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Jenny, our two younger children, and I arrived on the Friday and were picked up
at the Airport by my mate and his wife. We dropped the kids and our luggage of
at the hotel and then continued on to Machans beach where the Clubman was
waiting. Had a great stay, bid our friend's farewell and made our way back to the Hotel. I still cannot get use to the car's low profile, lack doors or roof after 11 yrs driving a Landcruiser. This short journey and the reaction I got from people was the first of many very enjoyable experiences I was to have during the trip to the Gold coast and the 4 months we have had there so far.
Cairns is a great holiday destination and the people are very unpretentious. The weather on Saturday was quite overcast and threatening to rain. We had a bit of shopping to do and spent most of the time walking around between the squally down pours. We had until Monday for the weather to clear but at the end of it we had to move on so that we could be down the coast in time to receive our container.
The next day my 13 yr old daughter insisted we take the car for a cruise through
Cairns and see if we could entice some interest in either the passers by or the weather. We got a lot of both. The general interest the car generated was absolutely staggering and I'm still not sure what it is but perhaps it is what I saw in the car on that first day on south bank in Bris 3 yrs earlier. We parked the car on the esplanade at the Pier where we had BMW's and a Porsche as company and before we had a chance to "Lock the car up" (Turn off the ignition), I had people asking question about what it was. This experience was to repeat itself many times over through out the journey down the coast and is continuing now that we have settled at Robina.
Monday arrived and it was very overcast and intermittently drizzly but we had to
get moving. We had picked up the Landcruiser on Sunday Packed I up and decided to head out in time to get to Townsville by some time around 2:00pm.
My daughter came with me in the Clubman. As we got away from Cairns the weather changed to light showers between very hot sunny periods and by the end
of out first leg I was feeling like a well used chamois. Again, the journey was
dotted by people stopping and talking at traffic lights, fuel stations, drink stops and road work stop signs. Its as though everyone has an inner passion to own a Clubman and wants to enjoy the experience with those who actually own them.
What I have also found is that a lot more people are willing to approach me in the Clubman than if I was driving a flash BMW, Porsche, Range Rover or even a
WRX. In fact, I have had a number of people driving these cars stop me at traffic lights and talk about it. On more than one occasion I've been the cause of a mini traffic disruption where the person in the adjacent car hasn't finished his chat before the lights have turned green. My daughter finds this extremely hilarious, embarrassing but enjoyable.
As the journey was coming to an end and passing through the Sunshine coast we decided to visit another good school teacher friend or ours, stay for afternoon tea and some dinner. At about 7:30pm Sue and I, our friend, decided to go out and pick up a few things to drink and for dinner. Now there are a few things you need to know about Sue. She is enjoys a glass of wine, is a natural extravert with a great sense of humor, a real chatter box and has a terrific voice but NEVER breaks the law driving and is a bit frightened of cars, but she drives. So we headed off for the local drive through and Deli and Sue insisted I drive as though we were heading to Sunday morning Mass. I don't go to Mass. We got to the drive through and Sue was is great form, chatting with pedestrians telling stories and had to chat to the attended while he got her order.
As we left the attendant standing with his hands on his hips looking at up leave I stoked the little Clubman up leaving two little back lines in his drive through. I got quite a caning for that and had to promise never, never do that again. Of cause I did. As we were going home we were got caught a some lights where we chatted about old times and along side came a very nasty Commodore. The type with tined windows, V8 that idled with an attitude that cause the rest of the car to still as it did it, lowered, fat slicks etc. Sounded beautiful though.
I looked across at it and as I did I felt a thump on my left arm from Sue. Her frown told me in no uncertain terms what she expected. The lights changed and I drive off very gently with the attitude on my right surging the accelerator like a young bull terrier who just discovered he had teeth. The next light was only 200mtr ahead and this is where things were going to change. It was time for Sue to experience an adrenaline surge.
As the lights changed, we moved off very gently but I made sure I kept my nose a half a bonnet length in front of Mr GMH. I expected this would generate some interest in him and it did. At that point the ugliest roar opened up in my left ear and new he had given it a bell full. In an open wheeler that is a pretty scary sound and responded immediately by floored the go pedal. There was a huge scream of tyres as the boost gauge showed 14psi, snapped the gear lever into second and launched the clubman forward for a quick trip to 100kph. Throughout most of this there was about as much noise and screeching coming from the passenger seat as from under the bonnet and rear tyres. At about 100kph I popped it into 3rd, backed off the throttle then selected 4th. For a second or so things were much quieter, then the Commodore caught up and passed us with a huge roar.
Dinner was much more sedate and Sue admitted later that she enjoyed the little game. The next morning Sue headed off to school and we headed south to the Goldcoast and our new home.
The trip to Robina where we were renting was very pleasant and uneventful. More on onlookers and kids waving through the back windows of passing cars and generally sunny with good passing countryside.
Over the next three months the car was used quite a lot, dropping kids of at school, quick trips to do some shopping, down to the surf on early weekend morning that sort of thing. From a maintenance point of view there is the ever present urge to tinker on little bits and pieces that I didn't quite get finished before I left Weipa but mostly they are 'nice to do' items not must-do items.
January - June 2001
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