Many of you will know my family; my dad Eric Dobinson, mum Anne and Uncle (or second dad) Keith Dobinson. I suppose many of you remember my sister, Helen, and I in our nappies at Newby Hall and it will shock you to now learn it is my turn to get behind the wheel of an Austin.
Now hats off to Uncle Keith he was very patient with me especially as I’m not too sure antique gearboxes are made for grinding and this double clutching lark, what on earth is that all about. How on earth are you meant to change gear going down a hill?!? Foot on the brake, foot on the clutch then give it a little rev…. a little rev with what, my spare foot? Anyway after a couple of miles in each car we called it a day, my nerves and Uncles Keith's were shot to pieces and we just couldn't cope with anymore.
The next weekend my glorious uncle decided Noddy was just too easy for me and I should have a go in the tank, sorry I mean his Lagonda. Well what a joke! I could barely reach both side of the enormous steering wheel never mind see over the top of the thing and those gears, it was like mastering the world’s hardest jigsaw puzzle trying to find the right hole to jam the stick in! I think I was coasting most of the way.
We then took a wrong turn and got stuck down some little streets in Shildon, narrowly missing a couple of rude modern cars, we made it back to Heighington and decided unanimously that we would stick to Noddy for now.
Well the 18th came all too quickly I was terrified I could barely change gear never mind race up those stupid hills but I resigned myself to the fact that I would never be left in peace until I tried it. Being a motorbike trial I didn't have much competition, in fact there were only three cars (all Austin 7’s) including me but never mind I was competing with the hills not other people. I’m not sure I've ever had so much attention, the looks on the faces of all those men when a young blond female jumped behind the wheel, it was priceless! I did get some extra cheers and waves though in fact I felt like a celebrity. The problem with fame, however, is I always had an audience, how is it you can drive perfectly yet as soon as someone comes over to watch or sticks a camera in your face you stall or start rolling backwards or grind the gears particularly loudly? Well, I managed to get to the first hill in good time, Hagg’s Mine, just up near Killhope. Mum and dad were waiting with the camera to capture another “first”, my first hill. I'm convinced dad was more excited about this than my first tooth or my first steps. Now if I could have gone up that hill with my eyes shut I honestly would have done. It was horrific, just stones and rocks and boulders and sharp corners and big steps and well, yeah! you get the idea. But I made it much to everyone's amazement I got all the way to the top and, wow! what a buzz!
Well we finally finished at about four o’clock. One hundred and twenty miles or thereabouts and, my god, did I know it, I was shattered, my legs were all wobbly and my bum was killing me. A million and one people came over to me to say, “well done”, and tell me I’d driven well and also ask me about the car. Now I know I drove it but apart from the fact its green and cute that’s about all I know, sorry!
Now all that remains is to sit at home and wait for the results. I must have done well because I even made it into the Northern Echo, fame and fortune awaits.
Oh! And on another note, does anyone know where I might get myself a cute little Austin 7 in pink………….? (only joking dad)