Scorching Fairway

Percy hasn’t been very busy this summer so far. With the unexpectedly hot weather in the UK, Percy hasn’t been the first choice of transport around central London for us. With his black paint, unshaded street parking, heating stuck on full (involuntarily) and a self-shutting passenger window, we thought it best Percy be left alone to cool down. Daytime temperatures have been reaching 33 degrees Celcius outside and a flesh-melting 100 degrees inside Percy (at a guess). It’s also the school holidays, which means Percy isn’t needed to take Nina to and from school, so he’s getting a summer holiday of his own.

Percy’s classic car insurance has an annual milage limit of 3,000 miles and we’re getting close to that, with nearly 4 months to go until the renewal date, so we’ll have to start thinking about purchasing some extra mileage when Percy’s summer holiday is over. It shouldn’t be a problem, as when I first took out the insurance policy I checked with the helpful Denise at Peter Best Insurance that I could buy extra milage if I needed it. Percy has clearly been so useful and fun to drive that we’ve used him more than we anticipated we would.

Percy does have a longer than usual trip to Oxford coming up in a couple of weeks and another big one to Bath shortly afterwards, so no doubt we’ll have more Percy personal stories to share then…

In the meantime we’ve been spotting a few more private Fairway Drivers around the UK. We found a black one in Cambridge a few weeks ago and saw a cream coloured Fairway that looked like it was on wedding duties, with ribbon tied across the bonnet, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, just yesterday. Today we spent a lovely day at the seaside in Brighton and saw this cream coloured Fairway Driver parked in the marina…

Cream coloured fairway driver taxi brighton front view

Cream coloured Fairway Driver taxi brighton

Someone else has clearly taken to personalising their Fairway, and it prompted me to look for anything else that we can add to Percy’s rear parcel shelf at a car boot sale in Brighton, but we didn’t find anything suitable, so the daisies are staying for now. We’re yet to be inspired for a new theme for Percy’s back window… suggestions welcome!

Speaking of customising the Fairway, we caught an intrepid example of this on the Channel 4 TV programme Gadget Man with Stephen Fry recently. Stephen Fry is famously a fan of the London taxi, owning a TX4, which he even drove across America. On the Gadget Man show he was test-driving the ‘Amphicab’- a Fairway Driver made water-worthy so that it can seamlessly switch from land to water and help your commute across London by utilising the Thames.

amphicab fairway driver taxi numberplate

Whilst this modification for entertainment’s sake might sound like the kind of thing featured on Top Gear, which I recently slated, the difference here was largely in Fry’s approach to the project. In contrast to Top Gear’s willing destruction of cars, Fry was nervous before the unveiling of the Amphicab, saying that he loved the Fairway and didn’t want to see it ruined. He seemed pleased with the relatively subtle modifications to its appearance, with a small propeller under the rear bumper and a control lever on the dashboard the only obvious additions.

amphicab fairway driver taxi throttle control

Driving towards the river, Fry’s Fairway clearly suffered from some of the same quirks as Percy, with the driver’s sun visor falling down… (we have removed Percy’s altogether because it wouldn’t stay up)

amphicab stephen fry loose sunvisor

After a nervous entry into the water and a moment of lost control resulting in a collision with a moored boat, Fry and the Fairway Amphicab were off, sailing down the Thames at modest speed, drawing much intrigue from passers-by on the banks and bridges.

Right, I’m off to Ebay for second-hand outboard motors…..

amphicab fairway driver taxi entering thamesamphicab fairway driver taxi collisionamphicab fairway driver bridge london

Sad ending and wasted evening

It has been a fantastic and historic weekend of sport for the British Isles.

The British and Irish Lions won a historic rugby series down under in Australia, for the first time in over a decade. Britain’s Chris Froome is in the leader’s yellow jersey in the Tour de France. Then of course there was Andy Murray, the first men’s Wimbledon Champion in over 77 years, since Fred Perry. Although the results are historic, it’s the sheer commitment and passion these sportsmen displayed to achieve these feats that is most impressive and humbling. The collisions in the rugby were ferocious and epic, the skill, focus and movement in the Wimbledon final jaw-dropping and the endurance of the riders in the Tour de France mind blowing, especially for the Welshman Geraint Thomas who is riding with a fractured pelvis. In contrast, I chose to end the weekend watching Top Gear, mainly to see if I was correct in thinking that I saw a Fairway Driver in the trailer last week. I was correct but it all ended in tears, or at least in the scrap-heap for the poor Fairway.

I used to watch Top Gear religiously every Sunday evening with friends after school when I was a teenager. The silly school boy humour was hilarious to us…erm, school boys… in fact, first year boys were called ‘Stigs’ at our school, so it was even more apt. Gauping at the cars they reviewed, dreaming that one day I might even have to put the reviews to good use when I have to decide whether to buy an Aston Martin Vantage or Nissan GTR. Alas, with every annual series of Top Gear that dream becomes less and less likely as reality and life goes on.

However, now that I’m pushing 30 years of age, the school boy humour is just not as funny as it used to be. Maybe I should lighten up, but I find it warring. Most of the original Top Gear audience have probably had to grow up with life’s responsibilities but somehow the show’s hosts are still in the common room (albeit paunchier and greyer) and being fabulously well paid for it. Crashing cars for the sake of it and playing stupid pranks in expensive super-cars somehow just isn’t that amusing anymore. So instead, the show suddenly becomes a rather childish series by very well paid old men spending public TV licence money crashing cars.

BBC Top Gear Fairway Driver Taxi race

This evening’s episode, with the Fairway Driver taxi, was in my opinion one of the worst episodes to date. Not simply because they crashed an old Fairway, which isn’t manufactured anymore, for a laugh. It really doesn’t bother me as much as you’d think. (It wasn’t actually Percy after all). But a review of an unobtainable track-day car costing over £100k, followed by a taxi crash-fest, and then a pointless race through BBC television centre between a push bike with a motor and two runners, was simply dull and pointless. So from a magnificient and awe inspiring start to the weekend by the greatest sportsmen on earth displaying heroic bravery and unflinching commitment, to a wasted evening watching wasteful and self indulgent men/children crashing historic taxis while indulging in verbal defecation.

BBC Top Gear Fairway Driver Taxi crash

After 350,000 miles serving London, this is it’s end…

The weekend was great overall though. We walked Mimi in Regent’s Park on Saturday afternoon, and she became a celebrity with the children, receiving offerings from carrots to crisps, but ultimately there was too much food in the warm sunshine.

Mimi rabbit in St. John's Lodge garden

We went to a friend’s 30th birthday party in Windsor on Saturday. I drove Percy there and Nina drove us back. It was another warm day in London, with temperatures pushing 30C, and Percy was really very warm. In fact, I had to drive in my sleeveless top and bring my ironed shirt with me, hung nicely on Percy’s handy coat peg on the passenger side front partition. We had a lovely time at the party but decided to leave at a civilised 11.30pm… but not without a McDonalds, as Nina had the pregnancy munchies and well, I’d had a few pints of beer. Then it was decision time, do we eat in (Percy) or eat out (McDonalds)? We opted to eat out to avoid mess and smell in Percy, reminding us of how Nina’s hen party ended a few years ago. Nina and her hens picked up a KFC (as you do at the end of a glamorous boat ride on the Thames) and hailed a black cab to take them home, where they’d eat it. However, the driver wouldn’t allow them to get in with their brown paper bags of chicken and chips, distastefully scowling that it would stink his cab out and reduce his tips for the rest of the night. The ladies turned down his suggestion of leaving their food on the road and told him they’d wait for someone else who wanted their fare (who appreared a minute later without a word about the food). I wonder if its the quality of the take-away that influences how willing a cabbie is to accommodate it….we’ve never been refused outside our local fish and chip shop, the historic Seashell (apparently London’s oldest chippy) although fish and chips is arguably much more nose-tingling and long-lingering than the Colonel’s finest chicken. Our most recent fish and chip venture ended with our driver complimenting the aromas and sarcastically thanking us that he’d now have to pay a visit to the chippy when his shift finished.

Day Out in Marlow

Percy hadn’t been cleaned for several weeks, so it was off to the car wash round the corner, and an £8 ‘Taxi Special’ later (wash, dry and hoover inside), Percy was nice and clean.
I then applied polish and bumper cleaning gel myself back on the road outside our flat.
While I was busy polishing, a gentlemen from the block opposite ours asked if I could help move some speakers for him as he was moving flats, to which I duly obliged. Nina and I were taking my sister and brother-in-law to a farewell lunch before they emigrate and we didn’t need to leave for another 20 minutes or so. He asked lots of questions about Percy and how he doesn’t see many of them in London anymore.Speakers moved to the other side of the road and with the neighbour in need waiting for his lift to his new flat, I went back to removing the polish.

The neighbour-in-need’s father then came and asked if I could give them a lift to their new place. Now, I wasn’t sure if Daddy neighbour was asking if I was ready to go back to work (thinking I was a cabby) or he simply wanted a favour. I like to help as much as I can but everyone was ready to leave for our lunch reservation, and with a 1 hour drive to get to the pub, I had to apologetically decline. Daddy neighbour seemed very confused, so I had to explain that I wasn’t a cabby and it was a private car.

I checked all Percy’s fluid levels, which were fine and leak free, added air to the tyres (possibly too hard at 40 in front and 36 rear) and he cruised at 70mph with ease along the M4, arriving on time for our lunch reservation at The Royal Oak pub in Paley Street.

Fairway Driver Taxi Royal Oak carpark

I’m sure Percy is just being cheeky but his heating appears to have really cleared up and come back to life (just in time for Summer). Through the winter it was barely functioning… a sneeze from a mouse would be warmer than Percy’s ‘heating’… but it was like sitting inside a volcano on Saturday with the heater blaring, on one of the hottest days of the year so far. So it was windows open all the way- thank goodness I managed to fix them.
We had returned to The Royal Oak after enjoying it so much in April when we went for Nina’s birthday and they didn’t disappoint. We had rabbit lasagne (sorry Mimi) and haddock fishcakes to start, followed by pork belly all round, washed down with Fullers Summer Ale.
Paul and Nina The Royal Oak
We then drove to Marlow and had a great day out in gorgeous 25 degree sunshine. We walked along the Thames, watching barges and river boats go by and we decided we’d love to have an old wooden boat (when we win the lottery).
Thames Boat Marlow
A very clean and shiny Percy caught a lot of attention in Marlow and the M4 on the way home- my brother in law commented on how many people were looking and pointing.
Fairway Driver Taxi Marlow High Street
We were only 30 miles from central London so a black cab shouldn’t be too unusual a sight.Speaking of unusual sights, how about this…
Austin car/boat front view marlow
Austin Car/boat rear view marlow

But can it swim…?

Not having had enough of the sunshine yet, we drove on to Bray and soaked up the last of the sun in the garden of Heston Blumenthal’s Crown Inn before setting off home at 6.30pm.
Fairway Driver Taxi Bray Village Hall

That evening, we watched the first episode in the new series of Top Gear yesterday and in the series intro I think I spotted a Fairway Driver taxi and a New York yellow cab.  I’m pretty sure Richard Hammond was handling the Fairway with a wooden steering wheel and crashed it through a portacabin (naturally…) So I shall look out for future episodes.