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Manx Mini Meet 2011 - Day 2

It was another early start for the Manx Mini Meet this morning, this time at a very misty Marine Drive for a closed road stage. I walked to the first set of bends, where there was a big drop in to the sea on the other side of the railings, and spent the next hour trying to take photos in the swirling mist.  

I'd used a Gorilla Pod to fix my video camera to the railings and sat on the bank opposite snapping away photos as the Minis went past.


Later we all parked up on Douglas Promenade by the War Memorial (with permission!) for a photo opportunity and then enjoyed a well organised meal at the nearby Italian Job restaurant in evening



Manx Mini Meet 2011 - Day 1

I was up earlier than I would be for work this morning to grab my photo gear and be ready to be picked up by my mate who was running the second annual Manx Mini Meet. The event was to start at the TT Grandstand and then head out on a navigational rally to the lunch stop at St Johns.

It was good to see some old friends from The Italian Job children's charity event again and catch up with the latest news. I set my video camera up on a tripod at the start line and left it running while I took photos of the Minis and their crews.

After an excellent lunch stop at St Johns, and the stragglers and lost were rounded up, we headed off over Archallagan to Oatlands for a blind fold slalom run with the navigator giving the driver directions. This was quite a fun stage on private land but to was slow going and took quite a while to get all of the teams through the route.

A short drive further south took us to King Williams college where a timed run on a closed private road stage was held. The winner wasn't the shortest time, which would have involved all sorts of hassle for the organisers, but was the one closest to a set time of 45 seconds.

After all of the cars had several runs through the stage we all went in to the Barrovian Hall at the college for an massive afternoon tea. Despite our best efforts there was loads left over so there were lots of "doggie bags" taken home that evening.



I had my eighth IAM session today and it was my second time out with a Police Class 1 driver. I didn't feel so nervous this time. Aster a brief chat before we started I drove out to Braaid crossroads, then turned right down to Glen Vine and back to Braddan bridge, where we turned left and went up to the Greg ny Baa. I missed an obvious overtaking opportunity before brandish; I was expecting the car in front to have accelerated once we were in the de restricted zone and when it didn't I dither too much about whether to pass it. In the end I waited unti, after the corner and then accelerated up to 100 mph before slowing and turning off on to the back roads at the Creg. I then did my usual steady and smooth driving on the back roads rather that point and squirt followed by heavy braking for the corners which makes my wife car sick.

At the end of the session we had a demo drive in the unmarked Police Ford Focus. Christ that car was quick! I didn't realise they had a 2.5 litre turbo engine and the police driver certainly knew how to use it.

We had a debrief after the demo drive. The policeman said I was a safe, smooth driver with plenty of vehicle appreciation, I just needed to pick up the pace a bit where applicable. It seems odd having a policeman tell me to drive faster.

As it was a glorious sunny day now my wife and I went to Tynwald Mills again, I bought three Rohan shirts for my upcoming holiday in Egypt; a t shirt, a polo shirt and long sleeve shirt at a total cost of £117. Gulp, these shirts are damn expensive. I consoled myself by parking on Peel breakwater and having another crab baps and Bovril.


Isle of Man to the Tranquil Otter

We were up early this morning to get the boat to Heysham for our Easter break at the Tranquil Otter, which is just outside of Carlisle. We were the first car on an there were only five of us in the Blue Ribband / Mannanin Executive lounge, although the rest of the boat seemed full. We had a smooth crossing and were disembarking in Heysham by 11:45.

We stopped off at the ASDA in Lancaster to buy supplies for the bank holiday weekend. It was packed with shoppers and my wife was nearly an hour in the store. I'd filled up with fuel and with our luggage and shopping the Boxster was packed to the gills.

We drove through Lake District to Kirkstone Pass Inn, which I'd seen on the Britian's Best Drives television programme with Richard Wilson (Victor Meldrew). As it was the Easter holiday weekend the pub was very busy and we'd have to queue for a drink so we decided to carry on to Tranquil Otter. We did stop for a quick coffee and toastie in Pooley Bridge on the way. I managed to get stuck in the outside toilet of the cafe and had to bang on the door until one of the passing young waitresses rescued me.

We were booked into Lodge 8, which used to be the office for the Tranquil Otter. It maybe wasn't as big as the other lodges but it was perfectly adequate for the two of us and I wouldn't hesitate to stay in that lodge again.

We unpacked and explored the lodge and surrounding area and then my wife cooked our evening meal which we washed down with a few glasses of whisky before going to bed. I was a little disappointed that we hadn't used the hot tub yet, but there was plenty of time.

Before turning in I pre booked a taxi (Barry's Taxis 07766 700020) for the following morning to take us into Carlisle.


I received a phone call yesterday, a bit out of the blue, the say that there was now a slot available for me on the Institute of Advanced Motorists training scheme. I'd joined the IAM as an associate back in June 2008 but I think they've been a bit sort of Observers to get trainees onto the scheme any faster.

I took the Boxster out of the garage for the first time since our Scottish weekend and met the group and the agreed place and time. After a few introductions I was paired up with Mike Dunn, chairman of the Isle of Man branch, and we went out for a drive.

I was meant to drive for half and hour and then Mike was to drive the same route in his car and point out my errors but as he seemed fairly happy with my driving I ended up driving for about an hour and a half in total while Mike and I discussed various aspects of advanced driving and also pointing out some of the ludicrous road signs and inexplicable junction markings en route that I must admit I'd not really thought about before.

After the session I returned home to pick up my wife and go out for another drive and have lunch out.

I must swot up on the IAM manual and DVD or next week's lesson.