Back to Basics.
Will - let loose in the family Carawagon.
I would like to introduce myself as Will, ‘son of Toby’, Savage and this month, describe Life in the Slow Lane from the next generation’s perspective.
Being a member of the Savage family, I have grown up with Land Rovers around the home and even to this day, I struggle to sleep soundly without the reassuring smell of EP90 wafting around the house. So when an opportunity to travel cross-country to meet friends for a camping weekend came up, Dad was more than happy to lend me his Series 2A Carawagon, boasting its many 12v luxuries usually reserved for desert trips.
Each change of direction triggers a series of processes, each of which require increased concentration
Modern life dictates that I spend most of my time either in an office or travelling in a modern saloon car, designed to seamlessly blend comfort with a mechanical local anaesthetic, numbing the driver from what actually goes on. This has affected my judgement with respect to vehicle journey times, such that a dash from Leicester to Stratford, then to Sudbury, via Saffron Waldon seems a simple A-B exercise. How shocking then, to suddenly be behind the wheel of the heavily-modified, accessory-laden Carawagon, weighing in at, what feels like 75 tonnes. My approach to roundabouts was transformed from a quick flick of the wheel, to a labour-intensive choreographed mechanical masterpiece, not dissimilar to turning the QE2 at port. Each change of direction triggers a series of processes, each of which require increased concentration; it starts about half a mile before the turn, when the driver has to consider whether or not to deploy the ‘brakes’, a process that reminded me of childhood swimming lessons ie. I’m moving my legs but nothing is happening! Then the double-clutch downshift – not entirely necessary in the well-maintained Carawagon, but justified by the manly exhaust note of the 200 Tdi. Then, in the final act as the turn approaches, the driver considers how best to turn the beast using the very powerful, but slightly numb power-steering. The assistance is so good that you could be forgiven for thinking that the tiny Mountney steering wheel is part of a computer game. Only in this game if you turn the wheel too hard in the wrong direction, Carmageddon is genuinely just around the corner!
Having collected Matt from Stratford, we established a direct route east towards the rendezvous, with the 12v fridge rammed with beers being chilled by the solar-charged leisure batteries. It only takes a few miles to re-acquaint with all those unique feelings that you get when driving a Land Rover; the feeling that the journey is more than just a form of travel, but an adventure! Pointing the Carawagon due east and opening-up the Tdi to unleash the oversized intercooler, Matt and I could have been the only men on earth, seeking-out a far away land of wealth and fortune. Except we were in Bedford town centre, in the wrong lane, desperate to find the correct road to Sandy and having to barge through the mundane family MPVs!
Forced to suffer the indignity of 2nd and 4th gear changes into her skirt,
We arrived at Saffron Waldon to collect Beth, feeling as if we had already done 5000 miles. Where was the bunting? Didn’t the Saturday shoppers appreciate our journey of discovery? Unperturbed we set-off for the final leg, three abreast across the front seats on a warm summer afternoon. This then highlighted another trait of Solihull’s finest, that of the middle seat of doom. Poor Beth was now sandwiched between a rather sweaty Matt and I, forced to suffer the indignity of 2nd and 4th gear changes into her skirt, all whilst sat inches above the LT77 gearbox that seems to generate enough heat to power a small town. Needless to say the solar-cooled beers were consumed within minutes of arriving at the camp site.
Sharing a camp with ‘George’ Will’s pals VW Camper. Awnings out, beers chilled, Barbeque lit. It’s what Summer is all about.
But to moan about the shortcomings in comfort is to miss the point. The introduction of the Land Rover extended the weekend into more than just a camping holiday, it was an adventure from start to finish. We met our like-minded friends at the camp site in ’George’, their VW camper which had provided them with similarly amusing transport from London that morning.
Will Savage enjoying a beer after a mini adventure lost to the normal motorist!
So the moral of the story is, everybody should go travelling in a Land Rover at least once. The connection with the journey, the feeling of achievement, and the welcome happy gestures from fellow owners all add value. However, those who are familiar with the work of my father will know that he regularly takes the Carawagon all the way to Libya! That is one feat of physical abuse I simply cannot comprehend – at least they don’t have any roundabouts in the desert...