Monday, 10 August 2015

Northern Nostalgia

I kept an eye open all last week for the weather reports in the north-east.  Changeable was the word that sprung to mind, and different websites all had different predictions.  Gloomiest?  The BBC, who said there would be rain and light clouds.  Even the best opted for the safe bet of 'cloudy'.  Not very helpful when a girl is trying to plan her vintage outfit for an event.

The reason for the concern?  After hearing good reports, I decided that I would visit the Croft Nostalgia historic car racing event near Darlington.  Happily, there were enough people for a two-car entourage, so I managed to get a ride in a friend's car.  The last few times I'd travelled with J we'd had great fun on the A17, suffered an over-heating problem on the way to Stratford Upon Avon and got stuck in traffic in Birmingham - but this time, I was sure, it would be a more successful trip.  The plan, according to the driver, was to leave early on Friday for a leisurely drive through the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and reach Darlington by lunchtime, leaving the afternoon to relax before going to the event, at the nearby Croft Circuit, early on Saturday. 

Unfortunately, the 'leisurely' drive didn't quite happen like my erstwhile driver imagined.  Firstly, a road closure just north of Colne meant horrendous tailbacks on the A59 that we had taken, as traffic was being diverted all over the place.  Secondly, one tiny set of temporary traffic lights in the small town of Gisburn meant that all that diverted traffic was held up again.  Things improved once we'd got through the pretty town of Settle, though, and for some time the roads cleared ahead of us as we powered our way up to Hawes.  Well, when I say 'some time' I actually mean... some time - all in all, it must have been five minutes before we met some pensioners who seemed content to trundle along at 35mph on the 60mph speed limit zones.  We got past them but a few minutes later on caught up to another car bumbling along, this time even slower.  Eventually we found a way past them on the twisting roads and thundered on... until we met the next one...  You get the idea.  Yes, there must have been a Driving Miss Daisy convention going on somewhere, and it was like that all the way to Leyburn, on the east side of the Dales.

And so, nearly five hours after leaving Manchester, we arrived, slightly frazzled, a little hungry and road-weary in Darlington.  The second car, that had chosen the non-scenic route, had arrived two hours previously.

The hotel I'd booked into was the Houndgate Townhouse Hotel in the older part of the town.  It was  a little more expensive than the hotels that the others in the group were staying in, but I wanted to take the opportunity to shoot some photos whilst I was there.  One of them is this week's Picture Of The Week, and I have to say I was really pleased with how they turned out.

I first shot some for my Kiku corset that I bought some time ago, after a request from the talented lady who had created it.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Kiku corset

After those, I changed into my 1950's girdle and stockings and bullet bra as the room suited the vintage theme.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Vintage Vamp

There will be a few going on the website in the future, so keep a look out!  After the photo session was done, I enjoyed a fabulous meal at the hotel (and a few cocktails!) before bed - Saturday would be a long day...

Thankfully, the next day dawned bright, so I donned my vintage outfit, slipped my legs into some more stockings and high heels, and on time, was picked up from the hotel for the short trip to the Croft circuit.  The circuit was buzzing even at the early hour of 8.45am, with lots of race cars rumbling around the pit area.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Croft Nostalgia, 2015

One side of the main pit area was made up of modern and vintage military vehicles, the other a host of caravans with their racing cars nuzzled alongside.  The air was full of the sound of exhausts blaring a wake-up call and the smell of petrol and exhaust fumes, and the waft of cooking from the nearby caravans.  Already, a group of army personnel were guiding a behemoth of a truck into it's position.  It was a brilliant start to the day.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Croft Nostalgia, 2015

I wandered through the area where the race cars were being prepared, enjoying the sounds and sights of the fantastic cars being prepped prior to their turn of gladiatorial combat.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Croft Nostalgia, 2015

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - stockings at Croft Nostalgia, 2015

As I made my way around the caravans and cars a stunning cherry-red Ford Mustang caught my eye, gleaming brightly in the early morning sun.  I wandered over, and managed to chat with the driver and owner - Warren Briggs.  He was thoroughly lovely and friendly, and was a real gentleman.  I told him I'd be cheering him on the afternoon's Saloon Car race and promised to stop by later after his race to see how he did.  It was only on returning home to Manchester that I realised that he was quite successful in racing!

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Ford Mustang, Croft Nostalgia, 2015

I strolled further into the circuit, and all around there were fabulous cars parked up, waiting to be admired.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Croft Nostalgia, 2015
Alongside the racing, there was an area for stalls and entertainment, ringing another area for classic cars, which already had a fair number of cars lined up.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Croft Nostalgia, 2015

I spent a bit of time perusing the stalls, that were selling anything from vintage clothing to sweets and confectionery, to military and motoring books and memorabilia.  Inside the entertainment tent a singing duo were already in full voice.  Meeting up with the rest of the group, we took advantage to sit and rest for a little while, before the sounds of roaring V8's began reverberating from the nearby circuit.  I strolled up the steep spectator banking of 'The Complex' section of the circuit to see the qualifying for the Historic Saloons - including 'my' Mustang, and was pleased to see it qualifying in second place behind a Lotus Cortina.  Well done, Warren!

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - qualifying, Croft Nostalgia, 2015

It was now lunchtime, so we wandered off in search of food - enjoying once again the classic vehicles that it seemed were still arriving.  We returned to the Complex to enjoy lunch, and managed to watch some historic Sports Cars battle it out on the track in the first full race of the day.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Croft Nostalgia, 2015

I did feel a little sorry for the driver of the green Lotus Elan, who chased the leading Lotus Seven all the way through the race, lapping several cars in the process, before having to retire his car just one lap before the end.  It was fabulous racing, though.  The Entertainment Tent was now fully open, offering cream teas and Pimms.  We decided to have a few drinks, so I joined the lengthening queue to get served.  Finally reaching the bar, I realised that the poor girl serving was all by herself, having been let down by a few other members of staff.  I offered to help out, having pulled a few before (drinks in bars - not men in bars!).  She said I could at least get the drinks for our group, so ended up preparing a few shandy's, beers and spirits!  We sat in the welcoming shade for a while and enjoyed the entertainment and friendly mood of the event.

With 3.00pm now approaching a few of us decided to head back to the spectator banking to watch the on-track entertainment of the Historic Saloons.  The roar of distant engine signified the thundering start to the race, and I was pleased to hear that Warren in the cherry-red Mustang had got the edge over the Lotus Cortina as they hit the first corner.  By the time the cars had got around to the Complex the red Mustang had a good lead.  It was an enthralling race, with the little Minis and Imps having the advantage in the tight turns, but the Mustangs and Cortinas having better performance on the straight sections.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - Historic Saloons, Croft Nostalgia, 2015

As the cars battled for places down the line, I was pleased to see that my Mustang kept out in front, but the chasing Lotus Cortina remained in contention for some time before suddenly dropping a few seconds after a mishap.  Warren, being the experienced driver that is, didn't slacken the pace at any point though, and by the end was clearly out in front, flames shooting from the Mustang's exhausts as he thundered through the Complex.  I gave a huge cheer when he took the flag.

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - 'my' Mustang takes the flag, Croft Nostalgia, 2015

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - more Mustangs...and a Corvette, Croft Nostalgia, 2015

After the race we had a last look at the assembled cars and stalls, and took a slow stroll over the circuit back towards the car-park.  I took a detour over to where the race cars were and manged to congratulate Warren on his superb race.

Sadly, though, it was time to head off to our hotels for an early night after a tiring day.  Thankfully the weather had remained lovely through the day, and it was a wonderful and very friendly event - certainly worth a look if you can make it as it appears to be getting more and more popular with each passing year.

For now, though, I'm back in Manchester, so if you fancy a bit of vintage-styled entertainment and racy action yourself, give me a call!

Dexi Delite, Manchester and Cheshire Escort - call me!

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