Extensis Europe’s Muddy Christmas Festivities
Mud, Mud, glorious Mud, there’s nothing quite like it for cooling the blood.
These were the words from the famous ‘Hippopotamus Song’ that came to my mind when I first heard that Extensis Europe’s Christmas festivities would include a morning spent on a 4 x 4 Driving Experience in the beautiful Northamptonshire countryside. In the lead up to the party, as expected, and as fits most people’s perception of the UK, we had had days of rain and some serious flooding across the UK – my how I was looking forward to getting axle-deep in the stuff that some people like to splash all over their bodies in a fit of vanity!
When the day came, however, whilst a typically British Winter morning (it was foggy), the temperature had plummeted and as we approached our destination, we were driving through freezing fog… it was going to be a cold, cold day!
Our Venue was Rockingham Castle which dates back to William the Conqueror times (King of England from 1066-1087 AD). It was actually William himself who ordered the Castle to be built overlooking the Welland Valley – a truly beautiful spot. From a 4 x 4 perspective, this clearly meant there would be steep hills and a host of other interesting terrain to negotiate/wildlife to avoid amongst the trees and more.
On arrival, we were all amazed to see through the fog, that the vehicles we would be driving were a Land Rover Defender 9-seater, complete with front-bumper-mounted winch to pull ourselves out should we get stuck; a Land Rover Discovery 4 ‘Sport’ and a Range Rover – all of which looked worryingly new, in pristine condition. My fears were confirmed when, over the safety briefing, we were informed that the ‘Sport’ only had 774 miles on the clock, and the Range Rover had even less – just 78. ‘How trusting (faithful? idiotic?)’, I thought, that they were prepared to put these brand new vehicles in the hands of complete novices.
During the briefing, it was reassuring to see that it isn’t only the computer software industry that is full of acronyms as we were introduced to the meanings of HDC; ABS; DSC; GRC; HSA; DPF; ARM; GAC; SLC; RC and more. That aside, it soon became clear that understanding what a limited split differential is, is a bit like trying to explain the offside rule in Soccer!
With the briefing over, it was time to climb aboard and drive to the field where the fun would begin. By this time, the fog was beginning to burn off to leave a semi-clear sky, but still sub-zero temperatures. So our expectation for ‘Glorious Mud’ was replaced with the reality of ice, ice, and more ice – faaaantastic – now we could really see how the ‘Best 4 x 4 x Far’ could cope with slippery surfaces such as wet grass; steep, ice-covered inclines; mud-pools; and, being on a working farm, the deposits left by the local indigenous sheep population.
We all took turns at the wheels of the various vehicles to understand the differences, and techniques of how to cope with the different conditions. The Land Rover Discovery was full of electronics to compensate for driver error, whilst the Defender meant the driver was for more actively involved – just brilliant!
As the morning went on, under the traction of the vehicles, what had started off as frozen mud became just mud – and as treacherous in its own way as sheet ice.
Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience – especially ascending and descending the hill known to the instructors as ‘Ski-jump’ (for obvious reasons!).
As with all self-respecting Englishmen and women, after such a fun event, there was really only one more thing to do – ‘Go to the Pub’ – and that is exactly what we did! The Queens Head at Bulwick, Northamptonshire is a fine example of olde worlde charm with flag-stone floor and open fires, serving excellent English real ales with names like ‘Spitfire’; ‘Barwell Bitter’; ‘Newby Wyke’ and more.
Thanks for reading – Extensis Europe would like to extend their festive greetings to all its customers and look forward to serving their requirements for 2013.