Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Last Post Indeed

Well our 2013 tour sank like a stone when the ferry hit the quay but the good news is that DFDS have now responded generously to our claim and we are back on for 2014.

Thanks entirely to Keith though we have managed to recoup much of our loss and can now finally put our disappointment behind us and look forward and focus our energy on next year - a year older and maybe a little wiser.

A firm date hasn't been set as of yet but looking to go over around the same time in 2014 with the same crew if James Dresch is mad enough to extend his invite.And yes it will feel like Ground Hog Day going back to Harwich.

So that mon petite braves is the last blog on here!

For 2014 it will be :


Tuesday, 2 July 2013

The Last Post?

Well it seems like the ferry is going to be another week away from what my Harwich spies tell me. The boat was holed badly when it hit the quay so maybe some structural stuff came to light whilst undertaking the repair in Germany?

Two weeks out of service is a massive blow to all those passenegers like us who'd planned to drive to Sweden/Denmark as there really isn't much of an alternative other than going via Dover and through France/Belgium etc I suppose we could have been in Esberg when this happened and that would have been quite a detour to get home!

Rumours are circulating that the ferry captain was offered a tug and assistance that fateful Saturday owing to the swell but I guess we'll have to await the official inquiry for all the salient facts.

Either way nothing changes things and our 2013 Swedish tour was sadly cancelled, our generous host left with a freezer full of reaindeer steaks and all his (and our) year long planning in tatters.

Sincere thanks to June in Suffolk who kindly put me up for two nights at short notice and I enjoyed seeing Felixtstowe and Ipswich tho the weather was absolutely foul at times giving some indication of how the ferry came to grief. One minute it was fine and sunny then out of nowhere torrential rain and gusty winds

Financially we have currency losses (Swedish Krona is not the best denomination to be left with) continental breakdown insurance, out of pocket expenses for food & drinks, accomodation, parking, and fuel some of which would have been totally unneccessary if DFDS hadn't sat on it's hands for 36 hours when it was patently obvious that with the ship badly holed and a jetty twatted we were never going to get away on Monday.

Hopefully DFDS will treat our claim fairly and we can at least salvage something

Talking of which ...............

The Cotswolds or Bust

My lovely wife Tina swung into action with plan b) when she heard that, after 2 days waiting aimlessly in Suffolk, I was now coming home more than a little cheesed off . Unknown to me she'd been on the web and found just the ticket - a cheeky 2 night break in the Cotswolds - and yes it was going to be in the Marlin!

I had a day at home to check over the Berli (Harwich had been the longest run she'd been on since I bought her 10 months ago) and all was fine and the revised cooling system and thermo fan had done well.

With my holdall half emptied (well yes more than half emptied1) and Tina's stuff added we were off and had a lovely drive  to the Cotswolds where we just toured locally taking in the sights around Blockley, Broadway and Stowe. Great Marlin country and a good few classic cars and bikes were out to play too some in British classics from Holland.

Broadway Village Yellow lines? What yellow lines officer?

By the time we'd returned home I'd clocked up 580 miles since setting out for Harwich during which time the Berli ran beautifully so at least she had a good proving run. Compared to the roadster the extra storage is an absolute blessing and we had room for a large holdall behind the front seats and room in the boot too.

I loved my old Roadster but the Berli was an easy drive and the fifth gear makes touring a pleasure now I must say!  

The Berli emerges for an old coaching inn in Blockley - she certainly drew a good few smiles!

So yes my final post I daresay and we all now just await DFDS's response in terms of compensation. Reallistically we can never recover all of our outlay and considerable time lost but it would be a lovely gesture if they responded generously. 


Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Well the F**-k Up Ferry certainly arrived - our Swedish tour is no more!

Yes we had to wave the white flag after DFDS finally conceded Sunday night that there was zero hope of this boat ever leaving for Denmark (it's apparently now bound for a dry dock in Germany I've heard) and in any case part of the quay was also sunk too by all accounts and that wont be a quick fix either (After a dreadful day Saturday when it dawned on us that the ferry had collided with the quay, after much waiting, we'd decamped to the terminal where DFDS drip fed us with bits of info culminating with an offer several hours later to put us up on board Saturday night only to then kick us off the boat Sunday morning to stay wherever we could find a bed for the night with the possibility of a boat sailing maybe Monday night.

Well at St Albans it was all going well and on time

I totally accept accidents happen but it must have been abundantly obvious that with a boat holed below the waterline and a jetty out of service there was zero chance of a boat going out that night or in any hurry yet they still had us gamely lining up when we first arrived then frankly fannied about.

There was no water /tea/coffee being handed out to the queues and a couple of young DFDS employees were fed to the howling mob to explain the comapnies position - not that they knew that much either

What happened to all the staff that should have been sailing that night and why werent they drafted over to help those poor couple of girls and offer help to the passengers - especially the elderly ones and those with young children?

DFDS need to urgently review how they handle these kind of emergencies so that :

a) passengers are not kept waiting when there is patently no chance of a sailing and whilst an alternative crossing may be still possible
b) keep people properly updated with regular bulletins
c) provide asssistance in terms of food and beverages
d) be clear about what the support is and issue realistic timescales

We now have a trip that has been a year in planning completely written off, our Swedish hosts without our much anticipated classic car tour making its very first visit and an enormous waste of money on our part.

I'd like to think that DFDS will handle our claim sympathetically and I can't tel you how gutted we all felt. Its taken me a few day's just to make this post!

June and Daisy "Wave us Off" 

And a final shot

Filling up "before boarding" - If only we knew what was coming!

I guess it will all come out eventually - hopefully it won't be another Costa Concorde with some idiot captain showboating his seamanship and I guess the very gusty weather that day may have been a factor

As I said, accidents do happen and apparently the crew did a great job plugging the leak after the collision but DFDS badly need to up their game on how they handle such emergencies on dry land too so that we passengers are treated better in future.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Saturday 23.59 pm

Dunno wot's going on?!

Well, we should be on the ferry at this moment and probably tucked up in our cabins. However, thanks to a rather unfortunately timed gust of wind, El Capitaine managed to crash his boat into the quayside on the way in from Sweden and make a hole in it. Silly man! Sadly it meant that we were not destined to sail today and we were herded to the Terminal offices where chaos ensued while we tried to find out what would happen next.
Marlins take over the Morrison's forecourt
Earlier, Bob and I had arrived at the Mayflower, Brewers Fayre pub at a decidedly unpicturesque location just outside the Port. The rest of the intrepid travelers were expected any minute. However an unplanned detour in the opposite direction to where they should be heading caused a delay to their arrival and they had no chance to catch up on my and Bob's already-downed 2 pints. A friend of Pete's told us she'd heard there was a problem at the port, something to do with a Stena ferry.We weren't initially concerned at first. Off we set to fill up at Morrisons, after which we all managed to go three different way before we got to the queue. Then we heard that the distressed ferry was indeed ours and not only was it delayed, it had a hole in it that would need repairing before we could sail again. Eventually we ambled over to the Terminal to find out our fate and, to cut a long story short, we re-booked for Monday.

I'm writing this from home. Bob is home. Pete is with a mate nearby and Keith, Margaret, John and Dave eventually got loaded onto the stricken ferry as a floating hotel for the night, got given food around 11.00 pm and they are in a Travelodge in Colchester on Sunday night. On Monday we will re-group and try again to get the Marlins to Sweden!

I was able to speak to James in Sweden to advise of our fate and sadly we will miss out on the Reindeer steak tomorrow!

Check out: http://news.sky.com/story/1107006/harwich-ferry-crash-500-stuck-for-three-hours

Hi Sue,
As my old uncle George used to say "gosh!" Thank goodness the accident didn't happen with you on board in the middle of the North Sea. I have just spoken to my neighbors and they have promised to come in for dinner tomorrow so the reindeer steak I intended to treat you to wont be wasted!
To try to save at least part of your holiday you might all consider trying to get cheap air flights to Malmö or Copenhagen. Malmö airport is only 20 minutes from here and Copenhagen 40. I can make all 3 of my Berlis available and I also have the Toyota so getting around would be no problem. Ryanair do flights from Stansted to Malmö and the flight only takes 100 minutes.
Just a suggestion, at the moment I can't think of any better suggestion.
Big hugs to all!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Yes she is all ready for the big off to the Nordic climes!

Well she's all ready and raring to go and just waiting for Dave to come up from Somerset on Saturday morning then we can gradually pick up some other waifs and strays somewhere near St Albans.The boot is bulging with spare parts and "get you home" bits and bobs which you instinctively pack when youve done a few tours. With the Berli there's still space to tuck the holdall behind the front seats so I do sympathise with the Roadster folk who have to ration what they can physically take.

I still remmeber my wife lovely wife Tina trying to smuggle a pair of trainers into the Roadster at the last minute and having to wedge them just past her ears!

I was chatting to my pal who knows his cars and he reccomends using the Super unleaded in our sort of cars as he reckons that todays unleaded is virtually two star and the modest price premium could be offset by better performance and maybe even economy.

They also found that some of the older pre-unleaded Jap performance cars really don't run at all well on Regular unleaded

I'm glad that James mentioned a 200 mile range from a 7 1/2 gallon tank as that was pretty well what I guessed I was doing at around mid/late twenties mpg. Hopefully touring in fifth gear will be a bit better especially at Swedish pump prices!

My fuel gauge is a bit flakey and never quite sure where empty realy lies so I was especially pleased to find my tripometer was working again as that gives me a rough range to work to.

All ship shape and Bristol Fashiomn - I just love those flowing lines!

Well I've attended to all the obvious stuff so now it's as ready as I can make her and there is a sense of satisfaction when taking a properly checked over and maintained car away so you dont go breaking down with something silly.

One thing I always remember is keeping an eye out for anything unusual and thats where a good sense of smell often comes in. I once had an old car start to boil up (despite the gauge saying all was fine) but because I had smelt that certain smell of hot rubber/anti freeze etc I had a peep and sorted it before terminal damage occurred.

Also when driving of it often pays to throw a rearward glance for any other leaks as an oil dip stick on the B Series engine inmy old Roadster was once not pushed fully home (by me!) and again was leaking.

Anyway Im sure we'll all have a great drive and at least if one of us has any mechanical gremlins we have a mature and experienced pit crew!

News just in from Sweden!

Sweden look set to outlaw bestiality and close the "animal didn't suffer" loophole.

Zoophiles, you have until January 1st. Phew still time then! 


Final Word

But the final word on this section of the blog must go to our generous host in Sweden, James "The Judge" Dresch who is so kindly putting us all up. We are all very grateful James and sincerely hope that your enighbours will have forgiven you by Xmas!

Hi All,

Just a last minute update before you leave. The bloody Nordic gods have made their usual botch up of the weather. I distinctly said when cremating the chateau briand that I wanted nice weather NEXT WEEK. After arguing among themselves (and not finding the original request that has probably been filed under the wrong heading) they came to the conclusion that I wanted nice weather for this week.


Proof that yes they do have (some) sun in Sweden


God Thor (who had another opinion) reacted in his usual manner (I suspect he might suffer from Tourettes syndrome) with thunder and lightning but the other gods fought back and yesterday and today we have had 25C mixed with thunder. Finally, according to the Swedish Met office, they came to an agreement of nice weather tomorrow, thunder and rain on Saturday and Sunday and to continue negotiations about the weather for the rest of the week.

The conclusion is BRING RAIN CLOTHES and brolleys! (Wimbledon weather)
Today the weather has been fantastic and all your bedding has been washed and dried in the sun. Tomorrow I will vacuum the house and clear away some of the spiders webs!

Drive carefully and welcome to Sweden!



Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Swedish Tour 2013 - Final Planning

Yes the Final Count-Down!

Well Swedish Tour sounds very Abba esque and funnily enough a bio on the lovely Agnetha last night provided tantalising images of Sweden in the 1970's - I expect its changed a bit .........rather like Agnetha bless!

Cars are gradually being prepped and checked and some old hands have chipped in with various tips which should keep us as trouble free as is possible with our old jalopies   You learn from past expereince that obtaining a clutch cable for a Ford Sierra isnt what it was whether you ae in the UK or Sweden and a careful pre flight check can often flag up potential issues before they get to be a problem..

I had the odd leak with one from the petrol pump where it meets th eblock but all sorted now plus on efrom the  speedo drive. I also had a temperamental cooling fan switc so this is now set at 80 degrees plus  a manual override

The last job was to shift the HT coil up onto the bulkhead as itwas originally mounted very low down by the fuel pump so potentially not good for puddles!

We seem to have most bases covered though bar anything terminal like a gearbox though James has kindly offered his garage facilities at the other end.

As ever our limited luggage space will need to accomodate not only our personal gear but the usual car spares plus of course a goodly supply of food and alcohol.

So far we have myself ,Dave,John and Keith meeting north of Watford near St Albans and then we go as a mini Marlin convoy to Harwich where we will meet Sue & Rob outside the Mayflower and Lidl.

Tour Nick Names

As some nick names have emerged here are some suggestions for your perusal

Sue (Rodders)
Rob (Bobb)
Keith (Wallace)
Margaret (Grommit)
John ( Mister Brice Guy)
Dave (El Fikko)
Pete (Seaweed)
James (The Judge) Dresch

Where we are headed

Not long now !!!!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Keep Calm and start the countdown

Yes we are finally off to Sweden this month which will see the largest number of Marlins ever (well double figures just) to grace the shores of this Nordic country.

We have 6 cars from the UK then James has 3 cars (all left hookers) plus Jan and maybe another couple perhaps. This will be first time this number of Marlins have ever assembled in the Nordic regions. 

Not all mooses are on the road itself - airbags a bit superflous methinks in her case!

On  a purely selfish level travelling solo does mean I can pack a bit more stuff as Marlin's are not designed to take an enormous amount of luggage but having switched from a Roadster I now of course with a Berli have a lovely boot too!