BED & BREAKFAST WITH "BUSKER"

by Chris Oswald

To all those who feel that the enjoyment to be gained from classic cars today is in the owning rather than the use of, maybe the author of this article will prick a few consciences; its publication is certainly intended for that purpose! - Ed. (see also centre pages)

I needed a break and Busker wanted to come too. Busker is my TC and we had been together for only seven months. She's my idea of a middle-aged mistress; the bodywork has seen better days but she's still a lot of fun and with more character than a younger model! In our short time together, we have done the Haynes Classic, Brooklands, the Regency Run and the Norwich Union Classic, as well as numerous weekend excursions - "the roads are dry so I'm just popping out for a while!" - and so far she hasn't put a foot wrong.

I've always loved the Lake District and Busker, having lived all her life till now in Los Angeles, had never been, so I fancied some photo opportunities with Busker posing in front of breathtaking scenery; so off we set from deepest Wiltshire. Frivolous though my attitude may be at times I did take the trouble beforehand to top up all fluid levels and give Busker an intimate physical - and call me a sentimental old fool if you like, but I always reckon a car goes better if the carpets have been hoovered!

Shunning motorways and dual carriageways we worked our way North on A and B roads. Forget Sanatogen, there is nothing to lift the spirit like bowling along, preferably smooth, country roads with the wind in (what's left of) your hair and your heart singing the same tune as the trusty XPAG - it beats monkey glands any day.

Have you noticed how the progression of a T-type through the countrysidecreates a kind of' "mexican wave" of smiles, children and parents pointing, waves of greeting, goodwill and the return of common courtesy on the part of other road users? Busker and I get a buzz from the pleasure we give to other people when they see her on the road, rather than pickled in a museum or suspended on stands in some obscure garage. I have to confess I was really posing - main screen down, single aero up, leather jacket and white scarf. I don't care - the T- type was created for dash and style, and I felt dashingly stylish! What's good enough for Clark Gable and the Duke of Edinburgh is good enough for me.

We stopped at a Bed & Breakfast in Derbyshire where the kind landlady persuaded her even kinder neighbour to give Busker shelter for the night - there being no room at the Inn. Next morning we sailed through the Peak District, skirting the conurbations, and went on into the Yorkshire Dales. The scenery looks so much better when there is nothing between you and it. In the Lakes at last we found another B&B near Windermere where the farmer's wife got her husband to turn out his own car from the garage so Busker could be comfortable. It never ceases to surprise me how friendly and helpful people are when you have a car as old as Busker, especially if it's an MG.

On Day Three, the final day, we had an early start. We went over the Kirkstone Pass to Ullswater, on to Derwent Water and round back to Windermere via Thirimere, Grasmere and Rydal Water - multiples of Brooklands test hills one after another, down as well as up. There was glorious scenery and fabulous driving. "Easy peasy", says Busker, "What's next?" Shopping, to buy presents to appease the deserted wife and kids. Busker fretted by the side of the road, wanting to be on the move again and mollified only by the admiring glances and respectful inspections of passers by - how well Kimber's ideals of design had been embodied in her - looking fast while standing still.

Then, under pain of death if I missed a sprog's birthday, I took a deep breath and turned Busker's shapely nose south setting off to retrace our tracks home on a perfect top-down day. En route we detoured, popping in to Naylor Brothers at Shipley, to the astonishment of the counter staff, to buy two new tyres - "Have you come all the way from Wiltshire in that just to pick 'em up? We see lots of people coming in buying bits for them but we never see them driving them - can we have a look at it?" - By all means. Busker simpered and preened herself, shamelessly topless, gleaming in the light of a brief sunny spell.

Two new tyres strapped on the luggage rack, off we set for home. Since we were going so well I decided to do it all in one day while the weather held. Having set off from Windermere at 10.00am we were home in Aldboume, south ofSwindon by 9pm, having diverted to Shipley and stopped twice for meals - and all done on A and B roads. What the original road testers said of the TC was right then, and today it is still just as capable of keeping a good overall roadspeed with surprisingly short journey times. We arrived back home, each with battery well recharged, my red face bearing witness to three days' open top driving, having covered some 832 trouble free miles. What a way to travel! (P.S. To the green T-type I passed in Ashboume - owner wearing deer stalker hat - sorry I could not stop, due to the traffic)

(This story first appeared in the MG Car Club 1992 T-Register Yearbook - centre pages were a photo of TC7045)