When I woke up today it was pitch black. Not because I was woken early, but because I had been resting after the previous evening’s exertions and missed the entire period of daylight. The reason for the late night the day before, as you will probably be able to gather from the date of this post, was Hogmanay – or New Year as it’s known outside the Scots-speaking world. I am not the biggest fan of the idea that everything changes or that we have to reflect ‘just’ because the last digit on the date has changed from a three to a four, but the change of year does make for an easy post for lazy and somewhat hung-over bloggers. Below, then, some of the more enjoyable things that I got up to in the past three hundred and sixty-five days.
One of my first tasks in 2013 was to go to Lisbon for a business trip. I was somewhat apprehensive and less than keen as it wasn’t somewhere I’d ever had a burning desire to visit – but I absolutely loved it. From skidding about on the wet cobbly pavements in my flat-soled shoes to listening to the funky music on the metro to wandering through the city centre in the rain late at night, there was something about the atmosphere of the place that just clicked with me. In the gap between the meeting ending and my flight back to Edinburgh, I spent a particularly entertaining twenty minutes getting blown about on the beach by the River Tagus, the wind threatening to tear the plastic bag from my hand and the spray soaking my good jacket with dirty water. And of course, there was the early start to head out to the route of the old Monsanto Park Grand Prix Circuit. It’s important to remember things perhaps aren’t quite so pleasant for the Portuguese people hit hard by financial events in Europe, but I’ll be back.
The Citroën Conservatoire
I think more than enough has already been written about the Citroën Conservatoire on these pages, but for someone that’s been a fan of old Citroëns for decades the June afternoon I spent in a warehouse by Charles de Gaulle Airport truly was remarkable. What started with an email written on a wing and a prayer in bad French materialised into an experience I’ll remember for years to come. The photos and words I’ve churned out already barely scratch the surface – there’s plenty left to wheel out on rainy days in 2014.
Getting back into rallying
In 2013 I was lucky enough to get involved in a couple of projects with Lancashire front-wheel drive rallying specialists EuroRallye. The first was providing a bit of extra PR for the visit of Australian Targa crew Adam Spence and Erin Kelly to the Jim Clark Memorial Rally in late May, which turned into a hugely entertaining and rewarding weekend as Adam and Erin took the whole UK rally experience in their stride. The second was acting as an interpreter and coordinator for the K’s World Rally Team from Japan, who brought Motoharu Kaseya and Kohei Izuno over to contest the Scottish Rally in late June. This was the culmination of a conversation that started in 2009 when I first met Kazuya Suzuki in Japan. I’ve been out of rallying for the last few years and thoroughly enjoyed getting back into going to events – and was delighted and relieved in equal measure to find precious little has changed. Special thanks also has to go to Adam’s Redback Racing team and to Kazuya’s K’s World Rally Team for directing huge amounts of web traffic my way!
Meeting an e-mail address face-to-face
Three trains and ten minutes’ walk from the centre of Nagoya lies the physical location of an organisation I’ve had many positive dealings with over the last few years – Racing Service Takeda. In November I was at last able to shake the hand of Hiromi Takeda, the man whose organisation inadvertently kick-started the Honda Civic Challenge in Scotland and triggered a spike in my readership spanning three continents. The staff at Takeda-san’s shop were as friendly and enthusiastic in the flesh as they were over e-mail, and I dare say November 2013 won’t be my last visit to Akaike Station.
This photo of my race bag being used as a piece of cabin baggage is the only image I have that even vaguely represents my return to go-karting. Along with a couple of other old boys from Edinburgh University Motor Sport Club, I’ve been contesting the winter team endurance series at Raceland out in East Lothian. I hadn’t raced a kart in the five years previous and was more than a little rusty on my return, but the kick from getting out on a track and going as fast as possible remains undiminished. Despite my best efforts to cause havoc in the final stint, we even managed a trophy last time out.
I strongly dislike the concept of breaking years off cleanly and dividing them into small compartments. The calendar may have ticked over from one year to the next, but I still have the same list of things to do, the same plans and targets. Still, the end of 2013, and the lovely report that WordPress sends out on the last day of every year, forced me to look at how the blog has been progressing, and I was encouraged to see so much virtual footfall – especially seeing as I do so little to actively promote my posts. As I say far too often, I write the posts I do because I enjoy it, and that’s something I don’t see changing any time soon.