Devon in winter

Letter From The UK: Two British Legends & The Pleasure Of Your Company

Letter from the UK

Fish. Some folk like to eat fish and some don’t. Those that do are often enthusiastic about their preference and in the UK, fish eaters mostly love the humble and inoffensive cod. Mild of flavor and flaky of texture, this once abundant fish has been a staple meal-to-go for the truly hungry Brit.

The British like it deep-fried in batter and served with sliced fried potatoes called chips. Additionally, the we might like some “mushy peas” (don’t ask) all liberally sprinkled with salt and brown vinegar. It all stems from being a sea-faring island nation, I guess.

Cod stocks are running low and once, some years ago, we even went to “war” with those slippery Icelanders up in the Arctic Circle who tried to hold back the basis of our national dish. We sent a gunboat. I’m pretty sure they got the message. Right about now I’ll bet you’re thinking, “say Geoff; this is all very well and interesting and stuff but what has it to do with cars exactly?”

Well, I’m getting to it now . . .

Arguably the finest vehicle in the world is the Range Rover. As good on the blacktop as it is brilliant on the rough stuff. Now, the Range Rover has been tried and tested for years so there is no point in flogging away at a detailed review here. Everyone already knows how brilliant and capable this legendary car is in its various iterations, so instead, we’ll go on a trip to the glorious English county of Devonshire, home of traditional afternoon teas with scones, jam, and thick dairy cream, to visit Babbacombe.

Cruising For Fish & Chips

My wife and I like to travel the land in search of the finest fish and chips. The coastal town Whitby for example, in the county of Yorkshire, has two fine establishments and is also the port where Dracula first landed in Victorian England. The dark ruins of Whitby Abbey still stand sentinel over the town.

On this occasion though, we loaded up a shiny Range Rover Vogue SE on loan to us from the company. With all the extras fitted, the car costs the thick end of £100k but, in use, it feels more like a million dollars. Comfortable, roomy, and safe at any speed.

Powering up the V6 3.0-liter diesel, we traveled to the once quaint coastal village of Babbacombe to sample the delights of that other British legend: fish & chips with the optional mushy peas, served to perfection at Hanbury’s, the famous and award-winning take-out and restaurant.

Despite one annoying traffic tailback and some biblical British rain, our drive was relatively trouble free. We were able to watch the countryside change as we headed into the stormy distance, and to the beautiful, rain-washed West Country.

Hanbury’s is known for their famous fish and chips. The restaurant is located near Babbacombe Downs. Photo: DriveWrite Automotive.

The Method

For a car the size of Penn Station, the Range Rover really handles well, dispatching major routes with disdain and tackling narrow country lanes with more agility than you might expect. On the go, the Range Rover feels precise, inspiring driver confidence and allowing accurate placing on the road. There are many candidates for the role of Off-Road King but, like an aging lion protecting his pride, the Range Rover continues to fight off all-comers.

It really is that good.

You can get it with a V8 and in the USA I would, but here on the crowded, broken roads of the UK, I’d say the good old V6 diesel is all that’s needed. Put the foot down and let the eight-speed auto do its work as the legal limit comes at you swiftly and quietly, like an automotive ninja. A V8 will do it faster but will obviously use more precious fuel.

The Range Rover is a very quiet and refined car. It’s particularly impressive cruising at high speeds. It really does an excellent job of isolating you from the elements, thanks in part to an acoustically laminated windscreen that’s standard on all versions.

Inside it is the epitome of comfort. Certainly some things are starting to look a bit dated but it is still a pleasure to drive. The lofty driving position commands the road. As good as it ever was, 2017 is seeing new additions to the range of Rovers available. SVR or Velar anyone?

Range Rover bad weather
Our Range Rover took the heavy rain and long journey in stride. Photo: DriveWrite Automotive.

The Reason

Babbacombe, with its twin beaches, used to be a lovely little stand-alone coastal village on the South Devon. Now it is more like a suburb of nearby Torquay, a bigger, brasher town.

It is sadly true to say the British seaside resorts, once packed with happy holiday makers, are now but a shadow of their former glories, thanks to global travel.

Resorts like Babbacombe still retain a gentile air though, and this small seaside village continues to boast a theater, and a famous funicular railway to manage the steep climb up from the beaches. We stayed at the Downs Hotel on Babbacombe Downs run by friendly and obliging owners. And very good it is too. We had a balcony from which we could overlook the great sweep of the bay and the open sea beyond.

Our ultimate mission was to sample the fare at the aforementioned Hanbury’s, the award-winning fish and chips emporium. My goodness it was good. I am drooling like Homer Simpson at the memory.

When it comes to this Great British delicacy, I am not easily pleased, seeing myself as something of a connoisseur. Feeling peckish, I ordered the Hanbury Jumbo Cod. Ever wondered what happened when they freed Willy? I think I’ve eaten him. With shame I admit the meal beat me. Our server removed the giant platter doing her best not to sneer at my pathetic appetite.

Babbacombe Morning
Babbacombe Downs in the early morning. Photo: DriveWrite Automotive.

Why Take A Trip To The UK?

Despite the fact that all other Europeans now hate us and we are about to go it alone, the UK still has a huge amount to offer visitors from the USA. All you need is a rental car and, to make it official, a reason for coming. Traditional British fish and chips from carefully selected establishments is reason enough. We have beaches, woodlands, stately homes, castles, lakes, culture, and lashings of ginger beer.

We’d love to have your company. Also, if the truth be told, we could really use a bunch of your American dollars. Do come.

Geoff Maxted is a motoring writer, photographer, and author of our Letter From The UK series. Follow his work on Twitter: @DriveWrite