26/27th July 2003. Prescott National Weekend.
Report by Mike Smith.

Broadway in the Cotswolds.


Sunday at Prescott.


Mike and Ilma Smith tackle the hillclimb


Mike accompanied by Terry Moores with camcorder.



  We had decided to make a holiday of the weekend at Prescott in the Cotswolds and to book a Bed & Breakfast accommodation for Friday to Monday night inclusive. That proved to be the first problem as the first ten or so places I rang were booked up. Eventually, after searching further afield on the internet, a room was found at Bourton on the Water, which proved to be an excellent choice.

  Friday morning dawned at home in the Peak District with an early start planned. This was thwarted by the incessant heavy rain, which kept us putting off our start until the early afternoon. The rain persisted until we were south of Birmingham and we stopped off for a coffee break at a Little Chef. Several of the diners were taken with the Healey and bombarded me with questions, until another Healey pulled into the car park. The light blue Bugeye of our friends Peter and Dorothy Hobson had chanced to choose the same refreshment venue.

  The evening at Bourton on the Water was delightful and the sun setting on the Cotswold stone buildings was spectacular, in contrast to the dining establishment, which was decidedly indifferent albeit expensive compared with up North.

  Saturday dawned with a promising start and we spent the morning exploring the lovely countryside in the Cotswolds. Every time we stopped someone would come up for a chat, mostly about the Healey. The natives were decidedly friendly.  We stopped for a coffee in Broadway and were immediately approached by a Japanese tourist who was keen to have the Healey in the foreground of a photo with my wife and I standing grinning foolishly beside it. More people approached wanting to see under the bonnet. Eventually we hurried away with only a brief time to gulp down a coffee before our parking time expired. When we returned to the car even more people were gathered around wanting a chat.

  It was starting to drizzle a little as we arrived a Prescott, but it held off enough for us to walk the hill climb. Then it poured down in earnest for the rest of the afternoon and evening. A few stalwarts tried the various fun runs planned by the organisers, but the bad weather put most of us off and we just drifted around the two marquees chatting and waiting for the BBQ to fire up.

  The marquees were crammed and seating space was at a premium. We all departed that evening praying for a fine day on the morrow.

  Our prayers were answered and the Sunday weather was just right. Not too hot and no rain all day.

  The turn out was excellent, my guess is about a couple of hundred classics, mainly Healeys. The hill climb was busy all day and pretty well fully booked and the concours event was well subscribed.

  I had never done a hill climb before and on the first run Ilma, my wife, decided to accompany me. I never managed to get out of second gear and I was shaking like a leaf when I finished. Ilma decided that I was on my own thereafter.

  A couple of solo runs found me managing my gearbox more efficiently and on the fourth run I was accompanied by Northern member, Terry Moores complete with video camera and stop watch. I gave it my best shot and caught up the car in front of me - my cussing was caught on camera of course. Despite the hold up I had achieved a run of 66 seconds, which was not too bad and I think I bettered that on the final run.

  Full of enthusiasm I had a chat with the HDI lads, Pat Cooper and Alan Cameron, and hopefully I will give hill climbing a shot next season, the Healey record for the hill is around 54 seconds, so I have a lot to learn.

  Monday and the weather was again fine. A day touring around what was described as the 'Romantic Route' of the Cotswolds. Most enjoyable.

  A stop at Northleach and we had a chat with a local builder, who had seen the Healey but did not associate it with us initially. He told us he thought it belonged to some fascist and had made sure that he had left sticky finger marks all over it. (Fortunately for him he was only joking.)

  That evening found us sitting at a table on the pavement in Bourton eating fish and chips out of the paper. It's years since we had done that. I am sure they taste better.

  Even the trip home proved eventful. We stopped at Stow in the Wold and parked up in the market place. Immediately we were descended upon and had to show a couple of guys the workings of the Healey. We escaped and found a quiet alley where we stumbled on an art gallery specialising in classic auto art.

  The owner of the gallery, Nick Sykes, is also the owner of a recently restored BJ8, a club member and a very accomplished artist. He shut up shop and joined me to come and look over my Healey, which was, once again, surrounded by interested onlookers.

  Nick, having lavished a lot of time, love and hard earned cash on his Healey, swears he will never sell it. At the same time he is reluctant to use it to any extent lest it becomes tarnished. I can understand this view but, having used mine more extensively over the past year than hitherto, I now firmly believe that the greatest pleasure in owning these classics is the driving of them. (Although having just spent around six hours cleaning the wire wheels after my return I have to wonder!!) A sample of Nick's art can be seen below. If you want to commission him to draw your pride and joy, bear in mind each drawing can take around 100 hours to complete!

  The rest of the journey home proved wet. A stop over at Yoxall and a chat with my old friend Denis Welch on how to improve performance, in the event that I sign up for next years hill climbing competition, completed a memorable weekend.

  Full marks to David Morgan and his team for the organisation of an excellent event.

  Mike Smith.


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