The Fairwater Collection !

An MGBGTV8 Sebring and some interesting Land Rover conversions.
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On Holiday in 2005



In the wake of euphoria still enveloping me after having completed successfully what I thought was quite a good old trip in the FC, and two days later, feeling like I am still in the cab, I thought I would share some of my experiences and hope that you may think that it is a good read. 


This is how I started to put pen to paper back in August 2005, after completing succssfully, a trip across the full width of the Country, just about, at the widest point!


After doing what I thought was the absolute minimum preparation, consisting of checking oil levels and cutting a hole in the top story of the rear body and providing this with a hinged flap for ventilation on what was promising to be a very hot weekend, the wife, the two reprobates and I, set off for the Billing Land Rover Show near Northampton, on the Friday before. 


We, or rather ‘er indoors, had stuffed the whole vehicle with virtually the whole house contents, both ours and the kids’.  It did feel a very heavy vehicle when setting off, and I had the usual sinking feeling on leaving, wondering whether I was doing the right thing.  The last time we had done something similar was in 1999 in the same vehicle and that was both before it was rebuilt and was the reason it had to be; it caught fire in Devon and we were a bit stuck to say the very least.  So it is still never far from mind when I set off anywhere, but especially this time and in this vehicle, which seemed to be putting two fingers up to fate, which can only be a good thing.


Now the reason this trip was to be rather different from just a trip to Billing and why the thing was quite so heavily loaded, (even with the kiddies’ bikes), was that we were going on after the weekend, to stay with friends in Norfolk, and this was virtually the same distance again from home, which felt a bit chancy to me but I was going to give it a go.


The route taken was up to Tewkesbury and across the Cotswolds through Stow to Brackley and despite having done it this way before, this time it almost killed me.  The heavy load made it such hard work, up and down the gearbox, low gear and hard braking up and down the myriads of hills and sharp bends determined me to keep to the main roads next time.  By the time I made it to Brackley and the main road again, my knees were aching and I was completely worn out.  This thing is like handling a fully laden artic but without power steering, with not enough gears, without good brakes, (they’re  very good for a Series Landy, but not up to modern standards, needing to stand on the pedal, and I always half expect them to fade on a long descent), and while having to stop the torquey engine pulling the gearbox apart.


So we arrived at Billing to find it absolutely packed out with campers, and had to somehow find the centre where the other FC’s were.  I was taking him to have a chat with some of his own kind in the FC club.  He doesn’t get to see many these days.  Eventually we found a nice long row of 2B’s grazing and with some welcoming waves from friends not seen since the last time we went in 2001.



Here we all are; spot me on the end in front of John Craddock’s trailer!



That night, at about half past midnight, another member arrived in his 2B amongst some commotion.  He had reversed into a tree on the way in, broken the number plate light, shorted the wiring and burned out the loom from front to back.  He was taking his vehicle on the ferry to Norway on the Monday for a trip to the North Cape, and so he spent all Saturday rewiring the back end.  Intrepid lot we 2B owners, and I thought of me only going to Norwich!


The next couple of days seemed to be one long session of club barbeques, lounging around in the club marquee, and chatting to the visitors and stopping the kids riding their bikes too close to the new shiny Range Rovers on the RR Register stand.  It is surprising how the time goes at these events.  The atmosphere is incredible, as everyone is basically on holiday, and it is totally different from a local day show.  The FC Club AGM held here yearly included the customary dressing up in silly hats and costumes, the organiser emerging from his caravan in full Arab gear, and even the sober dealings of an AGM were soon dispensed with in about 10 minutes, accompanied by much mirth. It is surprising how bonds of friendship can be built up just when you see people for one or two weekends a year.


Very soon after arriving, Mark from the South Wales Land Rover Club appeared and spent quite a large amount of time under the influence of the 2B FC fraternity (and Strongbow).  So much so that I think he now fancies a 2B himself even if only to be able to join the crazy club!



                                                                                              The continual Barbie.




                                                                  Bikes chained up underneath. Good accomodation for four!




                                                                                                      Upstairs in the bedroom!





                                                                                                    Club marquee useful in the heat.



So after a jolly good weekend, it was time to depart and at 1700hrs on Sunday, we left, but this time instead of heading back west, we headed off east in the direction of Cambridge and Norwich via the A45, A14 and A11.  Good progress was made on what are good driving roads for a 2B, and I was pleased that our destination, 10 miles north of Norwich was reached in only 3 hours direct, with no problems.  Since leaving home I had used 10 gallons of diesel and about 5 gallons of lpg, which for virtually 300 miles, was quite pleasing.


This vehicle is capable of doing 70mph at a stretch, and usually is happy at 60, but as a long trip was ahead, I had already decided that I would just toddle along to preserve the thing a bit, always mindful that I have a great big diesel engine driving a normal Series 2A gearbox loaded up to about 3 tons, and I don’t want to break it or cook it. I kept the speed down to about 55 max and felt quite happy. I actually overtook a Range Rover towing a caravan just outside Northampton.  He wasn’t far away though and appeared behind again about half an hour later, amazingly staying there all the way to Norwich when he took off east!  Interestingly he obviously couldn’t out accelerate me away from the roundabouts, to my amusement.


Next day I had a good poke around underneath, half expecting it to be falling apart, and was pleasantly surprised that I could still feel oil in the gearboxes with the end of my finger!  A confidence boost indeed, as although the fan belt had stretched a bit, things were not as bad as I had feared.


A few days ensued exploring North Norfolk and it became apparent that there are not many really good roads over there. Consequently my knees were aching again from changing gear and braking, and the level of effort needed to get around took its toll a bit.  There is so much to see and do in the County though that the journeys did not need to be too long.  I was surprised about how many people came up to us to say hello.  Lots of other Land Rover owners introduced themselves or waved from their cabs.  I think I must have spoken to as many people as I did at the show! It certainly makes you feel part of a national community, driving around in something like this.  The longest excursion made was to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.   I had to go as far east as possible.  Lowestoft is farther east than Margate in Kent, and so one goal was achieved. Whether I will make the southern most point on the mainland at some future date remains to be seen, and as for the western most point, which isn’t St. Davids, or Land’s End, but somewhere west of Glasgow, and the northern most, well they will quite likely remain nice to do’ s!


The real killer was yet to come: that of coming home in one stretch.  It is a hell of a long way in a normal car, but in a Series 2B Forward Control Land Rover it is something else, especially when you have two kiddies in the back fighting each other all the way!  I don’t know which was noisiest, the engine or the screaming!

Returning via a half hour stop with a member of the FC club who lives in Northampton, and going this time via the M1 (yes the FC has officially driven up the M1), Daventry, Leamington Spa, Stratford, Evesham, Tewkesbury, which I have found to be a particularly good way, we arrived back in Cardiff via the M50 /A449, at 2100hrs, the hearing rather dulled, stiff legs, stomach cramps, and the trip taking 9 hours in all, which wasn’t too bad, but 2 days later I was still getting over it and now driving my works Toyota Hilux, I have been over-steering all over the place and not going faster than 55! 


                                                               Yes, at Lowestoft!



At Blickling Hall.  Premier treatment for a 2B!