Classic Ford Show 2011 - Santa Pod Raceway

8. June 2011

Performance Direct at the Classic Ford ShowSanta Pod Raceway is the very much the home of UK and European Drag Racing and always conjures such images as elongated, huge wheeled dragsters shredding rubber as they warm up the tyres ready to accelerate at the speed of a bullet.  However, on the 4th and 5th of June this year Santa Pod once more was the stage for another Ford packed Classic Ford Show.  Fans flocked from all over the UK and from as far away as Brazil and South Africa (according to the organisers) to see more classic Fords than you could ever imagine in one place.  The sun shone and the crowds cheered at the Ford-only run-what-yer-brung and later the Old Skool Ford Drag Championship sent classic after classic down the famous strip with the tail wind helping the cars achieve some fantastic times. 

Other attractions included the ever popular London Rally School, a live arena packed out with exciting action as well as drift passenger rides.  Whether you have a mark 1 Escort or a Ford GT, a Ford Anglia or an original Mustang, then the Auto jumble was a must for anyone undertaking a restoration.  Described as an Aladdin's cave of Ford parts the Auto jumble is always popular and many of the people attending feel that ticket price is worthwhile for that aspect alone.  But it wasn't alone - in fact it was surrounded by more blue oval related paraphernalia and fans than Santa Pod had ever seen before... at least since last year's Classic Ford Show.  More...

Home Insurance from the Inside

7. June 2011

ScaffoldingAs I write this my home is covered in scary scaffolders and that reminds me just how lucky I am to have home and buildings insurance. To appreciate that my bricks and mortar are protected from this group as they jump about, ape-like, three stories in the air, whistling (Sweet Home Alabama) and discussing their clubbing plans for the weekend.

Don't get me wrong, they seem like very nice young men and I'm sure they're very good at their jobs but they don't half let you know they're there and make an incredible amount of noise, including a lot of rather damaging sounding bangs. Which brings me on to how grateful I am that my house is replete with more than its fair share of home insurance policies, lovingly provided for me, online and over the telephone by Performance Direct Insurance.

And that's the reason we're all here. The money Performance Direct pays me to write my blog goes to pay - in part - the noisy scafolders who are running all over, and potentially damaging, my house which is covered by my home and building contents cover bought by me from Performance Direct, and so the great circle of life continues held together by insurance and scaffolding. (To be fair, the scaffolders probably have some sort of liability cover which might be more relevant when that pole (the metal kind, not the East European builder sort) comes though my window. But hey, they asked for a blog about Home Insurances, so home insurance is what they'll get.

Mini Cooper S - A Modest Classic Film Star

7. June 2011

Mini Cooper S from The Italian JobThe Italian Job came out in 1969, the epitome of cool clothes, snappy attitudes and even cooler cars, now translates into sixties chic for our modern times. In a decade which saw the first heart transplant, Vietnam and the cult of Charles Manson, the film now sits nicely alongside such iconic films as Performance and Blow Up as a snapshot into trendy sixties and early seventies culture.

You can't think of James Bond without thinking of the Aston Martin DB5, and equally, The Italian Job inspires vivid thoughts blowing the doors off an anonymous van – or the Mini car chase.

As a small boy we didn't have fireworks, they were expensive and didn't last long, they went up in a puff of smoke, literally. So each Bonfire Night, I used to get to choose a toy. It saved my parents money of course, but they put a classic spin on things by telling me – quite rightly – that it would last longer. Indeed, I still have my Mini Cooper Rally bought from the local post office (which I also still have, I'm pleased to say) which was inspired not only by World of Sport (remember Dickie Davies?) but also that iconic film.

Seeing the remake the other night left me wondering, what exactly were those cars that raced through the streets in The Italian Job? So I looked into it a little. More...

Monster Truck 'Slingshot' Crashes and Entertains at Modified Nationals 2011

6. June 2011

A Monster Truck demo was one of the many attractions to see at Modified Nationals 2011 at the East of England Showground in Peterborough 28th & 29th of May.  I was actually genuinely excited at the prospect of seeing The 'Slingshot' Monster Truck as I cannot resist the spectacle of a bit of motoring carnage.  I arrived slightly early and set up my camera in anticipation.  As I waited for the show and the crowd grew around me I thought back to my childhood days when I would dream about driving the iconic Monster Truck 'Bigfoot' and especially the thought of being able to drive it over other cars.

During the 1970's (a phrase often uttered by someone who is older than they'll admit) modified pickup trucks started to become more and more popular at shows on the other side of the pond.  It wasn't very long before competitions were held to see who could create the biggest truck with bigger and bigger trucks entering each year, ultimately giving birth to the famous 'Bigfoot' Monster Truck with all of it's extreme modifications and the 48 inch tyres that I remember yearning after in my childhood. More...

Devil In Disguise - 1965 Beetle Rat-Look Sedan

6. June 2011

Mark Herbert's SSB Rat-Look BeetleBefore I started getting my Beetle looked after more locally, I used to go to Harry Harpics, owned by the legendary Paul Miller, whose work is stamped on some of the best and fastest Bug engines across the UK scene.

I used to drop the car off in the morning, then spend the day by the sea before collecting it at 5pm. Happy days.

During the last few years of going there, enthusiasts started to to notice my old bug more than before, “what engine are you running under there mate?” would be a typical question, to which the reply “oh, nothing, just a standard single carb' 1300” would signal a rapid decrease in interest.

It was only when Paul told me that there was a growing sub-scene in the veedub community of cars with scruffy, unloved exteriors running big engines often finished with full chromed wheels and trim that I got why my car had started to get noticed. It then became almost embarrassing because my vehicle wasn't so much a “rat look” as just in dire need of a decent paint-job. More...

Just how interesting is Home Insurance?

27. May 2011

Interesting home insuranceAvid readers of this blog will know that last time I revealed how home insurance, buildings cover and cheap home insurance quotes were definitely not boring. This got me to thinking, if home insurance policies are not dull, how interesting can they be?

To find the answer to this question, I consulted Google, of course.
Worldwide 1,000,000 searches were made for 'Home Insurance' last month.
There were lots of other related searches of course - compare home insurance and home insurance comparison came in at around 200,000 searches a month and, further down the list, there were searches like; buy to let home insurance, online quote home cover and high value home policies.

All very interesting. But not that high a result, especially when you consider that last month alone over 37,000,000 people searched for DIY and 50,000 people searched for the term 'garden gnome'. More...

Japfest 2011 - the sun shone, the cars came, and the people loved it.

26. May 2011

Japfest.  What can be said about Japfest?  Well, the first thing that has to be noted is that no matter what the weather report says, when Japfest comes to town it brings the sunshine along with it.  The 14th of May 2011 was no exception with the descending crowds of Jap mad car fans bringing along the summertime with them.  For an outdoor car show there is no better feature to have in place than some sparkly warm sunshine glinting off glossy show-ready automotive paintwork.   Attendance figures matched last year's record breaker with over 15,000 Japanese car enthusiasts attending the show at Castle Combe Circuit in Wiltshire. More...

How to stop Obama's modified, official state Cadillac.

24. May 2011

As a modified Beetle driver, I was dismayed when the main route from my village into the local town suddenly became a comedy fairground ride with several raised platforms to drive over as well as speed bumps. The only thing lacking was a Hot Wheels style loop-the-loop – not that anyone would be able to get up enough speed to make the full loop over the rollercoaster traffic calming ride we now put up with.

I now spend more time judging a safe passage for my car than I do checking if there's a kid running into the road in front of me. 9 times out of ten I find my exhaust grinds hideously as I ease down, struggling for oxygen, off the ridiculously high plateau I have found myself on..

So it was quite a familiar sound I heard on the BBC Lunchtime News today as President Obama literally  ground to a halt at the American Embassy in Dublin on what was basically a – speed bump. I'm not sure if their modified car insurance covers speed bump damage. More...

From flying car to Camper Van

23. May 2011

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - Photography by Paul SladeChildhood memories came flooding back to me this week, memories of The Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, voted the “scariest villain” in children's books by CBBC Newsround in 2005. Specifically, a scene where, as the children in the film version of the book are hiding from The Child Catcher, he suddenly appears at the window looking in. It was the unusual angle that he appeared at that scared me most – plus the fact that he could “smell children” - how could you hide..?

But it was a series of coincidently related events in the car & literary world that opened the door on that particular memory..

I guess it was with a mixture of curiosity and a deep desire to watch the film again that I heard that everyone's favourite classic car sold for £500,000 at auction in America last week. It had lovingly been looked after by Pierre Picton for 35 years, but at 76, Pierre said he was starting to feel his age and decided to sell. More...

Why Home Insurance is NOT boring

23. May 2011

Put your foot down and demand a good home insurance dealWhen I was about 13 one of my favourite bedtime reads (apart from The Joy of Sex - the one with the horrible line drawn hippies in) was Monty Python's Big Red Book. It was blue, wasn't very big, ho ho, and it had an article in it about 'Why Accountancy is NOT boring'. It was, of course, incredibly dull and written, I think, by John Cleese who had originally considered a career in that profession before discovering his silly walk.

Anyway, it got me to thinking I should write a similar piece for my blog about Home Insurance, building and contents cover and cheap home insurance quotes on line and on the phone and why that really isn't dull at all. So...

Hold on. Before I start I really should say that, apart from the fact that Home Insurance is definitely not painfully and excruciatingly boring, that it is absolutely necessary and very important in order to protect your house, its contents and your possessions against fire, theft, flood and all the other very interesting and not boring threats faced by the UK householder. Get Home insurance, get it from Performance Direct now, save money and you won't go wrong.

Now, where was I. Listen to this, just one example from one of my favourite Home Insurance prose pieces (not from Performance Direct) which I think sums up rather well why Home Insurance is absolutely not dull. More...