Charles Ware's Morris Minor Centre
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Chris Lawrence came to visit us from Australia and was given a tour of the workshops by Adrain Fry. This is what he had to say in his blogg about the day.

Our itinerary now took all six of us north to Stoke-on-Trent, leaving our home-base of Exmouth. Before doing so, we first had the small task of collecting a hire car for Naomi and I to drive. After filling-in several forms promising that we would be perfect drivers, it was then up to me to put my observations of British traffic rules and behaviour into practise. My first challenge, however, was found in figuring out the spaceship we had just been handed. Firstly, the key was missing a metal prong and was docked in an ignition that you pushed rather than turned. There were a series of cup-holders where a handbrake should have been, which instead took the form of a small switch located beside the gearstick, complying only when specific conditions were met. Reverse was hidden under first gear and accessed by committing the age-old sin of putting downward pressure on the gearstick. The most confidence-shattering discovery though, was finding the indicator stalk mounted on the wrong side of the steering wheel. After following behind Graham for only a couple of blocks, I felt like a nervous 17 year-old L-plater all over again, particularly with the trickle of encouraging yet tense input now coming from the passenger seat beside me. Before long, I found myself hoping that the other drivers on the road would simply recognise that a short burst of windscreen wipers meant that I wanted to change lanes. I have secretly been looking for evidence to support the old 'Whinging Pom' stereotype since arriving in the UK and I finally found it on the motorway.

One of the absolutely unmissable opportunities for me in visiting the UK has been to visit the Charles Wares Morris Minor Centre in Bristol on the way to Stoke-on-Trent. Here, my confidence around cars was restored a thousand times over as we were proudly treated to a grand tour of the premises. Like a burglar who had suddenly found an easy way into the jackpot of all jewellery shops, I flitted from vehicle to vehicle, wide-eyed and awe-struck. Adrian, a bloke who has worked in the place for over 35 years, walked us through several restoration and mechanics workshops, where Morries in various stages of disrepair and glorification were fussed over. After purchasing the latest catalogue and several airport-safe parts, I moved to a cabinet of assorted souvenirs in the foyer and cleaned that out as well. I am now openly confident that I will be the only person in Australia to own a pair of Morris Minor socks. To follow-through on a promise I made to the manager of this inspiring establishment, I present the following shameless plug:

You too can experience some of the Charles Ware's Morris Minor Centre by visiting or by speaking to any of their friendly staff on 0117 3003754.

Needless to say, we checked-in to our hotel in Stoke fairly late, and after a nice meal in the hotel's restaurant, we could ask no more of the kids who were beginning to shut-down. Naomi, Graham and Alison went on to touch-base with some of Nai's relies who simply couldn't wait to make contact with her. When we all reanimate tomorrow morning, the reunion will continue...

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