Barreling around blind corners.. Ploughing along country lanes, it’s a British pastime that for us can be simply nerve wracking. And city driving… How many traffic lights and roundabouts can there possibly be? With speed cameras at every traffic signal, cross-walk, intersection, and straightaway, the GPS beeps warning signals incessantly, playing a tune with a varying pitch of signal for every brand of warning, some we are still trying to decipher… it almost overrides the music from the iPod! Gawd blimey we are busy!! With foot hovered over accelerator and brake, and knuckles clenched tight!! 31 million plus cars … jammed into a space 1/7th the size of the province of Ontario. Try finding a parking space people! And when you find one remind yourself the Pay and Park meter only gives you an hour or two, it isn’t a down-payment on buying the parking space!!!
We didn’t pick the best of summers to be waiting for Pumper to arrive. It has been soggy, grey, and cold for a month! “What summer?” people ask. Make the most if it, stiff upper lip, awfully British, it’s brightening up later everyone says. Excuse me? How much later are we talking? This is the middle of July!
That’s enough complaining. It has been a treat (well not the cold and soggy bit), time with family… Hard to beat!! Eating our way up and down the aisles of Tesco! Getting reacquainted with all the best of British culinary traditions… custard, sticky toffee pudding, fruit cake with thick icing, Bakewell tarts, Cadburys chocolate, Christmas pudding with double cream, Strawberries with double Cream, anything with double cream, more chocolate, pork pies, fish and chips eaten out of paper (not newspaper anymore). And in Cornwall, our new addiction to Cornish pasties!!
Finally… the weather changes, as if a greeting on Pumpers arrival.
Putting together the finishing touches on Pumpers passage and preparations for driving in Europe with non-EU plates.. Paperwork and legal details… hate those details but we have to be responsible!! Don’t we?
After countless calls an insurance company in the Netherlands is prepared to sell us liability insurance to drive Europe and Africa with Canadian license and plates. Who would think it would be so hard to price a risk. Insurance companies!!!
It’s been a month… a long month, to get out of the swing of our nomadic lifestyle… Ponder cushy housesit jobs in the South of France!!! The perplexing nature of all of this!!
France is just days away with Pumpers arrival. We wait with breath held and some serious meditation thrown in for good measure!! All good things come to an end: a comfy chair, the best of British TV, hot showers, flush toilet on demand. Crumbs, are we ready to give it all up to return to our vagabond ways? Why we can’t just be ‘normal’ for a while… for maybe a day?
To try us some more! We are held up for half a day at the port waiting for a release, and the 5 hour time change between the Eastern US and the port in Southampton where Pumper waits for us patiently. We could actually see her on the other side of a 10 foot wire fence, looking back at us wondering why we were not jumping in and hitting the roads. Was that a tear coming down from the eyelid?
We resort to deep breathing, believing that not much good comes out of getting upset and angry. No good giving the people in Southampton an ear-bashing, they are just following process. We’ll just take a look around town and wait for the people across the Atlantic to wake up. It works, it really works.
License plates on… auxiliary battery re-connected… check the oil… inspect the engine… a turn of the key and… vroom, no fuss no buss. Just a little vandalism with a broken lock on a cupboard… but nothing missing? Not that there was much of value to be stolen.
The Bus is a cult here, many more than we thought we would see and most in excellent condition. They even had a brand new 70’s style bus, made in Brazil and kitted out in the UK. After just a few more days getting things re-loaded into Pumper we are back on the road and heading for the Chunnel to Calais. No big hurry, with the change of weather we take a few more days to visit seaside towns along the south coast, and call into VW Heritage ( www.vwheritage.com ) near Brighton to replenish our stock of spare parts. They gave us more than ‘bits’… an invitation to Brands Hatch the next day to participate in a German Car day. JJ Figured we should be a shoe-in for the furthest driven to the event.
The icing on the cake to our whirl wind tour of the UK… Camped out at Brands Hatch no less!! The home of the F1 British Grand Prix, and much more! Best of British VW car show winning “Furthest Driven”, of course, and scoring an awesome trophy compliments of VW Heritage!!
Call it chance, we think it’s karma, as we crawl under the covers we are buzzing at a night filled with glorious, meetings and experiences!!
Shout out, to the sponsors and organizers including David the owner of VW Heritage and his team led by Alex. Great thanks to Raif for the invitation. For Scott, Craig, Sean, and Jim, for a super couple of hours sharing stories …and their wonderful gifts. An awesome responsibility to receive these precious treasures for our journey,.. People!!
Always on our itinerary was a visit to Wolfsburg in Germany, the birthplace of the VW and still a major manufacturing centre. Meeting 2 senior VW execs based in Wolfsburg we have even greater motivation. “Just give us a couple of days notice.” the managing Director said, “We will take good care of you”. (Salivate!!!)
There are doubters and the grumblers in the world: we challenge anybody to step into our world and experience and savour the best of humanity through the simple gift of the experience!! Think about passion in life and experience the joy with an open heart. It ain’t all bad out there! It can rock!!
Next on tap, Dover Castle and the WWII defenses, then the Train for the Chunnel crossing to France. Tomorrow night? Somewhere in France. What adventure is in the works?
Peace and Love… from Britain the Great.