Tel: 01582 793 449


My big fat Greek wedding

Wednesday 13th July 2016

Last week the New Zealand car had a long run; we went to Southgate to collect a bride and take her to the Greek Orthodox Church at Brookmans Park before heading off to the reception at Sopwell House in St Albans. It was about 50 miles in total. Luckily I allowed plenty of time to get to Southgate as the traffic at Cockfosters was awful; no roadworks or accidents, just sheer volume of cars. It was a sunny day and the temperature gauge did start to rise whilst I was inching my way through the queue, but these old Austins do seem to handle the heat quite well and we were never in danger of boiling over. I had never driven…

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Thursday 9th June 2016

Wedding car bookings seem to be like London busses. You wait for ages and then a bunch of them turn up together! Spring has been quiet, with just a handful of weddings but I now look at the diary and find July and August will be incredibly busy months. I am trying to be sensible when taking bookings but I find it quite difficult to turn people away. Oh well, I do enjoy driving the cars, so a busy period isn't so bad and I shouldn't complain too much. I try to drive the cars myself as much as possible but I do have a number of reserve drivers standing in the wings in case of emergencies or to cover…

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Taking my temperature

Wednesday 23rd March 2016

Last year, a good-for-nothing low life broke into the blue car's garage. Luckily, he didn't steal the car. I imagine it would have been too difficult to start and, anyway, it couldn't be sold on the open market without it becoming obvious to me or other members of the Vintage Austin Register. There is a small community of Austin enthusiasts and word soon spreads when a car is advertised for sale. There were no tools left in the garage so the thief was out of luck. But, bizarrely, he did steal the radiator cap, complete with temperature gauge. I was able to buy a new radiator cap from a club member from Derbyshire who recently had a batch specially made but…

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Self Service

Sunday 6th March 2016

The new season is just around the corner with a wedding in two weeks time and another a week after that. So, shrugging off the effects of a horrid cold, I spent some time at the garage last week, completing the servicing work on the cars. The New Zealand car was the last one needing attention so it was treated to a full service. Firstly an engine oil change followed by checks of the oil levels in the gearbox and back axle. Then out came the grease gun to pump grease into the steering joints, steering box and spring shackles. After that, I had to pull out the wooden floor-boards to expose the brake cross tubes which needed lubricating as…

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Sunday 17th January 2016

Enquiries have started to pick up now that Christmas and New Year are over. The phone hasn't been ringing off the hook, but there has been a good steady flow of people asking about availability and getting quotes. It will be interesting to see whether or not this flow continues because I deliberately didn't attend the St Albans wedding fair last autumn and the organiser warned me that I might lose business as a result. Despite this, I took a calculated risk and cut back on my marketing spend. I already have a generous budget allocated to the running of my website and I am hoping this will be enough. Wedding fairs can be ok but I have often pondered their…

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A quiet winter

Sunday 13th December 2015

Christmas is always a quiet time for me and I really don't mind at all. Back in the 1920s, few cars had the luxurious features which we now take for granted and my cars have never been fitted with heaters. This makes a chauffeur's life extremely uncomfortable in the depths of winter. It isn't too bad when the engine is running because the heat permeates through the wooden floorboards but when you are sitting, waiting in the car, it gets very chilly. For this reason, I only take on occasional weddings between November and February and then I warn people that the cars can't handle ice and snow on the roads. However, I am taking still open for business and already…

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Classic car show

Sunday 15th November 2015

On Friday, Karl and I went to the classic car show at the NEC to look at the wonderful vehicles on display. It was a great day, exploring the various exhibits and searching the autojumble for the parts I need for the Austins. There was a big display of Austin cars but they were all a bit too modern for me; 1930s onwards! There were four halls jammed with a wonderful selection of classic cars. The American cars were impressive as were the vintage sports cars. There was the 'Beast of Turin', a Fiat S76 dating back to 1911, sporting a 28 litre engine which shoots flames from the exhaust. Also a lovely Edwardian Wolseley racing car which the owner…

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Sunday 8th November 2015

The wedding season is now over and the cars will have a well-earned rest over the winter. I, however, shall not be taking it easy because this is the time of year when most of the maintenance work gets done. The two ivory and black cars are about to be treated to fresh antifreeze and a change of oil. There are no end of greasing points to be squirted with the grease gun and the back axle and gearbox will have the oil levels checked. There are several other little mechanical jobs to be attended to as well before I give the insides an early spring clean, focusing particularly on the seats and carpets. Those cars will be shining like…

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Wednesday 16th September 2015

A little while ago, I received a phone call from a complete stranger who asked how I was getting on with my website company. Normally alarm bells start ringing at such a question and nuisance sales calls are terminated in double quick time. In this instance, the caller soon explained he was a wedding photographer who was considering having a website designed by Webfactory; the company I use. He wanted to know whether or not they provided a good service and how I got on with them. Clearly this was somebody doing his homework before spending his hard-earned money. Actually, this isn't an unusual event because I have been contacted a few times in the past by potential customers of…

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Sorry for the delay

Thursday 27th August 2015

It has been quite a while since my last blog. The delay is a partly due to lethargy but also to me recovering from an operation on my back. I am out of hospital now and on the mend, but it is unlikely I shall be able to drive the vintage cars until October. During my enforced absence, my wonderful team of drivers have rallied round and have taken the drives which I have been forbidden to do. They have been fantastic! However, I am being very careful not to take advantage of their good nature. They are friends and family who have been taught the mysteries of a crash gearbox and have mastered the idiosyncrasies of driving a heavy…

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New website

Monday 4th May 2015

Do you like the new website? The company that hosts my site persuaded me that an update was urgently needed to make it more readable on tablets and smartphones. So I spent some money having it re-designed and I think the results are excellent. Sadly, the designer dispensed with my logo, which makes my existing supply of business cards and leaflets redundant, but I think it is a sacrifice worth making. The wedding season is now in full swing and I have already had two trips to St Albans Abbey and one to Hatfield House. I quite like going to venues like these for the excellent photo opportunities. I make a point of taking a photo at every wedding I do…

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Saturday 14th March 2015

The other day I received an email asking if I would be interested in taking one of my cars to a fashion photoshoot. Apparently there is to be a vintage theme and the organiser thought one of my cars would be a perfect prop for the outside shots. Sadly, there is no fee involved but I am to be given copies of the photographs to use for publicity purposes and the up and coming designer will get her chance to publish photos of her work in a magazine. I certainly don't begrudge a few hours of my time, on a day when I have no wedding bookings, to help someone get started in a very competitive industry. It will be interesting…

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