If you read LLG regularly, you’ll know that fast cars are a family passion. My father instilled a great deal of confidence in me where driving is concerned (he is more likely to say ’put some welly in it’ than he is to urge me to slow down).
I love getting to know different cars, relishing the challenge of getting behind the wheel of something new – as when I got to drive the SLS AMG at Mercedes-Benz World last November, or when my father handed me the keys to his XK120. Or when I accidentally hired the feckin awful Fiat 500 in San Francisco a few weeks back which looks fabulous but drives like a donkey.
So, one afternoon when I was in an appointment to look at some clothes for LLG, the PR for VintageSeekers.com discovered that I loved cars and threw out a suggestion: would I like to borrow a 1965 Austin Healey for the weekend, to highlight their new classic car brokerage service?
I roped in lil’sis (who doesn’t drive but loves being a passenger) and P Bad, wangled a night at the glorious Bailiffscourt Hotel in West Sussex (that’s an hour and a half south south west of London, on the South Coast) and prayed for sunshine – the Austin Healey is a fabulous car to drive in any weather but with the roof down it is heaven on wheels.
So the Saturday before last, on the one sunny day we’ve had in months, we picked the car up at Gatwick Airport to avoid manouevering it through London traffic – it’s not much fun stop starting a car like that in traffic, and drove down the B roads to the West Sussex Coast and Bailiffscourt. We checked in and explored,
before heading off to Arundel. We set the in-car security system
and headed off to look in at Arundel Cathedral.
We then headed back to Bailiffscourt for a swim in the spa complex, then supper and Scrabble.
The next day we breakfasted long and late, checked out, and headed back to Arundel to explore the Castle garden & interior,
before heading off on a leisurely drive
to Petworth House for a proper National Trust Cream Tea, instead of lunch. (Petworth is brilliantly set up for Accessibility: they have a minibus shuttle from the car park to the main house & the tea rooms, and wheel chairs to borrow if you should need.)
Then we went for a walk with P Bad in Petworth’s extensive grounds, before heading back to Gatwick to reluctantly give back the car.
Bye bye Austin Healey. We thought you were smashing.