Back in February we decided to SORN Annie (our Series 3 Land Rover) because she needed some substantial work doing to her brakes and Mud, who isn’t getting any younger you know, decided that trying to get her ready for an MOT (annual road worthiness test in the UK), in mid winter with only the hard gravel drive available to work on, was something he simply couldn’t face …… especially when getting her through the MOT meant sorting the aforementioned brakes out, a bad enough job with a warm, dry workshop at your disposal, never mind sub-zero temperatures, rain and a gravel drive. So we declared her off road, parked her up on the drive and left her there for six months, with Mud regularly idling her on the drive to keep everything lubricated in the engine.
Then a few weeks ago we sent her to the local garage to have her brake lines replaced (Muds’ work commitments meant he simply didn’t have the time to do the job) and got her back four days later, complete with a shiny new MOT and brakes which were ….. well ….. less than perfect and so Mud set about correcting the faults, as detailed on his blog (here). Sorting the brakes has taken much longer than expected but Mud has been on annual leave over the past week and has been able to complete that job (more or less), along with a number of other service items, all of which means that I have my beloved vehicle back on the road again.
Of course, having spent the last 6 months or so driving a relatively lightweight car, with mod cons such as power steering, super efficient heating, rain tight cabin area etc, both Mud and I have become soft and getting back behind the wheel of my 2 tonne classic car, with a virtually non existent turning circle and leaking passenger door seal, has proven a bit of a culture shock but the joy of driving this characterful old girl makes the aching shoulders bearable.
However, since the day we bought her, the one thing we have really wanted to do, was convert Annie into a family car with the ability to safely carry all of us whether it be for shopping or day trips. As she was, she could, in theory, carry three people in the front but the middle seat was impractical because of the positioning of the overdrive lever and so we have never utilised this seat and so Annie has only ever had a maximum of two passengers in the last 4 years, with family outings confined first to the Mazda and latterly to the Corsa but in the last 7 days, this has all changed and Annie is now a fully functioning family car.
Muds’ first plan was just fitting a pair of inward facing bench seats in but we couldn’t shake the feeling that they weren’t a safe solution for the children (even though they are perfectly legal in a vehicle Annies age) and so after much research and thought, Mud decided to fit two rear facing seats, with seat belts, in the load bed area of the Land Rover (post here) which now means that the Mudlets can travel in safety and comfort, under the cover of the tilt in the back. In terms of absorbing the impact of a crash, the rear facing seats are now the safest seats in the vehicle and we have even had emergency drills to ensure the girls can get out in the event of an accident.
So with the new seats fitted, we all piled in for a trip to the Waters Edge Visitor Centre and Country Park, at Barton Upon Humber which is a local attraction, providing the perfect opportunity to try out Annies’ new ‘family vehicle’ status. The girls were hugely excited about the prospect, although they had already been out on a couple of test runs with Mud.
Waters Edge is a wetlands country park, situated on the Humber estuary, beside the Humber Bridge. It offers a range of walks along the river bank and around numerous ponds which are home to a variety of birds including, on the day we were there, a large number of Canada Geese. There is also a visitor centre, with cafe, gift shop and interactive information exhibits, as well as a couple of play areas outside and one indoors, next to the cafe. We decided to start our visit with a rather nice lunch (or full english in Muds’ case) and follow it up with a walk.
Once fed, we set off for a walk along the river before heading down into the main pond area, where upon Mud headed off at a route march pace with Middle Mudlet trying to keep up with him, whilst Little Mudlet and I ambled along at a much calmer, more enjoyable pace …… which is why WE spotted the enclosure, in which there was a beautiful pair of toffee coloured goats, and they didn’t.
“You need to slow down!” I said, when Mud and Middle Mudlet rejoined us at the enclosure, “This is supposed to be a gentle walk not a route march!”
We spent a few minutes admiring the goats who had come across to say hello, one of which tried to help herself to Little Mudlets bottle of drink when she got too close, before continuing on at a much more leisurely pace, spotting swans, ducks and coots as we made our way along the path ….. then it began to rain, one of those ‘saturate everything in under a minute‘ sharp showers that Mother Nature likes to throw out on a regular basis and so we all raced for cover under a thick overhang of trees and waited the shower out. Rain aside, it was nice to be out and about and we spent about an 40 minutes walking before making our way back to the visitor centre where the girls played on some of the interactive activities.
This was only a short outing but for the inaugural family trip in the newly converted Annie, it was a success, with the girls thoroughly approving of their accommodation. As for the Waters Edge Country Park, this is a nice place to visit, with a reasonably priced cafe, offering tasty meals or light snacks. Admission is free and there are three different walks which differ in distance, the routes for which are clearly signposted around the grounds. However, beware! This Country Park allows dogs on site and as per usual, in spite of bins and signs instructing dog owners to clear up after their dogs, the small minority of irresponsible owners, who can’t be bothered, means that you really need to watch where you are walking, especially if you have children with you and I spent most of my time reminding the Mudlets to watch where they were putting their feet!