Anoraks Xmas Bash and Laning 19-20 December 1998

Once again, I was 'lucky' enough to have the 'honour' of writing the post event report...

Newsgroups: uk.rec.cars.4x4
Subject: Anorak weekend report - 19-20/12/98
Date: Mon, 21 Dec 1998 10:26:02 GMT

More Anoraking than you can shake a stick at this last weekend. On Saturday we had the first annual Anorak Christmas Drink, a chance to have fun without mud. Then on the Sunday, a day of laning to clear the head.

Fleece! I arrived at the Pitcher & Piano, Charing Cross, at 8pm. It was easy to spot Hayden and Sarah in the corner, his fleece yellow once more. Pete was also there and we had a practice drink as we waited for the others. Hayden had with him a copy of LRW magazine, stuffed with mysterious pieces of paper. Suddenly the pub was filled with a yellow glow - a brace of yellow fleeces arrived - Geoff and Lyndon had been plotting. As the other drinkers wondered why we had welcomed these fleeces with such raucous cheers, we welcomed the new arrivals, who had with them Jennie, Heidi and Steve. The whip was started and Geoff elected our representative at the bar.
I dished out photos from our last Thamesmead visit, our hearts touched by the obvious chemistry going on between Hayden and Colin. Then the conversation turned to Devil's Pit and broken Land Rovers. Geoff demonstrated his ability to drink for England - his cry of 'more beer!' coming at frequent intervals. Tea up Colin
Drink up Jag When Dave Dean and Kim arrived Hayden revealed the contents of his magazine - the 1998 Anorak Awards. No doubt the award categories and winners will appear on the website soon, but titles such as the NASA, Calculus and WD40 awards give some indication of how serious they were. Anorak Man of the Year was awarded to Geoff, deservedly so. The celebrations continued until kicking out time. We said farewell to Dave and Kim, and Pete wandered off towards the station - I wonder if he's home yet? The remaining Anoraks' minds turned to food.
Hayden's choice of Chinese restaurants, Wong Kees, is a little unusual - rudeness of staff and quality of food not being the highest priorities. After being told what to eat, the quality of conversation made up for other areas. By the end of the meal the table looked like downtown Baghdad and Sarah was betrothed to Lyndon, the wedding day set for Sunday. The food was certainly cheap, especially as the waiter's grasp of mathematics was less than excellent. We left and I went off in search of a tube station, just catching the last one to take me vaguely near my destination. The others went off to a club, the Green Room. Geoff removed the flowers from his hair before he made too many new friends and discovered a new side to his sexuality. Cheers!

Very few hours of sleep later and we regrouped somewhere in the environs of Orpington / Bromley. I arrived first, with my passenger Tony, followed by Paul Betts in his Suzuki. As we took on vital hangover provisions (coffee and chocolate) more Anoraks arrived, Gordon and friends in a LR 86" and Les in his Lightweight. Geoff, Heidi and Lyndon arrived, some looking a little more worse for wear than others. There was no sign of Hayden and Sarah, obviously Hayden not willing to risk my offer of a seat in the back of Daisy and Sarah calling off her engagement to Lyndon. We set off for the first lane.

We sacrificed channel 10 to a group of Russians - any CB gurus out there know about these people? They seem to have very high power rigs as we often pick them up on a Sunday at Battle as well. Geoff navigated from the front and I kept an eye on those behind until we found the first lane. Not very challenging, more scenic, I engaged 4 wheel drive out of principal rather than need. Either end of the lane had a trench dug out to deter drivers of lesser vehicles.

The next lane was a little wetter and contained a child cyclist - the CBs very useful for warnings of oncoming vehicles and discussion of overhanging trees. We stopped at the entrance of the next lane for me to measure the height of my roof-rack and walked up to the tree. As long as the ruts were deep enough, I could make it. I dropped to the rear, so that only I would need to reverse if necessary, removed the CB aerial and kept my fingers crossed.

Tight squeeze for Daisy To add to the challenge the lane had a chalk foundation - slippery stuff. Nothing to worry about though, Daisy just managed to pass under the tree, at least a hair's breadth of clearance. However, other trees later in the day were not so lucky! We continued eastwards, passing through the somewhat unusual Happy Valley. We passed a group of ramblers, although not whilst on a lane, so the opportunity for open an honest discourse was missed.

The smell of beer and food beckoned us to the pub. Time for a hair of the dog. Sausage, egg and chips was most welcome, as we sat in the garden encouraging frostbite. We discussed the imminent Tixover trip, which sadly I cannot attend and the 'merits' of supermarket diesel. For some the dog's hair was not enough and paracetamol was required.

Refreshed, Paul took the lead to another lane, this time one with MUD! We played around for a while, Paul nearly getting himself stuck. He freed himself eventually, my opportunity to get my rope out lost and saving himself from a write-up. Having had our fun and not wishing to damage the lane (tread lightly!) we moved on. We headed down towards the infamous Range Rover trap. This challenge required inspection on foot. A V-shaped gulley with a very narrow ledge to the left and tippy camber to the right. Just about possible to pass with left wheels in the gulley but less likely to tip over if straddled. Easier said than done on slippery chalk. The lightweight took the tippy option, Paul closing his eyes on Les' behalf as he neared the leaning limit. We just about managed the straddling option but it was a challenge. No one stuck, no Reliant Robin impersonations, we moved on.

With not much daylight time left, we headed for the M20 to make a 'dash' for a chalk pit. On the way Les proved that in a 4x4 if you miss the slip road into a layby, it doesn't matter, Snodland grass verges are not the most challenging off-road terrain. We arrived at the entrance to lane that leads to the chalk-pit to find that it had been closed - apparently someone wants to put a rail link into the Channel Tunnel. Having agreed that this is another european policy that leaves a little to be desired, we went off in search of another route. As dusk approached we found an entrance. A passing Range Rover warned us that it was slippery, as Geoff was to find out.

The playing was soon cut short. As Geoff went across the pit he started to slide sideways. There was no way he could climb back out, so Lyndon had to drive around to attach a rope. At last someone was truly stuck. He claims to have accidentally been in two-wheel drive, we reserve judgement. An interesting recovery followed. If Lyndon got too close he would have followed Geoff into the pit. Too far back and the rope would scrape the ground and he wouldn't have enough room. With a strap and a halved rope he managed to pull Geoff free, getting a little tippy at the end. At this point I have to say how jealous I am of everyone else's handbrakes - it would appear that Lyndon can stop anywhere, I just cannot stop! Geoff escaped with another broken repeater lens.

The consensus was that it was getting too dark to play anymore. That and noone wanted to repeat Geoff's descent. We headed off in search of another pub. The day's events discussed, talk once again turned to Tixover. Envy forced me to head for home. An excellent weekend of Anorak fun - thank you one and all. If I've missed anything I apologise - please put it down to exhaustion. If you're wondering why I'm doing the write-up, no, I didn't get stuck, I'm just a mug.

Finally, a personal note - a very merry Christmas to all of you. Thank you for sharing the last six months of mud inspired fun. As I wont be seeing you this weekend, a happy and prosperous New Year as well. I hope I get a chance to meet up soon, before I am put on a five mile distance impending birth restriction.

Always safe, never easy,

Jag.

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JAG 24th September 2001

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