A Grand Tour of Europe?… by Caravan?…

Keith’s Tales

Tales of the Caravan

I have to start this tale at the end! The caravan was burnt down in mysterious circumstances in July 2010 whilst I was out of the country so, despite the optimistic first words of the journals themselves, the “Grand Tour” never happened. In fact it would never have happened anyway, since my wife of 37 years, Tricia, died in November 2008 before we could go on a Grand Tour. We had brought the caravan home from France in September 2008 for a major service to enable the Tour to be planned for 2009 but it was sadly never to be…..
Although we both retired in 2007, I had bought tickets for the Rugby World Cup in France at the end of that year and Tricia didn’t retire until May 2007 anyway and we had visitors organised for early 2008 and a new bathroom, so we were working on the idea of the Grand Tour being in 2009, since it needed long term planning….. hmmm – so much for long-term planning!
But let me get you to suspend your knowledge of what was to happen and read the journal for what it was intended to be – a lead-in to the Grand Tour of Europe….

The “end”

……… but, before that happened: Once upon a time long ago, this happened ……

Getting the Caravan


15th July 2000
So – today – our Grand Tour of Europe becomes a reality. Not because we have yet set foot (or wheel) on the road – but because we are due, today, to buy and collect our prospective home for the journey – the caravan.
This has been a long time in the making, for we have been examining caravans with a view to purchase, with varying degrees of seriousness, for four years and have, twice at least, come close to parting with money for the snail shell of our dream.
Why today? Why now? Why this particular snail shell?
It is probably fair to say it is a combination of happenstance and a conviction that we have ourselves a bargain. The van, or “outfit” as caravan enthusiasts are wont to call their chosen mobile living quarters, is not quite our ideal in layout, were we to buy new from a dealer but it does come quite close and, although four years old, seems to have suffered very little wear and tear.
Some people we know, %*#### and &@###, caravanners for years, bought this Buccaneer Caribbean four years ago. Then they acquired three huge dogs two years later. They are the sort of dogs that can bite a man’s genitalia off without leaping up to perform the ritual! They nevertheless performed a kindness for us in preventing %*#### and &@### from using their caravan for the last two years – hence its almost pristine, little used state.
Not only are we getting the “outfit”…… No, I mustn’t use that word or I shall turn into my nemesis – “the caravan enthusiast”….!!!
Not only are we getting the shell of mobility, we are getting %*####’s cheery advice plus all his bits and pieces (No, I am not talking about the dogs again!) I mean we are to benefit from mirror extensions, gas bottles, stabilisers, wheel clamp, assorted hoses and gadgets and paraphernalia. Blessed if I shall know what to do with them all but, no doubt I will receive minute instruction!
Waking early this morning I fetched us our regular cup of morning tea and noticed amongst the books on the bedside Eric Newby’s “Travellers’ Tales” – a collection of snippets from past travellers and writers on the art of travelling.
How appropriate, I thought, picking it up and browsing a while, whilst sipping my tea.
No less appropriate were the travellers’ tales we heard last night, however! We had met up with a bunch of long-time friends to go for a walk from nearby Oxton and had ended the day with a delightful meal in the Green Dragon pub in that pleasant Nottinghamshire village.
Well, of course, we told our friends we had decided to take the plunge and buy this caravan – as you do – so, as well as great tips about where to go (with at least one charming site whetting our appetite for the South of France) we were also regaled with holiday horror stories, getting more gruesome as the evening wore on.

We had our caravan stolen from a barn on the farm earlier on this year – so we won’t be getting another one…..”
Everyone I know with a caravan has had one stolen at some time of another….NO – I mean EVERYONE!”
Don’t drive too fast down hills, never try to overtake going downhill, that’s always the worst – when they go out of control. Always overtake going uphill….much safer! (with a caravan? Overtake uphill? My diesel Frontera cannot overtake anything uphill now?! What prospect is there when I am dragging another ton behind me!!?)
When I was a little girl, we went on holiday once and our caravan overtook us downhill and ended up smashing into a garage forecourt on the other side of the road!”
Have you got it well insured?”
Is your gateway wide enough…?”
I let these horror stories and homilies slide away like water off a duck’s back. But the truth is I never have really wanted to tow a van behind me and I have never been – or had aspirations to be – a caravan enthusiast – we’ll see…. (keep watching the Blog…)

About Keith Melton - Green Lib Dem

Retired English liberal environmentalist living in Nottinghamshire; spent six years in Brazil. Author of Historical Novel - Captain Cobbler: the Lincolnshire Uprising 1536. Active member of the Green Liberal Democrats - (pressure group in Liberal Democrats) - was Founding Chair of GLD in 1988
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