Wednesday 26 September 2018

Road - A poignant tale

A unique and very distinctive memorial caught the eye while working at the annual SMMT Test Day at Wetherby.  While driving through the North Yorkshire village of Tockwith, with a motoring journalist colleague from the Greenock Telegraph, we stopped to have a look - which prompted a Google search this morning.

This memorial was erected just 3 years ago to mark the 70th anniversary of an event which happened two months after the close of World War 2 in 1945.  A young, but experienced, pilot was returning to the nearby RAF Marston Moor airfield at the conclusion of a night training flight when it was reported and recorded that his Stirling bomber aircraft stalled and crashed into the village of Tockwith.

All six members of the flight crew were killed and one villager, although given the serious nature of the crash and the amount of devastation caused to homes, the local folks were indeed fortunate to have escaped a much worse tragedy.

But what caught the eye was the name and title of the first casualty on the memorial plaque inscribed above the names of the flight crew. It was the local postmaster Arthur Carlill who had been in bed above his Post Office on that fateful night when the aircraft crashed into it and demolished it.

Coincidentally, just outside Tockwith to the east of the village is Marston Moor, the site of a much more bloody event where the Parliamentarians clashed with the Royalists during the English Civil War in the 17th century. The battle commenced around 7.30pm and by midnight around 4,500 soldiers were lying dead or fatally wounded on the field with the Parliamentarians under Oliver Cromwell claiming a famous victory. Four and half thousand soldiers slaughtered in the dark on a barren English moor in four and a half hours. It doesn't bear thinking about, eh?

But here's the thing, the Scots were very much involved in this 'English' Civil War as the 11,000 strong Parliamentarian army was bolstered by 13,500 troops and cavalry from the Scottish Covenanters.
We stopped at that memorial too, but somehow the Tockwith air disaster memorial affected us both more. We were both silent in the car for a quite a few miles after that. Perhaps it had something to do with the evocative skeletal metal sculpture depicting a Stirling bomber in flight. A nice touch were the fresh and well cared-for flowers growing in containers around the base of this memorial.

More info here on the Tockwith air crash here if you're interested:

Road - The good life.

There are times when even the most mundane jobs provide moments of deep joy. Just had a 'full english' after a good night's sleep in a grand hotel amidst the soft undulating Yorkshire dales and now I have to spend the day driving the new Ford Focus (as advertised on the telly). Someone's got to do it, eh?

Sunday 23 September 2018

Rally - Carry On Kames

Crikey that was close. The winning margin after 16 Special Stages at Kames for the Albar/ISS Junior 1000 Ecosse event at Kames earlier today was ONE second.

Lewis Haining got off to a flying start, but so did Ollie Hunter. After two stages Haining had built up a HUGE 2 second lead and after four stages, it was a massive 3 seconds! By the lunch halt at half-time his lead was back to 2 seconds and during the afternoon, Hunter stalked his adversary mercilessly, eventually sneaking past to grab the victory by one second. Marvellous stuff.

Andrew Blackwood fought back after an overshoot on the second stage which dropped him to 6th place to finish 3rd overall, just squeezing out championship leader Johnnie Mackay.

That sets things up nicely for the final round at Cadwell Park in November where the Scottish Junior title will be decided between Mackay and Haining. Or if they both fail to finish, there is an outside chance that someone else could sneak in and lift it, but don't ask me to explain the permutations.

However, young Ollie's result today has clinched the Novice award in the J1000 series.

Colin Gemmell won the 'senior' supporting event today from Graham Bruce but the big cars did leave a lot of rubber behind with their antics, while David McLeod was lucky he didn't leave more behind after a hugely impressive, but entirely unintentional, spin at the finish of the 13th stage in his Sunbeam!

However all eyes (and certainly not the ears, cos ye couldnae hear it!) was on the electrically powered Renault Zoe. It was an impressive wee thing, although all you could hear was the chirrup from the front tyres as Cameron put the power down too quickly. Had he been competing amongst the J1000 cars he would have finished 4th. If this is the future of rallying, so be it, but it lacks one vital ingredient, the mechanical beat of 3, 4, 6 or 8 cylinders.

Pity there weren't more entries for the track was dry, the weather was fine - and the burger van didn't turn up! Maybe that was why Rhona's tablet disappeared so quickly and Steven Brown's awfy rich looking chocolate cake didn't last much longer. However, I can confirm that there is absolutely no truth whatsoever in the scurrilous rumour that the reason the chocolate cake disappeared so quickly was because auld man Gemmell, who was on track duty, was using it to fill-in pot-holes!

( Full report will follow in the digital mag shortly )

Junior 1000 top six
1 Oliver Hunter/Tom Hynd  (Peugeot 107) 24m 40s
2 Lewis Haining/George Myatt (Skoda Citigo) +0.01
3 Andrew Blackwood/Richard Stewart (Citroen C1) +0.21
4 Johnnie Mackay/Gordon Reid (Suzuki Alto) +0.47
5 Peter Beaton/Dean Ross (Peugeot 107) +1.28
6 Cameron Davidson/Kenneth McRae (Nissan Micra) +2.04

Senior Top Six
1 Colin Gemmell/Derek Keir (Ford Escort Mk2) 21m 58s
2 Graham Bruce/Paul Toner (Ford Escort Mk2) +1.22
3 David McLeod/Eamonn Boyle (Talbot Sunbeam) +2.04
4 Alistair Cunningham/Jim Smith (Ford Escort Mk2) +2.07
5 Lindsay Taylor/David Murie (Ford Fiesta ST150) +2.32
6 Cameron Davies/Ellya Gold (Renault Zoe) +3.05

Saturday 22 September 2018

Rally - Galloway gossip .

It was obviously the end of a very tough season, or perhaps it was simply due to the Galloway Hills being the final round of the ARR Craib Championship, or maybe it was because it was cold, wet and drizzly at Service. Whatever, nonsense and funny stories were in short supply, although there were instances of what looked suspiciously like male bonding, or perhaps it was just downright bribery, and whoever came up with the idea of haggis flavoured ice cream deserves to be knighted - or exiled !!

Galloway News & Blethers here:

Friday 21 September 2018

Road - Electrically driven

Electric cars - the future? Perhaps not. The trouble with electric cars is they make you fat, and as we all know obesity is a growing problem. It creates strain on the NHS and on the Government's longer term health and welfare finances. Obesity also leads to reduced manufacturing output and lost working days. A terrible affliction, surely.

Which begs the question, why is the Government so dead set on switching us from petrol and diesel to electricity if electric cars are only adding to the crisis? It's a question of solving one problem while creating another, but which is worse?

Of course it's not the electric power plant that is the problem. The latest generation of electric cars are lovely to drive but range is still an issue, and of course range-anxiety can affect one's health too! Whereas it takes just minutes to re-fill a petrol or diesel tank it can take hours to 're-fuel' a battery pack. And this is where the problem lies.

What do motorists do if they are waiting for their vehicle to be charged up? They go to the nearest cafe for a coffee and a cake, which simply adds to the obesity epidemic. Even if they don't go for food and drink they might well end up going shopping and that could cost even more money.

So re-fuelling an electric car isn't as cheap as the 'experts' would have you believe. The temptation is there to while away a bit of time by spending more money on snacks and energy drinks, or tea and a bacon roll. And God forbid they put a charging point near a Greggs, that will burst the nation's economy quicker than a microwave heating a pie.

Don't kid yourself. When you add that to the cost of running an electric car, you also add to your waistline while depleting your wallet. So much for all these bluidy wind farms spoiling the views and turbines cluttering up the skyline.

As for zero emissions, after some of Nando's hot Peri Peri chicken or a chickpea and lentil burger, it's not the car's emissions we have to be worried about, it's the human emission equivalent!

Nope, there is much to be said for the 'hidden benefits' of the combustion engine. Methinks the Government have not really thought this issue all the way through. They should just stop and think for a minute before charging ahead with their alternative fuel schemes.

For instance, I spent the day with the latest generation Nissan Leaf. Lovely motor, but I had to stop for a charge-up and it just happened to be opposite a Berits and Brown bistro. They do a wonderful millionaire's shortbread and cappuccino you know! What chance have I got?