V8 goes East

V8 goes East - 7
Gordon and Jennifer Hesketh-Jones have joined the MG Italia event in Greece following a long ferry crossing from Italy and now report on the delights of sightseeing in the cool of the mountains and driving on interesting roads where V8 power is useful. (12.5.05)

Another day, another keyboard! Time is short so some brief notes:

Fantastic drives yesterday - some 60 miles on minor roads - most of the time the only sign of human habitation was the goat droppings by the sides of the roads. The scenery was incredible - I cannot believe how steep, how stark, how bare and how sharp the mountains are. We have nothing in the UK to compare. Seeing these makes you think hard about the massive forces that created the world - here you can see evidence all around you. Journalists in AUTOCAR often complain about the "scarred tarmac" on UK roads but I think they need to broaden their horizons. Many of the Greek roads have immaculate surfaces but others need more care.

From the gardening point of view things are quite interesting. Only a small percentage of houses have proper gardens but those in the country have quite incredible displays. Roses and geraniums in particular take on brilliant - even violent colours; the soil quality is poor so is the colouring the effect of huge annual amounts of UV? Even the wild poppies are a dark ruby red instead of the crimson colours you see in the fields around Andover in the UK. The main crops on the fields are of course olives - probably millions of trees; not so many grapes in this area but plenty of (industrial) orange and lemon orchards plus figs and many clumps of prickly pears.

Yesterday's run included a visit to Cape Tenaro - the southernmost point of Europe, so a little milestone for Jennifer and myself as we visted the North Cape in Norway two years ago so now have completed a (broken) "End to End"! The ambient temperature here is some 10C above the UK ambient - not a problem on normal roads but the temperature gauge climbs on the long two to three mile runs up to some of the passes. The two (new) radiator fans are of course switched on manually as soon as we approach serious climbs. Seeing 100C on the gauge is quite normal. At 110C I start to keep a careful eye on the gauge and at 115C - that is into the oil pressure sector - I switch on the cabin heater on "defrost" at maximum heat. Not pleasant but effective. I had to fill with "local" petrol last night - put in 100 octane unleaded but the engine a bit fluffy at low revs this morning.

It is interesting to see so much use of solar heating - the popular system has approximately 1.2sqm of solar panels with a water tank of 10 to 12 gallons mounted above it. Very logical and lots of free hot water after you have stood the capital cost of the equipment. There are hundreds of bee-hives in the mountains - the hives are approximately 12 inches cube and are painted blue. We saw some of the honey made effectively from wild flower pollen and it was all very dark. Most interesting.

There is no sign of any classic cars at all in Greece, but great enthusiasm and people wave or flash headlights even when Jennifer and I are driving by ourselves, and not with the group. Visiting the Ferrari Museum on our way through Italy earlier reminded me of an amusing incident on an earlier trip to mainland Europe when we visited the Porsche museum at Zuffenhausen. We followed the signs for the museum (to Gate 7 I think) and the security guard told me to drive along the road and she would open the remote control gate to the little car park on the right. Off I went, entered, parked and was walking off when a man called out " Hey Mister you cannot park here". It turned out that I had entered the private car park of the Test & As I had hurt my knee, I opted not to climb the 696 steps up to the top of an amphitheatre and sat in the car reading the Sunday Telegraph from front to back. Along came a party of tourists and the pretty young Smiling as sweetly as possible I admitted to having spoken English for more than 70 years, which

V8 Register - MG Car Club

MGs at the souternmost tip of Europe at Cape Tenaro. (Photo: Bob Owen)

Greek tour guide hesitantly asked if I could speak English.

Development Department however the man kindly walked me along to the proper visitors' car park to show me the right place to go. When we returned, there were a crowd of 8 to 10 German engineers around my car. One of them pointed to the V8 badge and said "V8 - gibst es wahr" (is it true) as they believed that I had simply stuck a V8 badge on the car for the fun of it. I opened the bonnet and there was great interest and still almost disbelief - these top-rate engineers simply had no idea that MG had ever made a V8 engined two-seat coupe some 30 or more years ago.

Amphitheatre at Epidauros. (Photo: Bob Owen)

translated created great amusement. There followed many questions about MGs - all translated - and why MGs from all over Europe were here. The young girl asked how long I had had MGs and I told her that I had bought my first one before her father was born. This she did not believe until I told her the year (1956) when she thought for a moment and then agreed. More comments and strange looks from the tour party. Finally she asked if MGs were my hobby; I simply replied - Good God - it it is far more serious than that - MGs are my Life! After that the party departed, convinced that at least one Englishman out in the noonday sun was totally mad.

Reports from Gordon Hesketh-Jones so far
V8 goes East 11
V8 goes East 10
V8 goes East 9
V8 goes East 8
V8 goes East 7
V8 goes East 6
V8 goes East 5
V8 goes East 4
V8 goes East 3
Route card
Preparations for the trip

Reports from Bob Owen on the MG Italia
Additional photos from Bob Owen
Final report from Bob Owen
Second report from Bob Owen
Report from Bob Owen on the MG Italia