When my wife Janine and I decided to organise an 'away day' to plan 2011 for our classic car hire business Great Escape, Wales was the obvious destination. Although many of our customers head towards the Cotswolds from our Worcestershire HQ, the few that venture westwards come back with tales that have often tempted us.
So we booked ourselves into the superb The Drawing Room near Builth Wells for dinner bed and breakfast. This B&B is a real find, located just 90 minutes from our Worcestershire base in the heart of the Welsh Borders, it offers real home comfort and superb food in its small restaurant.
With the easy part done - choosing the B&B - I was left with the hard job of selecting a classic car to take. Strange as it may seem for someone who is in and out of classic cars all day, I very rarely get to drive the cars in my leisure time. We are usually hurrying from location to location to deliver cars or organise repairs, hardly the stuff of classic drives.
So I was faced with an unusually tough choice. In the end it came down to two cars - either my mint Alfa Romeo Alfasud Ti or my equally good Daimler Sovereign Coupe. With poor weather forecast and feeling knackered from another week hussling classic cars, I chose the Daimler.
The Daimler Sovereign is essentially a Jaguar XJ6 coupe with nicer seats. One of 1,500 4.2 Sovereigns made, this car is Regency Red (memorably described by Jeremy Clarkson as 'the colour of a vet's arm') with a tan interior. Many customers tend to overlook this car, favouring instead the Jaguar Mk2 and E Type, but anyone who does chance upon it absolutely loves it. The Daimler is quite easily the nicest riding car I have ever driven and is effortlessly stylish - there is something novel and entertaining that never quite wears off about dropping all four windows and experiencing the 'pillarless effect.'
So we packed up the Daimler and hit the road, travelling to Builth Wells via Witney, Leominster, Ludlow and Brecon and arriving a couple of hours later. The road were quiet but endlessly entertaining, even in a big old barge like the Daimler, Despite featherlight steering, the car handles beautifully. The roads around Herefordshire and the Welsh Borders are generally quiet but constantly amaze with oustanding scenery and an endless variety of dips, turns and straights.
Suitably rested and planned-out we hit the road the next day, stopping at Hay on Wye and then on to Symonds Yat before returning home to meet some customers.
All in all, a very relaxing and hugely rewarding journey of just a couple of hundred miles. So if you're planning a trip in one of Great Escape's classic cars, go West!