Meet the Participants

The trip was absolutely fantastic, in no small part due to the great people on it. There were a total of eight vehicles, including the two guide cars and our 109.

Peter and JoPete Girling was leading the tour in his Toyota with his partner, Jo Austing. Peter is a former teacher, which is where he must have gained his way with kids – he was very popular with all the children (there were eleven of them in all), and Jo’s a teacher too. Peter manages to spend nearly half the year away on the various tours he runs. His comment at the end of the trip was: “Quite the best tour to the Alps we’ve ever run. Fantastic customers, lots of fun with great kids.”

CarrickHelping Peter to guide the trip was Carrick Smith. He’s a veteran of numerous expeditions all over the world, as well as being a BORDA off road and Land Rover qualified snow/ice driving instructor (and BMW high speed driver, qualified LR technician and press launch driver). He drives a Fuerta Ventura veteran Camel 110 on the trips, and an L322 Range Rover at home. As a forensic pyscholgist, he’s an exceptionally cerebral man, and has an anecdote, quote ot joke for just about every occasion. He can also greatly increase the evaporation rate of any gin, wine or spirit from their bottles!

Niel and MauraNiel and Maura McCarthy from Chalfont St Giles (Bucks), along with their children Thomas (14) and Alice (12) participated in their highly equipped TD5 110 Doublecab. Maura commented “Thoroughly enjoyed the holiday. Looking forward to next year’s in the Pyrenees.”

Paul and AmandaPaul and Amanda Mercer squeezed Charity (17), Charles (13) and Cameron (10) into the back of their red 300Tdi 110SW, along with all their kit – the roof rack was filled with the two roof top tents and the big awning. I think they must have suffered almost as much as us on the hairpins, but did have the advantage of wheel spacers and anti roll bars! Paul is an agricultural engineer, and his skills came in handy both before and during the trip. They had the longest drive of all to and from Dover, with a party to get back to on the return day. Hope you made it! They’re doing next year’s Pyrenees trip, too. Amanda’s succinct summary was “Great people, great trip.”

Andy and MarieIn the silver Discovery II were Andrew and Marie Brown, with Kelly (12) and Bill, who had his 12th birthday during the trip. They had a spot of bad luck with thir air suspension, but Andy managed some impressive off roading with the temprorary stand-in Corsa before managing to fix the suspension with a coil spring upgrade. A very relaxed and upbeat family, and Bill has a truly exceptional sense of humour. “Great holiday. Enjoyed meeting new friends. Stressful at times, sorry we missed some of the off roading due to the car trouble. Booked for Pyrenees next year.”

Julian and CarolineDriving a green Discovery II were Julian and Caroline Furnell of Congleton (Cheshire), with Charlotte and Jamie. Charlotte, like Charity, did a great job of “nannying” the younger children, completely voluntarilty, allowing the adults to get on with vehicle maintenance, cooking, camp work or just socialising without the worry of looking after the kids, so a big “thank you” for that. “Best holiday in twenty years, but very stressful.” (Caroline).

James and SamThe silver Discovery 3 was driven by Toni and James Taylor (editor of Land Rover Enthusiast), with sons Jamie (7) and Sam (3). A very unassuming pair with a great, dry sense of humour and pleasantly candid manner, it was a relief to find that the journalists we had been told were coming on the trip were so down to earth and just like the rest of us. I don’t think any of us will ever forget Sam’s inexhaustible energy – he could power half the National Grid; forget wind turbines and nuclear power stations, just give him a big hamster wheel on a generator. I can’t imagine what James and Toni must go through every evening! Toni and Jamie weren’t available when I took the photo – sorry for that. “The most fun you can have only inches from death!” (Toni).

And, finally, there was our family – Helena, Rory (8), Thea (6) and me.

I think that all of us had our stressful moments – it was a long trip, with up to eight hours driving a day (sometimes almost all off road on narrow mountain tracks), with lots of moving camp, looking after young kids and some vehicle repairs to be done, but all of us would like to do it again. We had a great time, and really enjoyed the camaraderie in the evenings. Apparently, it’s something that is noticeably more prevalent on the all-Land Rover trips. Rory even cried briefly as we diembarked the ferry at Dover, missing his new friends already.

Thank you to all of you for making the trip so enjoyable, and good luck with your future excursions. I hope our paths cross again.

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