Lotus Elan

Ireland trip in the Elan

PostPost by: jimj » Wed Sep 18, 2019 7:51 am

Ireland trip in the Elan (of course).

This year`s greatroadjourneys.co.uk Europe trip was to Ireland, somewhere we and the Elan had only been to once before for a couple of days as part of the Celtic Malts. We were eager to see more, as were pals John and Maggie, fellow Lotists in their M100 Elan, and Tony and Judy. Tony is such a great bloke he forsook his lovely Healey 100/4 in the interests of luggage space and took Judy`s Nissan Figaro. Yes he did, I`m not joking, though many thought he was.

There were 60 on the trip, many we`d met before and it was lovely to meet up. 12 were American and it`s a measure of the loyalty and quality of Steve`s trip that 2 are regulars, coming all the way from California each year; Lloyd and Sue. Lloyd is another great bloke we`ve got to know quite well, unfortunately he suffers from Traumatic Moustache Disorder. I fear that if Trump builds his wall, Lloyd might find himself on the wrong side. He could always get a job as a body double for Fu Manchu.

Ireland left us with 3 distinct impressions; firstly that we rarely heard those lovely Irish accents, most hospitality staff were eastern European, and most people in the bars and streets were American. Secondly, disappointingly, shockingly, evidence of discord between the Catholics and Protestants still propagating hatred, in some areas, was all too present. Thirdly, the toilet paper in Ireland, North and South, is very flimsy. No wonder they`re reluctant to shake hands with each other.

Day 1 and, after a short Motorway run from Dublin, as usual the trip encompassed lovely roads, little traffic and interesting stops. The highlight was a tour of the National Stud, which, coincidentally, is my nickname. It was fascinating taking us all the way from conception to racing, to breeding, and, ultimately, retirement. The guide was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, and charming, and well pleased with his 60 tips. He didn`t offer us any though.

Day 2 and we were off to Galway and stopped off at the flying boat museum in Foynes. The whole story of flying boats, the courage of the test pilots, the glamour of those days, I`ve always found fascinating. My elder brother lived in Managua, Nicaragua when Howard Hughes was reclused on the top 2 floors of the Intercontinental Hotel there, not that he nor the Spruce Goose were mentioned but it was all most interesting. Not far from there we crossed the Shannon by ferry. Coming from the sea-faring county of Derbyshire we felt right at home. Then on to see the Cliffs of Moher where the weather had closed in and the wind picked up. It was dramatic as was that most fantastic of any business opportunities, the car park: A huge clinker covered area with hundreds of cars, all paying 8 euros. Marvellous, you`d take your hat off to them, if it hadn`t blown off already. We had a snack in the busy caf? where 2 more random Americans joined our table telling us, inevitably, that they were researching their Irish roots. I expressed surprise that the current U.S. administration was so anti immigrant given that only the American Indians and the remains of the Aztecs might deservedly hold such views. I then received a lecture from Mrs. America about how awful Mexicans are. They were from Texas, we left. I was proud of my diplomacy, not mentioning that the U.S. stole Texas from Mexico in the first place. Carole was amazed.

That evening in Galway was brilliant. It was Tony`s birthday and the 6 of us chanced upon the most fantastic, typical, as we imagine, Irish restaurant cum bar. It had a proper Ceilagh band, if they call it that. I just couldn`t resist offering, repeatedly actually, my Michael Flatteley (?) Riverdance impression. Honestly, I hadn`t been practising, and equally honestly, a young Venezualan woman asked me, yes me, to show her how to do it. Caracas.

All that dancing must have given me that headache the next morning as we headed off for Enniskillen. Various stops included the hill where pilgrims enact St Patricks fast and trek up the mountain, sometimes barefoot, sometimes on hands and knees. We didn`t. We did visit a museum of Country Life which was more interesting than we imagined. Later we went on a tour of a coal mine with a local, that`s local, ex-miner tour guide. I love hearing accents generally but this bloke, whose voice was clear and distinct, was just unintelligible. His brogue wasn`t Oxford`s. Research suggests we only need hear as little as 7% of what we listen to to form a clear understanding of what is being said. A general gist is the best any of us could grasp and impossible for those whose first language isn`t English. I don`t think the Americans understood a word. It was, again, very interesting though.

Much of our route was on the Wild Atlantic Way which is stunning with no caravans and little traffic. How we wished we were driving a Nissan Figaro, NOT. Now and again we would come up behind some dilatory non-driver who was driving with a general air of confusion and incompetence. Almost always trying to drive a Toyota. Now I`m not saying everyone with a Toyota is rubbish just that rubbish drivers seem to nearly always have a Toyota. Have you noticed? And another thing; why do old people drive so slowly? They`ve not got much time left so you`d think they`d get a move on.

Our overnight stop was Derry or Londonderry which we found disturbing and a little threatening. The atrocity of Bloody Sunday is unforgivable but it was 1972, the same era as the Vietnam War. Let`s move forwards not blazon plaques and banners with emotive exaggerations, propaganda imbuing the younger generations. It was here I declined to go out for dinner feeling a little unwell. Maybe it was the smoked salmonella or my avid interest in pert bottoms that gave me botulism but by 9p.m. I was re-witnessing my recent diet. I was poorly.

The fabulous coastal route to Belfast reduced my suicidal thoughts and a half hour nap in a forest had me feeling up for the organised tour of the Falls Rd, Shankhill etc. at 4p.m. I`m told it was extremely illuminating with, mostly, good hearted tales from both sides, though still discord is disappointingly apparent. I had a change of heart, kidneys, liver, you name it, just before the tour left which was just as well. I only just made it to our room. I didn`t leave my heart in San Francisco but I think I left several internal organs in Belfast. Evidently those around the M4 corridor aren`t familiar with the expression but, let me tell you, I was proper poorly.

No breakfast for me, just loads of water and I was determined to visit the Titanic Exhibition which was, again, well worthwhile. It was a nice walk by the river and even John chose not to drive there despite his poorly toe, tales of which were frequent and fervent, desperately trying to upstage me and receive just a little of the endless sympathy I received from all the lovely people on the trip. I was feeling a little better, had a little soup at lunchtime and in the afternoon Carole and I, no-one else I think, took a tour of the Crumlin Road Gaol which, again, we`d wholeheartedly recommend. It was our last day, end of term, and a 12 mile drive to a lovely last night dinner at a delightful hotel.

I was feeling much better, actually looking forward to dinner which began with Steve appearing dressed as, what I thought was, a giant Jimmy Clitheroe then a demonstration by a troupe of young Irish dancing girls, some only 5 years old, so apt and just delightful. Then an early night as our ferry left Dublin, 2 hours away, at 8a.m. 4.30 alarm and we took it steady as the Elan`s headlights don`t match its performance. At one point I thought one of the candles had blown out. The trip from Holyhead was plagued by caravanists, why don`t they just get a room, and one pulled out right in front of us, very dangerously. I gave him an angry flick of my wipers, that showed him. Yes, he was driving a Toyota.

Home by 3.30p.m. and around 1500 miles covered with still some liquorice allsorts left, perfect. As ever I gave the Elan`s bonnet badge a kiss, well, more of a snog really.
Jim & Carole
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PostPost by: gjz30075 » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:42 am

Sounds like a great trip. I was hoping to learn more, or see some pictures on greatroadjourneys.co.uk but that
site has been suspended. Any pics to share?
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PostPost by: elancoupe » Wed Sep 18, 2019 11:18 am

Thanks for sharing. I suspect that you might find a second career as an after dinner speaker. :D :D
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PostPost by: prezoom » Wed Sep 18, 2019 3:55 pm

The Toypet disease seems to be International. On a recent 4000 mile jaunt to some National Parks, it raised its ugly head frequently. The one highlight was the sight of a recovery service adding gasoline to a Prius parked on the side of the road.
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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:04 pm

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PostPost by: jimj » Wed Sep 18, 2019 4:04 pm

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PostPost by: Certified Lotus » Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:34 pm

Sorry to have missed you on the road John. My wife and I were on the ?Wild Atlantic Way? the last 3 days and enjoyed every minute of the country side along the sea. Great driving roads, but unfortunately I did not have my Elan S1.

While at the Cliffs of Moher we came across a gaggle of Lotus Elise?s and Exiges in the car park. I left them my GRS Motorsports stickers under their windshield wipers. I?m sure they were surprised.
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PostPost by: mwhitaker » Wed Sep 18, 2019 9:09 pm

Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us- I was laughing all the way and yearning to return for another visit. I agree-afterdinner speaker sounds like just the ticket for you as a side gig.

Cheers, Mark
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PostPost by: vincereynard » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:34 am

Excellent story Jim. As has been stated, you have other talents!

jimj wrote:Ireland trip in the Elan (of course).
The trip from Holyhead was plagued by caravanists, why don`t they just get a room, and one pulled out right in front of us, very dangerously. I gave him an angry flick of my wipers, that showed him. Yes, he was driving a Toyota.
Jim & Carole

Caravans from Holyhead are probably members of ever friendly "Traveller" communities off on their annual holiday expeditions. More likely to be looking for an unguarded field than a room.
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PostPost by: trw99 » Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:46 am

Thanks for taking the time to write up what sounds a bowel moving trip. Whatever you do, don't become an after dinner speaker...

I served in Northern Ireland in the 1970s (five "emergency tours", as they were called) and it is hard to imagine folk taking relaxed tours around some of the hot spots of that time.

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