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Yorkshire Dales Classic Car Club


Event Report


2021 Northumberland Weekend


Report by by Mike and Jackie Cowan


I have a couple of reports about this run not sure which order to pot them in so I have gone with Mike the organiser first. The pictures for both reports are at the end of the reports – ED

Back in June when Boris released us, we had our first car run of the year.

Jackie and I were nearly back into Midge after the meal when we were accosted by Messers Bulmer, Turnbull and Parminter.
“Eh up is tha any chance of organising a weekend away Mike” Jim said. If only we had gone straight home.

Northumberland in October was the best I could find due to the whole country holidaying at home this year “staycation “.


We really didn’t mind as Northumberland is home from home for us although we had never stayed in the small town/village of Rothbury. A lovely setting surrounded by the Cheviot hills. We had passed though on many occasions. In October the autumn colours will be stunning. Unlike many high streets it is quite busy with lots of very interesting locally owned shops. A walk around Rothbury is always a pleasure. On the other hand, if you are organising a classic car club weekend Rothbury is not high on the list……there is no petrol station!!!!

The Coquetvale Hotel is an old Victorian hotel built for the long-departed train line and whilst not without its problems it suited us just fine. James was “mine host” for the weekend he did a fantastic job along with his small staff who worked tirelessly all weekend.

The weather on Friday played ball and we were all treated to a beautiful autumn day for the journey up to Rothbury. The colours were stunning and the roads quiet after we had passed M&S and Hexham. (If you know you know) After we checked in to the hotel we headed back out. We had arranged to meet Stuart and Lucy in Alnwick some 14 miles away. The drive is one of my favourites. Always a pleasure. The views are stunning, and the vast expanse of Northumberland is there for all to see. After a pleasant afternoon with tea and scones Stuart said he needed to call in to the petrol station closest to Rothbury for fuel!! The first of many trips during the weekend for members of our club.

If there was a doubt about the weekend going well it disappeared as we all gathered in the bar for a “chairman’s refresher”!! It was like we met up every weekend. The banter and laughter started and did not stop till Sunday afternoon.

Our chairman brought out the latest copy of the MG owners club magazine. “Have you read this month’s mag Mike?” “No Dave anything interesting?” “There’s an article on the tv show I appeared in would you like to see it.” I’m not saying he was proud of it, but he just happened to leave the magazine open on the coffee table for all to see all weekend. “It’s a spare copy I just happened to have with me.”

The last to arrive were new members Richard and Pat. Richard had broke a part on his farm machinery on Friday morning and had a quick dash to Driffield to pick up a part and then drive to Rothbury. More of that later.

To add a bit of interest on the runs Jackie and I produced a photo page for each day. Teams had to spot where the photos were taken along the route. On Friday we also produced a quiz. Friday’s winner of the photos and was quiz combined and the first prize which was some interior car polish was awarded to that local car detailer Martin Bartle. Coals to Newcastle springs to mind. Friday also proved that Bill Burton knows someone in every town. When we were last in Northumberland, he left early to visit his best man who lived in the area. So, when he said he had invited some friends for dinner on Friday I immediately thought it must be his best man. I was wrong this was a local couple who knew so much about Rothbury that they gave the history of the hotel we were stopping in. I asked if he would pass that on to our members in an impromptu talk and he agreed.

Saturday dawned cloudy and a bit of rain in the air but not too bad and with mist hanging in the valleys it was very atmospheric. After a hearty breakfast it was time to head out. Would the run be up to standard, or would I get slated for potholes again? Yes, probably the later. The subject of fuel cropped up whilst in the car park. Today’s run past within 2 miles of THE petrol station so directions were given. About 30mins after the cars left a call came in to say the station was closed due to lack of petrol!! Would everyone make it to the next station? Would they remember to fill up? With everyone out on the road Jackie and I headed back inside to plot the murder mystery night James had planned.


From the moment we had arrived on Friday and read the notice re “5ft 10 male with ginger hair is missing. Do not approach could be dangerous.” The tension started building to a point that Lucy came back from a walk to the shops exclaiming “I’ve just seen him on the bridge”!!!………”Lucy it’s not real it’s part of the murder mystery night” duh.

As we sat having a “Chairman’s refresher” Jim Clark asked, “how long is Sunday’s run, I have about 60 miles left in the tank?” I replied “about 80 miles to get to Corbridge and a petrol station Jim “ Never seen him move so fast. He was heading back to Alnwick as THE station was closed. About 10 minutes after he left word came in that the closed station was fully stocked and open again. More fuel issues later.

Before the murder mystery started there was just time to hand out a couple of prizes one for spotting photos to Stuart and the weekends Booby prize of a sponge went to Jim Clark for bringing his Mazda MX5 along with mould on the roof. Congrats guys.

As we were sat expecting our entrees news came in that the escapee was in the building, and we needed to head to our rooms to see if anything was missing. A few disgruntled moans later and there was a scream coming from the Bulmer’s room Lucy had found the body. It was dead. We all then checked our rooms and each of us got our instructions. We had a jury of six persons, a prosecutor, importantly a killer and I along with Jackie and Richard and Pat were to be ace detectives. Sadly, Inspector Morse I was not but Pat did a great impression of Inspector Tennison. Prosecutor Bartle became Judge Martin Deed ably assisted by Eileen Coop’.

So, with the body found in Bulmer’s room it had to be them. Wrong. They had a perfect alibi. After interviewing the whole room, it became apparent that one person was acting very out of character. Then the evidence started to come in, blood from the deceased was found on his room door. A rag was also found again with the deceased’s blood on it in his room. Then someone reported that his “Chartreuse “ MGB had blood on the boot . The finger was now firmly pointing at Dave “killer” Simpson. How could our leader stoop to such a level? Tenni and I were reminded that it was all circumstantial evidence so far. We need a motive, and a weapon would help.

We knew from the post-mortem that he had been bludgeoned to death with a heavy blunt instrument.

The motive had to be the car. Killer Simpson was very insistent that his car is not Lemony Snicket! It was Chartreuse! Now I know if someone insulted my car Jackie would not be best pleased. Could this have pushed killer Simpson over the edge? When he was asked if his car is lemony snicket, he went ballistic. On top of this his wife Kate, sweet innocent Kate, poured cold water on his alibi. This effectively threw her husband, killer Simo, under the bus. Then a knife was also found in his room. It had the deceased’s blood on it. Could the pathologist have made a mistake?

Tenni knew we had the right man we just had to prove it in a court of MG law.Eileen Coop was not satisfied with the evidence produced and told Judge but it went to court and the jury were called. First was to elect a foreman a leader someone to make his/her fellow jurors concentrate. Step forward Martin Culmer.

After the evidence was put to them, they disappeared into the bar to try and come to a decision. After what seemed like an age, foreman Culmer came staggering out of the bar to ask if it needed to be a unanimous decision. Judge Martin Deed insisted it should be. Culmer went back to the bar. Sometime later the jury staggered back in.

Judge Martin Deed asked if they had reached a unanimous decision.

“Yes “replied foreman Culmer.

“Do you find the accused guilty or not guilty of murder.”
“Not guilty” was the reply to a hushed courtroom.
Now what.
Judge Martin Deed suggested they go for the lesser charge of man slaughter. I quickly reminded him he can’t as it’s a murder mystery night. Then came a confession from Dave killer Simpson. It was him all along. Tenni was right.
He stood to face sentencing from Judge Martin Deed. Judge donned a black cloth, and we all feared the worst.
“For life you will be in the custody of your wife Kate.”
To say both parties were disappointed with the decision was an understatement.
Dave “killer” Simpson was found GUILTY.

What a fun night it was. James had done a fantastic job in organising the night. He came back into a rapturous round of applause. Time to relax.

Was it Sunday already where did the time go? Reluctantly we all headed for breakfast. The talk was at first of the previous night’s court case then very quickly to fuel. Some tank gauges were in the red.

Then it was time to pack and head out. Directions were given again to the now reopened petrol station then from somewhere a fuel can appeared it was a case of who was more desperate got the can. Would everyone make it to the Corbridge petrol station? A classic case of you can lead a car to petrol but you can’t make a Yorkshire man part with his cash. If only they had filled up yesterday at Seahouses or Embleton or Alnwick.

With the cars packed and instructions handed out time to hit the road. We had a bit of fun with them today. 104 miles through the Cheviots to lunch with a coffee stop at around 55 miles. Coffee/tea stop was at a small hamlet called Capheaton. The village hall served light refreshments on weekends and on an evening, it was a pub. All profits go to the upkeep of said hall.

We arrived first and when the rest started to arrive, I thought they had done 10 stages of the British rally. The cars were unrecognisable through the mud and yet all occupants were smiling.

Dave got out and said, “Drive it like you stole it”!!! At least all the cars were still rolling, and the drivers were happy. Lunch was at Firtree on the A68 at the Duke of York pub an ideal stop off on the way home. A final few prizes to hand out. There was no stopping the Bulmer machine winners again of the photo comp.

Then a prize I had kept till the end a 10mm spanner for the car that broke down. It is testament to our members skills, not only driving but being able to keep on top of maintenance that we had not one mechanical issue. Nearly 400 miles through all types of terrain. Congrats guys.

So, who gets the spanner? It goes to Richard for his dash to Driffield on Friday and arriving at the hotel last.

We said our goodbyes and headed home for a much-needed rest.

Our thanks to all who we travelled with over three fantastic days and really the painting you gave Jackie and I as a thank you was not needed but will be a wonderful reminder of not only a great weekend but why we love being members of the big winner this weekend.

When’s the next Adventure Mike ??????