Amigos! This is a two-part blog.
DAY ONE – ALL AT SEA
I’m at sea as I write this.
Somewhere in the middle of the Eastern Atlantic, off the west coast of France. I’m aboard the Galicia, operated by Brittany Ferries, en route from Portsmouth to Santander, a thirty-six hour crossing … a voyage best undertaken when the Bay of Biscay is in a better mood.
My prediction that the return leg from Blighty would be almost as empty as Qatar is of English soccer supporters, was about as wide off the mark as Harry Kane’s penalty attempt.
The ship is rammed full of mask wearing, Daily Mail reading, Covid hysterical coffin dodgers who haven’t risked travel for three years … most of whom are moaning about the knock-on effects of Brexit, having conveniently forgotten that they voted for it.
Apart from this, the foul weather, and the Gallic reluctance to turn some heat on, it’s a rather splendid way to pass two nights and one day.
I opted for to pay thirty-five quid for membership of the Club Lounge, which is an absolute must if you find yourself travelling this route. If nothing else, it gets you away from most of the Brexit whinging hoi poloi. Unfortunately, I wasn’t aware that I could have had the same breakfast I paid fourteen quid for in the Azul restaurant free of charge; my bad – I should have availed myself of the facilities earlier.
At the risk of sounding like an advertisement for Brittany Ferries, the Club Lounge is truly excellent. There is constant availability of hot and cold drinks, cake and pastries, and – in addition to the breakfast I missed – a more than adequate “snack” lunch is on offer. This consists of a lightly spiced vegetable soup, a broad selection of cold meats, cheeses, breads, and a selection of salads prepared without the British obsession of smothering everything with a blanket of mayonnaise. There is also free wine during certain hours of the day to compliment the provision of food.
The only thing not to like about it is the constant rumpus of background Christmas music. I would dearly love to shove a platinum copy of Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody up that ubiquitous part of Noddy Holder’s anatomy.
The reason for my five-day trip – apart from seeing family and friends – is that I am an unashamed petrolhead, and Porsche Exeter had offered me a deal to exchange my almost five year-old 911 C4S cabrio (991 generation 2) for a nearly new 911 (992) cabrio – that’s the most recent iteration, that was simply too good to turn down.
I’ve had my 911 for almost three years – which is a long time for me – and I can unequivocally say that it’s the best car I have ever had. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to squander a significant amount of money on the frippery of exotic cars over the years. This included two Ferraris, several Astons, a smattering of TVRs (fun, but not always money well spent), a Caterham Superlight (which put me in hospital), and a few odds and sods that took my fancy at one time or another.
I suppose I should feel guilty about this embellishment, and at the risk of sounding a trifle trite, I do have a huge amount of sympathy for those who face a choice between eating and putting the heating on this winter.
My justification is that I have always been obsessed by cars in the way that others have a passion for art, or jewellery or… I don’t know, collecting weird things like vintage steam engines, pre-war Ferguson tractors, or other expensive stuff, instead of spending money on more sensible things like pension funds.
And you may be wondering … or there again, you may not … what is the worst car I ever bought? Simple: a Panther Kallista. It was so dreadful that, by the time I’d driven it home from Bath to Devon, I hated it almost as much as I hate music by Paul McCartney, and the only thing I wanted to do was to drive it off a cliff. It looked like a Morgan, but it wasn’t a Morgan, and if I’d wanted something that looked and performed like a Morgan, then I really should have bought a Morgan.
I digress … back to the Porsche.
There was considerable justification for doing the trade: much as I loved my 991 C4S cabrio (yes the numbers are a tad confusing, so just think the second most recent version of the 911), it was out of warranty, had no MOT, the tyres were running out of legal rubber, and it would need a major service before long.
The nice chap at Porsche Exeter came up with the surprising offer to part exchange my 991 for a few grand less than I’d paid for it back in January ’20. And for around three and a half grand and a few quid more on the finance, I could have the keys to a 992 Carrera 4 cabrio with only three thousand miles on the clock and a spec sheet longer than the list of strikes planned for the British winter.
I picked up the car last Friday. It was, in honesty, a bittersweet moment because I wasn’t sure that I was doing the right thing. For one thing, when a salesman offers you far more then you’d expected for a trade-in, it generally means that your car is worth more to him – either because of its scarcity, or because he already has a buyer lined up. I’d had this once before when I parted with one of the last six-cylinder Boxsters (a GTS) for close to what I’d paid for it, and lived to regret it.
I’d not driven the 992 (that’s the new one) so mostly my decision was based on reviews and the recommendation of a mate who’d owned one. More sophisticated … does everything better … almost too competent … unrivalled – nothing even comes close … a practical, daily usable GT with almost super car credentials. Blah de blah. And so I bought it, even though it was thirty-five horses shy of my 4S.
Naturally I was concerned that it may not be a ballistic as my C4S, and that the sports exhausts may not sound as viscerally sexy – which they don’t … they just sound sexy.
So what do I make of my new toy?
Well … do try to hold your breath – you’re going to wait for my next blog to find out.
Hasta pronto, chic@s!