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Sunday, 13 October 2013

Life On The Open Road

You know how much I love Scunthorpe? I spend every day of my working week here and we get on pretty nicely. But, I have to confess, life has got much more fun since I bought my exit plan:-

Isn't she, or he, lovely....does a Hymer have a gender? I haven't dared look up how old an "H" reg makes it. I just fell for its beige cushioned U-shaped lounge and it's cassette deck complete with an early Scott Walker album (before he went all avant garde). And the guy selling it was so friendly, he even offered to foster some kids, if we bought it. As it turned out he didn't, which was probably for the best, but he knocked off a few hundred quid. And so we drove it away - after a quick jump start - from its depot in Rotherham, ignoring the rattle and the cost at the garage for a dash of diesel. No, we were in love and that included my children who had already christened it with headstands on the bed. Even our dog, Margot, looked excited. You can always tell because she pisses herself; right on the aforementioned beige cushion as it happened on this occasion.

I felt like a queen sitting high high up above the M1 in my passenger seat complete with arm rests and swivel settings. It mattered not that the window whistled, the light bulb fell from its shade landing on my head, and Pete could see absolutely nothing whatsoever at roundabouts due to it being a left-hand drive. Like the inexplicable love I feel for a mini wire-haired dachshund with a weak bladder, I felt it too for this cranky old campervan. Our family was complete. And when I first saw a fellow van driver do the "motorhome salute" I was honestly beside myself. Did that really happen - was I in a new club now? Again and again as we cruised at 55 miles per hour on the slow lane of the motorway, we were greeted with our new salute. You can only imagine the ecstasy and the flail of the forearm when we passed a fellow Hymer. Life cannot get any better than this.

On the journey home, we drew up plans; one weekend North Yorkshire, next the Lincolnshire Wolds. Next spring Brighton, next summer Edinburgh and France. Hell, at this rate, I was heading for Berlin and on to Nizhny Novgorod.

We got as far as Wetwang. It was wet in Wetwang. It turned out that that rattle was the fan belt which slowly fell apart to the point where we completely lost all power. Pete rooted around in the engine and returned with a few bits and pieces, the likes of which we didn't recognise. Whatever their original purpose, they now appeared post-prime. Even the guy who showed up from the AA struggled to ascertain what they were. He was a great guy though. he fiddled about in the pouring rain, with both he and Pete rocking us in the campervan up and down so they could get a screw loose (I kid you not). As we waited, Frank and Connie got to draw in felt tip all over my face, then steal my money from my purse holding me to ransom because I had "ruined their adventure". Meanwhile Margot looked excited (you know how you can tell).

Here's Frank with MY ten pound note caressed in the arm of his blue dalek. In the end we compromised on a fiver each and a camp-out when we got home on the living room sofas pushed together. We know how to live reader! And we did get home....eventually. The AA guy worked his magic, fixed everything at no extra cost, parts and all, and waved us off. So we didn't make it to Flamingo Land, nor the campsite near Pickering that had come at great recommendation. But truth is, the weather was shite, we'd left the bacardi behind and Strictly Come Dancing was about to start. I guess in some of those posh super-whizzy motorhomes you get all the mod cons like tellies and drinks cabinets and cd players and operating fan belts and windows that shut and light fittings that stay fixed with children who sit quietly playing ludo and dogs that sleep in baskets and pee in pots. But where would be the fun in that??

I LOVE my Hymer with all it's quirks. Whatever that AA guy did the engine sounds so good I reckon we really could go all the way now. So if you ever happen to be driving through Scunthorpe on a Friday after work and you spot us - Scott Walker blaring out as we give you a club salute - then give us a toot, we may just be making the break for Nizhny.

Connie, Margot and Pete - October 2013

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