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Planning Retirement Online

Hobbies and Interests

More off-roading tales

by Rosemary Martin

A few months ago, Rosemary told laterlife about her new hobby. Here she gives an update on her off-road adventures.....


It had to happen. We’d taken up this new hobby, driving 4x4 vehicles in challenging wilderness areas with no roads (described in an earlier edition of  My enthusiasm reached fever pitch - which included trading in my old Land Rover for a new one, a mean machine which we christened ‘The Beast’. And then disaster hit the country in the form of the Foot and Mouth outbreak.

Many of the sites were closed.  But luckily for local off-road enthusiasts, the home training ground of the 4x4 off-roading company which is used for corporate days, team building events and training, remained open. It consists of 26 acres of natural wooded hillsides and open grassland, and boasts a man made obstacle course, situated on the edge of Sherwood Forest, near enough to where we live.

We had become friendly with the proprietor, and my husband, being familiar with the heavy Bedford army lorries the company uses, was asked if he would drive for them for corporate days. He did it and began to be called in on a fairly regular basis, especially when they needed a driver at short notice.  Recently, they asked him for a second driver, someone with their own Land Rover to take a party for a three hour session.


No-one else being available at the time, my  husband volunteered me for the job, bless him…..


The brief was to take a party of fourteen, divided into three groups, and give each group a demonstration drive followed by approximately ten minutes driving for each one of them. They were fourteen young bucks on an endurance weekend, each trying to outdo the other, and looked rather bemused when I was introduced as their instructor.


It’s tough going, in fact some of the most challenging off-road terrain available. Terrain includes woodland trails, mud, water, hills, ditches and gravity defying side slopes.    


We`re having a laugh aren`t we, my clients’ eyes said, and I realized then that somehow I had to earn the respect of these guys, so I picked out the five biggest and ugliest in the group, and briskly told them to get in my Defender 90, one in the front, with me driving, and four in the back.


The first glimmer of doubt and fear flickered in their eyes then, and I could see them wondering what an old dear like me was doing with one of these very desirable cult vehicles. A captive audience, I told them the rules, said they could swear if they felt so inclined, then headed for the steepest and most awesome of the obstacles.


The air was blue with expletives as we went over a sudden drop.  The poor things couldn`t help themselves.  But I have to say after this they were like putty in my hands. The fear still lingered in their eyes, but the doubt had been replaced with respect…


There was of course, the chap who thought he knew it all.  He’d driven every type of vehicle there was, hadn`t he?  After I’d told him several times, to no avail, not to perform a certain manoeuvre, I had to reach over and switch off the ignition, much to his embarrassment and the hilarity of his chums. Imagine the story being repeated in the pub that night…


Each of them were given a chance to test their skills on the obstacle course, which was great fun with terrific camaraderie. They told me they had not realized that speed wasn`t a necessary ingredient for having fun in a car, and were quite overawed by the vehicle`s capabilities. 


I was particularly pleased at the end of the session when they each gave me a hug, thanking me for what they termed as “the best ride of their lives.” 


Not bad for a female of 58.


Now I’ve become a regular member of the driving team, attending events at the home ground and around the country.  In the winter I will hopefully be taking instructor exams.


So here I am, at the start of a new career.  It’s an unexpected twist to my working history, and just goes to show how you never know where things will lead if you try to do something new.

To view previous articles in this series - see the laterlife-interest index page

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