Land Rover, as a marque, has been a small, but significant, part of my life to date. As a young Tenselet, I recall the arduous half mile walk to school in the village, up a very steep hill. If I was lucky, one of the farming family from lower down in the river valley would be passing in a Land Rover and offer me a lift. In those days, Landies were all of a sort, plastered with mud or worse, littered with straw and baler twine and with a backing track of sheep and dog.
After declining a university place (I never said I was sensible), I joined the Army, not because the Queen had more Land Rovers than anyone else, but an even worse reason than that. In truth, there were a lot of Solihull's finest in the British Army. I drove Series 2s, Lightweights, Series 3s of various flavours, then 90s and 110s. On one particular exercise in Denmark, I was delighted to hitch a lift in a 101 Forward Control with its groovy 3.5 litre Rover V8 engine. Towards the end of my brief military career, I developed a taste for navigational rallying and spent many a happy night being thrown around the inside of a Land Rover as I shouted out directions across various bits of the German countryside.
On my return to civilian life and with a young family in tow, the expense of maintaining the equivalent of a small 1940s tractor wasn't something we could afford. However, the firm I worked for did have a long wheelbase 110, which I occasionally borrowed for a weekend.
Towards the end of the 1990s, Our Lass gave in to the relentless pleading and I bought a 90 County station wagon which served us well on family holidays, with the girls sat sideways in the back, on top of all our luggage. As First Born grew up and wished to try her hand at navigational road rallying, this was the vehicle for our inaugural event. The new millennium saw an upgrade to a Series 1 Discovery, which was a little more refined and spacious. Indeed, we never did fill it to maximum capacity, no matter how much we took on holiday. In 2006, I swapped it for my current vehicle, an early Series 2 Discovery, recently featured in these pages and a veteran of several trips to Orkney. Its biggest triumph was the day it ferried Second Born and one of her friends (Dana from Hollister, where are you now?) from Swansea University back to Milton Keynes. With the contents of both of their rooms. My fiendishly-cunning packing ability was put to the test that day.
But this week, the Land Rover dream dies a little, as I'm trading in Taffy the Truck for another 4x4. However, it isn't a British one, it's not even a European one. After much soul-searching, you might even say Seoul-searching, the next Tense Towers vehicle of choice is going to be a Kia. But it will still have a ladder chassis, low ratio four wheel drive and an awful tendency to wallow in the shallowest of corners. So not that much has changed, then!
Farewell, faithful Disco, thank you for all the good times.