The Campervan has seen a ridiculous amount of action this summer, and I think it’s safe to say there aren’t many of Britain’s longest motorways that haven’t had the pleasure of our company over the last few weeks. It’s a salutary lesson for next year that whilst the open road is all very well in principle, the reality of long hours on it is finding yourself wishing you’d been a little less ambitious with your itinerary. Which is why it was such a good idea to do a dry-run in the UK first; as demoralising as it is at realising you’re still several million hours away from Inverness- Inverness!-and that the miles are not so much being eaten up by the van as being toyed with on the plate before a half-hearted attempt to consume them mouthful by agonising mouthful, at least we’re not experiencing the error of our ways in a soon-to-be-bankrupt European country where the destination itself is fraught with the unknown and people are rioting on the streets in protest at the financial strictures placed on them by an unloved Governement who…….oh.
The Campervan was commendably reliable in delivering us to our various destinations, and obviously can’t be blamed for deciding to make the average journey time between locations around seven hours. Next year, more louche campfire activities, less panic-bought Burger Kings from Newport Pagnell services. Scotland was- you might want to sit down for this- quite wet, but there were some sunny spells, and even- gasp!- a barbecue at one point. (Thanks Mum and D.)The Lakes are always beautiful, with Low Wray campsite a real find. Interesting mix of the kind of family who probably wrote the review of it on the Guardian website- i-Phones lovingly tucked into the cup-holders of their collapsible camping chairs as they admire the twinkling lights of Ambleside across the water, Tabitha and Placenta drawing crayon pictures by the light of their head torches on an oak-tree stump nearby- and a slightly more robust style of adventurer, otherwise identified as the Northern lad, seen going for a midnight swim in the icy shallows of Windermere, clearly both determinedly pissed and determinedly ‘up-for-it’.
There was then the welcome diversion of cricket at Hinton Charterhouse, an annual match between the locals and the ‘luvvies’, which seems to have morphed in definition from someone who actually is an actor, or perhaps musician, to someone who once knew one, or more prosaically doesn’t actually live in Hinton Charterhouse. The locals, as always, somehow contrived to beat us without looking as if they were actually trying, or even intended, to win, before we repaired to the Stag to play a non-stop three hour gig. The Professionals by name, pissed chancers by nature. (Thought I’d covered ‘The Professionals’ incident, but realised I haven’t. Basically, the name given to one of our endlessly mutating line-ups for a gig, much to our amusement. Thought it would be fun to play The Professionals theme-tune at the start, before realising we were all actually humming the music to Starsky and Hutch, and couldn’t remember how the Professionals went. The Professionals. So professional, they don’t even know their own theme tune.)
After this, it was on to Wales, and the luxury of a Yurt by a waterfall, whilst the boys were upgraded from their tent to the van. Trips down memory lane are not for the faint-hearted- read Orwell’s ‘Coming up for Air’ if you haven’t already-but our visits to various sites from childhood were all a great success. We got a bespoke tour of Dynefwr castle from Kevin the National trust guide, and I filled him in with some of the missing history of the place from when I lived there, although I left out some of the more colourful detail. Not really sure how he would have been able to use the episode of when one of the more feral children tried to have sex with a Jack Russell in his monologue. Also met with great hospitality at Trewithian House- always nice to be welcomed in when revisiting old homes, and very grateful to the present owner for allowing us to snap away.
The picture below is from the ‘lost’ pools of Randir-mwyn; lost by us, that is, I’m sure everyone in Wales probably knows about them, but it was the first time in 30 years anyone in our family had been back and tried to find them. We were actually due to return to London that morning, but what with it being a perfect summer’s day, we- ahem, I -decided to go up to the remotest reaches of Randir-mwyn to see if we could locate this old childhood favourite. Which we did.
Thank you, God.