Paul and I arrived at Newark showground about 09.30 on Saturday morning to spend some time with the guys at the Series 3 +90-110 Owners Club. These were all type of Land Rovers, Discovery’s, Defenders and older series 3 examples. Mine was a ten years young red 90 with a TD5 engine, and wore rather large cooper 50 /50 tyrs. On the roof sat a black roof rack. The field was full of Land Rovers and caravans, scattered amongst them were a large number of family frame tents, family being the key word, it wasnt just men and their toys it was a weekend for the whole family. This was the first time I had attended a gathering of the club and the first time I had met the other club members.
I went see Marjory at the signing in tent and to say hello and sign the paperwork to do some off road fun. Paul and I parked up for a bite to eat and survey the field and its inhabitants, Yep, there were plenty of land Rovers of all types sizes and colours that’s for sure! Richard ambled up to us and introduced himself as the man who was going to lead me into the world of off road driving. There was a briefing about the course and what was expected of everybody, the do’s and dont’s the whys and the why nots. Sprinkled in the talk was a good deal of mickey taking, it was all very laid back and friendly I didn’t feel like an outsider at all. I think that is the key to a succesful happy club.
10.00 bells ticked on the watch and it was time to mount up and follow the Mr across the showground to our course. The Mr first “shooed” away the kids that were playing on our course,these litle people were from the big pony event taking place in the next field. He then had a little run round the course before opening the day with a thumbs up and a grin. I pulled over and got in Richards Disco, Paul jumped in the back and we drove around some of the obstacles. We drve over single steep dunes over smaller groups of two or three in a row and a large hill with a ridgeline to attract the watchers, we circled around a mini mountain section of four or five hills with deep ruts, and drove along a track that ran the length of the field and led over a rock section, I say tracks but to be honest within ten minutes Land Rovers began to cut across the land forging new tracks! The last obstacles we drove over..I mean into were the bomb holes filled with thick sludge they ranged from small and deep to long and deep. Yesterdays rains had mainly gone now and it didn’t look too bad but hey what do I know Im just a newbie!
Richard pulled over after a lap or two. This was the first time I had done any off road stuff, I have had a day green laning but this was reall different. I was amazed at the amazing capabilities. We were trundling along in deep ruts, Richard was chatting away explaining low box high box then suddenly swung left into the hill! “Right then, second gear slow down a tad, select low box engage the diff them power up the hill, come off the pedal as you crest the rise, simples eh? Yeah right all I saw was fookin sky!
After a lap or two we stopped and he talked again about the extra little gear lever which enabled low and high box to be selected, then if you shoved it further over it put all the wheels to work in that special way that turned Land Rovers into special go anywhere vehicles. It seems I was now in charge, Richard got out Paul climbed back into the front. “Don’t bother with the brakes or clutch” he reminded me, I wasn’t the least bit frightened, I was just a bit concerned about the unknown an the untried and of course the unknown elements of the Landi’s capabilities…and mine. Off course my worries were soon to be swept away. Right then let’s go find some puddles!
The first lap was very cautious, the second brought out the grin the third brought the giggles, (the last lap brought the Yahoo’s!) The TD5 and the 50 /50 Cooper tyres made short work of the obstacles, I just couldn’t see anything as we climbed up the dunes, I wasnt ready for that! Sky ground sky ground sky ground is all I saw in rapid succsesion as we attacked the dunes. We came to our first bomb hole and crept gingerly to the lip then tipped forward, my god how strange it felt, to drive deliberately into big sludge filled hole! I have to admit it felt a bit naughty! As soon as we hit the bottom I remembered to accelerate faster to keep the forward momentum start to climb out then pour more coal on drive swiftly up and out of the slime then coming off the gas as soon as we cleared. Easy Peazy!
We chose a hill and climbed up at an angle and stopped at the top to watch other Land Rovers having fun. Yellow marshals gave help and advice when folk got stuck and used ther winches to get the vehicles out. One particular bomb hole caught just about everyone out that entered it, I decided not to try this was after all it was my first day. The funny thing was I kept getting out to see how muddy we were, the child in me was fully out today!
Paul got out with the camera and took some photos, he lined up at a suitable bomb hole he nodded and I drove into it and….stalled! Oh for fkc sake what a plonker! right then don’t panic, get back into neutral start up, select second keep it in low box with low diff engaged move forward then gun it up and over the lip, simples! Yup I was enjoying this and getting the hang of how my truck worked. But remember go slow (ish) don’t break it don’t go mad and most of all don’t die!
Lunch time came and everyone returned to camp to eat. We were both grinning from ear to ear and was amazed at what my Tonka toy could do. One old landi had broken the guys swung into action and recovered it with a flat-bed truck brnging it over to the camp. This was the other newbie’s truck and was he was concerned at what to do but he needn’t have worried, Paul and I strolled over to see what had happened but by the time we got there they had it all in hand and were spannering away removing the broken bit in minutes, another chap took him with his broken bit to a local shop in Newark for a replacement part. It was very reassuring to see such support from fellow club members and to see the wealth of know how and knowledge (and mild mickey taking)
I had wondered what would happen if something broke, how I would go on about recovery. It turns out there is nothing to worry about, people would rally round and help. Yup another measure of a good club!
We left shortly after this having spent a good couple of hours I think Id had a steep learning curve and learnt lots. Most of all I, my mate Paul and the red Landi was still in one piece and had some great fun. We grinned all the way back up the A1. I’ll be having some of that again that’s for sure!
Id like to thank Marg for her friendly help, she and hubbie Frank have put in a great deal of time and effort to make this weekend work. I’d also like to thank Richard in particular for showing me about that funny little gear stick! Cheers Richard, I’ll see you again soon with a couple more questions no doubt. Thanks too to my mate Paul for his companionship and who took the photo’s.