Click to see the Classic Travelling Trans-Alpine Tour article in MOG magazine. The Trans-Alpine Tour took place in June 2013 and the next escorted group tour is in June 2016, although this tour can also be taken as a Classic Tour (independent self-drive tour) at any time. MOG Magazine is a brilliant magazine for all Morgan enthusiasts and owners.
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of Aston Martin, the Wilton Classics and Supercar show are providing a weekend of celebration, supported by Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd.
Event One: Saturday: a 100 mile rally for 100 Aston Martins
Classic Travelling has carefully created a day-long tour, specifically for Aston Martin. Start with a breakfast buffet at Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire (the location used in the James Bond Goldfinger film). Drive along roads chosen by Classic Travelling for their smile factor, visiting Aston Hill, in Buckinghamshire. Travel through some stunning countryside and pretty villages of Oxfordshire and Berkshire to our lunch at Newbury Racecourse. The afternoon drive winds across the North Wessex Downs through north Hampshire and into Wiltshire on some delightful lanes and fun roads. Finally arrive at Wilton House, the home of Lord Pembroke. Mechanical backup will be provided by Davron Aston Specialists.
Event Two: Saturday: Champagne Tea
Come and cheer home the 100 Aston Martins on the Rally. The House and Gardens will be open for you to view from 2pm. Tea, from 3pm, will be a sumptuous selection of sandwiches, scones and clotted cream, along with a mixture of miniature cakes and meringues. Champagne and a variety of teas and coffee will round off this traditional afternoon tea. You do not need to have an Aston Martin to attend this event.
Event Three: Sunday Wilton Classic & Supercar Show
This road features in Classic Travelling’s Trans-Alpine Adventure (June 7-21 2013)Many roads lead to the Engadin – but the most beautiful of them all crosses the famous Julier Pass. The serpentine twists and panoramic views are legendary, so what better way to enjoy the Alps than a spirited drive along this mountain pass?
Built in the 1820s to replace the Septimer Pass, the road connects the Engadin valley with the eastern region of Switzerland known as Graubünden. At its highest point, the Julier Pass soars to 2,284 metres (7,492 feet) above sea level and boasts a reputation as perhaps the most stunning mountain road in Switzerland – if not the world. From Zurich, it is around 100 miles to Tiefencastel, after which the extreme beauty of the surroundings, combined with the mixture of flat sections and tight bends, create a superb drivers’ road all the way to the Pass itself – particularly recommended in a (well-heated) open-topped sports car.
Once across the Pass, it is only a few miles to Silvaplana, which is itself a short drive from St. Moritz or Sils Maria.
Click here to see the article on the Classic Travelling New England Fall Colours Tour that we recently enjoyed in September/October 2012. MOG Magazine is on the news stands from November 12th, and is a brilliant magazine for all Morgan enthusiasts and owners.
The Final Installment! We’ve finally come to the end of this fabulous and epic journey around New England, USA. I’m writing this update from our hotel room on the 15th floor of the W Hotel in Hoboken, enjoying the MOST INCREDIBLE view of Manhatten and the Empire State Building. The sunrise is glistening on the buildings and the Hudson River and it is very beautiful – a total contrast to the wonderful countryside and rural areas we have visited elsewhere on the tour.
I last wrote a week ago from Woodstock, VT, which was the Columbus Weekend – a long holiday weekend in the USA. It was a great point in the tour to have a three day break, especially in such a lovely little town, dotted with charming shops, fine galleries and varied restaurants. The participants visited craft markets, National Parks, toured the circular drives I’d put together, went to President Coolidge’s former farmstead, enjoyed Billings Farm and hiked Mount Tom.
We left Woodstock and took a short journey south to Dorset, VT – just 70 miles. It was a lovely drive pootling along the lanes and past all the fall colours, through little villages, and well off the beaten track. We stopped in Weston to visit the two wonderful country stores, sample some of the delicious foods, and stock up on some Christmas presents, and enjoy the old-time feel of the stores and some of their museum-piece artifacts.
Dorset, just north of Manchester, VT, is a charming little town. It was famed for its marble quarry (now disused and a lovely natural swimming lake) and therefore the pavements and chimney stacks are made from the local material. It feels very decadent walking on the smooth grey-white slabs, many of which are huge (1m x 2m). The Dorset Inn is a most delectable place to stay. The enticing fire, hot apple cider and fresh home-made donuts ensured we were all soon filling the enchanting sitting room with plenty of chatter.
The following day saw folk heading off in different directions: a tour of the surroundings hills and dales, shopping in the outlet stores of Manchester, driving the Equinox Skyline Drive, fly-fishing on the Battenkill with Orvis, or visiting Hildene, the former home of the Lincolns.
Wednesday saw us leaving Vermont for Massachusetts and the Berkshires. Sadly it rained on what was another stunning route. We visited Hemmings Motor News in Bennington, drove over the mountains and joined the Mohawk Trail to Shelburne Falls. The route and colours were fabulous, albeit marred somewhat by the cold and wet. We stopped at Historic Deerfield to see the beautiful old village and houses, one with a door still marked from Indian arrows! More great roads led us to Dalton, where we stopped to see the Crane Museum of Papermaking. Crane manufactures premium paper from cotton, and makes all the US bank notes, and it was a fascinating visit. The sun shone for our final 20 miles to Lenox – very welcome indeed.
Our penultimate day was a simple circle of just 30 miles, but jam-packed with things to do and visit. We started with the Hancock Shaker Village, once the third largest
Shaker community in the USA. It was extremely interesting to see many examples of Shaker ingenuity, from tools and architecture to the social structure and ways of working. We then pressed on to Stockbridge and the Norman Rockwell Museum. The eponymous illustrator was a superb artist and had over 300 Saturday Evening Post covers to his name – one of the reasons he is known as ‘America’s best-loved artist’. It truly exceptional museum-gallery and well worth a visit.
The final day was a long one – 170 miles and a time limit to get to the docks at Newark by 3.30pm. Easily done, but it ensured we all left early (in the rain again), for what is a gorgeous drive through the villages and by-ways of the Berkshires and into the Lichfield Hills of Connecticut. Quite a few said it was the best drive of the entire tour, as the scenery was bucolic and enchanting. We all made it in good time to the docks and our cars are now awaiting shipping home later this week.
Our bus took us to our final hotel, in Hoboken, on the shores of the Hudson River, and with the most outstanding views of Manhatten – incredibly striking and so iconic. A superb dinner finished off a truly excellent, fun and memorable New England Fall Colours Tour.
We haven’t been quite as fortunate with the weather for the second week. Our day in Boston was pretty much continual rain, but we were cheered up by the arrival on Friday of two American couples, who joined us for 6 nights of the tour. Sadly the E-type of one couple broke down on in Connecticut on the way from Pennsylvania to Boston, meaning a little retracing of steps on Saturday, but no real harm done.
We left Boston and headed north, travelling through New Hampshire and along the coast into Maine. After a stop in the pretty town of Kennebunkport and a little retail therapy in Freeport, we wound our way down to Boothbay Harbor, a pretty little fishing village at the end of a peninsula. The coastline of Maine is lovely, in parts reminiscent of Scotland. Our Inn was situated right on the shore with lovely views across the water. Dinner was a really fun lobster bake, with TWO lobsters per person, along with clams, steamed/baked wrapped in seaweed over an open fire . It was a very informal and really enjoyable evening.
Sunday was our day for a whale watching trip. This didnt go according to plan, as not only did we not see any whales, it was a rather rough sea, and caused a few green faces. On Monday we left Maine and headed across countrry into New Hampshire to Lake Winnipesaukee. This is Mitt Romney homeland and in the run up to the election the area is literally littered with election posters. It was a super drive, and it stayed dry and sunny, with our first real taste of the fall colours, which were much more advanced than the same time last year. We stayed in Meredith at a stunning hotel – pretty much everyone’s favourite so far – with stunning Adirondack-style decor, situated right on the lake edge, and luxury rooms, each with lake views and a fireplace. We were also treated to a wonderful dinner, causing everyone to say they were never leaving.
We left Meredith, again in sunshine, heading north to the White Mountains and Mount Washington. The Auto Road to the top is famed, and it’s free for ‘antique vehicles’, but sadly only 5 cars actually made it to the top. The gradient is steep and the authorities recommend that cars only drive at 20mph or less. This means climbing in 1st or 2nd gear and going too slowly, causing a few cars to boil over. But my trusty little Morgan made it (as did the 1935 Ford, 2 Jaguars and a Mercedes) and we were rewarded with great views , which must be really spectacular on a gin clear day. This was our halfway point of the tour, so we had a fabulous four-course dinner at The Mount Washington Hotel.
Sadly we woke to rain again on Wednesday, and some sick cars. One of the XKs had taken on some dirty fuel and so this caused intermittent and infuriating problems for a few days, with various parts being cleaned and changed to try and find the problem. Trying to change a distributor cap in the pouring rain at the side of the road wasn’t fun, but the sense of group cohesion and camaraderie in the face of a problem is outstanding. However, the colours were incredible as we were at about 90% ‘peak colour’ and even in the rain and low cloud the oranges, reds, golds and yellows were vibrant and glowing. Driving the Kancamagus Highway is a real highlight – a beautiful road and swathed with sensational fall colours, a river and sweeping views makes for a very enjoyable 35 miles. From there we headed over Franconia Notch and crossed into Vermont and to Stowe, our destination for the next two nights..
Our first night in Stowe was sadly the last night of our American friends from New Jersey and Pennsylvania, but the following night we were joined by two Morgans and their owners, from Connecticut and Vermont. After a wander around the lovely village, and a drive up to the fabulous Smugglers’ Notch, a storm caused most to retire to the superb spa and relax. When eating US size portions, and very good quality food, a good workout or swim is a necessity!
Friday was a beautiful sunny day and it was hoods/tops down all day. Temptation Alley (AKA route 100) beckoned with visits to Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory, before a large dose of culture at the excellent and unmissable Shelburne Museum. Unfortunately we had to leave early to answer a break down call from an E-type. We arrived to discover the State Troopers were in attendance – although they were most delighted to have two British sports cars and owners to chat to whilst we waited for a flat bed truck. As luck would have it a Jaguar specialist near Vergennes (and just 2 miles from the breakdown site) were able to take the car, which was sadly diagnosed with a major problem after a clip came off and took out the valve springs. The E-type wont be mended in time to finish the tour, so will be fixed and then shipped to the docks when done. The owners are now completing the tour in a hire car. I’m most grateful we have the Columbus Weekend, and 3 nights, in the delightful town of Woodstock, to rest and recover.
We arrived in the USA with no problems, delighted to hear all the cars had cleared customs. However, getting them from the port was not quite so easy. It turned out that we had a few flat batteries (very flat) and some jammed handbrakes. So I enjoyed a delightful day at the docks sorting cars out. Then just as we had a whole trailer loaded up to deliver to the hotel, the truck broke down! But all 11 cars arrived by 5.30pm on Friday (was supposed to be 11am), in time for owners’ arrivals on Friday night and Saturday.
The weather for the first week has been wonderful – warm and sunny. Saturday morning saw a great drive for those already arrived, kindly led by Dennis Mamchur, local resident and tour participant from Boston to Stowe, VT. On Saturday evening we all had a Welcome Dinner, met fellow tourists, and had our first taste of US sized food portions!
Sunday, our first proper driving day, dawned bright and sunny. There was much excitement and anticipation as we were about to drive across Manhatten. I had deliberately planned this for a Sunday morning, when roads would be at their quietest. Everyone wanted to drive in convoy, but this was never going to work – keeping 11 cars together through traffic lights, a toll bridge and a toll tunnel, around Manhatten and over the Brooklyn Bridge was impossible. We tried but by the time I passed through the Holland tunnel we had 3 cars in our group. It was great fun though as New Yorkers cheered, commented and smiled at our cars. David & Rosie Robson’s 1935 Ford V8 broke down on the Brooklyn Bridge (faulty coil) but David was most chuffed with this new claim to fame – and no other cars hooted, yet waited patiently! Surely unheard of in NYC?
We drove along Long Island to the very smart town of East Hampton, where we stayed in a most delightful and charming inn. Many of us enjoyed a walk on the sandy beach before sitting down to eat possibly the most enormous meal ever. Whilst superb, we could probably have fed at least double our number generously. It seems awful the amount of waste here.
Monday morning was a drive across to Sag Harbor and Shelter Island to the North Fork, where we took the ferry to Connecticut. Quite a few people visited Mystic Seaport before heading on to Newport, Rhode Island, where we stayed two nights. Newport is one of my favourite places in the USA, and is famed for its mansions and its sailing heritage. It is also home to many historic and beautiful buildings. I had included a 3 mansion pass as part of the tour, and we chose to visit The Breakers and Marble House, both Vanderbilt summer cottages’ . We combined this with the Cliff Walk and a stroll around town. I had arranged a sunset cruise for the group aboard an 80 year old , 80ft schooner, and we sipped champagne and beers as we sailed past JFK’s summer house and around Newport Harbor. The perfect day ended in the lobster shack on the wharf with a wonderful, informal meal with the freshest seafood.
On Wednesday we headed over to Cape Cod, for an overnight stay in Chatham. This proved to be most people’s favourite hotel so far. Chatham is a charming village and many of us headed to the beach to see a large colony of seals playing on the sand.
Thursday saw us exploring the Cape, driving up to Provincetown, and then along the north shore. We were honoured to meet up with Paul Woudenberg for lunch, and he had bought his lovely Jaguar XK120FHC and little Austin Seven for us to see. Paul was the announcer at Pebble Beach, and is known at ‘The Voice of the Concours’, and also an author with various automotive books to his name. I felt very honoured to be trusted to drive his Austin Seven back to his house, where we were then fortunate to also see his collection of cars, including a stunning 1937 Bentley.
We then drove into Boston, where we are now, with a 2 night stay at the outstanding Boston Harbor Hotel, and a day off to explore this lovely city.
More to follow next week – our journey from Boston to Maine, New Hampshire and into Vermont.
If you’re going to Goodwood Revival this year (14-16 September), be sure to visit Classic Travelling on stand 64, row D in the Marketplace. We are essentially between Gate 14 and the retro Tesco store. Our good friends, Hillsalive Luggage, are opposite, so you can sort all your travel needs in one easy place!
Click here to see the article on the Classic Travelling Norwegian Fjords Tour that we recently enjoyed in June 2012. MOG Magazine is on the news stands from September 12th, and is a brilliant magazine for all Morgan enthusiasts and owners.
Classic Travelling will be exhibiting at CarFest in Hampshire on 25th & 26th August. It’s a mixture of cars, music and food, all the brainchild of Radio 2′s Chris Evans, and hosted by former Formula 1 champion, Jody Scheckter, at his organic farm, Laverstoke Park near Overton and Whitchurch in Hampshire.
Along with the many cars will be live music by Texas, The Feeling, Razorlight, The Counterfeit Stones, The Bootleg Beetles, and others. Add to this a good dash of local food and Britain’s Best, air displays and general fun and it should be a fabulous weekend. We shall be on stand A10, near the hill climb, so do pop by and say hello!
Why not get some aerial photography of your classic car (and house, or anything you like) with Aerial Photography & Surveys? Either some static pictures or film of your epic driving adventures?
We shall hopefully have some classic car film footage to show you very soon.
Aerial Photography and Surveys Ltd use some fabulous, tiny aerial cameras, with superb film and picture quality. The range of uses is boundless such as wildlife filming, property photos, crop circles, filming cars, surveying hard to get places (roofs, pylons etc), and archeological surveys.
October 2011 New England Fall Colours reconnaissance trip
Leaving Stowe was a wrench – such a beautiful place. The weather has been truly glorious and it really lights up the colours of the foliage and seems to make it glow and hillsides appear ablaze. Apparently the colours this year are not as good as normal, thanks to Hurricane Irene with her torrential rain and winds causing the leaves to brown early or fall off. All I can say is that it sure looks wonderful to me, so ‘normal’ years must be incredible!
We headed south along ‘temptation alley’ so named as it’s lined with specialist food producers, with such delights as cider doughnuts, and Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, to Waterbury. Turning west to the shores of Lake Champlain, we visited the superb Shelburne Museum. This is really worth a visit of at least 3-4 hours, wandering around an open-air collection of period buildings from across the region, a paddle steamer, and an incredible array of artefacts within each. This is one of New England’s ‘must see’ attractions, giving a rare and fascinating insight into life of the early settlers in the 1600s through to the early 20th century.
Next door is Shelburne Farms, a showcase farm created by the omnipresent Vanderbilts, and a beautiful demonstration of perfection in agriculture. For those interested in horses, the Morgan Horse Stud is also not far away either, near Middlebury – itself a nice college town. The route then winds across the Green Mountains to Rochester and south to Woodstock, where the tour is staying for three nights over the Columbus Weekend. This is a gorgeous little town and the Woodstock Inn is really stunning and extremely comfortable. This part of Vermont was badly affected by Irene in August but I am amazed and extremely impressed just how hard Vermonters have worked to clear up, repair the roads and bridges, and make good the flood damage. It is really hard to believe that so much can be done in just 6 weeks, so I doubt there will be too much evidence next year, and certainly no disruptions. We have encountered a few route detours as some roads and bridges are out at the moment, but these will be fixed in the coming weeks.
Woodstock has a buzz about it, being the long holiday weekend. As the Inn is right in the centre, the entire town is within a 5 minute walk and there is no need to drive. There are lots of events over the weekend, from craft and country fairs to fall festivals and farm events. I have put together a short drive on one day, encompassing the Coolidge Homestead at Plymouth Notch, and the other day is free for participants to visit the Billings March Rockefeller Farm and Homestead, visit the nearby Sugarbush Farm to see how maple syrup is made (and taste and buy many items made with it), or just relax in the sumptuous inn. We managed to do all of that, and visit the local craft fair, see the Quechee Gorge, with Simon Pearce Glass Studio alongside, and wander around town, drifting into the variety of shops and galleries lining the sidewalks.
From Woodstock we drove south to our next stop, Dorset, in southern Vermont. We stopped in the charming village of Weston, nestled around its village green, and visited the tiny ‘historical district’ with its water mill, tin-worker and old crafts. There are also two superb country stores in the village – both well worth a visit. These stores are like a step back in time, and it’s incredible to see the sheer range of items and products they stock, often merchandised with every-day antiques, old signs and country implements. Each has a food ‘hall’ where we bought some lunch and enjoyed a lovely picnic in the dappled sunshine on the green. We crossed the Green Mountains again, to Manchester and onto Dorset. We’re staying at the divine Dorset Inn – a quintessential old Vermont inn with oodles of character.
After an indulgent breakfast of pancakes and maple syrup (well, why not?), we drove the small circular loop we’ve planned for the tour, taking in a visit to Calvin Collidge’s homestead at Plymouth, and then going to Manchester. Manchester is particularly known for it’s quality retail outlet stores, so we did a spot of shopping. It’s also a mecca for fishermen, as it’s the hometown of Orvis and the flagship store is here, along with a large trout lake, to test the rods and equipment. Down the road in Manchester village is Hildene, home of the Lincoln family, and also worth a visit. We bimbled back to Dorset, stopping at the old marble quarry, which is now a lake, and marvelled at the enormous blocks of pale marble that has been used for building in much of the area – including all the sidewalks in Dorset.
We have very much felt that Vermont has been our favourite state. Which will yours be?
October 2011 New England Fall Colours reconnaissance trip
Leaving the Maine coast we headed inland, across country on the back roads, where the colours are really starting to turn with increasing reds, oranges and yellows in the leaves. The drive took us around Lake Sebago, along the water’s edge, and then onto Lake Winnepesaukee, New England’s largest lake. A stroll around the genteel lakeside town of Wolfeboro broke the journey, before driving along the west shore of the lake to Meredith. We stayed in the same hotel we’re using for the tour, the truly gorgeous and charming Church Landing at Mill Falls. Located right on the lake edge, the views are gorgeous, but the interior of the hotel easily matches up. This easily has to be one of the most charming hotels I’ve been in anywhere, with a really creative interior design using wood. We enjoyed a sun drenched afternoon wandering around Mill Falls, which has a small collection of shops and inns based around a small falls channeled to power the original mill, and a promenade along the lake. Dinner in the hotel was superb and I am 100% sure this will be one of the many highlights of the tour. The following day we headed north into the White Mountains, and the highest mountain in the eastern United States, Mount Washington at 6,288ft. The Auto Road up the mountain is 8 miles through four distinct climate zones, emerging in arctic tundra at the summit, and offering views to Canada and the Atlantic on a clear day. We descended again and went north around the mountain range to Bretton Woods, to stay at the magnificent Mount Washington Hotel. Set to take advantage of the wide open mountain views in all directions, and therefore blankets of autumn colour, this imposing place evokes the past splendour of its heyday of the early 1900s. After an incredible breakfast, we drove over Crawford Notch, where we saw our first moose, diligently standing close to the road, just within the trees. Much excitement particularly after seeing so many road signs for moose, with out any other sign of these immense animals. From Conway we took the Kancamagus Highway, one of the most scenic roads in New England and particularly famed for viewing the fall colours. It makes for a very beautiful drive as it follows the river, and offers plenty of photo opportunities. We then turned north across the Franconia Notch, with a quick stop at Clarks Trading Post where we saw black bears, albeit in captivity. The drive today is quite simply stunning. North of Franconia Notch the landscape widens and there are fabulous, far-reaching views as we left New Hampshire and entered Vermont, and the colours got richer and more intense – peak foliage. We finished the journey in the enchanting town of Stowe, a well-known ski resort, but also a fabulous base for exploring northern Vermont. We’re staying at an exquisite hotel, with sensational views of Mount Mansfield. There’s are three pools, each with mountain views and hot tubs, which offer the perfect spot for enjoying a sundowner. And the restaurant is excellent too, so again, I’m sure this will be a real hit with tour participants. I’ve put together a short circular drive of just over 40 miles for the following day, which runs over Smugglers’ Notch, a winding, narrow road through the trees, and past massive boulders, descending to Jeffersonville to the north. The roads will give drivers a lot of fun. As will Stowe itself, and for anyone that still has energy or time to spare, then there are so many activities we can arrange, such as dog sledding, hot air ballooning, river kayaking, or perhaps just relaxing… It would be great to finish the day with a beer or cup of tea at Ye Olde England Inn, owned by expat Brit, Chris Francis, who also organises the British Invasion, one of the largest classic car shows in the USA. Chris will also hopefully gather some local classic owners to meet us next year. Tomorrow we head to southern Vermont and Woodstock, for the Columbus Weekend. More to follow soon…
October 2011 New England Fall Colours reconnaissance trip
The last five days have been travelling along the coast from Rhode Island to Cape Cod and then up to Maine, and the scenery is ever-changing and beautiful. It was the most fabulous weather to drive this coastline and I took the back roads from Falmouth to Chatham, along the south shore of Cape Cod, along the beach, then inland past the weather-board and cedar-shingle cottages and houses that dot this area. The beach-house look is perfected here, with washed tones of greys, blues and whites, and it all just looks too idyllic. It’s the end of the season and most people have gone home, so the towns and villages have that pleasant feeling of being their ‘secret season’ – without the crowds, the hot weather and chaos.
Chatham is one of the prettiest villages on the Cape with a lovely feel to it. The main street is lined with little craft shops, galleries, boutiques and the occasional tavern. The hotel I have chosen is just tucked down a side street, only 200m from the centre of the village. It’s a small inn with the main house and five further houses. Each house has four or five rooms, and they’re tucked away in little gardens. It means there are no long hotel corridors or vast parking lots – just a cosy collections of cottages. It’s an ideal base for discovering Chatham. After a short drive along the local shoreline, I spent the evening wandering along the main street, and enjoying a chat with the hotel manager at the bar, being regaled with stories of whale watching and the carnival atmosphere at Provincetown in the far tip of the Cape.
The following day dawned with a sea fog, which was actually rather nice and atmospheric. I headed up the shore road to P’town in the north. The town is a renowned haunt for the gay community, and is therefore very chic and colourful. There are also whale watching excursions available from the town quay, although they were cancelled due to the fog that day. No matter – this entire coast is good for whale sightings. After a stroll around town (and the odd raised eyebrow at some of the shop displays) I headed south again, hugging the shore where possible. The north shore of Cape Cod is a very pretty drive past the old fishing villages from Brewster to Sandwich.
Leaving the Cape behind I drove to Plymouth, best know for being the landing place of the Plymouth Pilgrims in 1620. Although this is rather open to debate, the site is an important symbol in American history. The Plymouth Rock is marked with a Greek-style portico and there is a very good replica of the Mayflower, the ship they sailed in from England.
It was then easiest to take the Interstate highway into Boston, as no-one wants to get lost driving in a city. The tour will be staying at the most fabulous hotel in the centre of Boston, right next to the waterfront and a five minute walk from the Faneuil Hall and the Freedom Trail. The hotel boasts great underground parking, as well as a pool and spa, and all the little luxuries you could wish for, so I’m sure that those on the tour will enjoy this. I was fortunate to be staying with John & Kim Legelis, who run Blue Routes, Classic Travelling’s counter-part in New England. John & Kim have a wealth of knowledge on the roads of New England and have been invaluable in their help with this tour. Tour participants will have a well-earned day off in Boston, to explore this beautiful and historic city.
The drive north from Boston winds through lovely scenery and quaint villages such as Ipswich and Newburyport, crossing from Massachusetts, into New Hampshire and then into Maine. A wander around Portsmouth is recommended before heading on to the coastal village of Kennebunkport, either of which make an ideal spot for lunch. Finish the day with a drive up to Freeport, one large outlet shopping town and home of LL Bean, and onto the fabulous coastal region of the Boothbays. We’re staying for two nights at a delightful resort on Southport, set in 45 acres of pine forest, right on the water’s edge. There are kayaks or canoes to explore the inlets and skerries and perhaps see the seals bobbing around. On the first night we’re planning a traditional lobster bake in seaweed with steamers – all fresh from the ocean.
With a day off in the Boothbays we are planning a whale watching tour for everyone, although this is weather dependent. The 3.5 hour boat trip virtually always sees whales, such as humpbacks, minke, blue, fin, and northern right whales, as well as porpoises and seals. This is going to be a real treat. Sadly I was not able to make the trip this year as it was rather torrential rain – a real change from the previous shorts and T-shirt weather. However, I drove up the coast to Camden, a really lovely village set around a charming harbour, and then headed down to Pemaquid Point and lighthouse on the return journey. There isn’t a restaurant at Ocean Gate Resort so we ate at two nearby places, both of which were very good. With so much to see and do wonder Maine is known as ‘vacationland’.
Tomorrow we leave the coast and head inland to New Hampshire…
September 2011 The New England Fall Colours reconnaissance trip
The first four days of the New England Fall Colours Tour travel from New York (well Newark to be precise, but then across New York City), to Long Island, and then by ferry to Connecticut and onto Newport, Rhode Island. I am currently on the reconnaissance tour exactly a year ahead, for the real tour in September/October 2012, and so far very much enjoying myself, as I know tour participants will too.
I’m fortunate to be given either free rooms in the hotels we’re using, or vastly discounted rates, so rest assured this trip is adding very little in cost to the tour, but an incredible amount to my knowledge, which I can then pass onto tour participants, both in the tour book and in person. The sheer amount of information I’ve collected thus far is staggering, and I’m really glad I have a car in which to put it all for the moment. I just have to try and condense it onto the computer and the tour book before I fly home!
After arriving at JFK in the pouring rain, and stupidly relying on a sat nav/GPS to guide me across NYC (Manhatten at Friday rush hour in the rain is not to be recommended!), I eventually arrived at the beautiful house of Dennis & Barbara Mamchur in Verona, New Jersey. The Mamchurs were on our Italian Job Tour in July and are a really lovely and interesting couple. Sadly Dennis was away (at a car show) so Barbara and I chatted away over dinner in a superb restaurant overlooking New York.
On Saturday I went to visit the first hotel of the tour, the Short Hills Hilton, which is just 20 minutes from Newark Airport and the arrival port of the cars. Most importantly it has underground parking, and we are planning on having the cars transported to the hotel the day before tour participants arrive, as I figure that most people will not wish to start their tour at the docks. It also happens to be a luxurious and well-appointed hotel, albeit not the most beautiful on the outside, with spacious, comfortable rooms, a spa and pool, and great restaurant for our welcome dinner.
I then headed across to Long Island, taking the interstate past the Statue of Liberty, and then the Holland Tunnel to pop up on Manhatten. Taking the West Side Highway took me past the World Trade Center site, which is now a fabulous memorial park, and down to Battery Park, and across the Brooklyn Bridge: wonderful to see so many famous land-marks. The Long Island Expressway is by far the easiest way to get out of the city and onto Long Island proper, and after 20 miles I turned north to Glen Cove on the north shore – an area known as The Gold Coast, that once held the greatest concentration of wealth and power in America, in the gilded age before the Great Depression. Thousands of acres were purchased by the likes of JP Morgan, the Vanderbilts, the Roosevelts, & FW Woolworth to create their incredible mansions and estates, and the area is the setting for F. Scott Fitzgerld’s 1925 novel The Great Gatsby. I went to visit Mrs Bernstein, mother of Lex who, with his wife, Donna, was also on the Italian Job Tour. Mrs B and I had dinner so I was privy to lots of excellent information on the area and the best places to see.
The next day dawned foggy but soon cleared as I made my way north to Sag Harbor and took the first ferry to Shelter Island. It’s a lovely drive through pleasant wooded areas, past pretty houses and rocky coastlines. Another ferry from Shelter Island to the North Fork, which is renowned for its vineyards, before heading up to Orient Point. From here it’s a longer ferry (80 mins) to New London, Connecticut. It’s been warmer than usual, with temperatures in the low 80s (high 20s) and definitely shorts weather, which makes being by the sea even more delightful. I stopped at Mystic Seaport, formally known as The Museum of America & The Sea, with sixty buildings reflecting life in a 19th century sea-faring village, with its associated workshops and stores. Further along the coast the old fishing village of Stonington is also pretty, with whitewashed, clap-board houses. Afterwards I made my way to Newport, which is a real gem, and where the tour will be based for two nights at the superb Hotel Viking, one of the historic hotels of America. I continued along the north shore and then crossed to the South Fork to Hampton Bays and headed along to East Hampton. I’ve always wanted to visit the Hamptons, to see the holiday homes of the uber-rich and famous and I was not disappointed. Truly stunning architecture and enormous, yet somehow not too ostentatious homes in wonderful, natural materials such as cedar shingles which weather to a beautiful silver-grey, set in large, lawned gardens and some with a superb beach setting. Those lucky folk. And of course the towns had all the sorts of expensive boutiques you’d expect in such a neighbourhood, located on pretty high streets. All very stylish and desirable. And I’ve found a perfect hotel in East Hampton, the trendiest of the Hamptons, an easy walk from both the beach and town, that I’m sure the tour participants will love. I can also vouch that the beds are immensely comfortable.
I have to admit that I’m a huge fan of Newport. I visited the town in 2000 when we were part of a Morgan Club tour to America (the tour that essentially made me start Classic Travelling), and I loved it then. Now, having spent 2 nights here, I still think this is a fabulous place and I would happily move into one of the exquisite coastal houses on Ocean Drive (I wish). The town has so many historic buildings (pretty old even by European standards – 300 years or so) that give it such charm, with quaint streets, and beautiful buildings painted in lovely muted colours. The waterfront wharfs have a great selection of bars and restaurants from which to watch the yachts, or even enjoy a sunset cruise. Then there is the incomparable Bellvue Avenue, lined with the most incredible mansions, from the Vanderbilts’ (yes, them again) ‘The Breakers’, to slightly more modest fare. Think of Europe’s stately homes, huge chateaux and castles and put them all in one town and you have an idea of the sheer wealth that dominated. Many of the mansions can be visited, or you can see them all from the lovely 3.5 mile cliff walk. The town is also home to a variety of other museums, galleries, shops and is just a lovely place to enjoy.
Tomorrow I head to Cape Cod, then on to Boston and up the Maine Coast, from where I shall write my next blog.
Friday 9 September 2011 I have spent the morning at Southampton Docks (yes, glamorous I know!) looking at ships and seeing exactly how cars are shipped for roll-on/roll-off. This is all for our New England Fall Colours Tour next year, as we shall be shipping cars from the UK and Europe to the USA for the three week trip.
I am very impressed with the operation that Wallenius Wilhelmsen are running. Firstly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many new Jaguars, Land Rovers, Range Rovers or Minis in one place, which makes me positive about the current British car industry. And with the launch next year of the Jaguar CX-16 this will no doubt increase. So I reckon if WW ship all these cars all over the world, they should be able to handle our classic cars.
The ship I was shown around can hold up to 6,600 cars! Each car is driven onto the deck and secured at each end with strong webbing straps onto the wheels or towing eyes. For our cars the wheels will be secured, around the tyres, to strapping points in the floor. At no point do they let any metal touch metal and all the straps metal parts are covered in soft rubber. Each car is parked 40cm apart so that they never touch.
RO-RO has a number of advantages over containerisation. The most obvious is price; it’s less than half the price of shipping in containers. We are looking at a ball park figure of £2,300 per car (depending on the cars value), which will include all handling, shipping, customs, marine insurance, temporary import bonds etc., compared with around £5,000 per car in a container with 1 or 2 other cars. Containers also have the disadvantage of occasionally falling off the ships – never to be retrieved if this is at sea! This is clearly a massive issue, albeit a rare one.
I appreciated the time WW spent talking it all through with me, and showing me around. They care about cars and I would be happy to entrust them with my E-type or Morgan. Someone else had too – there was a S1 E-type from Mississippi. And over the course of three weeks, shipping is the equivalent cost to hiring a SUV once in the USA. So in many ways it makes sense to ship your own car!
We all enjoyed a day off yesterday (Monday), which for most was a day of wandering arounf Neuchatel at the foot of the Jura mountains in Switzerland. Terry Light took the train to Geneva to collect his distributer that arrived the day after we left last week. Fortunately his car has not needed it and is still running “as good as ever” on the makeshift roadside version. Other members of the group took the boat or train to Murten, a pretty medieval lakeside town.
Today (Tuesday) was a much better day weather-wise than forecast. The journey up to La Vue des Alpes offered a stunning panorama, particularly for those who left earlier. We continued on to La Chaux de Fonds, epicentre of Swiss watchmaking. Some of us visited the International Horology Museum, which was simply stunning and awe-inspiring, andd incredibly interesting.
From there we passed many famous watch brands and their factories and then pressed on, across the border, into France. Today’s drive was mainly on good, fast open roads, across lovely rolling countryside with far-reaching views. It was great fun to have totally different roads from the Alpine extravaganza we enjoyed previously.
We had a truly international pack in our little group today, with a car from Idaho, USA, two cars from South Africa (Cape Town and Durban), a Swiss E-type and of course our British coupe. A brief stop for lunch at a great boulangerie gave us more time for enjoying the roads.
So we’re now in Troyes for our penultimate night. This is a gorgeous, half-timbered medieval city, also famed for its factory outlets, so I don’t think it will be a particularly early start for anyone on our last day, as we head north towards Calais.
Sadly it’s been a less than perfect driving day with torrential rain and low cloud. Which is immensely sad as we left Courmayeur this morning, touched on France briefly through Chamonix and Col de la Forclaz, and into Switzerland. It’s been a stunning route, as I well know having driven this many times in sunny weather, but hardly anyone has been able to enjoy it, as the low cloud has hampered visibility. Also most people have been mopping up and bailing out – E-types are not exactly the most waterproof of cars, even the fixed head coupes.
However, many of us stopped in Martigny to enjoy the car museum and Monet exhibition at Fondation Pierre Gianadda, before pressing on to the Ollon-Villars hill climb and over the Col de la Croix to Les Diablerets. The mountains get smaller and more open as we head towards the pre-alpes. Next stop was Gruyeres, the gorgeous, medieval hilltop town, known for its eponymous cheese. Fondue for lunch followed by visits to the cheese factory, and then the delicious Cailler chocolate factory for dessert. The Swiss dairy industry was well-supported by us all.
Open plains beckoned as we drove north to lovely Fribourg and on to Murten (where we return tomorrow), before rounding Lake Neuchatel to the city of Neuchatel, where we’re staying for 2 nights, right on the lake edge. Dinner tonight is in the restaurant overlooking the harbour, and the skies have cleared and the sun is out. And the cars have a chance to dry out.
We could not have asked for a more beautiful day – clear blue skies and warm weather – and the mountains looked at their very best. We headd off first to the location where the Mafia met the Aston and E-types. This is a narrow stretch of road with nowhere to stop, so we continued on to the road where the cars were filmed driving fast just before the encounter, before turning around to photograph the Mafia location. (We are adding photos to the gallery on Facebook and www.classictravelling.com/gallery).
From there we headed back to Aosta and then up the Grand St Bernard Pass. Wow, what a drive – fast, sweeping turns and great road surface. I think every car had the film sundtrack track playing as we re-created the opening scenes of the Italian Job film. One participant said he could now die happy, having now driven the road he’d wanted to drive his entire life.
We headed on up to the top, where we gathered for a group photo shoot, and then descended inot Switzerland and Martigny. Quite a few visited the Fondation Pierre Gianadda, with its fabulous car museum, sculpture park and art gallery, currently with a superb Monet exhibition.
The return journey was over Col de la Forclaz, into France and through Chamonix and the Mont Blanc tunnel to Courmayeur. We had a couple of breakdowns at the entrance to the tunnel – one car with alternator problems and another with a throttle linkage issue.
We were treated to yet another excellent dinner at the hotel, an afterwards everyone retired to the bar, buzzing with happiness.
What a day! We left Geneva in warm sunshine and crossed the border into France, climbing up into the Alps. There were some fabulous roads heading up to La Clusaz, through some small gorges, and we continued to Col des Aravis for some welcome hot chocolates, as it was a little chilly in the cloud at altitude.
We drove all the way to Bourg St Maurice, via Beaufort, with about 7 or 8 other E-types, all enjoying some superb roads, truly fabulous scenery and some spirited driving. Much of my day was spent hanging out of the window to get the perfect shot of various cars, and narrowly avoiding death by wing mirror of an oncoming vehicle.
We then climbed the Petit St Bernard Pass, through La Rosiere and to the Col at 2,188m, which was the frontier with Italy. The road then descended to La Thuile, and we were tailed by 9600 HP and 848 CRY, so photos to be posted later. In fact some photos of the tour are online at www.classictravelling.com/gallery.
We stopped just below La Thuile at the tunnel which was the film location for the Miura crash at the start of The Italian Job, and filmed 848 CRY, the E-type from the film coming through.
We are staying for the next three nights in Courmayeur, at a wonderful hotel – also used by the film crew and cast in 1969 during the making of the film.
Tomorrow we’re off to drive more of the routes and locations used in the film, so stay tuned…
We awoke to rain this morning, but no-one needed any excuses to stay longer at the most incredible breakfats feast I have ever seen.
Lunch was at the Parc des Eaux-Vives, where the E-type was unveiled to the public and press at the Geneva Motor show in 1961. We had the same car, 9600 HP, the prototype, back in the same position as half a century ago, and everyone took the opportunity to have their photo taken with the car. Fortunately the sun was shining and we all enjoyed a superb canape lunch in the restaurant.
An afternoon at leisure gave everyone the opportunity to explore Geneva, be it the Patek Philippe museum or the Red Cross museum.
This evening we had a dinner cruise on Lake Geneva, heading past the amazing Jet d’Eau and along the southern shore, admiring some stunning lakeside properties. There was much chatter, merriment and laughter and everyone is having a great time.
Yesterday was a stunning day, albeit rather warm (32c plus). We started with breakfast outside on the terrace at our gorgeous hotel in Beaune. No one wanted to leave – everything was just too perfect.
Dan and Joe, our ace mechanics sorted out a few small issues with some cars, and it’s been a real bonus having them with us once more. We then drove south, still following Bob Berry’s route from 1961, to Macon and then across to Bourg en Bresse. The driving then started to get more interesting as we climbed some hills to Nantua and headed on to Bellgarde, past Fort l’Ecluse, and across the border into Switzerland.
We’re staying at the superb Hotel Intercontinental, which is incrediby luxurious, despite not being one of the more attractive buildings in Geneva. The large outdoor pool was very welcome as most of us arrived looking more dishevelled than desired due to the heat and humidity.
We had a fabulous dinner in the ballroom, with 9600 HP, he prototype E-type sat amongst the tables. After dinner we were treated to a speech from Philip Porter, the car’s owner and famed Jaguar author and historian, on the history of the car and the launch. It was a memorable evening and much enjoyed by everyone.
The third day of the Italian Job Tour dawned sunny and warm, and proceeded to get warmer. We are now in Beaune, in France’s Burgundy (Bourgogne) region, where it’s a very pleasant 28C.
We started the day with a visist back at Pol Roger on the Avenue de Champagne in Epernay. This Champagne house is not open to the public so we were very honoured to be able to visit. This was all thanks to Nick James, Pol Roger UK MD and E-type owner – thanks Nick.
We toured the extensive cellars, and learned about the creation and production of fine Champagne, followed by a visit to the bottling and labelling section. We finished with a tasting of the Brut Reservee in magnums – as served for the recent royal wedding of the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge. And for those of you wondering about the title of yesterday’s post, Pol Roger was the favourite sparkling beveredge of Sir Winston Churchill.
We have then driven 195 miles through the sunny French countryside to Beaune, where we are staying at the fabulous Hotel Le Cep. We’re looking forward to a gourmet dinner tonight in the restaurant, before heading on to Geneva tomorrow.
Day two of the Italian Job Tour started well with everyone heading off on Bob Berry’s orginal route from 1961 driving past various WW1 & WW2 battlefields. Three lucky E-types were accosted by a friendly local who invited them to view his collection of classic and vintage cars at his nearby chateau, which included an original Jaguar D-type that he raced at Le Mans!
Most people had lunch in Laon, a lovely hilltop town with medieval centre, before heading on to Reims and then Epernay, where we’re now staying. We’ve just enjoyed the most fabulous dinner at the famous Pol Roger Champagne house, with aperitifs and fabulous food al fresco on the lawns. Our host, Patrice, manager of Pol Roger, gave us three Champagnes: Pol Roger Brut, 2000 vintage , and topped of with Winston Churchill Cuvee from 1999, which were all divine. We also enjoyed some delicious red wine from Beaune. An incredibly special and privileged evening to celebrate our tour and the E-type .
Tomorrow morning we have a cellar tour and tasting back at Pol Roger, which will be in tomorrow’s report.
We’ve all arrived at the beautiful Chateau Tilques and it is the most stunning evening. Just a perfect start to the tour. Most people have spent the last few hours on the terrce or in the garden enjoying their first French beers. The first day has not been without its problems however. Lex and Donna Bernstein, who’ve shipped their car over from Idaho, broke down about 40 miles from Dover with fuel pump problems. But they caught a later ferry and our trusty mechanics have fitted a new pump, so all sorted.
It is just five days to go until the start of the long-awaited Italian Job Tour, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the E-type. The final arrangements have been put in place, the cars are getting ready and packing has started. We will be adding news and photos on a (hopefully) daily basis. So stay tuned…
Our first night is at the lovely Chateau Tilques, just a hop and a skip from Calais.
Just ten days to to go until the Italian Job Tour. Tour packs sent, and everything ready for E-types from the UK, Ireland, France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, America, South Africa and Australia to drive to Geneva and then Italy. www.classictravelling.com/e50ij
We shall be posting all the news and photos from the tour here. So stay tuned…
Classic Travelling was established in 2003 and offers motoring holidays and driving tours for classic, vintage and sports cars of all ages. With Classic Travelling’s continual presence on the best touring roads, we are second to none for advice about exploring the world by road, and off the beaten track.
Classic Travelling takes away the hassle and guesswork from a touring or driving holiday, leaving you the time to enjoy yourselves and your car. Your free time is precious and so you want to know that you will be driving the best roads in the area, staying at charming hotels, and that your car will have suitable parking each night. You want to know what there is to do, see and visit on each day of your driving holiday or road trip, without having to do hours of research, or missing anything of interest.
Our knowledge and experience means we have a in-depth and unique knowledge of where to drive, depending upon your budget, interests and car. At Classic Travelling we pride ourselves on our attention to detail in preparing every trip we undertake, for both clubs, groups and individuals.
All our fully escorted Group Tours and self-drive Classic Tours are researched, created, tested and organised by Classic Travelling – and we also happen to be experienced, well-travelled and enthusiastic classic car owners. We accompany each Group Tour as your tour guides and organisers.
Unlike some companies and tour organisers, Classic Travelling tour directors actually drive every single mile of every single tour we offer, both as a reconnaissance trip – and then to accompany the Group Tours. We also carefully handpick and then visit and/or stay in every hotel we use and recommend, to ensure they are of the standard expected by us and our customers. We use small, character hotels wherever possible, not large, corporate or coach-party hotels where you’re just a number, not an individual.
A Classic Travelling tour is organised, but you are not. This is no regimental exercise and you are free to spend your days as you wish, at your own pace, doing exactly want you want. All we ask is that you arrive at the accommodation we have booked on your behalf each evening (Group Tours only).
We provide you with a comprehensive tour book to help you make the most of your road trip or classic car tour. This book contains your detailed and easy-to-follow route directions and route maps, accommodation information, and describes everything we think may be of interest to you, that you will be passing by each day. The tour book also gives you a little bit of history to the area, and may include some little anecdotes or stories about the places you are passing through. The idea of the book is to help you have all the information you need in just one place, and not be cluttered with various guide books, leaflets and maps.
Classic Travelling organises small, friendly, escorted Group Tours and holidays, with no more than 15-20 cars, for you to join, or take one of our Classic Tours as a self-drive tour if you wish to travel independently, just using our tour books and information.
We pride ourselves that our each year about 75-80% of our bookings are from previous tour participants, including from our very first tour in 2003. However, everyone is made to feel equally welcome and many people comment on how friendly and sociable our tours are.
We have teamed up with Hillsalive, makers of fabulous fitted luggage for your classic car, to offer 10% discount on luggage for those of you who book on a Classic Travelling tour.
As many of you know, packing for a trip in your classic car is no easy affair. Fortunately the good people at Hillsalive have created an easier solution for owners of a variety of classic cars. A bespoke luggage system tailored to fit your car perfectly and maximise the space available.
Stiff sides protect your contents whilst the durable material is complemented by a rugged, full-width handle-strap that enables you to easily load, remove and carry your cases.
When it comes to a journey in your classic, Hillsalive cases are the obvious choice.
Luggage is currently available for Morgans, Jaguars, Lotus, Porsches, Triumph, with the range constantly expanding. For more information see www.hillsalive.co.uk or call 07980 574070.
Rozalex was the product that all home mechanics, car enthusiasts and aviation engineers used to protect their hands from the ravages of those endless days under the car or even manufacturing aeroplanes. Used since the 1920’s its highly likely your car was made and maintained by workers using this product.
The product range still exists and the new owners are now giving it a new lease of life. The brand is supplied to British industry and does a brisk trade, however Andrew Dean and Nick Angel, a pair of confirmed classic car enthusiasts, would like to see it being used again by classic car owners again.
Rozalex is a range of products which help protect the hands. There are barrier creams which protect the hands against oil, solvents, paint, water/solvent mixes and general grime. The cream repels and blocks contaminants, making it easier to clean up. Cleansers, which are like the green stuff – but better, and a reconditioning cream which ensures when you get back home your hands are moisturized and supple.
US-originated specialist classic car insurer Hagerty International is a refreshing addition to the classic insurance scene with rare flexibility on insuring visiting foreign drivers on its policies.
Now Hagerty has enhanced its standard policies further by adding Breakdown and Recovery Insurance throughout the UK, with reduced premiums for European breakdown cover. Roadside assistance and recovery to the client’s home (or repairer of choice in certain circumstances) are all part of the package.
For further information and quotations, contact Hagerty International on 08700 420220, or check out the website www.hagertyinsurance.co.uk.
Classic Travelling was established in 2003 and offers motoring holidays for classic, vintage and sports cars. The founder of the business, Sarah Dowding, has extensive experience of touring and motoring, having driven well in excess of 250,000 miles over the finest roads in Europe, North America, and southern Africa.
With Classic Travelling's continual presence on the best touring roads, we are second to none for advice about exploring the world by road, and off the beaten track.
Our knowledge and experience means we have a in-depth and unique knowledge of where to drive, depending upon your budget, interests and car. We pride ourselves on our attention to detail in preparing every trip we undertake, for both clubs, groups and individuals. Let us take away the hassle and guesswork of organising your holiday, leaving you the time to enjoy yourselves and your car.