway the engines could not cope very well with any gradient. Which meant that Brunel, one of the big pioneers of UK Railways just build them horizontally all the way. So that meant lots of bridges, viaducts tunnels. It became known as Brunel Billiard!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026597.jpg

It took us about an hour to reach the so called second Severn Bridge Crossing.

Lovely view:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026611.jpg

But we could not find the information centre. So we asked around and the locals told us it had been closed several years ago. Must have been an old link we clicked on our phones. Anyway, we moved on, across the original Severn Bridge. Here there is a proper old school toll, with somebody collecting the toll and providing you with a proper paper ticket. No online lark here! The fee was UKP 5,70 which we thought was pretty steep. But the alternative was a huge diversion which would have taken at least an hour.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026616.jpg

We decided to stop for some coffee. Both Spider waiting patiently. Notice the sump guards on both Spiders. Essential for driving on these sort of roads. Your sump hits a brick or bounces of the tarmac and you might find yourself with a cracked sump and a very large puddle of oil on the road.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9016587.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026598.jpg

When you go on these road trips it is important to do so with somebody likeminded. In terms of what they like, be it scenery and or food, how they drive, how adventurous they are etc.

Peter and I have known each other for some twenty years. We have similar interests, similar driving styles and a similar outlook on live in general. So we are very relaxed in each other companies. We keep a mental tap of the spending each of us do. We never keep record. We just sort of balance it out. Peter will pay for the coffee stop, I will pay the next time. I will pay for dinner, next time Peter will. Works out fine for us.

Having somebody that has a similar driving style is very important too. We have been driving for tens of thousands of kilometers all over the world. So we know exactly what to expect from each other. Driving on the little rural roads is great fun, but it can be tricky as well. At corners and junctions it might be difficult to see oncoming traffic. We use hand signals to get us through as efficiently as possible.

Here you see Peter entering a junction. He is waving me onwards. Because he has checked the traffic from both directions, knows I will pull up behind him quickly before any traffic is near. We also use this technique in overtaking. Once you are next to the car you are overtaking you also have a better view of the traffic coming towards you. If there is sufficient room you will signal for the other guy to overtake as well. It is all about trusting each other proper judgement. Once you establish a good safe signalling regime, you can really move fast at all these awkward spots.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026607.jpg

Some more gorgeous roads. But as you can see, quite patchy here and there. The UK rural roads are not as well maintained as they once were! It can get quite bumpy and we did come across quite substantial pot holes here and there as well.

They are bad enough on a modern car, but worse on these old classic cars.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026608.jpg

On the way to Brecon we stopped at Perrygrove railway ( http://www.perrygrove.co.uk ). a nice little steam railway. Obviously, we had to go on it!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026622.jpg

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From the train we noticed a massive solar farm! It is all good for the environment but it is also a real eyesore!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026639.jpg

And a little video:


Last edited by Jeroen : 7th September 2018 at 16:06.
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Old 7th September 2018, 15:52   #3
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Default re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

We made it to Brecon. Nice, quiet, pleasant little town. Took a bit of time to find a hotel for the night. It was the cheapest stay during our trip, but it was also the least in terms of creature comfort. We went out for a little stroll along the canal.

These boats are called narrow boats and it is THE way to get around the UK waterways.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9026642.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3408.jpg

Wales is of course, fiercely independent from the rest of UK. Problem is, that apart from the Welsh nobody can read or understand Welsh. I mean look at this sign:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3403.jpg

We also picked up some tourist leaflets we took with us to read and discuss during dinner.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3405.jpg

The weather for the next day did not look that great, so we decided to drive down south and visit an old mine museum.

The next morning, another hearty Full English Breakfast. Both Peter and I had a full English Breakfast every single morning. It really sets you up for the day, we usually have a light lunch and then a big dinner in the evening.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3450.jpg

The next morning it was grey and as soon as we got into our Spiders it started to rain. In most countries rain just spoils the day. But in Wales, not unlike Scotland, the rain turns the country and scenery into something very special.

But with the rain came some fog too:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3432.jpg

When it rains we weatherproof our TomTomís with an Ikea plastic bag. Make for a perfect fit. Why do you need to weather proof your TomTom when you are driving in the rain you might ask. Well, it is because we always, and I mean always, drive top down, no matter what the weather is like!

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Some gorgeous scenery along our route:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9036649.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9036666.jpg

Took us about an hour of driving to get to the mine: The so called Big Pit mining museum. ( https://museum.wales/bigpit/ )

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9036650.jpg

The entrance to the museum is free, just a small parking fee.

You get to go inside the actual pit! Just like the miner used too. In fact all the staff are ex-miners and the pit is still considered a working pit. Which means there are very strict safety rules. Nothing electrical or anything metal that could cause a spark is allowed to be taken down the shaft. so no camera, no phone, no watches, no keys etc.

You get kitted out with a real miner helmet, light with battery and gas mask.

Here is Peter:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3417.jpg

And yours truly:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-3c4bb39472e44e7e8c2eff8a5b233861.jpg

They take you down the shaft with the original lift to about 90 meters depth and then you walk underground for about 45 minutes at which point your are about 130 minutes deep. They bring you out by the same lift again. It was very interesting and enlightening. These mines had a brutal regime on its labour force. Boys as little as 6 year old worked it, down in the shafts. Lots of horses too.

We were quite impressed by it all.

Took a few photographs of the winch room that lowers and pulls the lift.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9036658.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9036660.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9036661.jpg

Some of the old buildings still give you a sense on what this must have been in the working days of the Pit. The lockers:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9036663.jpg

Stacks of battery lights waiting to be hooked up to chargers.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9036652.jpg

Every man had itís own helmet, charger, battery and gas mask. Here the batteries get charged:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9036654.jpg

We had a quick cup of coffee in the museum cafe and then pushed off for some more driving. We decided to head east for a little town Bicester. For no other reason that it was sort of half way in between us and our destination the next day. Also, looking at the weather forecast we were expecting to get better weather as we were driving east.

Initially, still a bit wet:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3457.jpg

The weather improving definitely along the way:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3413.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3414.jpg

We had to stop to get some petrol. The guy came out and helped us. He was very interested in our Spiders. He had two Spiders himself! And his dad had been going to Beaulieu to sell car parts for the last thirty years. Nice chap!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3410.jpg

Some more driving heading east:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3430.jpg

Check out the double decker bus out on these country roads:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3435.jpg

And parked again for another coffee stop:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3449.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3461.jpg

As we left Wales the scenery is starting to change:

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3462.jpg

Last edited by Jeroen : 7th September 2018 at 16:41.
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Old 7th September 2018, 17:15   #4
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That afternoon we made it as far as Bicester, where we found a nice hotel and had a very good Indian dinner!

Next day was our last day. We decided to head for The Imperial War Museum at Duxford. It would take us about 3,5 hours plus coffee stop.

So we programmed our Tom-toms, started up our Spiders and got going:

Very different scenery from the previous days, but still lots of little rural country roads. I must admit in between we were seeing more and more villages and the odd little town that can not be avoided.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3464.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_34701.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3485.jpg

We arrived at Duxford around 1300 hours.

I did not take many photographs. I come here usually once a year or every other year. Peter had never been. This is a fantastic aviation museum. Probably one of the best I have ever visited anywhere in the world, if not the best.

I have written about a previous visit:

https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/shift...uxford-uk.html (Imperial War Museum Duxford, UK)

I did take a few images for a few different reasons;

One of my all time favourite aircraft in the world, the Mach 3 SR71 Blackbird. Retired some years ago, but to date nothing comes close to its performance.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9046674.jpg

This one below is one of the three so called V-Bombers, the Victor. The very first years, early mid 80s, I visited Duxford this Victor was sitting out on the ramp. It was not in a very good state and I saw it deteriorate over the years. Then all of a sudden it was gone, they must have put it somewhere in storage.

Now it is being restored and I’m very happy for it. Love this plane. Somebody once described it as an Airfix Kit plane of which the glue is coming apart. This aircraft earned its place in history. It was involved in the Falkland war as well in tanker configuration supporting the other V bomber, the Vulcan, to reach the Falklands across the Atlantic.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9046677.jpg

Duxford Victor is a tanker and here you can see two of the refuelling pods. These used to hang from underneath the wing. From it unreels a hose with a so called bucket attached to it. The plane requiring fuel has a probe that needs to be inserted into the bucket. Sounds easy, but it requires a tremendous amount of training and experience.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9046678.jpg

Lastly, one of the last airworthy B-17 out on the ramp.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-p9046682.jpg

We spend about three hours. Not enough to see everything, but we got a good impression. We set of for Suffolk. An easy one hour drive. We met up with old friends of ours who live near Boxford. Nice to catch up with them, lovely dinner.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3488.jpg

At around 20.30 we left for the Stenaline Ferry terminal at Harwich. Driving through Suffolk at night is a bit of an experience. It is absolutely pitch dark.You can’t even see the road you are turning into, until your car is beginning to line up with the road and your headlights are pointing into the right direction. To top it all it began to rain, soon turning into a down pour. Luckily by then we had left the rural roads behind us and were on the last stretch of motorway towards Harwich.

Made it to the terminal, about ten minutes wait to check in and pass immigration. Lots of cars waiting to board. But they flagged us through, again as they noticed we were low and they wanted us on the lower deck right away.

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All secure for the night crossing

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3490.jpg

The next morning we arrived on time and our two Spiders were the first two cars of the ferry and passed the immigration. But then there was a problem,

The Stena staff had forgotten to open the gate! So everybody got stuck whilst they were trying to locate the guy with the key! Took only a few minutes though.

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3496.jpg

Just as we left the terminal it started pouring down. And I mean really really heavy down pour. The animals were heading for the Ark type of downpour. Obviously, we were barreling along top down. Now, with a bit of rain, driving top down is not a problem. The wind will blow the water over the open cockpit. But with a very heavy downpour that becomes less and of course there were a few traffic lights.

So we got wet, the Spiders got very wet!

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3498.jpg

Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK-img_3499.jpg

I got home with a slight delay to my original plan, about 09.20. By 09.30 my Spider was in my garage drying out and I was behind my laptop, working, and on line for my first Skype meeting of the day.

In all some 1250 km of driving in just over five days. Most of all rural little country roads.

All in all, a great and very relaxing holiday!

Jeroen

Last edited by Jeroen : 7th September 2018 at 17:48.
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Old 8th September 2018, 00:10   #5
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Thread moved to the Travelogues section.Thanks for sharing!
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Old 8th September 2018, 08:30   #6
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Default re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

Wow! Absolutely Beautiful and has so much information. What a way to start my weekend. Absolutely loved it. Of all the beautiful pictures, I liked the photo where the little girl is scrubbing the yacht and the two dogs sitting by the door very much. And the Spiders...Gorgeous.

I couldn't agree more when you wrote that like minded people are so important on road trips. For me that's the diffence in making our trip memorable or forgettable.

Thanks for Sharing!
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Old 8th September 2018, 08:52   #7
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Default re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

What a lovely report! You've got cars, planes, ships and a road trip in between. Simply splendid! I'm going to need more than one reading to take this in. And take some notes.

Stitch together a video, put in some wise-ass comments and you have a Top Gear special on your hands.
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Old 8th September 2018, 13:21   #8
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Default Re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

Wow, brilliant, I don't envy your car or the places you visit or where you stay, I definitely envy your friendship with Peter, for not many are gifted to have friends like him.

Wish you many more such trips and stay young.
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Old 10th September 2018, 00:49   #9
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Default Re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

You fortunate dog! Do keep all your threads alive. You are like a Dhabar Behram from overseas! A pity you couldn't get the pictures inside the shaft.
How do you dry out the car? No ill effects of water on the switches or gauges?

Last edited by crdi : 10th September 2018 at 00:53.
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Old 10th September 2018, 09:36   #10
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Default Re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

Wow, as always beautiful and detailed travelogue. In fact I happened to take the Hovercraft to get into Isle of Wight earlier this spring. As a first timer traveling on a Hovercraft, it was kinda worth spending 31-GBP for a 10 min journey including the boarding procedure.



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Old 10th September 2018, 09:40   #11
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Default Re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

Great travelogue, great pictures! Left hand drive Alfa Romeo Spiders on UK roads,
A good start to my monday morning at office on a Bandh ( Nationwide Strike)

Your breakfast picture has already made me hungry
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Old 10th September 2018, 11:49   #12
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Default Re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

Quote:
Originally Posted by crdi View Post
A pity you couldn't get the pictures inside the shaft.
How do you dry out the car? No ill effects of water on the switches or gauges?
Na cameraas, no phones allowed, so no pictures.

The best way is to leave the car to dry outside in the sun. I leave it with the doors opens the first few days after I put it away in the garage. Just to make sure the interior and carpets dry out as much as possible.

So far, fingers crossed, I have never had any electrical problems.

Jeroen
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Old 11th September 2018, 13:50   #13
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Default Re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

Cheers!! what a beautiful travelogue..

I am regretting that I didn't visit Wales during my last 7 months stay in the UK. Hopefully will visit in the future.

I did sail on the Stenaline (without a car) from Birkenhead, Liverpool to Belfast. Quite an amazing journey it was..
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Old 11th September 2018, 14:35   #14
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Default Re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

Very Nice travelogue with good photos of wonderful countrysides.

Is it legal to do left hand drive in UK?

Thank you Jeroen ,Peter and TomTom.

Last edited by RGK : 11th September 2018 at 14:46.
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Old 11th September 2018, 14:51   #15
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Default Re: Two guys, two Alfa Romeo Spiders, several ferries - A road trip in UK

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Is it legal to do left hand drive in UK?
.
Yes, no problem at all. And vice versa too. So (UK) right hand drives can drive legally all over Europe too.

Technically you would need to adjust your headlights or apply special stickers.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/White-Stick.../dp/B003I83I32

I actually have some of these stickers. But in almost 40 years of driving in the UK on a fairly regular basis, I have never ever used them.

I have never ever heard of somebody being pulled over by the cops for not using them.

Jeroen
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