It’s now been 10 years since my father died, and it was only last year that my mother also passed away.
I’m not getting any younger and of course, I still have my personal on-going health issues, With all this in mind, I wanted to pay my respects, and visit their final resting places, before I become too old to do so.
Dads special place is in Aberdeen , Scotland where he was born, and Mum’s is in rural Oxfordshire, England, close to the home of my sister Anne .
I’ve made many trips to Aberdeen during my life and the first time was in 1955.
Here I am with my Grandmother on Aberdeen Beach 1955.
Another trip was made two years later in 1957.Dad drove us up from Ipswich in his Vauxhall 14, Here’s Dad , me and sister Anne waiting to cross the River Forth at Queensferry in 1957
So, plans for a trip were put together and I left my place in Cornwall, Ontario (Canada) on Friday the 2nd of September.
As I’ve done before in many of my previous long trips, I’ll do this report in a day by day basis.
FRIDAY the 2nd of SEPT,
In the afternoon I drove to the Park N Ride at the Montreal Airport (Quebec).
My flight , the AIR TRANSAT to London Gatwick, wasn’t due to leave until about 10-00 pm but I like to get there early.
SATURDAY the 3rd of SEPT.
My plane landed mid morning (at about 10-00 am) and my first job was to get through UK Customs and Immigration.
Once this was done, I had to check in to EASY JET for my connection flight to Aberdeen in Scotland.
After being delayed by hydraulic problems, we finally took off about 3-45 pm.
The flight took just over 90 minutes, and by 5-30 pm I had landed in Aberdeen and was getting a cab to the Premier Inn at the Bridge of Don.
My sister Anne , had driven up from Oxfordshire in her Mini Cooper, and was there to meet me.
SUNDAY the 4th SEPT
Our plan for the day was to make a morning visit to Duthie Park, which is dads special place.
Unfortunately , the weather forecast for the day, was rain, but this didn’t deter us.
We stayed there for a while, before moving on.
The rest of our day was reserved for a ‘wee bit’ of racing for me and some sightseeing.
Our first stop was just outside Aberdeen at the Balmedie Beach.
It was a place we used to go to when we were kids.
For many years, one of my ‘bucket list’ race tracks has been the Crimond Raceway , located about a 45 minute drive north of Aberdeen .
It’s been on my list for two reasons, one is obviously the family connections to the area, and the fact that it’s the most Northerly stock car venue in the UK.
A few years ago I visited the St Day race track in Cornwall (England) which is the most Southerly track , so obviously wanted to add Crimond to my portfolio, just for bragging rights 🙂 .
It was really ‘persisting’ with rain so I’m glad it’s rare for UK tracks to cancel, just because a ‘wee bit’ of wet stuff.
I didn’t plan on staying for the complete show, so Anne waited outside and took a nap, in her Mini Cooper while I went in and got my fix.
Luckily there was a small grandstand where I was able to keep dry and get some pictures.
There was a good variety of formulas on the program and saw races in all classes before departing at the intermission.
Just before leaving I took a look around their well stocked souvenir shop, and picked up a few momentos.
They were real friendly folks in there.
CRIMOND RACEWAY became Track # 248 on my TRACKCHASING list.
It was still pouring with rain when we left Crimond and headed up to Fraserburgh for a spot of sightseeing .
Pouring rain is not the ideal recipe for picture taking and looking at the sights but we carried on regardless.
We stopped for a coffee and and bite to eat in the Scottish Light House Museum, then took a look around. I got the best pictures I could under the conditions out side.
It’s a pity it was such a crappy day.
MONDAY the 5th of SEPT .
We left the Premier Inn at the Bridge of Don, around 8-30 am for the start of our journey south.
By lunch time we’d arrived in Falkirk for our first stop of the day.
We dropped in to see the ‘Falkirk Wheel’ boat lift .
It’s an amazing piece of engineering that lifts boats from the Rivers Forth and Clyde to the Union Canal.
We stopped there for a coffee and watched it do its thing.
Our next place of interest was just a few miles down the road (or rather the canal) where we went to check out the Kelpies.
These are two large steel sculptures of horses, that have one of the locks running between them.
We took the guided tour before getting on our way.
Our overnight stay was in another Premier Inn, at Livingston, near Edingburgh.
TUESDAY the 6th SEPT.
We were awake early for our final leg of the drive south.
We left Livingston before 7-00 am and were across the border into England and having a break at the M6 Service Area at Killington Lake in Cumbria before mid morning.
This is located on the edge of Englands Lake District and the view was beautiful. I wish I could say the say the same thing about the coffee.
We wanted to avoid the busy Birmingham part of the M6, as well as visiting another tourist spot, so exited the motorway at Penkridge and headed south from there.
This brought the memories coming back from my trucking days in the England . On my trips north I would often stop at the Sunset Cafe in Penkridge for breakfast, That was over 35 years ago, so it was no surprise to see it was no longer there.
Our plan was to drop by the small town of Ironbridge in Shropshire beside the River Severn. We got there in time for a riverside lunch and then checked out the famous bridge.
We spent about an hour there before continuing on.
From here we traveled via Worcester and Evesham to Anne’s place at Milton Under Wychwood , near Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds.
My brother in law Pete was there to meet us.
WEDNESDAY the 7th SEPT
This was a day of relaxing after our long trip, but there was one very important thing to do.
That was to visit mums final resting place, in a wooded area just outside Milton Under Wychwood.
It’s a lovely spot, just what Mum would of liked.
Anne needed to do some shopping, so while she did that that, I was dropped off at the nearby Cotswold Motoring Museum.
I’ve there been before, but I never tire of going again.
As before my favorite exhibit was the Fiat Topolino, the iconic little Italian car that was the donor body to so many stock cars.
One of my stock cars had a Topolino body
I had a ‘cut down’ Topolino on the BriSCA F2 , I raced in 1977.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing at Anne’s place.
THURSDAY the 8th SEPT
The morning was spent around the house, while Anne and Pete had a weekly charity ‘Coffee morning’ in the village to help out at.
Just after lunch Anne drove me to Dunstable in Bedfordshire, where I spent most of my childhood, and where my brother and his wife Sue still live.
After our arrival we posed for a rare photo of all three siblings, before Anne headed back to Oxfordshire
In the early evening Chris had to go in to town for an hour to teach singing lessons to a group of children, so I joined him for the ride.
He’s just bought a new VW Electric Car, so we went in that.
I’m no fan of ‘Plug In’ cars , but it was nice to at least have the experience.
Chris’s singing lessons were taking place at the Dunstable Priory Church, a place I’m very familiar with.
I took a few pictures in Priory Gardens and around the town center while Chris did his lesson.
I even took a picture of The Nags Head , one of my regular watering holes from back in the day .
I met up with Chris again and we grabbed some food for supper from a local chippy .
It was at this time we learned the sad news that Queen Elizabeth II had passed away at Balmoral Castle, just a short distance from Aberdeen where I’d been a few days earlier.
As you’d expect , the TV media was covering the story all night and some of the high profile sporting events for the weekend were cancelled . This was a bit worrying, as part of my trip involved racing . I was attending events on Friday and Saturday . Lucky for us race fans that had traveled from all over the globe , the BriSCA F1 World Final Weekend went along as planned.
FRIDAY the 9th of SEPT
Early in the morning Chris and I went out in the VW again, this time to the local Tim Horton’s .
My favorite Canadian coffee shop has branched out in the UK, and Dunstable now has its own..
Mid morning I was picked up from Chris’s by my long time friend Colin Herridge in his Peugeot , then after spending a bit of time at his place saying ‘hello’ to his wife Kim, we headed to the races.
Our destination was the county of Suffolk for two days racing.
First port of call was the Mildenhall Stadium, located beside the large USAF base.
It’s a great little track and I remember attending the first ever BriSCA F1 stock car meeting there on the 12th of April 1987.
It was a good night, where I met up with plenty of old friends, and acquaintances.
My buddy, Colin Casserley and the other ‘togs’
Colin Herridge , Steve Mayhew, Ian Hall and Stuart Ralls,
Robin Shaw and Keith Meakins,
Paul and Joan Jenkins.
In the bar I met promoters Steve Rees (formerly Trackstar) Mathew Watson (Buxton) and Deane Woods (Spedeworth) .
It was nice to be back at Mildenhall after all these years.
Once the racing was over , Colin drove us to the Premier Inn at the Old Hadleigh Rd near Ipswich , which would be our base for the next two nights.
SATURDAY THE 10TH of SEPT.
It was the BriSCA F1 World Final at my home town track, the Foxhall Heath Raceway , in Ipswich.
68 years ago , I was born in the town of Ipswich, and the first ever stock car meeting I attended was at Foxhall Heath 65 years ago.
On arrival, we had a look around the pits, and the first person I chatted with was Zoe Sworder the wife of top racer Mick . Their son Charlie was now racing and was in the big event. Turn the clock back more than 30 years , Zoe and my daughter Carla could be seen watching the races together at Brafield. Go back even further and I used to race alongside Dick Sworder, Charlie’s grandfather.
After this I moved along to check out defending champion Tom Harris who was doing some pre race work on his motor.
Ipswich is a paved track and if the conditions were dry, , he was the favorite to win.
If things turned wet, it could be any ones.
Well it turned out wet and we had our first bit of rain, just after I’d taken a picture of the Lee Fairhurst car.
Lucky for me the team allowed me to shelter under their awning.
The rain stopped but the sky still looked like there was more in store, so I managed to find an undercover seat in the front straight grandstand behind the starter .
It can get quite noisy in there because its so close to the track. The problem was solved by the purchase of a cheap pair of ear defenders. It was a good decision to get undercover as there was more rain to follow.
Colin and me decided to stay in that spot for the entire show, There was a good view and we kept dry.
It was great to see former champion John Lund on the grid .
He started racing a year after me, and we are about the same age
The wet track proved to be a major factor in making this one of the best World Final races for a long time.
After many favorites went by the wayside in various shunts, the race developed into a great duel between Tom Harris and Charlie Sworder.
At the checkers, 20 year old Sworder was there to make history as the youngest World Final winner.
It was an unforgettable sight seeing Mick, his excited dad, down by the finish line, watching him take the flag.
I went around the pits after the race to get this picture.
Charlie with his younger brother Harry and mother Zoe.
The nights program had to be cut short to comply with the strict curfew rules, but the regular , meeting Final got in the books with Frankie Wainman Jr taking this one.
The Premier Inn is only a 20 minute drive from the track, so we were back in time for a couple of beers at the pub next door ‘The Beagle’ before closing time.
SUNDAY 11th of SEPTEMBER
Colin had kindly agreed to drive me to Gatwick Airport for my return flight , so after breakfast we headed in that direction.
My flight wasn’t until Monday morning so I’d booked yet another Premier Inn, located at the Airport on Sunday night to make things easier.
MONDAY the 12th of SEPTEMBER
In the morning it was just a matter of crossing the road to the North Terminal to check in for my flight.
Once through the security checks , I sat in the departure lounge , where I’d planned to meet up with my long time friend Lynn Longden.
We’ve known each other since we were teen agers and she’s visited me in Canada many times. We’d arranged for both of us to be on the same flight, so she could join me in Canada for a few weeks break. The plane was a bit late taking off, and landed in Montreal, just before 3-00 pm.
By early evening we were relaxing on my front porch.
What a great trip I had