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
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
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
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.
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
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
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 ??????