The Balvenie, Glenfarclass, Glendronach, The Glenlivet, Strathisla, Royal Lochnagar, Cragganmore, Glenrothes, Speyburn, Glengrant .....Daftmill..... do you see where I am going with this? Yes, this list could go on and on and in indeed it does, I am on commission to photograph 'The Spirit of the Land' and along with the Freelander 2 HSE SD4 190PS it really is rather a good gig. I have wanted to test drive the new Freelander for quite some time. I own a 10 year old model and with the amount of abuse I put upon it, I can take this perfect opportunity for my 'redemption' to the marque.
First of all the colour looked amazing - Mauritius Blue - really striking and secondly, the design looked good too. Getting in and driving off I listed one after the other specific points that I loved - and I really did scrutinise the car from the diamond wheels to double glass sun roof. Stylish new interior, fabulous suspension, great steering response - in fact, although I knew the Freelander 'brand' from old, this new range truly had come of age and allowed me to feel proud to be driving it.
What of the space inside? With me on my journey, are a camping kit, a camera kit and now a rather large ever increasing supply of whisky boxes - would all this fit in? Well yes, yes, yes! I even managed to sleep on the back seat on my final night with the car - due to prevailing winds on the top of the Lecht Pass in the Cairngorns skiing resort, my tent might have blown off the cliff edge. My explanation of me sleeping in the back is to prove that there is indeed space for my kit and more.
We went off road 'Mauris' and I - the second day I had him. He became 'Mauris' as soon as he got me out of trouble as I thought we might get 'beached' on top of a farm path - which escaped the map.
However with the obstacle clearance of up to 210mm the off-road approach angle of 31˚ and off-road departure angle at 34˚ to Mauris, this really was a breeze. We were off to find Daftmill - a distillery on the whisky tour of many - with two years to mature before they start to bottle from their casks, alas I would be arriving previous to any signage and the Freelander looked outstanding in front of the historic barns - now the Stills House.
The Freelander was stared upon on many occasion, being discussed in front of my very eyes - although I hid behind the zipped tent. The 2.2 litre SD4 turbo diesel Freelander was pointed and one 'campsitist' even touched my beloved Mauris, to which I appeared from behind the gortex and explained some of the contemporary lights at the front and rear, use the latest LED technology and a new signature graphic is now in the front running lights. I directed them to my wheels: 19" Alloy Diamond Turned wheels and explained that the Meridian sound system comes with an impressive 825W surround sound 17-speaker system with Trifield technology to provide a natural, enveloping concert-like experience. I said that I was enjoying the the last days of the BBC Summer Proms, which made the campsitists most confused with what I was doing up in Scotland on my own - with Mauris the Freelander 2 HSE Luxury SD4 190PS, the proms and by now - rather an abundance of whisky bottles on the back seat.
Something I had been trying to achieve over my commission for the distilleries book was to keep my fuel consumption low. At 185 g/km in CO² Emissions I think I was doing a pretty good job of that - part of any travel photographers' daily life is to conserve as much of the commissioners advance as possible. Just as a working person today is required to be 'on call' throughout the day, the Bluetooth phone system played up to my expectations. Along with plenty of storage pockets and really intuitive seating to support my back, this Freelander has surpassed all preconceptions I might have had of it.
Alas it was time to return Mauris and continue with my journey.... Ebradour, Glengoyne, Oban, Springbank, Balblair........
Please note that all whisky bottles have remained closed throughout the duration of the journey.
Photographs by Lara Platman