In a nut shell this web site, and the four books that it spawned, are about my mid life crisis, which incidentally didn't come anywhere near my 35rd birthday: presupposing I'll make the biblical three score and ten. Worried that time wasn't our side, and cloning is still in its infancy, my wife and I decided to take a two year sabbatical and drive around Europe in a caravan on the cheap. And before you ask, I don't mean 'budget', I definitely mean cheap.
Hazel, my wife, had just retired from nursing, and I'd basically stopped going in. I wasn't missed. At the time we didn't own a caravan, had never slept in one and had certainly never towed one. Consequently we knew bugger all about them but I was confident they came with a manual. They do.
Well that was the plan. We set off in June 2011. We didn't know who we'd meet, where we'd end up nor what we'd see when we got there. We didn't even know if we'd return. But to be honest we didn't give a toss. Like most people we'd planned our lives, or at least that part of it we could actually plan, to a staggering degree. I ask you, would you do tomorrow what you'd planned if we knew it was going to be your last? No, of course not, you'd be far too busy panicking. So we shoved off from Blighty and wandered aimlessly around Europe; lost for much of the time: never buy a cheap GPS
Two years quickly turned into five and then our way of life. In that time we visited thirty two European countries and had more adventures than you can shake a rucksack at. We came close on three occasions to accidentally killing ourselves, five if you include Hazel's attempt at blowing up the caravan, and then later setting it on fire by using a faulty electrical appliance. In those four years I discovered that no two campsite showers worked the same. How a washing facility, with only two working parts, can vary so much is a mystery, but it's one I explored in depth. I also discovered that, while we're all basically the same, collectively, as nations, we're all quite different.
On route I answered many of the questions for which answers are long overdue. Such as, do the French really dislike us or is that just a rumour spread by The Daily Mail? Why do Germans eat so much pork? Why do Latvian girls all look so glum? Why is it legal to have sex with animals in Sweden? Why is Finland so boring and why are the Dutch so annoyingly good looking and friendly?
Then there's the bigger questions I tackled. Such as: Doesn't logic dictate we should stop listening to experts? Is life expectancy on the increase or is it just a political plot to get us to work longer for less? I do the maths and come up with some myth busting results. I also point out why leaving the EU would be suicide for us Brits, and I give the definitive answer to that age old chestnut, what's the secret of happiness?
The point of my web diary, and why I started it, was so that our friends and family could check we hadn't backed the caravan, ourselves inside, off the edge of a cliff. Nor had we been sold into slavery. I wrote daily about our experiences and soon discovered I had a growing readership. My meanderings - some would say rants - touched a nerve and interested others. I started getting questions, comments and advice from people. So I expanded the site to encompass every facet of the adventure. I recorded the highs and lows. The places and people of interest. I catalogued the odd and weird, all the while anally keeping a record of what it was all costing us.
Due to popular demand – a guy in a pub said I should write a book about it - I've now turned four years of diary entries into four books. Each book is an irreverent tongue in cheek look at living in something not much bigger than the average bathroom for a year. They are, dependant of your view point, full of useful information and observations that would have helped anyone circumnavigate Europe. I say 'would have' because, now we're leaving the EU these books may be the only way of living that experience, albeit through my eyes.
They're not travel guides. In fact as travel guides go they suck. They are about me, a quite normal male representative of mankind, struggling to fit into a world that makes little sense, and, while I have made every attempt to upset nobody any of the books, it's safe to say I've failed.