Europe #27- The End.

The time had finally come for my final drive. Being so near to home, on the British motorway and having successfully driven through 11 countries (and unsuccessfully through Austria) I didn’t consider the possibility of breaking down or having any navigational issues but foolishly presumed it would be a quick coast home, a stroll across the midlands. Foolishly. The ongoing issues with the vans strange tendency to randomly cut out persisted, despite my best tin foiled based mechanical efforts, any junction remained a daunting obstacle that kept me on my toes. On the circumfixal ring roads surrounding London there is a fair few road designs requiring decelerations and stopping, and resultantly a lot of engine cutting out, shattering my illusions of a stress-free cruise and replacing my idea with a hectic drive full of restarting the motor, instigating more traffic and dealing with the subsequent wraths of Sunday drivers. Bizarrely, the other road users didn’t wait patiently, appreciating the pleasing aesthetic of a classic VW but rather blared horns and threw crude hand signals, where’s the love? There angry antics weren’t going to help the van start any quicker so they may as well sit back, relax and enjoy the view of the shapely behind of my van. My troubles did not end with the partiality of my engine. When I was in Prague, having drank too much at the free bar on our bar crawl, I dropped my phone, consequently turning the once clear glass screen into a shattered mess. As my friends had gone, it was the only phone I had, and only source of navigation. Seeing as the only working part of the screen was half of the top half an inch, I couldn’t even see the map so was reliant on the guidance of the women in the phone who was barking instructions. Obviously, I did have a road map but driving and reading is a terrible idea, plus I am a teenager so have no idea what a road map is and how to work one, they don’t even have a woman in them to vocally guide you. As amazing as modern tech and smart phones are, its perplexing that they have not yet developed a sturdier phone screen able to withstand a small drop- but then again how would tech giants make as much money if they designed phones to not break?

Dependent on the voice located inside my dilapidated phone I soldiered on towards Reading, presuming the guidance would take me around the M25 ring road onto the M4. Again, I was foolish. Maps was not on the same page, not even the same book, it was probably in a different library all together as they sent me through suburbs with no signs depicting the route onto the motorway I imagined I should be on. The voice now only suggested which roads to take as I should’ve been turning onto them which was a useless exercise as it was impossible to ‘turn left now’ when I was in the furthest away lane in fast moving traffic and to ‘take the second exit’ as I drove past it. The decision to part ways with my robotic navigator finally came as I was diverted away from the M25, and the voice was tucked away into the glove box once I had made the decision to trust my directional instincts, changing from modern satnavs to a more homing pigeon approach. The glove box, of course, was the best action to take as I was unable to cancel my route or turn off my phone due to its incapacitated state, so the instructions were smothered in the fridge user-manual and an old pair of socks which had both found their way to the space of van purgatory. The decision to back myself was a surprisingly successful one, and somehow even the van agreed as it stopped dying at each confusing turn and we voyaged onto Reading.

The pitstop on the driveway of my Brother’s uni house was as much about letting the engine cool down and freeing me from the frustrating cock pit as it was seeing my big bro. I was curios to see his new dwelling and step into a proper uni house full of rugby playing lads, and unsurprisingly it was already pretty untidy (to put in a remarkably understated way). I couldn’t stay too long though as it was a Sunday in England which means only one thing- a roast dinner. Not wanting to miss my Fathers roast expertise I jumped back in the van and headed west. A roast is the highlight of any weekend and it had been too long since I last tasted the sumptuousness of a well-cooked potato smothered in gravy. I had already been treated to a properly made home prepared feast at the Lewin’s the previous evening but a roast is, well, a different gravy. As I racked up the miles along the M4 I was preoccupied with the thought of a full plate, based around a succulent slather of beef, supplemented by a stack of parsnips and peas next to the creme de la creme of the meal- the Yorkshire pudding. The fluffy delight from up north is the make or break factor of the roast dinner, separating the weak from the strong, the men from the boys. If a joint of roast beef is not served with the glory of a proper Yorkshire pud, then it is not a true roast. Dessert is normally the treat of the meal, and I believe that a Yorkshire ‘pudding’ is named so because it is as delicious as any dessert, but with the delight of coming along with the mains. Anyway, I digest, my roast based day dreams were cut short by the dreaded sight of a traffic jam. Having pre-empted such a situation, I had left suitable time to crawl along the motorway, as long queues are no such surprise on the English road works. I did try and call home to alert them to the circumstances but I was unable to shut the navigation up when I pulled it out from the fridge manual and I couldn’t access the phonebook, so the infuriating phone was re-confined to the darkness of the glovebox.

Eventually, I made it back to my driveway and I was home. After 4000 miles across twelve countries over 10 weeks I was finally on my drive, metres from the garage and the promise of divinely roasted foods, and then a sheep jumped out. When I left there were no sheep. Whilst I was away no one had mentioned sheep. But now, in the field next to my house, there were sheep, and in front of my van, standing between me and home, was an escaped sheep. Deciding against running it over, and stocking the fridge for some roast lamb, I begrudgingly chased the offending cloud on legs around the other field in an attempt to usher it home. Sheep are deceptively fast. This sheep ran circles around me in any direction but the one I desired it to go in. This sheep had me chasing it for fun and at one time I swear, it even looked me in the eye and laughed. I called for help to my family but as soon as I diverted my attention from the pesky sheep, it decided it had its fun and jumped back through the fence. Exerted, I competed the final small stretch and in the joyous reunion of my family, sat at the dinner table with my heavenly roast, complete with a Yorkshire pudding.

21 thoughts

  1. Great Blog and lovely writing, you certainly made me laugh! Thank you for passing by my blog. It’s great to find fellow van travelers, although I am not traveling anymore, my beautiful Simba (a 38 year old 407 Mercedes) decided she had enough some years back! My first Van was a VW but did not go as far as yours!! Will love to read more!!

    Liked by 1 person

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