Travelling, Man.

Right first past the post with the pop artist who sang that un-comered title receives… something. No goggling, because I’ll know, and anyway it’s like falsifying your golf scores so you’re only cheating yourself. Although playing Golf* automatically cheats you out of most things anyway, except possibly life membership of the social cripple and comedy jumper societies.

Anyway enough of silly pastimes. And no, not for a minute could Mountain Biking ever be labelled silly. Bikes that cost more than cars, figure hugging lycra barely constraining middle aged spread, riding round in circles, getting muddy, spending the family savings on pointless pimpery and occasionally breaking out into “Dude, I railed that berm, pumped the jump, sent it over the drop and would’ve shredded the switchback except the rebound spiked the rotor arc. Bummer“. Whereas golf, don’t get me started.

New Zealand sits behind nine weeks of winter darkness, the liver damage triggered by in-law angst and New Year resolutions. Now the latter are funny, Icarus like in the face of a blazing sun, born in alcohol, crafted in imagined degrees of separation from the last time and burned in the fiery death of the real world. January brings train journeys long in faces and radically free salad, but short on joy. Roll forward a month and the comforting fug of pasties and Silk Cut once again envelopes the carriage.

Right the point. Don’t get excited, it is hardly worth waiting for but it does have novelty hat content. Because the concept of a package holiday – embedded with schedules, cracked out smiley guides and an atmosphere of Brian “grumpy as fuck” from Wolverhampton – resonates with a happiness frequency similar to the sticks and ball brigade, we’re pitching for a camping experience.

Without the actual camping of course. After a day of the ‘world is the wrong way round’ jetlag, we’ll be taking 14 day possession of this confused truck. Is it a car? A caravan? An integral part of a Blitzkrieg armoured brigade?

Like a stuka. With wheels A truck mates with a caravan.

No this Mercedes is the latest in touristy mobile homage, with an upstairs bedroom to banish the kids, LCD TV, DVD Player and some cooking stuff. And a fridge to keep my beer cold. It’s also the thick end of eighteen feet long which suggests I may need to practice with my car towing the trailer, and Carol’s wagon roped on behind.

So I’ve taken soundings from my friend Martyn who is all things camper van. His sage advice can be distilled into this:

1/ There’s a lot of truck out back. Think about that when turning, reversing and – most importantly – overtaking

2/ Keep an eye on the “dirty water“. The consequences of a high pressure blow back are really too horrible to contemplate.

3/ Procure a Driving Hat. On donning said headgear, a chain reaction of packing outside stuff, expensive electronic goods, and – if time – the children shall be triggered. Anyone not on board in 60 seconds is hitching.

Sounds good to me. And the kids are belted in so far back from the cab, they could easily be in a different country. And while I like the sound (or lack of it) of that, I’m hankering after watching TV while I’m driving.

I mean, really, what could go wrong?

* I refuse to accept that Golf is a verb. My American colleagues insist on twittering on about “I’m off for a weekend golfing”. But – because I ensure that Bad Grammar Hurts – they never make it. Honestly, if we taught English with a copy of the light program and a baseball bat, the world would be a simpler place.

6 thoughts on “Travelling, Man.

  1. The Camper Van Tradeoff:

    1. the best places to camp are up the end of poorly-maintained roads with no turning places

    2. camper vans need decent ground clearance and plenty of room to turn

    Which is to say, you’ll be fairly handy at reversing the thing by the end of the holiday.

    Length is not a problem in itself (even supermarket carparks are easy enough once you bite the bullet) – except for the overhang behind the rear axle, which is very easy to forget about and nearly remove someones wing mirror with. Or the wing if you’re particularly enthusiastic. Though yours looks like width might be the fun bit 🙂

    Oh and you’d be amazed how quickly you can get a camper van along twisting mountain roads by the end of your trip (provided you’re prepared to pick up the debris in the back once you arrive – naturally, we weren’t carrying kids).

    One last point. No matter how much you’re nagged to park up on the beach… don’t.

  2. Dave Barter

    It was the Woodentops ..which you will now google as it wasn’t who you were thinking off but they did it.

  3. Alex

    Bez – thanks for that. H’mm quite glad I took out the all inclusive insurance now 😉 I was thinking of parking outside any potentially difficult spots and sending the kids in to get supplies. They’ll be happy to get out after some ‘committed’ driving on those mountain roads.

    Dave – I thought it was Paul Weller but you’re older than me so I shall accede to your great wisdom! Now toenail clippings – to your home or work address? 🙂

  4. brad

    7 months is all it took. I moved over seas and andy moved up north and you stop going to chicky, you get a new “spot” SS and now this.. I trust you will be driving below the speed limmit and in the middle of the road to anoy the cars behind you..enjoy

  5. Alex

    I’m going to Chicky on Sunday morning. And probably Bedford A&E early evening 😉 That SS has bits for gears and I could hardly transport the family for 3000 miles in NZ on a bike?

    Although it’s an interesting mental image.

  6. Doug

    “most importantly – overtaking” What on earth do you mean Al? The favourite holiday past-time of all NZ motorists is “abuse the tourist in the camper van for holding up the traffic!”

    Often it’s ’cause they don’t have the horsepower, occaisionally it’s because the drivers are old and tiresomely afraid of the roads and the vehicle they are driving, but mostly it’s just because “we’re on holiday, let’s drive slowly and enjoy the scenery”. This is not appreciated by many Kiwi drivers who are insanely impatient and will undertake death-defying ovetaking manouevers considered suicidal by other road users, just to get to their destinations 3 minutes earlier….

    NZ road conditions are not brilliant, and the driving standard (and I’m generalising here) is pretty ordinary.

    So get where you’re going as fast as possible and enjoy the destination, not the journey :o)


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