…. in Valencia, was last week’s adventure. I didn’t realise quite how far it was from home – a 2460 mile round trip – although it looked a long way on the map. With my sister and The Ambassador’s Daughter settled in the car, we crossed the Channel early on Monday morning and stayed on Monday night with the friends who had so generously hosted the Monaco Dash last September, a little bit south of Angouleme in Juignac. On Tuesday morning we set off in the direction of Bayonne and then down to Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port to cross the Pyrenees and take in the monastery at Roncesvalles (where I was for the last full eclipse of the sun).
As we climbed higher into the mountains, the rain turned to sleet and quickly into snow. A local car in front of us stopped having thought better of it and made to turn round. We (thinking we knew better) went on another 200 yards and then lost all traction. A retreat back down the mountain was our only option (that’s automatic’s for you). Nevertheless, a very good lunch in Saint-Jean was reward for our endeavours following which we went back to Saint-Jean-de-Luz to cross into Spain and to take the less onerous route down past Pamplona and then on to Zaragoza. Midnight saw us in Valencia – 3 hours later than we’d anticipated. It was probably just as well that we didn’t get any further into the Pyrenees as on the news the following day it transpired that the west of the region had seen the worst snow in 10 years in that 24 hours.
Further compensation came in the view from the hotel in Valencia as the sun came up the next morning. It was particularly heartening for February. We picked up the dog (it wasn’t for me I hasten to add – much as I love dogs, my way of life isn’t able to accommodate them or any other pets for that matter) and set off back to Angouleme. The Spanish autovia’s or autopista’s (I’ve never worked out which is which) were fabulous and perfect for long-haul drives – smooth, very little road noise and often virtually empty. We weren’t tempted to take the non-toll options which, slow and crowded, often ran within sight of the toll roads and confirmed the wisdom of coughing up the 30 or so Euros. We stayed again at Juignac for a couple of nights and after a night in Kent (it was nearly a night in Calais as the Spanish paperwork for the dog wasn’t quite up to speed) we were back home on Saturday.
On Sunday morning The Ambassador’s Daughter and I were up at 4.00am to help out Learned Counsel and The Navigator on a track day at Donington.
‘Feels like’ -1 was a bit of a come down from +18 in Valencia but it was all good fun. And Monday morning I collected all the bits and pieces for the radius arms and front spring plates for the Riley racing car.
The two black bits are the front axle clamp plates. All I’ve got to do with the radius arms is weld in the bush sleeves, attach the doubler plates to the mounting points (there’s two on each; the second is omitted for clarity) bend and attach the strip to the lower radius and slap a couple of lugs on the axle casing.
Then it’ll be time to go and see a man about a dog.