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OK. Let me get this straight, right from the start. The views expressed below are not the responsibility of the management (me) but entirely those of my eldest daughter. She agreed to write the report of this event on condition that I wasn't allowed to edit it in any way. With a great sense of foreboding I reluctantly agreed. It is for this reason,a nd this reason alone, that you will see b****r, for the first time within these electronic pages!
However! I cannot deny the veracity of much of what she tells here. Nor can I deny that my own role in this illustrious event doesn't come out too well. The awful feeling that perhaps, just perhaps, that is usually the case cannot be ignored, but as I write these reports then perhaps my occasional, less than professional, performance often gets glossed over. So it is with a real sense of trepidation I give you The Scottish Safari 2002, from a 'younger' perspective, and as it says in the front of all the glossy magazines ...'The views expressed are entirely those of the correspondent and do not necessarily reflect the views of the the management.... who accept no responsibility!'
Just so some of those involved can be recognised, the picture below is the same location but a previous event (Optima Challenge)
Tradition can't be broken, only added to. So when we say we'll leave at nine it means twelve, sometimes it's twelve the next day. You can never tell. When we eventually set off the CoR Ninety had a brand new travelling companion (one that waited patiently, but with an air of smugness, at all the fuel stops.) The new Hartley Disco driven by Mum. Which she points out "will not be going off road". She repeats it louder to a sad little nod of disappointment from other quarters. So with everything bar the kitchen sink, though I'm sure if we hadn't had both motors loaded to the roof it would have been there, we set off for Scotland.
Pulling into the campsite we had our first shock (there would be more later!) There sitting in prime position was Redcoat Harry Haigh and his Greek nephew and niece on their first off roading event. The unthinkable had happened, colour drained from faces. Harry had beaten us there. It took a while to get Dad to move again but we are assured he will get over it by trained medical personnel. That night the Redcoats, Ken Eggleton and Hazel Eager sat around in the CoR awning (which has slightly bent poles we discovered) huddled around the lone candle nursing a beer, while shrieks of laughter floated across the air from the park where the CoR juniors played happily into the evening. Time for a last round up of the troops before dragging us unwilling kids off the swings and into the caravan. Adults spoil all the fun!
Eight O'Clock in the Big Bro Club Off Road camp and the inmates slowly drag themselves from warm sleeping bags. On the edge of the site where the CoR caravan stands in the serene morning light there is a new development in the awning. It seems that CoR's intrepid leader has forgotten a certain pair of boots and gaiters. My pair of boots and gaiters. So there would have been room for the sink The only option left for this traumatised fourteen year old is to wear trainers and sulk in a corner. For all those who attended the Scottish Safari IT WASN'T ME WHO FORGOT THE BOOTS!! I exacted my revenge though when I pointed out how much the trainers I would be wearing cost, oh I enjoyed that!! So trainers on feet and bag in hand the four of us shoved pushed and pulled each other into the oh-so-spacious Ninety. Pressed up against the windows we realised the campsite was deserted. We were last out. V8 roaring, gears grinding we skidded to a halt in the Forest of Ae. Jumping out and running madly towards the gathered crowds we had a swift yet entertaining briefing before turning back to our trusty motor. Turning back round in the Teacher-talking-to-naughty-school-boy voice Dad said "Who did that then?"
Fluttering in the breeze was a bright red balloon tied to the home-made towel rail style poles that normally held bridging ladders. School boy Phill Thomas raises a hand in admittance. Next comes the "I should have guessed" frown and a round of laughter. The day is looking good so far and everyone is in high spirits. As we lead the convoy up into the beautiful forest of Ae there is an ominous banging noise in the Land Rover. We all surreptitiously glance down at the diff. "Oh b*****" said dad. Quick to quell the rising tide of despair I tell him in my annoying but pacifying voice "It's the balloon banging on the roof." The balloons life was at an end. We waved as it floated into the sky.
The first day's off roading was gentle and scenic. I decided that looking out over the Solway Firth through the muddy back window of a ninety was not quite how the wonderful and breathtaking landscape should be viewed. At the lunch stop I bargained with Redcoats Steve & Julie Wilson and earned a place aboard their Discovery in exchange for keeping four year old Sam occupied. Exchange completed I wandered back over to the cool box and helped my self to two ham and chutney sandwiches courtesy of Mum. Sitting on the boiling bonnet of the Land Rover I surveyed the scene before me. Behind and to the right were 4x4s of all shapes and sizes, all sorts of people from all parts of the country sat eating picnics. The view in front of me was transcendent and awe-inspiring. Nothing can beat looking out over the sea of evergreen trees that thin into grassy green rolling hills. Lower your gaze a little though to the banking on the opposite side to the picnic spot, and the black sheep of the Redcoat flock sits on folding chairs eating off the tailgate of a battered red Range Rover. According to Harry Dad's picnic site wasn't level enough. So there we sat munching on pies and pasties, twenty motors and Harry gazing out over the stunning panoramic views that Ae offered.
the comfort of Steve's Discovery we tail end Charlie-d the easy to moderate
group that had diverted from Keith and Christine's harder group at lunch.
We set out among the trees in search of some off roading. Our first stop
was dead end delight. A rocky track down into rather smelly stagnant bog
that had a mercifully hard bottom. Even though we had to turn round this
was a great little route. Next we walked or rather drove into the hill
that would get Dad's Ninety stuck. Sorry that should be "temporarily
ceasing forward motion" not stuck. Oops. Playing the knight in shining
armour Dad was turning around to winch people through what he thought
was the worst bit when a rock sprang out of no-where and magically lodged
it self under the Land Rover. Who did that then? EH? EH? Own up! Tempers
frayed in the Hartley household.
night enveloped the happy campers as day one closed. Laughter and jokes
were rife among the chatter as the day's events were relayed back and
forth. The mud splattered vehicles gained lots of attention from other
users of the campsite and everyone said they had enjoyed themselves. We
awaited the next day with bated breath. Tonight was colder and the clouds
rolled in with a foreboding air. The next morning was overcast and slight
drizzle hung in the air. Once again the array of 4x4s set out this time
to the wet yet strangely enchanting site of Drumclog. We drew up in the
field we called base camp for the day. I was now wearing Mum's boots which
were a size too small for me. Excruciating but necessary in the wet and
muddy grass. We convoyed the site for Dad's hour, that should be three
in everyone else's mind. Still it was immense fun. This day was to be
the one where the Girls kicked some off road butt. While everyone else
discussed tactics and technical methods we were left stranded on the other
side of the quagmire. The once easy bog was now the hard bog and the drivers
of three Redcoat vehicles were "trapped" on the other side.
Shouts to get back over here were met with shrugs and can't do nothing
looks. This left two V8 nineties and a Discovery in the hands of 'the
girls'. Christine Fairey was first up taking Keith's familiar grey 90
through the bog and made it to the other side. Julie Wilson in my previous
day's transport got stuck but was pulled out. Finally we were last. Me,
Lucy and Mum. Alone. Oh dear. After we had established what gear we should
be in "It's second Mum, honestly." We set off. I closed my eyes,
I didn't feel upside down. I opened them. We were parked and everyone
was eating sandwiches. Never doubted you Mum.
Everyone else was having fun though. We were rescued by Phill Thomas who kindly pulled us out anchored by Harry who had wisely stayed out of the area "where no man has been before." In the rain and gathering gloom we pulled out all the remaining vehicles. The hard winch through the bog claimed only one victim. Dad's winch. It wasn't pretty so don't ask.
Overall it was an excellent event, the meal in the evening was also a laugh. Look at the photos to see Dad's heady surprise. The friendliness and enthusiasm of everyone who enters CoR events still ceases to amaze me even after 14 years ( I mean this in a good way!) I did get told off though for my mud writings though. My latest was "V8 with PMT!" You just wait 'till I'm seventeen ..
in this years Scottish Safari
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