NORTH OXFORDSHIRE & COTSWOLDS AREA REPORT SPRING 2015.
Fair weather driver – urban dictionary definition “Someone who only takes out their vehicle in fair weather”. With this firmly in mind I surveyed the thick layer of frost on my car parked in front of the garage door. A walk down the drive confirmed my worst fear, plenty of ice. Temperature gauge in my car showed that it was 4 degrees below zero. This combined with the fog blanketing the countryside really made me want to go back to bed. However, John was due over in a few minutes and we had agreed that we would join the 4th January “icicle run” organised by Julian starting 20 miles away in Bicester. I think I had missed every previous icicle run due to other commitments but this time I had been determined to go, until now of course.
Still watching the fog for any sign of the sun I thought about warmer places when John arrived and we set off in the Jeep. We had to stop after a mile to scrape the windscreen of ice and again about two miles down the road. Then while negotiating a junction I hit a patch of ice and the back of the Jeep attempted to overtake the front. Navigating a meandering passage up the road John cheerfully shouted “well held” as my mind wandered back to the nice warm bed at home. With the windscreen iced up totally now we pulled over and opened it up to continue our journey, which was, let us say now rather “bracing”. Arriving on time at Bicester I was pleased to see another 20 vehicles had braved the weather with most of the drivers attempting to warm up over cups of tea and coffee. Gavin brought his freshly restored Jeep which looked immaculate. Howard, probably being the most sensible of all brought his USAF Dodge Ram which certainly ensured a comfortable and draft free ride for him and Thelma. The last vehicle to arrive was Ian’s BRDM. Ian and his passengers certainly wouldn’t have to worry about wind chill behind all that armour but visibility might be an issue. As I studied the front of the BRDM I noticed large lumps of ice had formed on the front. It was not going to be a warm day. At this moment I was in two minds as whether or not I should join the road run. My confident passenger reminded me what the Americans had to deal with at Bastogne which swung it for me. My only proviso though was to sit behind the BRDM which had just arrived, as with the ice and fog I really didn’t want a heavy armoured vehicle right behind me. This plan lasted about 100 yards due to some confusion with a roundabout the BRDM ended up right behind me as the rest of the convoy had gone on ahead. What little confidence I had remaining was eroded further when a yellow Volvo nearly pulled out right into me. Obviously, greatly offended by me nearly crashing into him he proceeded to chase after me, overtook me blocking the road got out and started shouting at my passenger. I presume he had not realised that the Jeep was left hand drive. I apologised and John shouted back at him so he got back in to his Volvo and drove off. I am not sure if it was my apology, Johns shouting, his realisation that he had stopped next to another Jeep and was being observed by its three passengers, or maybe it was Ians BRDM bearing down on him out of the mist but he quickly disappeared down the road.
Brian in the Jeep we had caught up with (and who had stopped to put his windscreen wipers back together) obviously knew where he was going, so with him leading and the BRDM behind me we drove off and quickly caught up with the rest of the convoy who had pulled over to wait for us. I am not sure how long the run was but I would estimate about 20 to 30 miles with a photo stop before we finished off at Bicester airfield. The sun did come out during the short stop, but only for about 2 minutes and then came back with a vengeance.
Bicester airfield is an incredibly complete and original pre WW2 airfield with many of the buildings being listed and has a very interesting history. It is currently owned by “Bicester Heritage” who are developing it as a business park for the heritage motor industry. They are currently refurbishing many of the buildings for this purpose and they certainly seem to be pouring a great deal of money in to the site. As the end of the war approached the RAF used the site as a motor transport depot and there appeared to be many large sheds ideal for storing vehicles many of which were being used for that new purpose.
Anyway, I was delighted to have a halt here and we explored the site trying to find somewhere to warm up. Before we left John and I took the Jeep for a drive around the perimeter track. As there was thick fog we assumed that no one would be flying in and it made an interesting exploration before heading off. We got home mid-afternoon, absolutely frozen solid and exhausted. The Jeep had not missed a beat and we had had an amazing time. “Fair weather drivers” – no, not in North Oxfordshire.
All the best
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