Glen Ibbotson has been a Tealer for more than thirty years, owning both two-seater and four-seater Teals, and driving with his wife Maggie with verve and enthusiasm to new adventures all over Great Britain and Europe, as will become evident from these Teal tales.
Glen is a frequent and highly-amusing contributor to our Teal Club magazine, Teal Spiel; he has kindly agreed that some of his thoughts be displayed on our website. Oh, and Glen’s four-seater, as many will know, is called ‘Captain Sensible’, as is he.
Glen and Maggie
Captain Sensible, Glen and Maggie lead the way.
Glen’s wit and wisdom continues on this page right up to Lockdown, April 2020
Glen Ibbotson’s Sensible Thoughts’ Extract 1 ( From Teal Spiel, August 2010):
Why do grown men, who should know better, get a thrill out of whizzing around in impractical machines? Cold, windy and wet or hot, windy and dry. Take your pick. I suppose if you need to ask you will never understand and if you understand you will never need to ask. How does one define Tealitus? An irrational love for something anachronistic perhaps? Imagine a fine day with the open road in front of you. A silly grin plastered across your shot blasted face, the warm wind ruffling what little is left of your hair. The comforting burble of the exhaust and the insects ricocheting off your windscreen and head. The envious looks on the faces of mere mortals trapped inside their modern boxes on wheels, unable to sense, to smell, to feel the exciting world outside. The smug pitying looks on the faces of the same mortals as they watch you shiver, wretched and drowned in an unexpected downpour struggling to find the damned waterproofs which always manage to wedge themselves in the most awkward place to reach, while they sit warm and tight and dry imbibing the soothing sounds of their ultra high-tech sound system.
Why do we do it? Why climb mountains, why go to the Poles, why sail the oceans, why listen to rap music! I’m not suggesting that Tealers are explorers and mountaineers. Far from it. We’re a pretty normal bunch really but we must all have something inside that is triggered by the glories of the past. The Tealers I have met over the last twenty years have had very different backgrounds but all share the common bond of the Teal. It’s why we all get along so well. Our uniqueness makes us the same. It’s said that little girls grow into women and little boys into big boys. I believe this to be absolutely true. I will readily admit that I have never grown up. If I see a rope swing in a tree I’m on it in a flash and usually fall off even faster. If I see a stream I’ll build a dam. If it snows I’ll get out the sledge. If it’s windy I’ll fly a kite. Children and grandchildren are just an excuse for men to carry on being kids. Luckily I need no excuse and the Teal is really just a big toy. But what a toy.
How many new friends, new places and new adventures has it introduced me to. My memory is replete with the events of the last twenty years. Some mixed up, some with bits missing and some plain wrong but all to be treasured. Madness and mayhem, mountains and rivers, valleys and seas. Heat and cold, wet and dry, misery and fear, fear and excitement, laughter and sadness. From the high passes of the Alps, the Pyrenees and the Picos d’Europa with the snow still thick even at the end of May to the stupendous rivers and majestic cliffs of the Gorges Du Tarn in South East France, from the thunderstorms of Switzerland and the Italian lakes to the wind blasted oven heat of the Zaragoza desert. From the magnificent views over Berchtesgarden in Bavaria to the historic beauty of Prague. From the steep banks of the Rhine to the tranquil Seine and the Chateaux of the Loire. From the now peaceful beaches of Normandy to the haunting landscape of the Somme. From the finest accommodation to the simple rooms of kind people. From sumptuous banquets to makeshift picnics with only the sound of the wind and a camp kettle to disturb us. From the opulence of Monaco and the Riviera to the simple hospitality of a remote inn. From the roar of racing Bugattis at Angouleme to the silent magnificence of the Schlumpf Museum. From the warm honey coloured glow of Toledo at sunset to the cool silver light of Dover at dawn. From rugged Scottish mountains to sea sprayed Cornish cliffs.
My car has brought me all these things and more. What price could be put on the life enhancing qualities of a regular dose of Teal?
A TEALER’S TALE FOR THOSE WHO’VE BEEN THERE
(From March 2010 Teal Spiel):
Wheels fast turning, bright sun burning
chasing the evening light.
Dusty Faces, unknown places,
where will we be tonight?
A likely place perhaps there’s space
for a weary traveller to stay.
A shake of the head, not enough beds,
best be on our way.
On the road once again the day drawing in
strong hands gripping the wheel.
Engines purring, pulses stirring,
long shadows pacing the Teal.
There’s a sign on the left, perhaps some room left,
we switch off the engines and wait.
A welcoming smile, we’ve gone our last mile
give thanks to the goddess of fate.
A shower and fresh clothes, a tall glass and a toast
taken with tonic and gin.
Here’s to the crew, the intrepid few
the ones who refuse to give in.
For what is a man if idly he stands
watching his life pass him by.
I’d rather choose to win, draw or lose,
it’s better than never to try.
Captain Sensible, bard (from most places)
(Both the Teal and Glen are referred to within the Teal Owners’ Club as Captain Sensible – man and machine fused into one….)
In his Sensible Thoughts article in the February 2009 Issue of Teal Spiel, Glen recalls some happy Teal adventures in Spain, France and Germany:
” On many trips, finding a room was always the final challenge at the end of a long day, but for years it was pot luck as to what we got. In general we were very lucky and had the good fortune to stay in some wonderful places. Here are a few examples:
The hotel we found in Vittugudino in North West Spain was actually closed but the owners took pity on our poor, exhausted, dust-covered souls and opened it up. After dinner that evening we learned of the history of the region and its fighting bulls. The man of the house was an ex-matador, the son was in training and behind the hotel was a practice bull ring where next day we were invited to have a go with the training bull. Next morning saw eight cars parked in a semi-circle within the ring, apprehension on the faces of assorted Tealers. Suddenly the gates opened and in rushed a man with a one wheeled cart with horns on the front. Collapse of all concerned into hysterics. Everyone had a go at being a matador, the Lord Mayor made a speech, photos were taken, sausage and wine taken on board and then we were off waving farewells. Proud, friendly, warm, generous people, The Teal has introduced us to so many over the years.
At another hotel in Spain, once part of an adjacent monastery, the owners insisted we park the cars in the dining room overnight for safe keeping. Another lucky find was the hotel in Northern Spain, near Santander, where we had the most amazing fish soup and house wine that must have been fermented in a shoe. Still it tasted fine and was very potent. I have photographs of a very happy Cliff Sedman stuck in the gap between his bed and the wall to prove it. We called again to renew acquaintances a couple of years later but the hotel had been demolished to make for a motorway. Progress!
Was it in 1990 that we had an impromptu campsite BBQ and singalong in Fréjus, South of France, followed by sore heads next morning? Ben Trumble was the colour of old National Health service waiting rooms, a sort of bilious green. Still, by lunchtime we’d all recovered enough to gatecrash a local car show and everyone was lovely to us.
We always carried camping equipment, just in case, but in later years we never had to use it. Once or twice as the evening was drawing on we thought we’d be in a field under canvas but we always found somewhere to rest our heads. Some of these places though are best forgotten. The shabby hotel in the Gorges du Tarn springs to mind. We had had a wonderful day touring and started looking for rooms about late afternoon. What we didn’t know was that it was a national holiday in France and everywhere was either full or closed. Everywhere except one place. I suspect that during Bonaparte’s triumphs it may have been very pleasant but it was evident that it had not seen a paintbrush since Waterloo. Le Patron standing behind the fly specked bar appeared to be the elder brother of Spike Milligan and the staff obviously too closely related to be healthy. But any port in a storm. We all survived and things always seem funny afterwards.
I think it was in Bavaria in 1992 that we last pitched tents on a trip. I remember standing by a stunning lake just below Berchtesgaden, Hitler’s mountain retreat, watching Kit Wallis, who always reminded me of an absent minded Q from the James Bond films, trying to erect his tent. The problem was that he’d obviously brought the wrong poles. When he was finished no part of the tent touched the ground, the poles being two inches too long. At least he had plenty of ventilation. It was also on this campsite that Compo found his car totally surrounded by newly erected tents with n o means of escape.
The wonderful, strange places our Teals have taken us. The dichotemy of Lourdes with its awful, tawdry tackiness during the day and its wonderful glowing testimony to faith at night. The sheer, wonderful good fortune to find ourselves in the Pyrennean town of Ribes de Fresca on the day of the witches’ fiesta. We gave all the local children rides in the cars, joined in the procession, and then danced all night in the square with Cliff dressed as Dracula attempting to bite the necks of the comely wenches. Appropriately enough we stayed in the hotel Prats – say no more! – which had a fast flowing river alongside from which they bottled the water for sale all over Europe. After a pleasant dinner we asked the owner what we had eaten. Blank looks. We made noises – a cow, a sheep, a pig. No use. Then El Hefé the boss, had a brainwave. He looked at us and said ‘BAMBI’. Oh what guilt. We had eaten Bambi.
I could go on for pages but that would be asking too much of your kind nature, dear reader. Suffice it to say that there will be more meanderings in the next magazine for your perusal and hopefully amusement. Be kind to yourselves and eachother and make the effort to come to some events next year.
Dont forget: Old age comes quickest to those who sit waiting for it. “
(Photos from George Rainsford, later living in France for many years, now in Lincolnshire,still with Teal – thank you, George)
Tealers, Spain, Sept 98: Colin Andrews, George Rainsford, Cliff Sedman, all suffering from Teal nose (a long day at the wheel, blasting into the southern sun with the wind straight in your face and no windscreen usually does the trick; and a bottle or two of wine can help ).
In the July 2009 issue of Teal Spiel, Glen wrote:
“…I have remembered some more little anecdotes that I hope will bring back some happy memories and perhaps a smile.
I think it was in 1990 in France that Kit Wallace rear-ended Jack Hilton’s shiny new car at a T junction. I remember a very disgruntled Jack trying to straighten things out with a rubber hammer.
Speaking of Kit Wallace, I think that it was on the 1994 Euro Trip that both his front mudguards fell off and spend the remainder of the tour tied on top of the rear ones. I think it was in 1990 that the borrowed car I was sharing with an itinerant carpet fitter nick-named ‘Baldrick’ stuffed the back of a Jaguar in torrential rain in heavy traffic in Locarno. There appeared to be no damage, but ten miles further on with an overheating engine and squealing tyres we realised the electric fan had fallen off and the tracking was all knocked out. The rain that day was monumental. By the time we made it back to our hotel the colour had run out of my shirt and I spent hours in the shower trying to scrub blue dye from my chest. Compo soon sorted out the car’s tracking using a piece of string and a spanner and the Rover dealer in Stressa ordered a new fan to be fitted the following day. The rest of the party headed off to Switzerland and a day behind we tried to catch them up not knowing where they would be. By sheer good fortune we found them in a traffic queue outside Basle.
Going back to Kit Wallace, I can’t remember on what occasion his engine fell out or at which event his steering broke, causing both wheels to point inwards. I know from many conversations witth Kit over the years that he had a penchant for explosives and as a young man in the forces had cause to use them and not always on the enemy. He told me his ‘ experiments ‘ had once blown his mother out of the kitchen and partially demolished a barracks. Luckily the Teal club was spared his attentions in that direction.
Kit wasn’t the only Tealer with mudguard trouble. In 1993 George Rainsford’s near side supports sheared and we could not find any bolts long enough to fix it. He tried to hold it in place with bungee elastics but even with his son Stewart trying to hold it down it flapped up and down like the wing of a demented seagull.
George Rainsford’s mudguards fixed, and now living near Limoges
On what trip, as the result of my schoolboy French, did I get to order and then eat sheep’s brains, an acquired taste, and when did Cliff, dressed like a sort of panto Scotsman, charm the female owner of a restaurant so much that she wouldn’t let us pay for the meal?
Was it the same year that crossing the ridge of a mountain, in high winds, my side screen was ripped out and blown to who knows where. Gone forever.
How many well-earned G&Ts at day’s end. How many good meals and bottles of wine shared amidst wonderous tall tales of Tealers told, only getting better with each telling. Balmy and even barmy summer days. Cliff dressed as Prince John riding an old bike to the joust at Runnymede while we rolled around in hystterics. Picnics at Prescott and Shuttleworth and the New Forest. Pouring rain in the Cotswolds, snow in Scotland in July.
Some of the best and happiest times of my life have been brought about by these lovely cars and I can not immagine the last twenty years without the memories and lasting friendships that have been created.
I like to think that ‘we don’t drive to make good time but we drive to have a good time!’
May all of us have a good time this year. Capt’n Sensible
Tealers in the Pyrenees: Colin, Glen, George
hospitality, trophies and a glass or two – Tealers at the long day’s end…
After leading a dozen Teals round Chester and North Wales last month (July 2011), Glen and Maggie are guiding a team of Tealers to Normandy and beyond next month. Glen only paused to let me have ‘A Tealer’s Ode’, which has also been published in Teal Spiel. Here the pome be:
A Tealer’s Ode
Lord I’m well past 60, lots of things don’t work
Don’t let me wet my trousers or dribble down my shirt
Oh, don’t let me forget when I walk into a room
Just what it is I’ve gone there for – I hope I remember soon
If not I’ll have to start again, I’ve this old brain to thank
I’ll stand and think, then sit and think, no good my mind’s a blank
The older I get the better I was or so it would appear
I wonder why I make a sigh when rising from a chair
It’s hard to believe that 5 bob a gallon is all we used to pay
No cameras or cones or traffic-free zones, not a roadworks in sight all day
Why are we in such a hurry, greedy for things we don’t need
For in the words of Mahatma Ghandi “There’s more to life than increasing its speed”
Maybe that’s the attraction, maybe that’s the appeal, for old fashioned cars that make people smile
That make people wish for just a short while, that they could abandon the comfort
Of computerised boxes on wheels, feel the sun on their faces, the wind in their hair
Just like the heaven-blessed owners of Teals.
Sir Glen Betjamin Sensible
Tealer to Royalty, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Yoork and other pubs.
Thanks, Glen – enjoy Normandy with the five Teals – more to come…
Winters greys may bring the blues,
with darkening skies of leaden hues,
and biting winds and frosty toes,
bleary eyes and reddened nose
but hope retains it’s flickering ember,
as we struggle through November,
and Christmas gives us hope once more,
o make it to the springtime thaw,
when garage doors we open wide,
and gaze upon what waits inside,
Once again our souls unite,
and fingers stroke the paintwork bright,
The heady scent of oil and leather,
grease and petrol mixed together,
From wistful dreams our memories picking,
cooling engines gently ticking,
thoughts of happy sun bright days,
the slanting light of evenings haze,
the scent of new mown grass and flowers,
dews light sheen in the early hours,
the happy smiles on childrens faces,
the winding road to distant places,
these are gifts beyond our measure,
stored forever to keep and treasure,
for no machine of modern steel,
could thrill the soul and make us feel,
the way we do about our Teal
Some thoughts of Glen’s from the December 2012 Teal Spiel
“…I already have plans to revive the Whitby Weekend,which was for ten years a very popular event. Since giving it a rest three years ago I have been repeatedly asked if I might do it again. Well as Whitby is one of my favourite places in all the world I haven’t taken much persuading. It is gratifying that so many Tealers from the South take the trouble to make the long journey to North Yorkshire to help make this event so successful. I am deeply touched (but you know that anyway). I really hope that some more of the Southern exiles may take a chance on travelling north of Watford next year.
I absolutely guarantee that outside the mountains of Scotland and Wales the North Yorkshire Dales, moors and coast offer the most varied and beautiful scenery anywhere. Add the warmth and hospitality of the locals and the much less busy roads and you have all the makings of a fantastic experience. As usual we will probably be going at the beginning of July but nothing is yet definite.
Despite a temporary dip in membership a few years ago we are now, thanks in large part to Brian’s superb website, attracting new members from all over the world. The club magazine, under the guidance of Andy ‘The Enfocer’ Dutton and glamourous granny Suzi goes from strength to strength. It’s come a long way from the few fledgling pages put out by Suzi’s dad, John, a quarter of a century ago.
Many of those original Teal members are still with us but, alas, some aren’t. Some, through illness or age no longer have or use their cars. Some have passed away. I am so grateful that I had the privelege of knowing and sharing most of the adventures of most of the ‘characters’ who are no longer active in the club. As a young shaver of forty I used to look with awe and respect at the ‘old timers’. What a sobering thought to think that now the old timer is ME.
Speaking of which have you noticed that it gets harder to get your leg over, in more ways than one, as you get older. I’m certain that while my car is resting over the winter some evil swine of a welder comes and breaks into my garage just to raise the sides of the cockpit by about an inch. This chap must be very industrious because, apparently, he also visits every other Tealer in the country. I am seriously considering the possibility of having a door fitted. But only on my side. Mrs S. is as sprightly as ever, and leaps into the car at every opportunity, usually from a distance of six feet or more.
I think it’s since she started the Tealettes dance group. All that lap dancing has restored a measure of suppleness to her body missing since she gave up the heavy manual labour job for the council to concentrate on bringing up our children and assorted pets.
I hope you won’t mind my repeating something I said some years ago about Teals and Tealers and how, even though we may not use the cars as much as once we did, our feelings have changed little.
Taking my car out is a bit like walking up a favourite hill. As I get older I may not climb it as often and I may go a little slower but when I reach the top the view is as beautiful as ever. I think that half the fun of owning a Teal is the joy it seems to bring to others, young and old alike. I like to think that my speedo is calibrated in smiles per hour.
A little birdy says that in view of the success of this year’s pre-season get together there will be another one in April 2013. Location to be advised (Stop Press: possibly Premier Central Stratford-on-Avon Sat 20th – Sun 21st April 2013). If we survive beyond the 21st December may I wish you all a loving and peaceful Christmas. Of all the qualities that it is possible to possess being kind is one of the best. Please be kind, and hope to see you all soon.
Luv from the Northern Monkey. Captain Sensible, even more nearly retired.
Glen and Grandson enjoy a fine Bugatti at Longstone’s Tyres
Glen and Maggie in Normandy
(in Captain Sensible)
Glen has, as we have seen, a delightful way with words, in prose or poetry – here are a couple of his lovely 2013/2014 pieces, describing the lure of the road, and of the Teal.
Glen Ibbotson 2014
Amongst our group of 100-plus Tealers we have women and men of multiple talents; many in engineering, several in music, building, stained glass, flying, modelling (making models), restoring, piloting, law, commerce, construction, dentistry, apiary, bakery, printing, market gardening and art, for instance. All are linked by a love of Teal cars and the social pleasures that follow in their wake. But one Tealer stands out as an unique individual, a poet of the people, a chronicler of life as it has been enjoyed over the past fifty years, and is lived today.
That Tealer is Captain Sensible, owner of the fine vintage Teal Type 35 four-seater of the same name. He is also known as Glen Ibbotson, whose column numerous Tealers have enjoyed in our Club magazine for years past. Irreverant, insightful, humorous, pertinent, shocking, rambling, sentimental, poignant, tragic, nostalgic and entertaining are a few of the adjectives that haven’t been used about Glen’s pieces, but should have been.
Some Tealers will know that Glen has been kind enough to allow us to use some of his musings on this website, one page from the end of the menu on the left of this page. And he has recently reflected on the current generation’s seeming need to communicate every aspect of their lives on social media, and apparent inability to observe and enjoy quietly the many wonders of our landscape and our people:
Glen Ibbotson August 2015
From Teal Spiel Magazine, Spring 2018, with thanks to Suzi and Andy, and by kind permission of much-respected Tealer Captain Sensible himself, Glen Ibbotson (or is it Len Ibbotsong?). Glen describes the joys (and traumas) of Tealing as the Teal Owners’ Club celebrates it’s 30th anniversary :
Now I want all you Tealy type folks to have a seat or at least hold on to something substantial ( Mr Bridges is available for a small charge ) because I am actually going to write about car stuff and I don’t want you falling over in surprise and breaking a hip or something.If you do break a hip I think Chairman Mills has a couple of old ones as spares and being a trainee Scouser he will no doubt try to sell you one.
Q. What do you call a Scouser in a suit ? A. The defendant.
Please send all letters of complaint to the,
Get a sense of humour you miserable bugger dept.
Couldn’t care less Ave.
As this year is our thirtieth anniversary as a car club ( where did that go ? ) I thought I would dredge my rapidly failing memory banks for stuff that might be interesting and/or amusing. Topics are boundless and nearly all involve alcohol at some point but I thought I would concentrate on the vagaries of Tealy type weather and other various driving extremes encountered by your correspondent and other assorted lunatics on our global travels over the last six lustrums. ( Look it up )
SNOW That flaky,cold,white stuff.
It is some years since I drove my Teal in snow.If memory serves it didn’t like it much and neither did I. Call me old fashioned but after turning a corner I generally prefer the car to be facing in the same direction in which it started.
The first time I met Mr Snow in a Teal was in 1990 during a blizzard on the St Gothard pass over the Swiss Alps.Being young and brave and foolish my passenger and I eschewed the ease and safety of the safe and dry ten and a half mile long tunnel and elected,in a moment of supreme madness to emulate our grandfathers and to go “over the top”of one of the highest passes in the Swiss Alps.
The sight of an approaching snow blower should have warned us that things were not going to go well but in that bulldog spirit of British optimism we stuck out our, by now, frozen stiff upper lips and carried on.
Under normal circumstances the snow blower clears the carriageway surface and the funnel then blows the snow,well out of the way,on to the side of the road.
These were not normal circumstances.The wind was blowing a gale and as the snow blower passed us,going in the opposite direction, a freak gust blew the plume of snow sideways and dumped it into the Teals cockpit .
In my mind I can still see my passenger bent double,sopping wet and shivering with cold,valiantly trying to strike a damp match to light a soggy Woodbine in the scant shelter of the dripping footwell.
Oh happy frost bitten days.
There have been snowy moments since.
1991 early spring on the Longmynd. It was unseasonably cold and the Teal club outing was treated to some horizontal refreshment of the freezing kind.
Fortunately it didn’t last too long and later on we had the added bonus of launching gliders off a cliff with the aid of monster elastic bands.
In the early years of Teal ownership I would always take the car,suitably decked out in tinsel and fairy lights (the car not me.) for a Christmas drive.
Now,almost thirty years later,I am content to spare my ageing bones and admire the car in the garage in the company of a mince pie or two or three and a single malt,or two. (Why can’t we have a married malt? )
RAIN That wet,splodgy,trickly stuff.
Now this is something that all Tealers have a deep and personal relationship with.It isn’t a love/hate thing,it’s just pure hate.
Rain is nothing new to the hardy inhabitants of this sceptred isle.Them Romans were always moaning about it,but to us it’s a fact of life.Caesar complained in one of his wax tablets home to Mrs Caesar, ” Ego male huius pluvium ” ( look it up ) However, there is rain and then there’s RAIN.
Rain of such force and intensity that it is hard to breath.Rain with all the attributes of a stair rod.Rain of the type that sets men to building huge boats and to collecting animals in pairs.Rain that has enough force to permeate even the best waterproof clothing.Rain that pools in the depression created by ones bum then soaks through the leather into the seats sponge.Rain that next day,even though it is no longer raining,comes back from the sponge via the leather to soak the nether regions yet again. Rain that it is impossible to drive in.Rain that after owning two boat tails ( how apt ) makes me glad to now be the owner of a four seater with a lovely waterproof top.Well,almost waterproof.
Rain of this magnitude is ,fortunately,rare but when one encounters it in an open car the effects are dramatic as the following examples will show.
The monsoon near Cahors,France in 1993 when within five minutes the road became a river. We just stopped the car in the gutter and sat and laughed like maniacs as we couldn’t see to drive and when faced with a situation which can only be dealt with by either laughter or tears I always choose laughter.
The twenty four hour storm in 1997 when we drove in the company of Jack and Jaqui Hilton ( his Teal now adorns the deck of a cruise ship ) from Toledo to San Sebastian on Spains Basque coast.We arrived in the early evening after driving all day in torrential rain.Eventually we found a hotel with vacant rooms and after pouring the cars into the underground car park and pouring a few stiff drinks into ourselves we enjoyed a hot shower and a hot meal before we retired to bed.It was still raining.Our slumbers were shattered,in the middle of the night, by loud banging on our door.I got up and let the maid out. ( only kidding )
Half asleep we tried to understand the frantic Spanish being yelled at us by an even more frantic Spaniard who was standing in the corridor flailing his arms like the sails of a windmill.
I managed to pick out the odd word. Coche, garage, agua . Cars, garage, water.
My fuddled brain suddenly grasped the meaning.The underground garage was becoming an underwater garage.Throwing on some clothes we rushed to the basement to find that water was pouring down the lift shaft and rapidly filling the parking space.It was already up to the spinners on the wheels.
Starting the car I drove it up the ramp and parked it in the street outside the hotel.It continued to rain. I sloshed my way back into the hotel and went back to bed.
Next morning the rain was still lashing down and when we looked out of our third floor window we were treated to the site of streets full of thick mud decorated with small trees and shrubs that had been washed down the adjacent hillside.By sheer good luck I had parked the Teal on a road that was higher than the others and there it stood like a small gleaming island.
After breakfast the rain finally stopped and the pumping out and rescue of abandoned cars started.
By lunchtime the sun was shining the pavements were steaming and San Sebastian was getting back to normal.By mid afternoon the locals were promenading around the bay and munching Tapas as if nothing had happened.
We were later told that it is not unusual to have flooding and landslips and that the town is quite geared up for dealing with it.
The storm in Lake Maggiori, Italy in 1990 when the bow waves from approaching traffic swooped into the cockpit and I was so wet that the colour ran from my shirt and,for days, stained my chest a fetching shade of blue giving me the appearance of an ancient Britain getting ready to duff up a few Romans.I will always be indebted to Bobby Knutt for saving my life when he presented me with a large port and brandy as I staggered or rather paddled into the hotel.
He and his missus Donna had decided,wisely,not to go on the drive but to stay in their room and find other more enjoyable and horizontal ways to pass the time.
As I was sharing the car and the hotel room with an itinerant carpet fitter from Leeds nicknamed Baldrick,because of his uncanny resemblance to Black Adders servant, that was an option I chose not to take.Despite his resemblance he never had any cunning plans.
Closer to home there was that wonderful weekend in Whitby when torrential rain joined forces with a 1 in 3 hill replete with hairpin bends to make life really interesting.It was on one of these narrow bends that the car of one of our party, decided to break down. I don’t want to cause embarrassment by mentioning whose car it was but for the sake of argument let me just say his first name is the same as a precipitous drop often found by the sea.
A kind soul living not too far away was persuaded to use their 4×4 to tow the car to the car park of the nearest pub.Hot beverages were provided,heads were scratched and the car was sort of fixed.Well at least temporarily.
The consensus was that there was a fish stuck in the carburettor or rather carp-urettor.
We seem to have had a few wet Whitbys when the beauty and charm of the Yorkshire Dales and Moors is somewhat dimmed.So dim in fact that it disappears altogether behind a wall of spray.
I should at this point like to express my undying admiration for the Teal Girls who sit in the passenger seat for hours,sometimes in the most awful weather,with hardly a murmur of complaint.It is a rare woman that will allow herself to be subjected to the vagaries of the climate with little more than the promise of a rub down with an oily rag and a G & T at days end.
Admittedly quite a large G & T.and an oily rag from Harrods.
Intrepid Tealers have been drowned in Derbyshire and soaked in Scotland.Been wrung out in Wales and had swimming lessons in Switzerland and Austria.
In fact there is hardly anywhere that we haven’t been thoroughly wet .
We are all quite,quite mad!
MIST AND FOG
Well mist really as we don’t seem to have much fog these days now that there aren’t millions of chimneys belching out coal smoke.It’s funny how things stick in the mind.I can vividly remember the smell and colour of the smog we had when I was little.I can almost taste it.Awful it was.Just like watching a Hammer horror film.
The worst mist we encountered was in the Picos De Europa in Cantabria,northern Spain in the year 2000.We had set off up the mountain to have a picnic lunch and gaze at assorted buzzards and vultures as we drank our tea and ate our sandwiches.It was very peaceful.The only sound was the sighing of the wind and the disharmonious clatter of assorted cow bells attached to assorted cows.The goats had legged it up the mountain pursued by a man shouting and vainly waving a stick..
The weather was fine and warm and we lounged around on the rugs admiring the scenery as we waited for the kettle to boil and for Major Bridges to find his lunchtime do-nut which we had hidden.In the distance we spotted clouds.Rapidly approaching clouds.” Discretion being the better part of valour ” ( Henry 1V Part One. W.Shakespear ) we hastily packed away our things and took shelter under the eaves of a shepherds hut ( empty of shepherds ) hoping it would pass.
Pass it did not.Down came the mist mixed with fine rain, The sort that wets you through.( Thank you Peter Kay ) In no time at all visibility was down to twenty yards or less and we decided to head back down the mountain.
Now here’s the problem.Driving up a loose dirt and gravel road well provided with hairpin bends and sheer drops is exhilarating on a clear,warm sunny day.
Going back down said road in thick gloomy rainy mist presents more of a challenge.Particularly to the washing machine when it is presented with the underwear.
There was definitely more than one type of skid on the way down.
There have been many other mountain roads that have tested the brakes of the cars and the nerves of the drivers.We seem to have the ability to find the roads which,according to the map,do not exist. These tracks often offer the most scary fun.
On one of these roads,in the Pyrenees, we stumbled across a village hostelry that may not have seen visitors since Napoleons lads sauntered past.Within minutes we were surrounded by a crowd of curious folk,probably with few surnames between them. Being surrounded by admirers was nothing new to us but the villagers also seemed to possess a breed of dog that was as near to a wolf as I have ever seen.Lord but those dogs were big.
Apparently only found in this area they were originally bred to fight off bears.( The dogs not the villagers )
We drew straws for who was putting their leg out of the car first but it turned out that these big fierce looking creatures were very friendly ( the dogs not the villagers ) ,unless you happened to resemble a bear.Incidentally the villagers were also very friendly.
We are under no illusions as to why people are so kind.It’s the cars that do it.
Being British we all welcome a bit of sun and the warmth it usually brings with it but we generally don’t want too much of it.Unless,of course ,you’re of Mediterranean descent like Mrs Sensible.
In her case too much is never enough.
It is interesting that there are more convertible cars sold in Britain than any other country in Europe.
Over the past thirty years we have been fortunate enough to drive our cars in most of the countries across that there Channel.Often in glorious weather,but occasionally it has proved to be too hot even for the most dedicated sun worshipper.
On one trip travelling through central France it became so hot that by lunch time we had to stop driving and find some where to stay.Even Major Bridges,famous for a perma- tan to rival the double spray dipped contestants on Strictly Come Dancing,was wilting under the onslaught.
Gratefully we pulled into a Chambre D’hote that had rooms that felt deliciously cool.But temperature is a relative thing and according to my digital thermometer the lovely cool room was actually 92 degrees F.
We drove in similar temperatures on our way back from a trip to the Gorges du Tarn in south west France.That was the trip where we reluctantly stayed in a hotel apparently run by Spike Milligans slightly more weird brother and assorted relatives.Well he looked like Spike and he was certainly weird.
When we arrived,suitably scorched and dehydrated, at our next guest house we found it had a swimming pool and,thankfully,no relatives of Mr Milligan.Mrs Massey amazed us all by going in the pool without wearing a costume and Mr Bridges surprised no one by going in wearing shorts but coming out without them.
It was around this time that I reminded Neil about the group we once played in called ” Little Willy and the Disappointments ” Too close to home to be funny. We never went down really well.In fact the most applause we ever received was a crouching ovation and the sound of one hand clapping.
Neil seems to have little luck on holiday.He is the only man ever to have water skis catch fire.
At this point Dot is probably reading this and waving her arms around so I had better explain that she went in without a costume as she hadn’t brought one but she did keep her dignity by wearing a nice floaty dress instead.
Another occasion we were fried was in 2004 when we crossed the Zaragossa desert in Spain.The wind that blows there has a name which I can’t recall,it probably means “bleedin scorchio ” in Spanish but what ever it’s called it’s mighty hot.
To get some idea of what it was like and to share the experience here’s something you can try.
Get the fan oven up to temperature,open the door,then stick your head in for a few hours.
I tend to suffer more than most from the attentions of the sun as I am a ginger nut of delicate disposition.Well,actually,I’m not anymore.The advancing years have changed my thick auburn locks to a beautiful fine strawberry blonde but there are parts of me that are still ginger.You could ask Mrs S. for verification but she has probably forgotten.
Open car driving in hot sunshine requires careful thought.
I learned early on that light weight cotton gloves are useful as the tops of the hands easily burn as they grip the steering wheel.Similarly the tips of the ears can look as if they have been ironed.In my case a long sleeve shirt is essential.
Serious blocking creams are needed on the face but this can present problems in a fly rich environment.After one drive my physog had the appearance of the inside of an Eccles cake.
Even in Britain we have had the odd day when the tar has been melting and the sensible thing to do was find a pub,preferably close to our lodgings,and while away the afternoon bumping up the profits of assorted breweries.
THINGS THAT GO BUMP. AND NOT JUST IN THE NIGHT
As well as the vagaries of weather the Teal Owners Club has experienced the odd,and in some cases very odd,breakdown.
The approach to the Long Mynd from Church Stretton is particularly hairy.It is narrow,very steep and has the added attraction of a sheer unfenced drop at one side.
Chairman Mills impressed us all by reversing down it,against the flow of traffic,when his gearbox went on strike and two of his forward gears decided they had had enough and weren’t going to play any more.Being unable to continue forwards he had little option but to go backwards.Through the gently sighing breeze I could hear snatches of his dulcet Scouse voice saying things like,” flipping heck” and ” oh my how unfortunate “.
Mudguards or the occasional lack of also seem to be a common problem.
In 1994 Kit Wallis’s Teal arrived in northern Spain with both front mudguards lashed on top of the rear ones and there they remained for the duration.
Our very own Chairman Bob misplaced a front mudguard on the Peak District run a few years ago and George Rainsford ended up with a flapping rear mudguard held on by a bungee elastic on a trip to France.
I could be wrong but I think Captain Quiet and Mrs Massey also had a problem with an errant front mudguard a couple of years ago.
Speaking personally none of the three cars I have owned has lost a mudguard.Pretty much everything else but never a mudguard.
Silencer boxes.Umbrellas.Mirrors.A small folding picnic seat.Assorted nuts and bolts.Indicator light covers.Radiator mascot.Sunglasses.Assorted hats and other items of clothing.A zip in tonneau side screen complete with window that went awol somewhere in the Pyreneesl
The most spectacular and complete removal of contents from a Teal cockpit was accomplished by Lord John Elwell , The Earl of Powys,on the 1994 Euro trip.We were so well used to the ejection of assorted items from Johns car.Pop bottles ( empty ) sandwich wrappers (definitely empty ) chocolate bar wrappers and other detritus that we were reluctant to drive behind him.This plus the fact that John liked to drive fast made him the perfect “Tail end Charlie”.
As any one who has ever driven at the back of a Teal convoy knows, it is often necessary to drive really quickly to catch up after being delayed by traffic,roundabouts,junctions etc.
This suited Sir John of the lead foot and we were used to him roaring up behind us.Until the time he didn’t.
The seven remaining cars stopped and after a long discussion we took a vote and decided,by a narrow majority, that we ought to go and look for him.Scouts were sent back in search of the errant Elwell.He was found several miles down the road vainly searching a hundred yards of grass verge and ditch for the contents of his car which had been sucked out by the slipstream of a huge lorry passing in the other direction.He never found most of them.
It’s comforting to think that for years now a Spanish person may have been keeping his head warm with Johns hat.
Because our cars rather like the people that drive them are old school, in the unlikely event of a problem we can usually fix it ourselves with the aid of half a brick a large hammer some string or wire a bit of tubing a few spanners some boiled sweets a mug of tea and a lot of teeth sucking and swearing.The sight of a pair of legs sticking out from under a Teal is not uncommon.This is sometimes accompanied by the sound of snoring.The normal ratio for fixing a Teal is about 6:1 .That is to say,one person actually fixing and six others hovering about,getting in the way, and offering mostly useless advice.The advice can vary between the correct percentage of tonic in a G & T ( 1 part gin to 4 parts tonic) and /or how much,if any,water should be added to Whiskey to the advantages of electronic ignition and the correct camber for the front wheels.If you know what it is don’t bother telling me cos I’m not interested.
Please be aware that it is important that none of the advice bears any relevance to the actual problem.
It is also important that Captain Quiet ( Mr Massey ) is dissuaded from making the above mentioned G & T’s as his ratio of Gin to tonic is the direct opposite of that which is considered normal .Captain Quiet insists on 4 parts gin to 1 part tonic .This may explain why,after our customary pre dinner tipple in some ones hotel room,we have difficulty locating the door.
I shouldn’t want you ,dear reader,to get the impression that the Teal Club contains alcoholics.Far from it.Alcoholics go to meetings.
What we have are genuine drunks and drunks go to parties.
I apologise for this sweeping generalisation.Many members of the Teal Owners Club are sober ,upright citizens who would never dream of behaving in the ways frequently described in my scribblings. Perhaps that’s why we have never seen them.
Very wise.Having too much fun can’t be good for you.
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR TEAL CLUB MEMBERS
Teal wheels should be four in number plus a spare. Please check your car now.
This may seem an obvious fact but some Teal drivers seem determined to join the Reliant or three wheel Morgan Owners Club or even the Lomax crowd.I will not embarrass anyone by naming names but you know who you are.
I myself have twice just managed to stop my car before losing a wheel so I am in no position to comment.
I would imagine that having a rear wheel overtake you and disappear into the distance must be quite disconcerting but perhaps not as disconcerting as the horrible sound of a rear axle hitting the road.
When Mrs Sensible was very small she remembers being in her dads Ford Pop and,as they turned a corner,her dad laughing as a wheel shot past them. The laughter was very short lived.Almost immediately their car dropped at a rear corner and scraped along the road.
You will be heartened to know that Major Bridges KFC, BFB, McD. NHS and Bar has virtually given up eating cake.He says that he still has the occasional lemon drizzle but I have assured him that at his age it is only to be expected.
Best advice is to always wear dark trousers
I made the mistake last year of taking my Teal to a rolling road Dynamometer.After much fiddling and fettling and revving and faffing the man in the overalls gave me the good news.He said my car appeared to have eighty nine horses and one donkey.
Don’t know why I bothered.
Any road up,as they say in Gods country,Sunshine beckons ( She is our new Thai maid ) and I have to go and see to Mrs Sensibles clematis.
May I wish you all a happy season of thirtieth anniversary Tealing. If you can, try to join in on one or more of the club events throughout the year and if you can’t then at least take out your car so that the great unwashed public can have the thrill of clapping eyes on a thing of beauty that doesn’t look like every other car on the road.
APRIL 2020 – During the Lockdown, Glen expresses the feelings of many of us:
In the current lockdown circumstances of April 2020, our own Bard of Yorkshire, Len Ibbotsong, has composed a topical poem, which I enjoyed greatly:
They’ve had to take the swings away,
It’s not safe for the kids to play,
or have some fun in childrens games,
to swing or hang from climbing frames,
our local park is strangely quiet,
without the children running riot,
enjoying life and having fun,
young mums chatting in the sun,
picnic blanket on the grass,
now it seems a distant past,
for all these things we’ll have to wait,
because we have to isolate,
but it won’t last we’ll make it through,
and then the first thing that we’ll do,
is put the swings back in the park,
bring the light out from the dark,
bring the rainbow from the rain,
when we hear the kids again.
Thank you Glen – a most moving delight – your ear for music, rhythm and composition is so clearly demonstrated for us all in this emotional poem; we look forward with you to the day the children are playing noisily in the parks again…
Captain Sensible Rtd.
English by birth. Yorkshire by the Grace of God.
Thank you, Glen. These are magical Teal memories expressed in your uniquely-amusing style – a true one-off – Ed