Sterling Moss and the Four Poster Bed ~ A 2-for-1 Fuckit Adventure
May 2, 2014
On our first date MrS and I spent some time discussing my Fuckit List (we talked solidly for 5 hours); what was on it and why and what wasn’t on it and why. For Christmas four weeks later he presented me with a track experience, driving an Aston Martin at Thruxton.
I’m not a car freak, or in particular a speed junkie, although my dad says I have two speeds, fast and faster, but I wanted to know how it felt to drive a nice car, very fast. I watch Top Gear, so know what the cars are called, but that’s about it (I’m currently being h’educated by MrS who is a car lover). But the Aston had taken my fancy so it was that, rather than, say, a Ferrari, which ended up on the list.
The earliest date I could book it for was in April so I kind of then forgot about it for a while.
On the drive down on the Saturday morning I became more and more apprehensive, my worst fear was that I would be ‘rubbish’ and not get the most from the experience. The weather was awful when we left London but had thankfully dried up by the time we arrived at Thruxton Race Circuit in Andover.
After checking in, we waited, somewhat disconcertingly, near a tv showing a looped DVD of Tiff Needell driving people round the circuit in a BMW M3 at 141 mph. Even the male passengers were having a little scream. Not worrying at all…
We had a full briefing as part of a group, where the cone system that MrS had been trying to explain to me earlier became slightly clearer, but I just felt even more nervous. What if I spun the car or hit the cones and made an idiot of myself? What if I drove like a GIRL?!
The guy who had led the briefing, Steve, took myself and another lady off to a saloon car so he could familiarise us with the track and point out the cone system again in ‘real life’. The other lady was celebrating her 40th birthday and had had no idea about her present (same as me but in an Audi R8) until a couple of hours before. She was thrilled, but we were both left shaking our heads saying we didn’t think we would be able to go “that fast” ourselves.
We then sat waiting for the Aston (a V8) to be ready, I felt like I was in a dentist’s waiting room and kept grabbing MrS’s hand. He thought it was very funny.
The instructors who accompany you in the car are all experienced racers and some of them (like mine) still race now. Will was great. He could tell I was nervous and made me laugh (if not relax…). We adjusted the seat so I could actually, you know, reach the pedals (there is a minimum height restriction of 5’2”, I just scraped in) and adjusted the steering wheel. A brief lesson on steering – ie the complete opposite of everything you’ve ever been told – and we were off. The car itself sounds fabulous although once the windows were done up it was relatively quiet and I was concentrating too hard to enjoy the noise.
Once I was out of the pit lane I hardly had to change gear and Will talked me through everything all the time. The instructors have the mirrors so they can see when other vehicles are coming up to overtake (Tiff came past me at god knows what speed) so you literally only have to concentrate on where you’re going. Oh, and turning. And braking. And flooring it. The fastest I went was 120 but the scariest thing was it didn’t feel like it.
I was just relaxing into it when it was time to finish.
I loved it and it was over too fast. No cones were harmed in the making of my laps and I didn’t once feel like I was going to skid or leave the track. I would relish the chance to take an Aston out on the real road and actually drive it now, appreciate how it handles. Will also told MrS he could safely let me have a go in his car now too. Ha, you should’ve seen his face…
As a little post script to this story, we spent the night at Rollestone Manor, where our room came with a four poster bed (another thing ticked off the list). It also had a stunning roll top bath in the main room, very decadent and was lovely to sip a G&T in it and enjoy the view of the Wiltshire countryside.
Rollestone Manor is just wonderful, it’s one of those places you don’t really want to tell anyone about in case it gets too popular. If you are looking for a special weekend getaway it is perfect and nowhere near as pricey as you might think given its boutique B&B feel and location (5/10 minutes from Stonehenge). It is also notable that they do not demand you stay a minimum of two nights at the weekend, which is a refreshing change. The welcome from Paula and the rest of the staff was warm and friendly, the room was beautiful and the food was excellent. I suspect you could hole up there for an entire winter weekend and never want to leave the house. We will definitely return one day.