This weekend was the MMOC's National Rally at Knebworth House. I'd been suffering agonies of indecision about whether or not pto452 could manage the journey, but the weather was good and I figured there was unlikely to be a National Rally much closer to Cambridge than Knebworth, so I decided to risk it. I needn't have worried; she was very well behaved, and if anything, I think getting a decent run did her good. (Unfortunately brrm's Minor wasn't so happy, misfiring quite badly at times on the way back.)
We managed to get lost several times (both on the way there and on the way back) in the black hole that is Knebworth / Stevenage / Baldock / Letchworth / Ashwell & Morden / anything else on that end of the Cambridge-to-London main line, largely because (as far as I can tell) the map is a PACK OF LIES. Realised at one point on the way there that another Minor was behind us, and was probably following us -- I wished I'd had some way of telling them "Don't follow me! I'm thoroughly lost, and I'm following him, and he's quite possibly lost too!". Still, they went a different way and presumably got there in the end too.
Wandered around in the sun for ages looking for spare parts on the many car-boot-style stalls which people had set up. In addition to a few odds and ends (bump-stop to replace the one I'm missing, new pedal-rubbers to replace the rather floppy ones I have) I finally found the right kind of choke cable to replace pto452's existing one (which was frayed nearly all the way through). Not easy to fit but we managed in the end; having a working choke definitely makes a big difference! Failed to find a decent set of second-hand hubcaps in any better condition than mine; have decided to polish up my existing ones instead.
Somewhere along the line, I accidentally ended up being some kind of organising force behind the Cambridge branch of the MMOC. I only offered to look after the table, the photos and the information leaflets/forms overnight so that they wouldn't have to cart them back to Cambridge, and before I knew it I was making bunting out of paper tablecloths (emergency trip to Tesco followed by hasty Blue Peter session) and effectively running the branch's stall. While doing this, though, I discovered that I actually really like chatting to random people about their cars, and about what the Cambridge branch is doing, and generally being friendly and persuading them to come along. Maybe I should get more involved in doing this kind of thing semi-officially for the branch, or trying to get involved in similar people-stuff in other areas I'm interested in. Enjoying talking to people has to be useful for something. It's something to think about, anyway.
The "party" on the Saturday night was a bit of a damp squib -- no alcoholic drinks for sale (two free with the entry ticket), soft drinks (small plastic glasses of coke/lemonade) £1 each, and a fairly school-disco-ish selection of cheesy music. We gave up halfway through the drawing of the raffle tickets, partly because I was getting so irritated at the compère saying "that's another Chinese one" at every yellow ticket. Unfortunately the iPod couldn't really compete with the MMOC party on one side and the Cricket Club's party on the other side; fortunately, I was tired enough to fall asleep despite all this. Good practice for Glasto I guess.
Mostly though it was lovely just being able to wander around and see so many gorgeous classic cars -- it took a while for my brain to stop saying "Oh look, a moggy!" every couple of seconds. There were about 850 cars there at the last vaguely-official estimate, and the huge sweeping lines of gleaming bonnets and bumpers were really quite an impressive sight. (Photos to follow when I've got them off the camera; in the meantime, see brrm's journal for photos.) It was interesting to see the range of styles and conditions -- from the concours cars which looked virtually factory-new, to much-loved moggies which were clearly people's everyday cars, to police cars (the friendly-looking blue-and-white Morris Minors, and the more sober black Morris Oxford with its huge chrome bell on the front) ... and some of the more radical "custom" cars. Could have happily spent the whole weekend just wandering around drooling over shiny cars. :)
pto452 didn't look too bad compared to the other cars around her -- I didn't enter her for judging in the end as there really are just too many obvious bits of rust and things-needing-fixed, but she certainly wasn't the worst-maintained car there and she got a fair bit of attention and admiration in her place on the Cambridge branch stall. Maybe next year (when the rally will be at Donington Park, which still isn't too far away) she'll be in a fit state to be entered for condition class. In the end, though, I'm with brrm on this one -- I'd rather have a car I can use, kept in good condition as far as possible but not so shiny I daren't touch it. And given the amount of dust on the site I'm glad she wasn't being judged -- I'd have been devastated at how dirty she got just driving on to the campsite. I was annoyed enough anyway!
Had time on Sunday to look round Knebworth House, which is quite impressive but not terribly extensive. The three-person four-poster bed looked rather good, and I wanted to take the harpsichord home with me (though I think they'd have noticed). They were apparently using the house for filming, and judging from the garbled reports from the house guides (who were obviously more at home with talking about Tudor wall-paintings than the moving pictures...) I think the film in question is this one, or possibly the sequel. Sounds dire, anyway!
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Arrived back in Cambridge just before sion_a, who'd been at his mum's 60th birthday party. Apparently the cake I made for the party (in the shape of a caravan) was much appreciated, and his parents are now offering to pay me for it -- which leaves me in a bit of a dilemma. See, I'd assumed that I was making the cake as a kind of birthday gift (since I hadn't the faintest idea what else to get them), or at the very least as a favour; I'd really appreciate the money, but I think I'd feel bad taking it, and (as usual) I have no idea what I ought to charge for something like that. Ingredients don't cost that much (flour, sugar, eggs, cornflour, oil, water; the ready-to-roll icing is the only vaguely pricey bit) and I have no idea what my time is worth (since I tend to think "well I'd only have been faffing uselessly otherwise").
In retrospect I probably should have spent a little less time in the sun this weekend, or at least remembered to put suncream on before wandering around in the middle of the day in a strappy top. I am now fairly extensively lobster-coloured, and my neck is very sore. And I have daft tan-lines where my pony-tail was, and where the arms of my glasses sit on the side of my face. Ho hum. Own silly fault. :)