Driving The Amalfi Coast

A Truly Amazing Trip.

Well, for many of you newly qualified drivers out there, admittedly, it may not be the first destination that springs to mind, however, that said, there are newly qualified drivers of all ages, therefore, I hope to inspire all generations and perhaps if it is not already on your list of things to do then it may very well get added.

So, the destination in mind, let’s hit the road, Jack but first are we taking our own car because if so, where do we start? Well, we have two choices ……. either ferry or Eurotunnel, however, having been on a ferry (I don’t wish to put you off), it sure is not for me. The next question to answer is where do we wish to travel to? Perhaps France then on to Belgium and into Italy? Ummm sounds good to me! So if you’re with me so far, we hope, at let’s say Dover and enjoying the short journey to France, so far so good but looking into this it now leaves us with a whole lot of driving to do and do and do.

So, hey bright idea moment, why not take the Eurostar train from London, St Pancras to Paris and then a high-speed train to Naples and then let’s hire a car! Now let’s think a moment. What car shall we hire? ……. a classic modern car, a sports car perhaps or let’s go the whole hog and hire a classic car, let’s say an Alfa Romeo. Well, we are in Italy after all and traveling in style!

Now we’re motoring ……. the unmistakable roar as we move up the gearbox, the smell of leather, the open road, sea view, cliff-edge roads – you are in Italy driving the Amalfi coast, one of the most famous coastal roads ever and used extensively in endless movies, a few of which spring to mind:

The movie, ‘A Good Woman’ and a 2004 remake of Oscar Wilde’s ‘Lady Windermere’s Fan’ is a gem for lovers of the Amalfi coast. Starring Helen Hunt, Scarlett Johansson, and Tom Wilkinson, this movie is set in the 1930s on the Amalfi coast. With scenes filmed in Amalfi, Atrani, Ravello and other spots on the Amalfi coast, the setting is an enchanting backdrop to Wilde’s satirical commentary on the strength of love and the virtues of marriage. If you’re looking for pure romance and a movie escape to Italy, then you’ll love ‘Only You,’ the 1994 film featuring Robert Downey Jr and Marisa Tomei. After a beautiful swirl through Venice, Rome, and Tuscany, Amalfi coast lovers will swoon at the scenes filmed in ‘Positano.’ The Hotel Le Sirenuse is the setting for the pool and hotel scenes and ‘Positano’ lovers will enjoy the views and scenes filmed in town.

Okay, you get the message. I could go on and on listing and listing but it would make for a very long read.

Well, I don’t know about you but all this driving has made me very hungry and what better place could there ever be to stop for food than the Amalfi coast. You probably don’t need me to tell you that you will certainly be spoilt for choice with beautiful scenery, fantastic weather, and exceptionally good simple food. Is there anything missing? Presumably, you have a companion or two with you on this remarkable trip to go with the wonderful backdrop, weather, food, and the piece de la resistance. Yes, you’ve guessed it, to add to all this splendor, it just wouldn’t be complete without a perfectly balanced glass or two of your favorite wine before you head back on the road.

Naturally, more driving may require another pit stop as the daylight fades and beautiful dusk arrives bringing with it stunning sunsets leading us nicely to the end of today’s journey. Now for a clifftop restaurant, park up and do what the Italians do best ……. eat, drink, and be merry late into the night.

How Not To Drive From Portugal To Seville

Would I do it again?

A long, long time ago, well really, I was just twenty years old and it is true to say, perhaps for some hard to believe I know, that we actually lived and survived life without the internet, mobile phones and any other connected gadgets ……. perhaps knows to us oldies as the good old days.

Well, only having taken my first ever holiday the year before this trip was organised, we are now going to embark on my then somewhat limited travel experiences.  Anyway, having enjoyed my first holiday so much in the Algarve, Portugal, I decided it would be a great place to visit on holiday with my girlfriend.  So off we both went, so far so good and arrived at our beautiful holiday destination. 

All was okay until I very naturally said I was off to hire a car, a perfectly normal sentence, and procedure although now you collect it at the airport.  Back then you either trotted around looking at all the local car hire deals or booked it at reception.  I decided reception would be the most preferred method after all holidays are about enjoyment and relaxation, however, I was deeply saddened at the sudden blistering verbal attack from my girlfriend, the upshot being I was not a safe driver, I was extremely dangerous and should not be behind a wheel of a motor car!  I did thank her for her vote of confidence and say I have never been complimented like that before but naturally was very curious about this verbal attack on something I believed I was indeed very good at.

Now I know some men wouldn’t question their other half and fair play to them but I did and went immediately to reception and arranged for a car asap – they were only too happy to oblige.  However, I cannot say it went down too well with the girlfriend but what the hell (by the way I am now an ADI Driving Instructor, lols).  We left the car ready and waiting in the car park.  In those days you didn’t get the sort of car you get today, you got what they had!  There was not usually much choice, in other words, a very basic, non-air-conditioned car but it did have doors, wheels, and an engine so I guess I was happy with that!

Strangely enough, by this time, she was looking at the notice board with all the trips that could be made.  She had complimented my driving so badly, I thought she was not at all interested and may have preferred the bus but oh no, she came back smiling and said we should go to Seville.  Strange idea, methinks to myself since it had to be one of the biggest trip going but me loving to drive and me thinking I am clever and she not working it out said nothing and we agreed to set off early the next morning which we did – I said no more.

We stopped a a Shall garage purchased a very basic road map, and with nothing other than this map no internet, no mobile phones and surrounded by non English speaking people we started to make our way from Portugal to Seville, luckily the girlfriend was a very good map reader (well when she was not sleeping she was) we on the whole did not do too bad probably took 4 hours longer than it should have we eventually arrived tired and worn out air con was anything but standard so made it a long and uncomfortable journey, how lucky are we today, luxury compared to what we was used to, any way eventually somehow we arrived smack bang in the centre of Seville and too add to our exhausting journey we must have spent two hours or more in city traffic without a clue as to what we were doing were we were going and so on, somehow we parked up desperately hungry we with out any planing or thought sat down at the nearest eating place, had no idea how or what to order something came i guess they did overcharged us it didn’t fill us up but with little travel experience what could we expect, and in the process the girlfriend had managed to have her money stolen which caused an argument and within no time we were back in the car leaving Seville probably after only 1 hour, which is a great shame it is a wonderful city every time i now go the Spain i always drive to Seville for the day it’s simply a magical and wonderful place full of history and culture, wonderful people and yes i now know where to eat and eat well and mingle amongst all those lovely Spanish people.

I would say the journey back was 100 x harder than the journey there tired hungry fed up getting dark map reader simply slept wok on the odd occasion to kindly inform me I was driving the wrong way and went back to sleep, to make it even worse she was a good driver but blatantly refused to drive so really I would have been better off with a manakin as a passenger for all the help she offered on the way back, come to think of it the conversation would have been better with a manakin I am sorry to say.

Hours and hours seemed to pass us by, round and round in ever decreasing circles i went becoming even more weary and as the hours passed us by we were both starving, as if by magic i entered a very quiet some what rundown town, it was late on a Sunday night but it just seemed as if we had driven into an old western town, i parked up to try and figure out where we go from here we seem to have gone completely off track i desperately needed a rest and to get out of the car, as i got out of the car as if my magic in the doorway of what looked like a very old shop a English man spoke to me asking i was ok, i was surprised and very pleased to be able to speak with someone we could understand, i said where were lost and very hungry, he come in we will sort you out it was a restaurant wow amazing it was similar to the TV program alo alo, i think either extreme luck or divine intervention or both, this establishment was run by two very gay men, which in them days was not as common as it is today, well they were great they made us so welcome and gave us extra they could not do enough for us! I only wish I could find that place but I guess it’s long gone now, a mix up over the bill soon got sorted and nagging from the girlfriend for giving them a big tip, no sure why they deserved it and it was my money, to me they were lifesavers! Great people great food, and they gave us directions and got us back on track, if only they could read this and remember us and let us know their names and where we actually stopped now that would be something we live in hope.

I am not so sure I could have ever made it back without the help of the owners of the restaurant, so a big thank you guys whoever you are, a few more hours and we arrived back late into the night I never thought that I would be so happy to see a hotel, it had quite frankly been a day from hell, all I now needed was a drink, oh no that did not go down with the girlfriend (give me strength) the very least I was entitled to would be a drink! Anyway, she went to bed and I went to the bar, the barman took one look at me and insisted I sat down he never let me get up and just replaced my drink as and when it was needed which, to be honest, I was very grateful of after all a few meters to the bar was a long way. I think the ice-cold lager helped, I knew it would numb the pain of the morning when I got to the room, lol’s I did eventually get to the room only to discover she had been ordering cocktails from room service, a sandwich yes I could live with, I went to bed wondering whether it was all worth it, she seemed to have a canny knack of winding me up, the very next morning she recommended we drive to Lisbon not as far as Seville but never in a million years I think my answer was !! we kept the journeys to very local and to be honest I was happy to hand the car back, and they were amazed at just how many miles we had done, 

A very difficult trip, unnecessary due to inexperience and a lack of planning but on reflection, I am pleased I did do this journey and am pleased to say I don’t have any difficulties now driving overseas and my travel companions are far more compatible.

Austin Car Rally

Austin Rally April 2012 keeping our car history alive.

Having been to and involved in one or two classic car rally’s mostly Rover P6, SD1, and Jaguar I thought it is about time I visited one on my doorstep, that’s not to say I have spent the last four years not going to our local Austin rally it is because I have been working or completely unaware that is was on! Sad when you think about it I must drive past or walk through Cofton park at least five times a week, perhaps next year they may discover posters and put them up around the Cotton park and the surrounding area who knows we will live in hope.

Anyway thanks to my nephew who was taking part in a Metro convoy in his Metro Manhattan heading from Hopwood to Cotton park for the Austin rally I found out about it, otherwise another Austin rally would have taken place again and I would never have known.  So Rocky my dog and I set off we both had cameras and went to see what little gems we could snap! Rocky, of course, did all the photography I just hung around looking at the ground and hoping to be offered food, thinking about it he does a much better job than me and snapping pictures of the ground.

We arrived at 10-15 am there were hundreds of rovers all shapes styles and sizes some quiet some loud and some very loud all the drivers huddled up clinching the steering wheels as if it was going to fall off or somehow taken away from them all looking very proud knowing the car in front and the car behind was a Rover. Rocky and I entered Cofton park as we have done so many times before, he looked and looked and found it hard to come to terms with that his big green playground had been taken over by a lot of car’s and once a great place to run and meet other dogs now became a place where he was kept on his lead, oh well he made the best of it and was soon photographing everyone and everything and he suddenly realised there were plenty of dog lovers as well as car lovers there to give him all the attention he could ever dream of.

A few hundred yards into Cofton park and we could see that the planed layout had failed and people had started to form there own layout this naturally meant that the groups of cars were split up and for some reason towards the back there were cars on show intermingled with normally parked cars very confusing but they seemed happy enough so we started to wondering in and out up and down looking at the various cars.

Naturally, it was not too long before we came across one of these notorious burger vans, no problem with that but I can not help wondering why so many people at any one time and so early in the morning feel the need not only to queue for at least a quarter of an hour for an overpriced burger in a bun as if it was some incredible new trend I am not sure if it is the burger’s they get after queuing or if it just the queuing that they go for.

On reflection, I think it is simply just the queuing unless there is something Rocky and I do not know about in those plastic port-a-loo’s because the queues for them were just as long as the ones for the burgers. Then I shared an idea with Rocky if you place a port-a-loo inline 100 yards before the burger van and give the port-a-loo’s back door then they could queue for the port-a-loo’s leave by the back door to join the burger van queue, this would save them queuing twice and for those who really get the most out of these events by queuing another port-a-loo could be placed 100 yards after the burger van. Rocky said we should bring it up at the next Austin rally meeting, but we both agreed we could get around the show without the need to visit either a porta-loo or a burger van thus leaving it for those who could not leave the show without visiting either! the real question here is do they make one or more visits and if it is more do they get to see the vintage cars at all?

Then as we wandering around and around the lovely cars soaking up the history imagining were the journeys may have taken these cars perhaps all over the UK, perhaps Europe or the channel islands or even perhaps they have featured in a well know movie this information may with persistence be obtained from the cars owners who had firmly taken up residence and had no intention of moving for the remainder of the day as if some uncontrollable force was holding them firmly in there deck chairs I thought it best left to my imagination.
But i wonder is it the same force that encapsulated some of the car owners and there partners i refer to the ones that arrive at the show to show off their automobile and why not,  but once they have position their car why then do they lock them selves inside it and remain seated for the duration of the show windows and doors closed, they sit looking straight ahead in to space totally unaware that there are many hundreds of people walking around their car this to me it is amazing i even knocked on the window with a smile and a good morning  and neither person spoke, moved, nodded, i think they are in a deep trance communicating with a force far to superior to be human and i think because they do not even speak or interact with each other i guess there must be some form of psychic way of communicating with each other, and to through us all of the sent they always have a lunch box a flask which they hold on to for dear life then there is the out of date news paper casually left on top of the dash board which i suspect has never been read and never will. It is a great mystery why they turn up at a people-orientated event and impression themselves inside the car, but for me, there is still one big question do they communicate with each other on the way there and on the way back and how do they know when it is time to go, and can they really resist the pull of the burger bar and the porta-loo’s. I thought about staying until the close and maybe I would see them leave like DR WHO in his Tardis but Rocky said his diner will be ready when we get home so I will to solve this mystery another day.
we took video’s of the cars leaving the show great fun I was the only one so I don’t know if they were happy for us or just felt sorry, but the end of the day was topped off by an old couple he 82 and she 84 lovely couple said they were sad I asked why and they said they had come to see the Metro as it was the last car made and they didn’t see any, I kept quiet about the few hundred Rocky and I had seen. They reminded me of the advert for speck savers (what sort of cheese was that) and in there time both had worked at Austin, well what she said really said was every now and again they worked on the assembly line in between strikes most of there memories seem to focus on how often they stood in Cofton park voting to strike, I made her laugh when I said yes when I was at school we went past the park often and there were always hundred’s of workers in Cofton park shouting and raising there hands, she said yes it was us probably were getting on a bit now.

Now the best bit, pictures and videos. There are more videos just click see my other videos I hope you enjoy the cars especially if you were not able to be there. Rocky and I had a great time.  To view the album for these pictures please follow this link. https://photos.app.goo.gl/TiPxNu7M5XWy4fmd9