After a slow start, we had 20 entries for this year’s Jogle. In April we only had 6 entries (8 if you count us and Iain & Rebecca) so I was getting a bit worried. In the last few weeks before the run everyone must have decided all at once that they would take part. At the actual start on Tuesday 20th June, though, there were only 15 cars to start the run. Keith and I were the first car to drop out, followed by Simon and Lynda who couldn’t get a babysitter for their 3 young children (Simon’s mum and dad were going to look after them, but got their dates mixed up and booked a holiday!). On the Sunday before the run we got a phone call from Kevan to say that he’d set off TWICE with Gillian’s car and broken down. The first time it was only the clutch which needed adjusting, but the second time was more serious, it was the gear box. Never mind, there was always Kevan’s van which he acquired just before our rally at Elsecar, so he transferred everything from one vehicle to the other and set off again. This time he got as far as Edinburgh without any problems. However, on Monday morning when he set off again towards John o’ Groats there was an ominous noise from the engine, the big end had gone!! Down to 17 cars, now. On Monday I got a phone call from Steve Phillips in Kent, he wouldn’t be able to do the run as his car wasn’t ready. He had spent time on his friend’s car, Eugene Sellors, who was also entered, but Eugene’s boss had decided he couldn’t have the time off work and so now we were down to 15 cars.
Keith and I didn’t do the run this year, we decided to go straight to Land’s End and welcome everyone in with the now legendary bacon butties and tea. That left the problem of who would start everyone off at John o’ Groats? I asked Iain and Rebecca if they could do the honours, but they couldn’t guarantee that they would actually be at the start (they were on their honeymoon and weren’t too sure where they would be) so Barrie jumped into the breach and said he and Doreen would have a few days holiday in Scotland and go to John o’ Groats for the start. Problem solved.
The dwindling numbers wasn’t the only problem with this year’s Jogle. Last year the new management down at Land’s End told us that we could no longer use their site “free of charge” for our welcome crew. All our entrants would have to pay £10 each and join the “End to Enders” club in order to use the facilities out of hours. After somewhat heated negotiations, we came to an agreement and paid £50 (usually £100) for club membership. So that we wouldn’t have the same problem again this year, I rang Land’s End in December last year to try and sort something out. The End to End co-ordinator wasn’t available but I was assured that she would ring me back. She didn’t. I left numerous messages and finally made contact in April. I explained that I was quite prepared to pay a fee for the use of the facilities but thought that £50 was a bit steep to use the toilets out of normal hours (this requires the loan of a key, no-one has to be on duty to “man” the toilets) and suggested £25 would be more reasonable. This amount was accepted and I thought that was the end of the matter. How wrong can you be? I was then told that the £25 would be for the use of the car park to put up our gazebo to make bacon butties and tea. The toilets were out of the question and if our entrants needed to use them the suggestion was that they book a room in the Land’s End hotel at a “reduced” rate of £37.00 per person! This was getting ridiculous and I was at my wits’ end as to what to do next. A colleaque at work suggested I approach the owner of the caravan site we were booked on to see if they could help, as this was only a mile and a half inland from Land’s End, this seemed like a good idea. I did and Wendy Nicholas of Trevedra Farm Caravan Park couldn’t have been more helpful, nothing seemed to be too much trouble, she even offered to cut the grass in an adjacent field especially for us!! In the end we used a corner of the camping field because it was more convenient for the toilet block. I quickly wrote a short note explaining to all entrants the change of plan at Land’s End and asked Barrie to hand it out at the start. Another problem sorted.
We set off on the Friday before and took the caravan down to Land’s End for a few days’ holiday. The weather was glorious and it looked as if this year’s Jogle was going to be a “fine” affair.
I got it wrong, again. The weather gradually changed over the weekend, becoming dull and overcast and on Tuesday morning it had become quite windy with a fine drizzle. I checked with Doreen & Barrie in John o’ Groats and it was bright and sunny up there. Keith and I did our shopping and tried to occupy ourselves until it was time to put the gazebo up and get everything ready for everyone arriving. It was a surreal feeling, never having done things from this end before, it’s surprising how time seems to go really slowly. When you are on the run, you’re too busy watching the road or reading maps to notice the time. We put the gazebo up at about 9pm, before it became too dark to see what we were doing and it was at about this time that the weather decided to deteriorate. The rain was heavier and there was a howling gale. So strong, in fact, that we needed no less than 8 guy lines to anchor the gazebo, including one tied to the roof bars on the Skoda!!. It still wasn’t enough to hold it properly, some of the roof supports were just snapped like twigs.
I had arranged with Kathy Ling of the Shropshire Branch to provide refreshments at the Morris Minor Centre in Oldbury, Birmingham again and Mike Lennon was more than willing to stay open for us, so Barrie was asked to encourage everyone to call in at Oldbury for a break and to take advantage of the hospitality. I think if people are kind enough to put themselves out and provide this service for us, the least we can do is call in, otherwise, it is a waste of time and effort on Kathy & Mike’s part. Having said this, not everyone did call in. The first car to arrive at Land’s End pulled in at 1.17 am and when I asked if they had called at the Minor Centre, they said “no they were on a roll and decided to carry on because they wanted to get to Land’s End as quickly as possible”. This is not in the spirit of the Jogle, I can’t emphasise enough it is NOT a race. After having their bacon buttie and coffee, they settled down to sleep until the other cars came in. What’s the point? Over the next few hours the rest of the cars arrived either singly or in groups of two or three. I had a phone call from Jim Scott to say that he was at Gordino Services at Bristol with a broken bottom engine pulley. He had rung Kevan (who was carrying our spares kit and had joined the route at Manchester in his modern car so that if anyone needed anything he was available, that’s what I call dedication!!) but unfortunately, this was one part he didn’t have. Jim rang the RAC and asked them to tow him to Charles Ware’s in Bath where he waited for them to open (someone arrived at 7.10, I believe) and supply him with the part he needed. This done, he continued on his way, but unfortunately got caught up in traffic and arrived at Land’s End after 11am, but under the circumstances we still consider this to be a successful run, at least he finished. Jim’s was the only mishap we heard about on the run itself and so once again all the cars which started at John o’ Groats made it safely to Land’s End.
Those who were able to meet up at the King’s Arms in Paul on Wednesday evening (19 in all) said they enjoyed the run apart from the weather, which turned out to be very wet for most of the run despite the dry start. One of the entrants, in a convertible, had driven most of the way with a carrier bag on his lap to try and keep dry. The driving rain had come up the windscreen and into the car between the top of the windscreen and the hood.
Once again, a successful Barnsley Jogle, despite the dramas along the way. Everyone who entered said they would be back next year, so we must be doing something right, so if you haven’t tried it yet, what are you waiting for?