I’ve been a bit rubbish at blogging the last few months, my excuses are working on the 119 project, enjoying my MR2 and that I’m really busy at work. It was on a flight for work that I was reading evo magazine on my iPad and came across the image above, of my MX-5 next to Loch Glascarnoch on the A835 and a few words about my 2012 Scottish roadtrip.
I’d submitted the article a while back and almost forgotten about it. The word count I had to meet was quite restrictive, so there’s hardly any detail, but the full details of the trip are earlier in this blog.
The lease deal on my MX-5 is coming to an end, so it was time to search for a new car. Jen and I had been toying with the idea of driving down to the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco, so I had been looking for something suitable for a two week roadtrip around Europe. However, nothing with storage space and in budget caught my eye, but I kept getting drawn to the little Toyotas with no boot!
After looking at a few with Jen and confirming that the storage space (behind the seats) would be enough for a weekend away, I saw this one, which had fewer miles and was in much better condition than the others – so I bought it!
As I still have my MX-5 for a few more weeks, the MR2 is going into storage – but I got it insured for the day to drive it home and it would have been rude not to take it for a run out!
The first trip was to Tesco – I can confirm that it can fit a large weekly shop in the storage bins. Then we went for a picnic at Broadway Tower near Evesham. Broadway Tower is an old tower and country park, on the A44 between Evesham and Moreton in Marsh. Aside from the great views, free parking and cafe the other attraction to Broadway Tower is that the road to get to it, known as Fish Hill has some great alpine style hairpins, so was a good place to test out the new car – don’t worry, my standard Melton Mowbray and Uppingham test will happen when I get it out of storage! The return journey, through the Cotswolds, was a good comparison with the MX-5, as I’d driven that route last month on the way back from Croyde. The MR2 isn’t as refined as my mk3.5 MX-5 (more refined than my old mk1 MX-5 though), but being lighter, mid engined and more powerful, the handling is better than either and I can carry more speed through corners. I’m going to have to take it on a track day to see what it can really do! That will have to wait until it is back out of storage and in the mean time I’m going to make the most of my remaining time with the MX-5!
The evening before I went to Autosport International, at the NEC in Birmingham, I’d been watching a video, posted on Bill Caswell’s Facebook page about Ari Vatanen’s Paris-Dakar Peugeot 405 being stolen from parc ferme, a randsom being demanded, the car eventually found but Vatanen still being disqualified from the rally. This wasn’t a story I’d heard before, but I wasn’t expecting to see the subject of the story the next day. At first I thought it was just another Paris-Dakar 405, but upon reading the plaque I realised that it was the exact same car, what a nice coincidence!
The rest of the show was good, especially seeing a Lamborghini Miura and a Toyota AE86 in the metal, two of my favourite cars, which somehow I’d never seen in real life.
This is my friend Ali’s BMW Z4, the photo was captured near Porlock on Exmoor whilst we were on a road trip.
A group of us were renting a house in Croyde, which I’d spotted last time I was there and after spending a week living in it, it is still my dream house. The plan had been to get a lot of surfing done, but mother nature had other ideas, and there weren’t any waves the whole time we were there. After being shown an article about the A39 on the Greatest Driving Roads website about how despite being named as a major road the A39 from Barnstaple to Minehead was in places just a single lane and had 1 in 4 gradient hills up onto Exmoor, a road trip was needed!
Unfortunately, as we are taking my MX-5 to the Western Isles later in the year, I was driving Jen’s 500, Ali & his girlfriend, also called Jen, joined us in Ali’s Z4. The 500 coped surprisingly well with the hills and the views over Exmoor and over the Bristol channel to Wales were great, Minehead was less so, my advice to anyone doing this road trip would be to stop at Porlock, which seemed much nicer than Minehead and the last part of the A39 wasn’t anything special. On the return journey we stopped at the top of Porlock Hill and I asked Ali to drive the section of road a couple of times so I could take some photographs. I’m quite pleased with the final result, I’d wanted to capture the sort of image that is used in Evo magazine which I think I managed, the only thing I don’t like about the image is that the roof is up!
After the photoshoot we went to Lynmouth for a cream tea and walk along the harbour, before heading back to Croyde. So even though we didn’t get to surf a road trip to Minehead was a great way to spend the day!
Through my day job I managed to get access to this Fiat 500 demo car on my lunch break, the matte black wrap made it look moodier than normal Bossa Nova White Fiat 500s (such as Jen’s, previously featured on this blog) so that was the feel I tried to go for with the shoot. Other than the wrap/wheels/body kit, it has a custom interior, including remodeling of the dash and custom Recaro seats with the backs painted to match the car, but the Alpine audio system is really the centre piece, with so much equipment in the back that it makes my MX-5 look practical.
This picture was taken at Southwold in Suffolk, the destination of the 2012 “Fish and Chip Run” an annual event of the MX-5 Owners Club Northamptonshire Area.
The day started off with an early start and a dash to the layby on the A14, where we would be joining the convoy, which was already at least 30 strong, increasing to over 100 cars as we headed east towards the Suffolk coast.
When we got to the harbour at Southwold we parked up and headed straight to Mrs T’s Fish and Chip Emporium, to get what is probably the best fish and chips I’ve ever had!
It was with fully bellies that we took a stroll down to the beach, dodging the MX-5s that had taken over the whole harbour area. Just before we left I was able to pull my car out in front of some boats and take this photo, without causing too much of a traffic jam!
The drive home, via meeting up with one of Jen’s friends near Thetford and the B664 (Uppingham to Market Harborough) was one of my favourite drives of the year, with flowing roads, hardly any traffic and perfect weather!
My friend took us out for a spin in his new (to him) Eos the other week, whilst it isn’t an MX-5 it did feel good cruising around Liverpool with the roof down. We ended up in Crosby at Antony Gormley’s Another Place and while our girlfriends weren’t looking for a few minutes we managed to set up this shot.
I dropped Jen off at the supermarket and was told “I’ll be back in 10 minutes”, so what else was I going to do when presented with an underground car park and my MX-5? This shot was taken and processed (and car returned to where I’d dropped Jen off) before she got back. Much more fun than shopping!
Hopefully I’ll get a chance to shoot here with my proper camera soon.
I wasn’t going to post this photo of Jen’s Fiat 500, as it was more of a test shot, due to the light not being perfect, but every time I see it on my phone or Flickr it makes me smile, so thought I’d post it anyway!
After washing Jen’s 500 I decided to take a quick picture of it on my iPhone and post it to Flickr/Twitter.
Rather annoyingly within a few hours it had more views than all the pictures of my new MX-5, although that was possibly something to do with a retweet from Polished Bliss.
The little Fiat will be getting a proper photoshoot soon though.