I have always loved driving. It was the thing i most wanted to do from an early age, sitting behind my dad in the car pretending. I got my driving licence within 5 weeks of my 17th birthday (the age a licence was allowed in the UK) but had been driving for years before that. On motrobikes, or 'borrowing' my parents' cars when they left them at home. Perhaps I was the original inspiration for Ferris Bueller?
Take a look at my car history, you'll see that I have had a lot of vehicles, normally just one at a time but sometimes as many as 4. None of these was new, some were classics in the making, some I knew were already classics, but all of them had character.
A day driving through the Negev desert with friends got me hooked on the possibilities of offroading. We spent a day in a few jeeps just crossing the empty desert. Nothing extreme, just a day of cruising through wadis and valleys and crossing otherwise unreachable places (if you were there with another sort of vehicle).
It took me another few years until I was able to convert my wish into a vehicle. I had made sure my (then) wife had a wonderful car for our growing family, I had a TR6 that was my first passion and business was good.
One day I was invited to a corporate fun day which involved a number of 4x4 treats, including blind jeep driving. There was also a 4x4 course at the end the day.
That was the clincher and within a month I treated myself to a 2nd hand diesel SWB Nissan Patrol. It was officially a work car, so was kitted out with Leather seats and all mod cons.
My wife organized for me to go on a full day 4x4 driving course, which was brilliant and exciting and massive fun in SJ413s and Land Rovers and that was it. I was determined to get off road.
I also joined the 4x4 club and as a result spent one day every weekend after that for around a year taking my car and some giggling girls strapped into their child seats through muddy tracks and water filled paths mud plugging - as it's called in the UK.
My Patrol was cleaned meticulously after every trip. It was all part of the fun, seeing the mud drain away leaving my jeep clean on the street each week.
Life has a strange way of teaching us lessons, because just as I bought my next 'toy' (my Yamaha GS1A motorcycle) I got offered a job in the Netherlands. The toys did not come with. From having pretty much my dream garage (the family car was a V6 Citroen XM with all the Bells and Whistles), all the cars were sold and I ended up living in the Netherlands with a Honda Motorbike and a Fiat Multipla (please, please stop laughing, it's a great car).
Roll on 20 years, a divorce and two global financial meltdowns and a redundancy later which drained the bank account, I end up in Dubai with my wonderful new wife.
Off roading was high on my list of things that I wanted to do again in coming here. Problem was that this was new to my new wife. When we spoke about a car for her here in Dubai, she was talking about a small city runaround, maybe a nice sedan.
We went to see quite a few cars, exotic or otherwise, but none of them fit the bill. Then one day, our TJ was advertised. With some trepidation I took my darling wife out and let her know on the way that our outing was to test drive a Jeep [that I have to admit, I had test driven a few days earlier to check it was everything promised].
Within 10 minutes of sitting behind the wheel, she was hooked on the car. Next challenge was to identify an opportunity for off roading and after a bit of research it was clear that an organization called Carnity was offering the easiest way to try out desert driving.
The rest, as they say is history. I knew I would love it, but was a little worried that my passion might not be shared. I should not have worried. Not only is this now my weekly fix to clear my head from the stresses of my working week, it's a shared hobby so there's never a question of having to choose between our being together and my hobby on my day off. Now the biggest challenge is getting behind the wheel as much as I want. A very small price to pay for having found my way back into my natural environment - high up, behind the wheel of a 4x4.
See you soon in the sand.