Sorry I'm a little tardy with this week's missive, but have been with Mum for a few days and enjoying her company and their home-grown produce! I even managed to rustle up Chicken in Herbs, Lamb Hot Pot, and Cottage Pie! Only the vegetable elements were theirs – they manage an allotment not a farm!
She's not a million miles from the coast, but quite a long way from me, and so as I left the countryside behind and hammered home down the motorway, I tried to imagine how much better the journey would be if I was driving an Aston Martin…
But I don't have to imagine any more as I can finally tell you about my long-awaited Aston Martin drive around Silverstone, and better still you can watch it for yourself as I've got video footage too! OMG!!! Hopefully it'll be as if you were there with me :) You can forget Top Gear's 'Star in a Reasonably Priced Car', I am now 'Ma in an Extortionately Priced Car'!!
The day dawned, as have so many over the last few weeks, grey and windy but at least dry. I had woken several times in the night with a mixture of fear and excitement and also a need to wee, but as I stood in the hall with my voucher in my hand, the nine months of waiting were finally up! (see photo left)
Knowing how much I love the Aston Martin, Sam had bought me a Silverstone Driving Experience as a Christmas gift, and we'd left it until just before he begins University to go. He drove me there and then waited as I and 18 other drivers (ALL MALE) were ushered into a small room where the rudiments of over and understeering were explained to us… not just verbally but with film to add to my general feeling of unease.
A picture of the track was then visible with little dots of different colours highlighting where one should brake, clip, and exit a corner. "You will probably reach speeds of 130 or so on the straight," our mentor announced, while pointing at a section of the track that looked no longer than London Bridge! I felt about as confident as Gordon Ramsey would be of speaking for a whole minute without swearing!
Talking of which, those of us who'd decided to have the entire three laps filmed from inside the car were warned to watch our language… I didn't have to worry as the instant 'dry mouth' I suffered stopped me from uttering almost any sound at all! Which for those of you who know me well, has to be a first!
From there to pick a crash helmet (photo above left), which was worn over a rather fetching paper cap thing… shame Sam didn't tell me about the chin bit which looked like a piece of toilet paper hanging there… (see video in the post below)!
As there were only two Astons, we took it in turns so I had a little time to try and remind myself of 'mirror, signal, manoeuvre' before 'brake, clip and exit, and then SHE arrived. A beautiful grey DB9 with a blue stripe running down her centre, and 007 inscribed on the door. It was love at first sight, as I settled into her warm leather seat and met my instructor…
"Some say he hardly EVER has to touch the dual controls set up in the car, all we know is they call him Ben…" Bless him, he drew the short straw with me! And at this point I think it's best you watch the film… (in the post below)
Suffice to say I had trouble working out how to put the window up my hands were shaking so badly, and then as we manoeuvre out onto the track – and this is a Formula 1 track! – I hear myself ask "There's nobody coming is there?"!! My hunched position over the steering wheel and inability to keep my hands at the 20 to 2 position, make it difficult for me to believe that not only did I pass my test first time, but have been driving for 32 years!!!
I admit I had trouble taking my foot off the brake as I approached a corner at 70 miles an hour, but you'll be proud to see the speedo hit 108 on the straight. AWESOME! I even overtook a Ferrari!!! Mind you watch out for the bit where a Ferrari tries to overtake me… poor Ben! I LOVED IT.
There's just one thing that strikes me as odd, and that is the constant creaking noise that happens every time I move the steering wheel. Surely not in an Aston Martin DB9 could there be anything that needed oiling? I think it was my elbows and knuckles gripping the wheel Colin said I looked about 17 and as if I was learning to drive for the first time. He had a point… although SHE bore no resemblance to the canary yellow Nissan Sunny I took my test in
I had a smile as wide as the tyres on the car when I clambered out of the seat to run over to Sam and thank him. And then sitting next to him as he drove us home, patiently listening to me telling him for the umpteenth time how amazingly SHE gripped the road, I thought how incredibly kind and generous it was of him to have given me the chance of a lifetime to experience something, he would so very much liked to have done for himself…
What would you choose to as a one-off, amazing experience? Maybe you've already done it? I'd love to hear from you, as always. Off to start packing Sam's things for Uni…
Love Ali xxx