Author Archives: Nigel

About Nigel

This restoration has been a real learning curve - but far cheaper than paying a psychiatrist.

Phew – that was exhausting….

Still madly polishing bits of stainless steel trim to stick on ROJ once painted.

When I bought the first rusty wreck all those years ago (remember this one)

ABW aston2 023

I very optimistically – and extremely naively – thought that i could sand blast the chassis using this -


It’s been sittting in the workshop since, and has been very useful for the odd little job. I’ve put it to very good use recently, sand-blasting the exhaust manifolds, which I then painted with VHT and baked in the oven at 250 degrees for an hour and a half.



From this

to this:


Last week I popped over to Luxembourg to discuss some activity next year using their presidency of the EU to target MEPs and directorate staff for funding for vcitim assistance projects in conflict and post-conflict countries.

After having a tour of the EU buildings, and the Parliament Chamber, our hosts kindly gave us a tour of the old city, and then a bit of fun in the countryside involving 2CVs an Ipad and a treasure hunt. Our team lost!CIMG0028



It may be months since my last post – but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy – and ROJ has certainly not been neglected!

Work has been manic, I’ve been organising a conference on Innovation in mine-action at the Royal Geographical Society in London – speakers flying in from all over the world, Ministers to be briefed etc etc. Will be on January 20-21 if anyone’s interested in coming.

ROJ has not yet gone to the paint shop – but what I have done is sell off the scrap car and all my store of extra parts – which means I’ve got the money to spend on getting the engine sorted and into the car once painted.


I hired a man with a van and we moved all my tools and the rest of the bits back to London.


I’ve already had a couple of parts refurbished – and had a tour of the Aston Martin Heritage Works at Newport Pagnell.

Stephanie likes the DB5 front ends

Stephanie likes the DB5 front ends

The garage at home has been almost cleared and now waits for its new resident.


So while I’m waiting for ROJ to arrive I’ve been busying myself with getting the re-chromed door frames reconstructed with all new rubbers from AM.

The helpful chap at Aston Engineering told me fitting the quarter lights was a job even the professionals hate – but with plenty of silicone grease and some thin plastic sheets to guide the glass into the seal – I got it done.









And, because I’m also a bit OCD, I took the scruffy old windscreen trim clips and soaked them first in white spirit to dissolve any residual glue, then in Jenolite to disolve any traces of rust, scrubbed them with a wire brush and painted them with flexible enamel paint.



...and after

…and after


My next job will be to clean up the manifolds and paint with VHT enamel.




Exotic company

While ROJ is waiting in its pajamas for its paintjob, we took P19 to get its tail straightened after the latest rear end shunt.

Our local bodywork guru Michael has some seriously interesting toys in his yard.

This eight-wheel amphibian is one of only a handful made and used during the Falklands War.

Falklands swamp basher

In the workshop a shiny 70′s beetle.

straightening p19 tail

And then in the back yard – Lamborghini, lotus and MG.



And back on the farm last week, ROJ had a visit from this -



I like it.


Rubbed out!

Not much to write about the work on ROJ on my latest trip to the farm – more filling, more rubbing – and soon to paint.

Had two great evenings out with Malcolm and Kaye at their converted pub, and a BBQ at Clive’s – just like old times.

A new member of the museum – Steve has bought this immaculate 1957 beetle

Beautiful beetle

Beautiful beetle

The boys have also rigged up a makeshift paintbooth.

pop-up paint booth

pop-up paint booth

Always time for a bit of R&R at the farm pond.

How big...?

How big. Phil…..?

Steve’s got the engine in the 260

Siney engine

Shiney engine


Very Sweet.

Amalfi drive test run

High on my list of things to do when ROJ is finished is to take a run down from Sorento to Amalfi… Well it was!

Last month was our 27th anniversary and Stephanie – who has long wanted to take me to see her old stamping ground of Naples, Sorento and the Isle of Capri – finally got her way. Even though ROJ was not ready.

So we did the run on a local bus.

You know something’s going to be hairy when the locals cross themselves before getting on board…..

Well, It was less like the opening sequence of the Italian Job and more like the closing sequence!

In a bus, one is higher up, therefore you can look down over the roadside fence, and straight down the 300 foot drop!

Looking back down at the road to ravello

Looking back down at the road to ravello

I would recommend it to anyone (as long as you’re not prone to bus sickness) It was exhilerating.It also made me seriously question whether we should inflict the route on a forty year old car – although the V8 would easily cope with the steep roads.

If we do take ROJ down there it would have to be out of season when the big tour coaches aren’t scaring the pants of everyone.

Stephanie was right to be enamoured with Sorento and Capri – it really is a beautiful part of Italy. We’ve both been visiting Italy since childhood, and I’ve noticed over the last few years that the Italians have become much calmer – and have even learned how to drive!* (*does NOT include Rome!)

I had been reluctant to visit Capri – and first impression was not good – but pretty soon, once we got past the glitz and posey people, the island really grew on me – If it was good enough for Tiberius to rule the empire from, then it was good enough for me.

Superb historic sites and spectacular (and very rugged) walks and scenery.

Stephanie at Villa Rufolo at Ravello

Stephanie at Villa Rufolo at Ravello


Glad to see plenty of these still around

Glad to see plenty of these still around

For an amateur archaeologist a day at Pompei is a must

For an amateur archaeologist, a day at Pompei is a must.

Whenever you see a celebrity on TV driving down to Amalfi – it’s often in a red Alfa Spider – this one to be precise. For hire to tourists who want to feel like Marcello Mastroianni or Sophia Loren.


Stylish hire

Stylish hire

Bucks fizz and breakfast in Sorento

 Breakfast and bucksfizz in Sorento.

The view with dinner in Capri

The view with dinner in Capri

We had our anniversary dinner at the Restaurant Brunella – with a stunning view of Capri town and harbour. Stephanie has become a ‘senior reviewer’ on trip advisor with the user name Stefaniaspina - her review of the Brunella is here:

More archaeology - Tiberius's Villa Jovus on Capri

More archaeology at Tiberius’s Villa Jovis

We stayed in a delightful little private hotel called the Canasta, overlooking the monastery and the sea, and also had dinner at a restaurant proclaiming ‘James Bond Views’ – although Capri has never been a James Bond location.

A superb location though to spend one’s anniversary.

I tried in vain to get a photo of this lovely old Capri Taxi

 After three days of peace and quiet on Capri – Naples was a real shock to the senses. A messy, bustling, typically Italian city. With a view to die for – quite literally when Vesuvius blows its top again!

A view to die for

A view to die for

As tedious as an Andrew Lloyd-Webber musical

A whole week on the farm!!

How exciting should that have been.

It would have been if it hadn’t been the most boring part of the restoration… preparing the car for painting.

This involves: rubbing the car down, wiping over with de-greaser, painting with etch primer and then filling all the dents, wrinkles and holes. Then, sanding down the filler, de-greasing, priming, filling, rubbing down, de-gre…. you get the idea!

I dressed all the welds first, and used seam sealant on the inside. It was lovely having Stephanie with me to help.

CIMG0004 CIMG0010

I always enjoy seeing the projects the others are working on – Phil with his Japanese drifters and Steve, who was highly modifying this Nissan Skyline engine to put into his 1970′s Datsun 260Z. (Not the one in the background!)


Steve Grove engineer par-excellence

Steve Grove engineer par-excellence

I’ll be back up in a couple of weeks for more rubbing…

In the meantime… Landmines under Big Ben

A little over a year ago Rt Hon John Bercow MP, the Speaker of the House of Commons agreed to let me turn Speaker’s Green in the shadow of Big Ben into a demonstration mine-field and invite Parliamentarians to come along and try their hand with some mine-detection equipment.

Landmines Under Big Ben

Speaker’s Green is not open to the public and therefore not part of Parliament where one can hold events – It was a real privilege.

I had originally planned to run the event on 5th November last year, but this proved impractical 

April 4th was the International Day of Mine Awareness so for the Thursday and Friday 3-4th April I got together Action on Armed Violence, Find a Better way, G4S Ordnance Management and MAG, and got UNMAS over from New York to talk to the politicians while G4S did an outstanding job of demonstrating the mine-clearance techniques.

The event was sponsored by Matthew Offord MP for Hendon and among the parliamentary visitors some old friends, such as Hilary Benn and Alf Dubs dropped by and spent quite some time with us


LtoR Steven Smith MBE AOAV, Martun Dansey FABW, self, Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP Leeds Central, Don MacDonald and Marc Finch G4S Ordnance Management

LtoR Steven Smith MBE AOAV, Martin Dansey FABW, self, Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP Leeds Central, Don MacDonald and Marc Finch G4S Ordnance Management

It was particular good to have Giles Duley with us too.

LtoR Dr Matthew Offord MP Hendon, Giles Duley and Marin Dansey CEO FABW

LtoR Dr Matthew Offord MP Hendon, Giles Duley and Marin Dansey CEO FABW

Appalling timing

Stress was at mega levels – I had to get the whole event completely organised by the week before, because from Sunday to Wednesday I was in Geneva for the annual meeting of mine-action directors and United Nations ddvisors. Unlike my last trip I was in a decent hotel overlooking the lake – and just down the road was this garage:

CIMG0011 CIMG0012 CIMG0013 CIMG0014


Art in Glass

Most car restorers have a chum to help them put their jalopies back together.

Well I’ve got a chum who helped me  put a house back together.

When I married Stephanie I got a fabulous sister-in-law  who is also a great friend – and partner in all sorts of adventures. Refer to this earlier post

Alicia lives in a converted church in Hebden Bridge and so choosing a suitable present to thank her for everything she has done for me was easy.

Design Glass in Brighouse made this beautiful view of Hebden Bridge in stained glass for her.


I think she likes it.


Work (not) done on ROJ….

Last weekend we stopped off at the farm on our way up to Yorkshire. Two reasons for this – I needed the assistance of Young Phil to get the last piece of leather interior fitted on Stephanie’s little Escort – and secondly, i had almost forgotten what ROJ looked like!

Life is definitely conspiring against me ever finishing this restoration – and at particularly low moments I’ve considered selling the lot and going and sitting on a warm sunny beach somewhere.

So, what has kept me from finishing the car?

The first clue is in our trip to Yorkshire.

I’ve been spending far too much time working at home with daytime TV on… And subliminally this has had an insidious effect – last year I bought a small house in Sowerby Bridge overlooking the Calder Valley. And of course, on TV, they make house renovations look easy! – It’s taken me over four months to get the place ready to rent out.

 Secondly – I’m still running the All Party Parliamentary Group on Landmines  working with the NGOs and now the UN too.

My third excuse,is health – which has slowed me down a bit.

And finally – prevarication.

But no more! This year is the year that ROJ will roll – even if I have to push it.

In place of playing with ROJ I have contended myself by ‘pimping’ Stephanie’s Escort – it’s now got a sporty exhaust and full leather interior and some racey wheels – then someone smashed the back bumper so it’s off to the body shop for an insurance repair tomorrow.

There has been fun on the farm too – the recent typhoon like winds finally did for the wobbly barn.

busted barn4

And so, my next post will be Work Done on ROJ..