School bus driving specialist and all around top bloke “Donski” arrived in Lancaster last Sunday to spend a week prepping the car with us and generally just getting familiarised with everything. Once we got back to my place in Ulverston Don got to see the car, I made a £5 bet that he’d stall it first time based on the stereotype that Americans can’t drive stick. Also having driven it a fair bit I’ve noticed that the clutch takes a bit of getting used to as the biting point is about as noticeable as a needle in a haystack! Anyway, I lost that bet as he got in the car and drove straight around the car park with absolutely no issues. Bugger!
The following morning we were up early to fix an issue which had cropped up with the temperature gauge – basically it wasn’t working – kind of a big deal when your attempting to drive half way around the world and across numerous deserts! Thankfully a simple £5 temperature sensor was all that was needed to fix that little issue and once again the Felicia was fighting fit! I had to go to work later that day so I left Don to it in Ulverston, I pointed him in the direction of a few good pubs and knew he’d be fine. Fast forward 10 hours and at 1am when I walk in I find a rather jovial American man swaying around in the car park in his socks but with no shoes!! Turns out Don had gone to the pub and got chatting to a couple of guys, they explained they were travellers to which Don replied something along the lines of “Me too man! I’m just over from South Carolina, USA, me and my buddies are about to drive to Mongolia!”, the conversation progressed and somewhere between pint one and pint ten Don realised that their kind of travelling wasn’t quite the same as his – these were Romanian Travellers!! Either way he seemingly had a good evening.
Tuesday we were joined by the mothership who came up on the train so we could all have lunch together outside in the glorious sunshine. Don sadly did not find his new Romanian friends that night.
Wednesday Don took the car out for his first proper drive, he drove an hour down the road to Al’s house for a BBQ to celebrate his sister, Lynne’s birthday, this was the first time the two of them had met but I’m lead to believe that there was “good food, good music and good people” – I guess these two will get along just fine then!
By Thursday I had finally finished work for the trip and so was met by Al and Don in the Felicia so that we could take her for her first proper road test in the Lake District. Meanwhile, our fifth member (Rob) had also arrived so we threw him in the car and took him with us, 4/5ths of Plan F were ready to see what the Felicia had to offer! On a blisteringly hot day we drove up the side of Windermere, Rydal, Grasmere and then cut across and went up and over Honister Pass to test out her up hill abilities – slow and steady is how I could best describe it, and with a run up of possible! Dropping back down to Buttermere we looped back around on ourselves and headed back towards Bowness for a beer by the lake. It was the perfect day to be in the Lakes.
Friday morning Don and I had a bit of a lie in before attempting to pack the car up with all our gear, like putting together a jigsaw without the picture we seemingly are experts in the field and had it sorted in no time. At this point a massive thank you should be said to the guys at David Ian Skoda on Whitelund Industrial Estate at Morecambe for sorting us out with a fantastic touring kit of spare parts and extra fluids, by now this Felicia has to be the most treasured and cared for one in the country. Seeing as how we’d packed the car so quickly I thought I’d show Don some culture and take him to Lancaster on the train to have a looks around the castle – Americans love all that shit because their country is only about 200 years old, a veritable nipper in comparison to these fine shores! We arrived at the castle and yet again it was a beautiful day, we had the briefest of looks around before Don turns to me and says “Cool Castle, now where’s the pub!”, well that set the tone of the afternoon and after numerous pints sat out on the canal we frequented a few more of the local hostelries before heading to the Tap House. I recommended the Brew Dog Punk IPA to Don and so we both went for a pint of that, Don got all excited about the smell of hops, had THE geekiest beer and hops conversation I have ever heard with the barman, Oh and we met an Ewok! I’m not even kidding -we met a rather interesting vertically challenged gentleman who regaled us with his tales of parties with celebrities and showed us countless photos of him with said celebrities – I think Drunk Don even got his autograph!! A train ride full of drunken laughter and hiccuping, a curry and some more hiccuping entailed before we finally decided it was best that we head to bed as tomorrow was Launch Day!