To anyone thinking of buying a motor-home, I would suggest it is a better investment if one is retired, or if one’s employment allows protracted holidays. The two snags in shopping are that one has to tie everything down before setting out, and that, today, with height restrictions at parking sites, the motor-home has to be parked clear of town. Conversely it is nice not to have to back a caravan, merely drop anchor. When I retired, a man offered to build for me what I needed in the way of a motor-home. I had to buy and deliver the vehicle and roughly design the layout. For about a week Sophie and I spent periods standing or sitting on bits of newspaper, and came up with a full scale paper plan. In the end we owned a van which pleased us and was designed to accommodate our arthritic needs – storage within easy reach – and comfort. We had holidays all over Europe, meeting the most extraordinary people. There were the scroungers, those who visited just when the bottles would be on the table, ostensibly to welcome us to the site, but the intent was blatant. Others who insisted on telling us their life story, blow by blow – that’s a laugh, when you consider this Blog – and even strong hints, just short of outright rudeness, could not shift them. There was the lady in Vienna, incredibly endowed, who stood beside the swimming pool slowly and deliberately rubbing some form of unguent into her pendulous bosom while her head was rotating like a lighthouse to see the effect it was having on the assemblage. Above all though was the man we met on our way to Graz having just left Vienna. He was a lu-lu!
We had turned off the motorway, heading for the mountains, but unfortunately, two lorries preceded us driving nose to tail, so it was a case of pass one, pass all, or stay put. After several kilometres there was a long straight stretch and I started to pass. In the distance a white sports car appeared but he had ages to slow down so I kept going, passed the lorries with room to spare, and then we could relax with an open road and scenery to drool over. Nonetheless the on-coming car had to flash us, I assume he owned the road. About half an hour later I saw a white car right up against the back of the van with no intention of passing, and then, without warning, it swung out, shot in front of us and braked so suddenly that if my reactions or my concentration had been in the slightest impaired we would have been into it. In truth, the sudden halt was so fierce, the fridge door flew open and the contents came up the van to find us. I remonstrated but he took off. We cleaned up, took off ourselves only to find him round the next bend going slowly. We came up behind him and he did the same again, but I was ready this time. There were more instances but to shorten the story, twice he got out of the car and shouted abuse at us in English, because we had caused him to slow down on his way earlier, his was the sports car I had seen. On the second occasion he then stepped up to the window I had open beside me and before I could gather his intent, he had the keys out of the lock and said he was going to the police to report me. We were stunned. Not only were they the keys for the engine, the back door and the water tank; the house and alarm keys were also on the ring. It took a minute for me to gain my composure, because by now he had disappeared. We were in the middle of nowhere, ostensibly without keys. When the pulse rate had died down and the adrenaline had subsided, Soph got out our spare set of keys and it then took us an hour to find the police station, the area was so remote. We told our tale and it took another two hours to get out of there and on our way once more. We did not go to Graz, we were too worried he would be waiting to break into the van if we parked it, instead we went to Salzburg, but we had to go right across to the Rhine before we could find someone to replace our keys.
I told this tale to Ted, Sophie’s brother, and he said there was an elderly woman living near him, in Cheshire, who had been driving too slowly to please another driver and he had stopped in front of her too, and taken her keys, but he had thrown them into a nearby garden. I think any comment on both occurrences would be hyperbole of the highest order.