Tuesday 15 November 2016

Whilst taking a break from racing......

Whilst I’m taking a brief break from rally racing, I thought I’d let you know what else I’ve been up to:

In August we had a trip to Arc Tan Gent, a small independent rock festival held at Combe Martin in the Mendips. This was due to two factors, one of the organisers GOC O’Callaghan (it’s pronounced “Jock” by the way) just happens to be the girlfriend of Gráinne’s brother, Shane and the other (quite related) factor was that step-daughter Caitlin was working there as a volunteer on the build up for the nine days beforehand.

Shane, GOC and Caitlin

This was also our first experience of using the VW (now named “Alice”) as a proper camper. When I slept in it at the Ryedale Rally, it was a case of chuck an airbed in the back and gaffa tape some cloth over the windows! In the interim I had purchased some excellent Thermo Mat blinds for the windows, these are insulated and attach easily with rubber suckers. Very easy to install, warm and do an excellent job of blacking out the interior. Sleeping matters were dealt with by an old futon mattress, not only was this very comfy (certainly compared to an air bed)  but could also be folded up into a “sofa” during the day. That and a camping stove (cooking was done on the rear of the van under the cover of the tailgate) all it took to turn it into a functional camper!

 Whilst we were at the festival I also happened to propose to Gráinne, so the big day has now been set for May 2017!

And if you’re wondering why I proposed in a hi-viz jacket? Caitlin hadn’t thought to take a waterproof to the festival (and yes it rained of course), so promptly pinched mine on the Friday night, luckily my Hertfordshire 4x4 Response jacket always lives under the passenger seat of the van!

Also this summer we had the small matter of Gráinne of deciding to start motorcycling. Now at 5' 3" bike choice was always going to be a bit tricky but we eventually settled on a Suzuki RV125 VanVan

It turned out to be an excellent choice, low, easy to handle, comfy and although not the most powerful 125 out there, it's ideal as a beginners bike. And the icing on the cake was they were available on 0% finance. She promptly passed her Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) and her theory test and although she was planning to do her Module 1 and 2 tests soon afterwards, decided to delay these until after our holiday to New Zealand and Australia in September and October (more on that in a later post). 

On our return, despite informing the training school that it would be nigh on impossible to take the tests or training during the week, they went and booked both tests on working days! When she complained, they rearranged the tests for the weekend but arranged the training days midweek! You really couldn't make it up!!! 

Added to this they were downright rude on the phone and in subsequent emails to Gráinne, implying it was her fault even though she had made her preference quite clear from the start.

So Rebel Dog Training in Bletchley, you failed and we certainly won't be recommending you to anyone. So Gráinne has decided to spend some time getting more time on the bike as she can ride on L plates for the next two years and now aims to take her tests in the spring.