Monday 12th May 2014 Week 151 England.
Doh! me and my big..........
Good weekend? Excellent. Well we caught up with my family and had an fabulous time. Big thanks to everyone in Bracknell.
Just a quick one to bring you up to speed. You might be wondering why we are still here.... I know I am! my apologies. We half expected to be in Canterbury today with a view to leaving tomorrow but instead you find us back in wet and windy Peterboroughski. -no, I've not misspelt that-
The motor-home, and scooter, may well have both passed their MOT's with flying colours but that's more than can be said for me. The doctor wants to take another look at me and I can guess why. This is because I lampooned their profession last week and he wants to get his own back. It's that, or one of my internal readings is outta whack and he needs to fine tune me so I'm in sync with every other human on the planet which, coincidentally, was exactly the reasons I was poking fun at them last week, should have kept my big mouth shut. So I am hoping, by Wednesday, providing the doctor gives me that long, we'll be heading for Dover. We are both itching to get our final year under way.
That'll stop the thieves dead in their tracks!
Now I'm pretty sure I can pat myself on the back here. I've achieved a small victory and I'm more than happy to take full credit for it. As I say we are back in Peterboroughski -no, I've still not misspelt that- and in particular Ferry Meadows. Now if you read my ramblings with any regularity, and thanks if you do, you’ll know this is the camp-site that’s been plagued with bike thefts for, at least, three years.
I've taken to plugging our bikes into the national grid at night in order to protect them. I have to say, regretfully, I've never felt the need to do anything like this abroad.
On the camp web site I've laid into them over their laissez faire attitude to the problem. Mainly, for not taking the thefts seriously, nor warning campers that an International bicycle ringing crime syndicate come cartel is operating in the area. (Might be over stating it just a tad there. Ed). Possibly. Anyway, using sarcasm and my acerbic wit for which I am barely famous for I've shamed them into action. On arrival over the weekend we were greeted with the above impressive warning sign at the entrance. Also, once inside, the site is positively festooned with bike theft warning signs s and advice. All, I think you’ll agree, excellent stuff.
However, and with me your bound to get a however, I did take a closer look at the warning sign above which, as you can see, is mounted on a rather handsome looking trailer and noticed the trailer itself isn't locked!.
Now that’s just asking it to be nicked.
Tuesday 13th May 2014 week 151 England.
Just when you think you might be getting it right, they move the goal posts. I read yesterday, while waiting to see my doctor, that eating healthy now requires that you eat between seven and nine portions of fruit and veg a day,! Bugger me, I was struggling with five, I've no chance now. I doubt even vegetarians chomp their way through nine portions of fruit and veg a day, it's just a ludicrous number. Christ! I couldn't even name nine vegetables let alone eat them.
I quickly turned the page.
Powered by turf
On the next was an article about horses. It showed a wonderful looking bay horse, a stallion. A creature weighing half a ton, that can motor along at 40mph. That can jump a ten foot fence carrying a chap, who supposedly has eaten his nine portions of fruit and veg, and it only eats bloody grass! One of the least nutritious food stuffs, pound for pound, on the planet. And, horses have been around for 50 million years in one form or another. This is an example of what I've always said, if we listen to experts we're all doomed and, annoyingly, I was just about to go in and see one.
The doctor, not my regular one who I’ve ever met because I've never been ill on the day he's been at work, turned out to be little more than a sixth form school girl. Okay, I doubt she was actually a school girl but I felt sure I had underpants older than her. When she printed off a prescription I wondered if she wanted me to check the spelling, but no.
I have to give her credit though, she did seem enthusiastic and keen to share her knowledge, which is more than what can be said for some older doctors. She’s young enough to think she’s there to actually cure people. A million patients, with ailments that would probably go away on their own, haven't yet cured her of that feeling, but it will. I was once told by a doctor, after I complained of permanent wind, that for a man of my years my jeans were far too tight which, lets face it, is more a criticism of my sense of fashion than my dietary habits.
Anyways the upshot is she’s given me the green light to leave as long as I promise to ring her and let her know if my ankles ever swell up. Please..... don't ask.
So we are making for Canterbury this morning and Dover tomorrow morning. I've checked the fares and P&O want £89.00 to ferry me across the channel and My Ferry Link -The cut price alternative- have shaved a massive 51p from that and want £88.49. I’ve no idea what it costs to plough a 7,500 ton ferry two and fro across the channel but I can't believe that after careful consideration of all the complex variables involved, 51p can make a scrap of difference. Obviously both companies have done their sums.
But with such a small difference you can't help but feel they are in cahoots with each other.
So next stop Saint Quentin, the town, thankfully, not the prison.
Wednesday 14th May 2014 week 151 France.
No matter now many times you sit on the quay side at Dover waiting to board your ferry it never ceases to lose it's excitement, least not for us. We get the same feeling each time. A feeling that a new adventure is just about to start.
The ferry was as empty as a politicians promise. A dozen cars, three motor-homes and twenty trucks. How do they do it? I have to say they did try and squeeze a few extra pounds out of us by telling us we needed to a carry breathalyser kit, you don't. A law was introduced in France making it compulsory to have them in you car and it was then shelved once everyone had brought one, typical. They also suggested we needed speed stickers on our vehicle because we are towing. Again, you don't. Only French vehicles do. The crossing was made under an azure blue sky and waters so calm they looked to be made of glass. We arrived keen.
Ah France!..... I like France, and the French as well you know. Whenever I'm here I can hear, from my childhood, the famous French singer, a favourite of my mums, the great Maurice Chevalier singing his signature tune, Thank heaven for little girls!. Today, unfortunately, singing a song like that would get him three to five in one of her Majesty’s prisons....... how times have changed.
Speaking of little people I was drawn into a conversation the other day with a small boy, a traveller we think. Generally I try and avoid conversions with children they are never rewarding and often simply frustrating. I was in the process of decamping when he rode up on his pink bike.
“What you doin mister?” he asked.
“Getting ready to leave”.
“Where you goin?
“I live in France” he announced.
“Really. Well you speak good English. Where abouts”.
“No..... not France, I mean America.
“Well yer sure don't talk like a Yank” I said putting on a comedic southern drawl. This seemed to unnerve him a little. The smile vanished from his cheerful face.
“Americans speak English”. He states as if to correct me.
“Well that’s a matter for debate” I say.
“Have you got a son?” he asked.
“No I said, smiling. I've a daughter”.
“Will she come out and play?
“I doubt it. She’s forty.
“How old are you then?.
“Whose older you or her? He enquires.
“I'm guessing you don't go to school” I say.
“No. How did you'd know?.
“Played a hunch” I answered.
“Yum yum yum, Yum yum yum. I like bunny rabbits, do you? He next asks.
“I do” I say.
“My dad catches em and puts em on the barbecue. Yum yum yum” he screams at the top of his voice as he cycles off.
Thursday 15th May 2014 Week 151 France
Accidents will happen.
The other day while checking to see if a waterlogged camping field would take the combined weight of the van plus Hazel's shoe collection we got stuck down a farm track. I doubt this track sees a dozen vehicles annually, but on the day I wanted to use it so did three other vehicles, that's sods law at work. I managed to swing out of their way by turning into a small farmyard. It was while reversing, thirty foot of motor-home and a nervous trailer, back out onto the track that I hit a snag. (For snag read brick wall. Ed).
Hazel, in these situations normally leaps out and guides me back. However she does have a habit of disappearing from the reversing mirror at which point I have to stop. The other day she came around to tell me there was a brick wall behind me. I pointed that I couldn't see her back there. This, she surprisingly informed me, was 'a good sign'. “If you can't see me you know its okay to go” she said. “Its when you can see me you should worry”. Being a man, I've long since given up trying to unravelling the logic used by women. I'm sure theres something in that statement just not something I can grasp. The major problem I have with it however is, as I see it, if she accidentally steps off a cliff edge the motor-home, with me in it, is likely to follow. I can just see the headline in the local paper: Women steps off cliff, faithful hubby follows in motor-home. The report will then go on to make us sound like a couple of divvies, and rightly so. Clearly we need to brush up on our reversing communication skills, perhaps employ a walkie talkie. Not as daft as it sounds but certainly as daft as it looks, I know, we've seen people using them while reversing.
Trust me, Its all about the composition.
Hazel and I never fall out. The only time our relationship becomes the teeniest bit strained is when we are behind the wheel. I’ve never been totally enthralled by her driving style. She drives too fast. She was a nurse, not an ambulance driver but I reckon she's making up for it now. I frequently ask her, as we hurtle down the motorway at breakneck speed, “are we being chased?”. Amusing perhaps the first time she heard it, but quite frankly even I have to admit its wearing a bit thin. Her biggest fault is one I've named 'various velocity driving'. For example, we can be speeding along, nudging 80mph, dodging boy racers in tricked up Corsas when, for no apparent reason, she'll pull into the inside lane and throttle back. We are then overtaken by all the cars we just flew past, minutes ago. She seems unwilling to drive at a consistent speed. However in all other areas, I'd reluctantly agree, she’s probably a better driver than me. Certainly more considerate.
I do have my driving faults too. The chief amongst these is the fact I'm a bloke. This single fact colours practically everything I do behind the wheel. I did once suffered a form of narcolepsy which, rather worryingly, only manifested itself once I got behind the wheel. And here I'm not taking about prolonged blinking while trying to stifle a yawn, I’m talking about driving up a motorway while being, technically, fast asleep. My stories about being able to drive in this condition are as legendary as they are scary. Thankfully it's not something I'm still afflicted with.
Back to the farm track and more pressing matters. I gingerly moved off, the warning about something behind me a distant memory. There’s a thud and a judder, a piece of what I take is motor-home pings past the side window.
Oh for the love of......
Still not too bad this time, about £150 worth of damage, it'll buff out.
Friday 16th May 2014 Week 151 France
What’s on my mind?
Well today its that old chestnut.......... the undead. The blighter’s. Now the last thing I want to do is to scare anyone, after all I want you to enjoy my ramblings so can we just clear something up? Can we just make sure we are all singing off the same hymn sheet?. Okay?. Good.
Right well let me ask you this: what is a Zombie? Not a difficult question really. As I see it, they are the undead. They are technically dead but annoyingly they've come back to life to wreak all manner of havoc upon us. I know they eat human flesh and have insatiable appetites. They invariably have bits of themselves hanging off, limbs, eyeballs and such. They are pretty unstoppable and there’s only one way to kill them, you have to bash their heads in. I know all this because I watch films and TV shows about them. Of course they are played by actors because, as we all know, they don't actually exist. Or do they???
I read yesterday the US military, not an organisation given to flights of fancy, have prepared a defence plan in case of a zombie attack. A document called CONOP 8888, also known as 'Counter-Zombie Dominance', highlights the various scenarios of a zombie invasion. It provides a handy how-to guide for military planners to isolate the walking dead and kill them. Strategic Command was recently charged with the development of a comprehensive plan to undertake military operations to preserve the 'non-zombie' humans -that's us- from the threats posed by a rampant zombie horde. The plan summary reads.
You've been warned.
'Because zombies pose a threat to all non-zombie human life, [Strategic Command] will be prepared to preserve the sanctity of human life and conduct operations in support of any human population'. The plan includes a 'worst-case threat scenario' in which the zombies infect humans at a exponential rate. All pretty scary stuff.
However, and all too conveniently if you ask me, a navy Capt. P Kunze has hastily explained that the zombie plan is only a creative endeavour designed for training purposes. “It's simply, she goes on to say, a tool used in a training environment where students learn about the basic concepts of military planning through a fictional training scenario”.
Right. Pull the other one. What have the yanks gone and done? Some experiment out in the Mojave desert gone pear shaped?. I mean, come on, surely the yanks have enough enemies in the world they could be focusing on rather than making up fictitious ones to practice on?.
That's not all. I also note back home, in Britain, Bristol city council, on this very subject, has said in a memo to staff that when tackling the undead, where possible, and in line with their ongoing policy, equipment should be brought locally. Admirable sentiments. Shockingly Leicester city council was forced to admit, back in 2012, they had no specific preparations for dealing with a zombie invasion.
I don't know about you, but when I go to sleep at night it's comforting to know grown ups are looking after the planet......
Have a zombie free weekend.