As the midlife crisis starts to go into full boost one starts preparing a “bucketlist”. As most of us know this is a list of things to do before you die. My own bucket list was ill-conceived, unprepared and really only contained one thing – a dash round the ring. Winning a trip to the CeBit technology seminar in Hannover last year provided the necessary catalyst.
I got in contact with RSR Nurburg who I’ve seen many times on YouTube. They seem to relish the Renault Megane and rate it highly as the best all-rounder available to tackle the green hell. The key contact Ray Shepardson, was exceptionally helpful and organised a RHD Megane RS 265 as the weapon of choice. Interestingly they only hire out the Megane in dangerous conditions due to its predictable handling, unless you are of course Sabine Schmitz.
Ray also suggested a few places to stay including the “Longhorn Saloon” owned by no other than the abovementioned Frau Schmitz.
Lap Day – worst possible scenario
There is a Murphy’s law that follows me around like a spectre perhaps because of my Irish ancestry. My outing coincided with “Mad Dog” Friday and a whole lot of rain making an already tricky circuit treacherous! You see in Germany, Friday is “car day” and every boy, man, girl and his or her respective dogs are out in their cars. Think of it as a high-tech Summer Nats without the mullets. Scary. To put it bluntly my undergarments were in danger of becoming a biohazard.
Getting to the circuit early gave me a fairly clear track free of spinning metal boxes. The excitable boys and the raced up Beemers were probably scared off by the conditions and the Megane’s impeccable sure-footedness made what I though was going to be an ordeal into a fun and highly rewarding experience. I drove the car way below its capabilities achieving 12 something minute laps. However I probably overtook more cars than overtook me so I think this weighed up as reasonable effort for a newbie. One thing for sure, “I’ll be back” (yes I know he’s Austrian).
Sabine and the Longhorn
I often go to trip advisor or booking.com and put a review on places I have stayed. They rate certain facilities in these establishments from Poor right up to Excellent. It’s no use doing that for the Longhorn saloon as the scale requires something higher than just plain ol’ Excellent. Arriving from Hannover with the family in a hired car, a female figure dressed in stable cloths, literally covered in muck, came to directly down to greet us. It was rather a surreal experience I must say. The voice was instantly recognisable as we the dark, determined eyes. “How was your trip” she asked. Slightly star-struck and taken aback I answered “not bad considering I drove all the way on the wrong side of the road”. Yes, I know, a great start – contact me for more lessons in the Denis Ryan School of how to win friends and influence people….l
I’ll resist the temptation to rave on but I will just say Sabine and the hotel’s staff member Melanie were fabulous hosts. The Saloon is an Oak log cabin fully imported from Canada with tons of cowboy and western paraphernalia. Both types of music stream from the internet radio. As busy as she is, Sabine took time to sit down with us and chew the fat. As we were the only ones there at the time so we had her and the establishment to ourselves until she left to do some more Top Gear filming in Kharakastan. There is a lot to do and Liam loved the animals and the horse rides. As for Sabine, she is an extraordinary person who is incredibly down to earth and has her fingers in many pies; a champion driver, horse rider, helicopter pilot and animal welfares, caring for many elderly or unwanted horses, dogs, cats , pigs, whatever. Wow.
So on that note it’s time I extend the bucket list. London to Sydney in a P76 – any volunteers?