Regular readers of this blog will know that I’m fortunate enough to get out and about in a number of cool cars and cool places. However, it’s usually for work and that means that, wherever I’m going, the itinery tends to be rushed and I don’t really get time to really appreciate where I am and what I’m doing.
There are exceptions, of course. The banger rallies I’ve been doing since 2004 have provided some marvellous moments – the final day of Staples2Naples 2006 gave me memories that will last with me ’til the day I die – and, in doing so, I’ve met some great people along the way. Dave Smart will be well known to anyone who’s been on an event with him – a larger than life character who drives like a demon, parties like an animal and is just an all round great guy.
Andrew Elphick and I shared a Skoda with him last year on the Czech Wrecks rally and had a great time. We’ve both aged considerably as a result but I reckon it was worth it.
When he told me that he’d been given his S2N team mate, Colin Gilchrist’s Mini and was planning to tour Europe in it between contracts, I was delighted. He was planning to live the dream of an open road, an interesting car, and no timetable.
To say I was envious was an understatement. Of course, it’s not been an easy ride – the car’s behaved, but it’s far from comfortable for him – and that’s what makes his pan-European trip so appealing to me.
I’ve yet to find out how much Dave has spent along the way, but I’d hazard a guess that it’s somewhat less than a dull long-haul beach holiday. And what has he got instead? New friends, tales to tell, and a sense of real achievement.
Of course, not everyone’s in the position to jump in a car and disappear for the best part of a month but that doesn’t stop one being able to chase the unknown. Got a free weekend and nothing to do? Drive to the Western Highlands of Scotland, or Gibraltar, or maybe East Berlin. Heck, just take the long way home on a road you’ve never used before…
The point is that the car is our enabler and we’re living in a glorious era of freedom of movement – and combining the two brings new experiences, shakes out the cobwebs and broadens the mind.
I’m reading Dave’s travel blogs and getting pangs.
Follow Dave on Getjealous: www.getjealous.com/marvelousminiofdoom
or on AROnline: www.aronline.co.uk/blogs/category/daves-marvellous-mini-of-doom/