Friday, 18 June 2010

All tanked up!

Some of you may recall that for my recent 50th birthday my friends all clubbed together to buy me a Tank Driving Day! I have to admit that this may not be to everyone's taste, but I thought it was a fantastic present ..... so much so that I actually jumped up and down squealing with pure glee when I was presented with it! Perfectly normal behaviour for a 50 year old who's only 8 on the inside!!!
Anyway, me and Himself went to Tank Mania ( ) last Sunday and had the most brilliant day! Our friends had also bought a spectator ticket for Himself ... but he didn't spectate - he came in all the vehicles as a passenger.
The package was to drive 4 vehicles and then, at the end of the day, crush a car! The vehicles I got to drive were - from left to right, an Abbot self-propelled gun tank, a 432 Armoured Personnel Carrier, a 4 tonne Bedford MJ 4x4 truck and a lightweight Land Rover.

I had really fancied driving the BV206 hagglund Amphibious Personnel carrier but some heartless swine had tried to nick it from the farm where all the vehicles are stored but, in their failed attempt to steal it, they had wrecked all the electrics and it was away being repaired.
The drivers were split into small groups of 3 or 4 to one instructor, all of whom are ex-army driver/mechanics. We were lucky enough to get John (aka George Dawes!) who was excellent! We were told to wear 'old clothes and stout boots or shoes'. They supplied the overalls (one size doesn't quite fit all ......I've never worn something with the crotch round my knees and the hems turned up 6 times before!) and what appeared to be 2nd World War German helmets!
Our team for the day:
I was designated as the first driver - were the lads being polite or just scared?!!!
First up was the Armoured Personnel Carrier - a sweet little vehicle, steered by 2 levers which controlled the brakes on the tracks. Push both levers forward and the brakes are off, pull both levers back to put the brakes on. Turn corners by heaving back mightily with both hands on the lever at the side you wish to turn to - dead easy!
I quickly got the hang of the steering, but because the vehicles are all quite old (30+ years) and a bit clunky, it needed a LOT of brute force and shouting of "come ON" to turn corners - or was that just me?!

The course was well thought out, with some tight corners, steep ups and downs and long straight bits to put your foot down .... not that I did any speeding you understand :D !!!

Next up was the ligtweight Landy. These are designed to be put on pallets and parachuted in to the ground troops in hostile areas. This baby was a hoot to drive as it's considerably smaller and nippier than the Land Rover 110 Defender that I normally drive. I've done lots of general off-road driving and competitions, so I just had fun hurtling this round the course.

The whole day was a family affair. Ian organises it - he's the ex-army waller. Les (dad) does the 'meet-and-greet' and takes all the photos and Debbie (mum) cooks all the spendiferous food we had for lunch - and afternoon tea when we'd finished (how jolly British!) and Ian's brother drove us all back to the field where we'd parked the cars out of harm's way.
After lunch things got really interesting as I got to drive the Bedford. It drove just like a big Land Rover and I had no problems in knowing where all the corners of it were and what route to steer. Himself may possibly be a little bit biased, but he reckoned that I was by far and away the best and smoothest driver of the Landy and the Bedford! (bless him!)

I LOVED driving the Bedford ....but Himself is not yet convinced by my need to park one on our drive!!!
Being a passenger was fun, but driving it was much more fun! (control freak - moi?!)
Himself had a very relaxed day :)
They saved the best till last and I finally got my hands on the Abbot!
Only one minor problem with the Abbot. You see that metal sticky-up bit immediately in front of me? Well, being a short-arse, I couldn't see over it! I did a very good impression of a meerkat as I tried to stretch my spine to give me an extra inch or four.
Going uphill gave a very nice view of blue sky ...and NOTHING else, mind you, I couldn't see a great deal more going downhill either!
In the army they train the drivers blindfolded so that they learn to trust the tank commander and follow his instructions ....... I'd have been fine blindfolded!

Err .........Ooops! :D
The instructors, drivers and spectators at the end of a hot, dusty, day!
I thoroughly recommend having a Tank Driving Day. My cheeks ached by the end of it from grinning so much - it was such excellent fun!
Now I want to drive something REALLY big!


FlowerLady said...

Now that really does look like a FUN day. I was grinning the whole way through your post. The pictures are great.

Belated Happy 50th bday.


The Idiot Gardener said...

That takes me back; I used to have an MOD release lightweight with a V8 conversion. It was stupidly funny.

That looks like a good day out.

Liz said...

Hi Liz,

Looks like you have a great day! lol, I couldn't imagine driving a tank! wow, talk about adrenaline rush!!!!

Fantastic present for sure, I think that, Falconry day and hiring my own cinema for a night will be my next 3 'big' birthdays!

joey said...

Liz ... you are too cool and havin' way too much fun :) Happy Belated Birthday ... can't even imagine what you will do on your 60th! Happy 1st day of Summer :)

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi FlowerLady - I'm glad it made you grin too :D
I had a fantastic day - it was definitely the BEST birthday present ever!!!

Hi IG - oooh, a V8 lightweight - that sounds like good fun! It was an excellent day out. I'd thoroughly recommend it! There are similar things down near Salisbury Plain, which might be a bit more accessible for you ....go do it!

Hi Liz - it was GREAT and you're right about the adrenalin rush, I was buzzing all evening!
That's your next 3 big ones sorted then - and they sound like fun!
We put my dad on the waiting list for a Spitfire flight a few years ago.If, heaven forbid, he's no longer with us when his flight comes up ....I'm having it instead!

Hi Joey - thank you so much, not sure why I'm cool - but thanks :D
Can you possibly have too much fun?! I'm sure I'll have thought of something else by the time I reach 60......Spitfire flight?, parachute jump?!
Happy first day of summer to you too my friend :)

Pondside said...

That has got to be the most unusual birthday celebration ever!
There's nothing like a day spent laughing until your cheeks hurt - so a belated Happy Birthday to you and congratulations on spending it in such a zany way!

Woody Wilbury said...

That's brilliant; well done you. But remind me not to have a lift back from the pub!!!

Do you do aeronautical things too? My son was learning to fly gliders when he was a student and I confess I quite fancy wing-walking.


Cameron said...

What a day! :-) It does look like so much fun.


Thanks for letting me know about the template formatting issues. The post looked so good on my MacBook! Anyway, I did a repeat post with large photos and the text below... please take a minute to let me know if you can now read it.


Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Pondside - I suppose it was a bit zany, but it was EXCELLENT fun! My friends know me so well - although there were a few comments of "only Liz..." when Jackie was organising everyone to join in!!!

Ey-up Woody. Okay, you can walk back from the pub! You've guessed right about the aeronautical stuff - I got my glider pilot's licence through Venture Scouts and the RAF when I was younger (a lot younger!). I still miss flying some days - and I quite fancy wing-walking too!

Hi Cameron. Thank you - it was a lovely birthday :)
I'll have another look at your post now and let you know on your blog.

上心上心 said...

好棒的地方 我一定要常來~~~^^~. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Nutty Gnome said...

Thank you 'The heart center'
This translates as:
"What a great place I must often come ~"
I'm glad you liked it and I do hope you will come back :)

Shady Gardener said...

Liz, You are an absolute riot! What a fun family you are - I believe life around you would be quite the daily adventure! :-) You provided an excellent account and photos! Happy belated birthday!! What WILL you do for the 60th?

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Shady - what a great thing to be thought of as an absolute riot! My life is complete! :D

Thank you for your birthday wishes - the tank driving was a hoot, I loved it! As for my 60th???? ......... hmmm, maybe white water rafting down the Grand Canyon? wing walking? - there are still LOTS of things on my life list still to do! :D

Diana (Di) said...

What an absolute kick! You had entirely too much fun. And Himself appeared to be holding on in one of the photos even though you were sitting still. ;)

Hope all is well in the UK; we are finally getting some sunny days - long overdue. I won't tell you to have a wonderful weekend, for I know you will. ;)

Britta said...

Dear Nutty Gnome: what a powerful way to celebrate one's birthday! Also my congatulations to your birthday! I only once sat in such a tank - being a vocational guidance we have to see what we speak about, mostly studies, but other vocations too - and I liked the ride (passenger, not driver).
I am sure you will remember this birthday all your life! Britta

Shirley Landis VanScoyk said...

I WANT ONE! I WANT TO DO THAT! You Brits have all the fun!!!!! Seriously, I am sending this to my kids and making them make this happen for me!!! ANd I am posting it on my FACEBOOK!

Nutty Gnome said...

Hi Di - oh no, I was holding on too! It just doesn't look it because I was sitting straddling the seat, but Himself was sitting properly! I had a ball that day! :D

Hey Britta - I just LOVE 'doing' presents rather than gathering 'stuff' - and I've always wanted to drive a tank, so this was just perfect! You're right about remembering it all my life - it's still being talked about every day at the moment ...although I suspect my family are just getting a bit bored with it now!

Oh Shirley - GO FOR IT! DO IT!!!! There must be somewhere over there that does a similar thing, surely?!
You would just LOVE it! ......and if your kids can't find somewhere over there, well, you'll just have to come over here and I'll go with you!!! :D

Anonymous said...


Nutty Gnome said...

Chun Kun Dai's comment translates as "Death is sad, but even more sad to live unhappy." I agree with this and intend to carry on having fun and growing old disgracefully!
Thank you Chun Kun Dai

Thomas said...

HAHAHA! I love it! What a truly amazing birthday gift. Nothing like a bit of destruction to get the juices flowing.

Happy belated birthday!!!!!!

Nutty Gnome said...

Thomas at 'A Growing Tradition' left me a comment, but there was a problem with blogger - so I copied it here instead! He said:

HAHAHA! I love it! What a truly amazing birthday gift. Nothing like a bit of destruction to get the juices flowing.

Happy belated birthday!!!!!!

Thank you Thomas - it was just the best birthday present EVER!!! :)