When I came out to Switzerland back in December I was resigned to the fact that I would not be seeing my van until at least April and that it was safely immobile at the mechanics. After breaking down in October in Sweden and then waiting for a month for the broken vehicle to slowly get repatriated back home, there was no time to diagnose and mend the problems that had caused it to judder to a stop in Malmo. Leaving it in the safe hands of the mechanic who has fixed it up over the last ten years I flew out to the Alps not expecting any news other than the diagnosis.
One of the best perks about this job out in Switzerland is the time off. When it’s not particularly busy my employer grants a week off, offering the chance to stay at the hotel expenses free or the opportunity to travel home. So, I did the latter and spent a few days back home, mainly celebrating the most drawn out weeklong birthday of my girlfriend (you only turn twenty one once) but also catching up with my family. Whilst talking with my dad about any upcoming summer road trip plans, I realised that the van was still off the road and that I hadn’t checked up on it at all this year. I called up the mechanic only expecting a minor update regarding what was wrong with it and the next steps in terms of getting her back on the road, but to my delight I was informed that Fanny was completely mended and up to scratch and ready to be driven back home.
Driving back from the mechanics has become a much too regular experience but it’s always such an exciting one and getting back behind the wheel and hearing the engine stutter into life will never fail to make me smile. After a long lay off from driving the old beast it is easy to forget the joy and smiles it provides, but as soon I was back on the road a tsunami of nostalgia came crashing over me and with all the memories of last summers road trip being compounded by Georgie being back in the seat beside me it was impossible not to grin like a madman at the massive steering wheel and wonderfully playful gearstick. With a reinstalled appreciation for one of my favourite things in the world we cruised back home to sort out the debris which had been left in there for four months.
When I opened up the door to reacquaint myself with my home on wheels I instantly noticed that the blankets had been ripped and shredded and that some of the bag handles had been torn apart. On further inspection the food packages had been devoured and an explosion of flour and spaghetti covered the cupboards. Slowly, I pieced the puzzle together and when the final part completed the picture, I had the disgusting realisation that the van hadn’t been uninhabited over winter. A family of mice had moved in to make sure the finely furnished space had not gone to waste and using anything they could find they shredded themselves a nest somewhere in the van. There’s nothing worse than mice in your Fanny.
It became a family effort to fumigate my Fanny and clean up the mess created by the opportunistic vermin. Everything was taken out, and either thrown out or washed thoroughly. It didn’t take long to find a nest constructed of blanket streaks, shredded paper and contaminated cushions. Once that was taken care of, back up was called to complete the cleanse. One of my favourite things about the van is how it can bring people, mainly my family together. I hadn’t seen my family for a month and had only swung by for a day but as soon as I needed them they had no problem rolling up their sleeves and getting stuck in to the reformation of the van. Georgie was straight in with a hover, vacuuming any drop of dirt and any smidgen of poo. My mum pulled all the bottles out from under the stairs that I have no clue what they do but am slightly scared by the industrious branding and scarily powerful names. So strong in fact that rubber gloves are mandatory, she scrubbed away at the tarnished floor utilising the mind boggling technique combining small torturous circles and broad sweeping sponge strokes that only mothers can perfect to magically purify any surface. Whilst she deep cleaned the inside with technical grace and methodical success, my dad started scrubbing away at any residue on the outside. It was a great chance for him to justify the purchase of a strange end-of-hose contraption that would never get used if the van wasn’t around and as soon as I plugged the weird sponge/ brush amalgamation onto the end of the water supply he dutifully swept in to take charge of the most classic dad purchase. As soon as he was done wildly swiping the side panels with the soft touch of a baby elephant he left me to it for the more nimble and dexterous areas such as the wheel arches and the other half of the van which he gave up on after the novelty of playing with his hose wore off. (Sorry dad)
After that family effort it is pleasantly reassuring that the van is safe and sound back in the shelter of the garage it squeezes into and that it is ready to drive, but more importantly, free of mice and their droppings.