Sunday, 23 October 2011


Well, what a great way to finish the Tour. A lunch meet in North London with the lovely JadedGreen and her husband. Caroline and Tim are a splendid couple who I found very friendly and welcoming. We had a nice natter over a decent lunch and a couple of drinkies. Lovely, lovely people. We chatted about this and that, spent a relaxed couple of hours in the Maid of Muswell, and I am glad I managed to squeeze a bit of our Capital into the itinerary. And JG, of course!  

The Final Furlong

Muswell Hill is very close to a part of North London I used to spend a bit of time in as a child. Troll and I were chatting, as you do, about his G-G-G-G-G-G Granny and he asked me about my ancestors. As it happens, my maternal grandparents lived in Edgeware up until 1977 when they moved down to Hampshire. I had fond memories of MY Granny's house which I haven't been back to for some 35 years, so I stopped by for a quick look.

Granny's house is the one with the brown door. I remembered it as a lot bigger than that, but then I was only 8 or so at the time.

After the quick nostalgia-trip, it was a short hop out on the A1 to the M25 and then a final hour of driving to take me back home to The Toolshed and Mrs RT.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is RT's Grand Tour of The Forum concluded.

To everyone who has participated, a huge 'thank you' for helping to make the Tour one of the most fantastic weeks of my life.

Saturday, 22 October 2011


Bronze came as a bit of a surprise, but in the nicest possible way. One of the younger (by that I mean less 'wrinkly') members of the forum is Our Bronze and certainly the youngest to host a leg of the Tour. She really is a delight, as is Himself (Steve) and her four smalls. I'm having a really good time here in Norfolk and Bronze is a good laugh. Ok, so I was woken by a rather boisterous German Shepherd jumping on my more tender parts this morning, but win some you lose some! We're just sweaving through the menu for the local curry house.....yummy! I've always had a great deal of respect for Bronze, but now that I have met her in person, she has gone up even more in my estimation. I really like Bronze....she's a good'un. We've also been chatting about a couple of ideas for the future, (potentially an event for 2012) so watch this space, as they say....

The Meaning of Liff

The Meaning of Liff...a book by Douglas Adams which took place names from all over the UK, and indeed the world, and gave them funny definitions. There were a couple of really funny ones that always made me chortle and that was Mavis Enderby and Old Bollingbroke. There was another book I read once about odd things people had spotted over the years and I passed a sign that reminded me of one of the entries.

To Old Bollingbroke and Mavis Enderby - the gift of a son!

Norfolk 'n' good

Oh yes. Norfolk is indeed good. I have dabbled in the past, with the odd foray into King's Lynn or Diss, but this 'ere is proper North Norfolk. Up by the coast, and some cracking open countryside. An no, it's not all completely flat!

Eco, I may have found the problem with your interwebby....there's a loose wire just outside Skegness causing a bit of jip...

Friday, 21 October 2011


Apparently folks, we've all been getting it wrong! It's not Seals, or Sails or's pronounced Shell-asda, or thereabouts. Gaelic, she tells me. We had a lovely lunch in Perth and she gave me some lovely comsestibles and snackettes of a delicious and Scottish nature. She also holds the dubious honour of being the only member of the Forum to join me in Astrid for a part of the Tour...a mile or so from the bistro we ate at to a local Tesco where I replenished the fuel stock. German she may be, but you'd hardly spot it unless you listened carefully...she's almost as Scottish as a Scottish thing now! Lovely to meet her and great to have her 'on board' for the Tour.


Ah.....Pod. Pod.....Pod......

Pod is, as I'm sure you probably all realise, simply wonderful. Mr Pod is equally so. There have been various comments about just how lovely our Pod is, so I don't feel I need to add too much. Whatever any of you thought about Pod, and her slightly 'notty' spin on things, and her huge warm heart and caring nature, just multiply it by 5 and add another zero on the end. She won't take any nonsense if you are a 'scunner', but will love you to bits if you are a 'wee scone'.

And wee Pod-dog....bless. I've experienced Pod's neighbouring 'coos' mooing over the way, and the fantastic patch of Scotland that is the Pod's Own Country. Wee Kenny (aka Lord Pod Almighty, or Mr P) now has a new title...Whisky-pedia! Oh yes, his whisky cupboard really is even managed to produce a very special dram....RT's Grand Tour of the Forum 'Special Reserve' malt. I've lunched with the Pods once before on a trip to Scotland, but getting to spend a little more time with them was really special. The North of The Border leg of the Tour was a killer to drive, but well worth it.


RT's RP?!

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Pod Manor

As the girl herself would say, it's Chilly McChillsville here in Bonnie Scotland this morning...but the sun is out and it's looking to be an ok day, if a little breezy.


Astrid has held up really well on the Tour and even, in a chilly 6 C this morning at Pod Manor, started on pure chip-fat with no problem at all. She has, I see, sustained some damage that I have only just noticed.


Nothing major, but she's somehow lost her nearside front indicator lens. It's a clear lens though, with an amber bulb, so she'll still flash amber on left turns! I guess it probably rattled loose and fell off somewhere rural...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Ah, girls.....just think what you are all missing. A lovely lad that comes complete with his own collection of vacuum cleaners. Housework could potentially never be the same again. Not quite how I imagined he would be, but you know...he's a nice guy and very likeable and I think we hit it off well. He may be a little less 'aged' (or less over-ripe!) than some of us old farts, but that's a good thing. Chuffed to meet him, I was. Even TF said to me "Ah, Mr RT, sir...that Mr Twocvbloke, sir....a nice chap, sir. Always a pleasure to serve him in the Bar, sir. Although if you don't mind me saying, Mr RT, sir....he does keep declining the olive, sir" 

I'm completely overwhelmed.

Surely there can't be that many people that have a drop of the 'special reserve' named in their honour?


Our Danks. She's lovely. Pocket-sized is the term I would use to describe her. Just a flying visit in and out of KFC, Walsall for a quick cuppa but chuffed that we had the chance to meet up. I can confidently report that the Tea Shoppe and The Friday Fives will be well looked after.

Eco can I describe Eco in just one word? Gregarious, avuncular, funny, cheeky, witty, welcoming, erudite, charming, entertaining and one of life's all round 'good eggs'. Er, that was more than one word, wasn't it?

How can I describe Eco in just one word? Easy.......Eco! Having formed a mental image of Eco over the months of banter and repartee in the Bar, I'm happy to say that I wasn't far off at all. He's a down-to-earth, thoroughly charming chap and both Himself and his lovely wife made me feel very welcome and at home. And I can't think of a better way of being woken up in the morning than by a sunrise over the Welsh countryside (ably assisted by Benson and George II, the furry alarm clocks) followed by a 'Full Welsh Breakfast'. Spot on!


Ejt and hubby hosted me for a lovely lunch on Sunday in a wonderfully scenic and rural part of Oxfordshire. A little later than planed, but hey...I made it!!

Lunch involved bread and cheese and some cracking home-made chutneys and goodies and a delicious home-baked quiche...I couldn't say no to a second slice. Young Baby B, newly mobile, is simply a joy....all dribbly smiles and gurgly laughs and the most stunning baby blue eyes. I feel for Liz and Rob...all that broken sleep but, as she says, it's really hard to stay grumpy when the little chap looks at you and breaks into a huge grin.

Mam don't need me to tell you how lovely Mam is. You should all know by now, but for those who don't know....MAM IS LOVELY!! And so are hubby and the girls. It was just a flying visit, but it was lovely to meet the Forum Angel and her family. There was even a little sign welcoming RT to Miniog Mansions from all the family. Cuppa and cake and bag of goodies...wonderful! A shame my stop was so short.   


Abs is lovely, as is DH Keith and son Daniel. The house is simply stunning, with more oak than, er, an oaky thing. On Sunday morning, when I got up and went outside, all I could hear was the rustling of leaves, a babbling brook and the occasional 'moo' from the dairy farm. Tranquil doesn't even begin to describe the setting. I live under the Western approach to Heathrow Airport so the absence of aeroplane noise Chez Abs was amazing. I'm afraid I couldn't do justice to the huge plate of spag bol and cheesy potatoes, but I managed to polish off a Black Sheep ale. Breakfast next morning involved offerings from Billy's 'Compendium of Pig'....yummy!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Billy R

What can I say about Billy?! Billy is without doubt....The Pig Meister, Guru of Things Porcine, Captain Bacon and His Sausage Highness.

I still chuckle when I recall his description of how to artificially inseminate a pig!

Quote of the tour from Billy: "As it's so close to Christmas, I thought we would have mince pies"

Fantastic pies they were too....made on the spot and delicious with a little venison (and a lot of alcofrol!) in the mincemeat.

Jana, Max, Leo and Bea are all lovely too (and thanks Bea for making me your special banana smoothie and giving me an apple to snack on).

Saturday, 15 October 2011


Awwww......what can I say? Ratty and Mr Ratty......

Excellent lunch, washed down with a drop of Ringwood Forty-Niner and a brace of cuppas. Wonderful. And Jasper....bless. He's a lovely lurcher....not at all the boisterous crazy hound I'd imagined. Although, there was a moment of panic for a second. Mr Ratty must have blinked....and Jasper was in like a rocket and attempted to snaffle a loaf of bread.


And the tour begins!!! Frosty start today, but the oil ignited.....we're launch ready......and off!!!!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Close.....very close!!

Stopped by another Sainsbury's today as I'd emptied out Godalming's supply of Pride Oil. None to be had in Farnham either, so I resorted to the three litre bottles of Sainsbury's own.

20 litres of Pride, 24 litres of S/B's....44 litres is almost a tank-full! Roughly 10 gallons, with the ullage in the tank already. That should be good for the first 450 miles or so....or about as far as Abs on the Saturday night and maybe a chunk of the M4 out towards the bridge again. get some ackers to hand for the toll over the Severn.

Astrid is looking a bit cleaner after a hose-down today. Not fantastic, but much improved. TF is helping me tidy up the inside, but I'm convinced he's going to want to join me on Tour. He keeps mentioning 'batman' and 'sidekick' and "you'll get lonely on the long drives, Mr RT, sir...". We'll see. But, he has helped me load the fuel on board.

Tucked a couple of choice ales in the back too, by the look of it....and to be fair to the little green fella, he did get his best crayons out and help me draw the banners.

Getting there

20 litres of oil loaded in the boot. New stop and tail light fitted so Astrid is fully compliant with the Lighting Regs again. I gave her a bit of a clean, not that it shows, and I've sorted out the boot. Just need to finish packing the personal stuff, finish programming the new Fat-Nav and make sure I haven't forgotten anything.

I bit the bullet and bought a Garmin nuvi 1200 Sat Nav box today. Google Maps works well enough on the phone but will cost me a bit for data and if I'm in a mobile 'not-spot'...I could be in trouble! At least I will have some female company for the Tour, even if all she ever says is "At the next roundabout, take the second exit..."

Some places should be easy enough to find and some folk have given me very explicit directions. Other places I've been to before so shouldn't have any problem (although I will be approaching HM from an entirely different direction to usual) and some places (Eco and Pod) I'd be completely up the creek without a paddle without the Fat Nav!

So....I can pretty much figure out where I'll be at any given time now. Will make updating the map on the "Where's RT?" page a tad easier if nothing else. 

Countdown is progressing

Less than 24 hours till departure. Today will be spent splitting my time between chores around the house and getting ready for The Grand Tour. It's a nice 'drying day' so I hope I can get all Mrs RT's laundry order finished and dry. We're both away, so we need all our clobber, plus the kids will need a supply of stuff for next week. MIL and FIL are house-sitting so fingers crossed, all should be well while we are off on our travels.

I've just fitted a three-way socket into Astrid. Plugged into the lighter socket, this will give me one feed for the inverter (laptop charging), one for the phone charger and one spare for the emergency lead-lamp should I need that for anything. I still need to stock up on fuel so I shall do that a bit later on, as well as getting in chicken supplies and that stop and tail lamp I forgot to get yesterday....oops!

So much to to round up (Pod and HM may have a couple of jobs for me), kit bag to pack and a box of assorted electrical/pooter gubbins for Two to load up. Ho hum.....must crack on!

Thursday, 13 October 2011


Er....hang on a minute. I hadn't actually planned on taking any passengers.....

Or are you just helping me to valet Astrid, Troll-Fella? Come on, Iggy. Someone needs to look after the Bar while I'm away. Can't leave all the work to Ele and Tufty. Oh, I know it will be nice to have some company - especially on the long haul stretches to and from Scotland, but there are punters that need their stoups filling, pipes to check and I'm sure we're running a little low on the Wren's Breast Bitter...

Final Preparations

Final preparations are under way. I've printed out most of the addresses, phone numbers and maps I'll need with me on The Tour and I'm about to give Astrid a hoover out, freshen up and general once over. Apparently, I have a brake-light out on the nearside, so I'll have to find a bulb over at Halford$ - Astra's have an odd stop and tail bulb....the pips on the base are 120 degrees, not 180 degrees apart. Strange, but true!

Day off work tomorrow to pack and get prepared. I have to help Mrs RT prep for her week in Paris at an exhibition so I doubt it will be a calm and quiet day. Hopefully, I'll get a run over to the Cash and Carry to load up on chip-fat, or else it will be down to Sainsburgers for a bunch of 5 litre 'Consumers Pride' bottles.