“Yes Paul, we really are. That’s enough haribo for now.”
August 2009. Stonehenge. The A303. Devon. Sun and Surf. The VW Campervan conjures up images of hippydom and a carefree world and the West Country, and in particular Devon and Cornwall, is where this world exists. This is also the world where Valerie and Clive live. That’s Auntie Valerie and Uncle Clive – on Sarah’s side. I don’t have an Auntie Valerie or Uncle Clive, but I do have an Auntie Lala, but we just call her Lala.
We were on our maiden holiday trip to Devon visiting Auntie V. Uncle C, Keith the “K-Man” and his maid, Marion. K-Man is Sarah’s Dad and Valerie’s little brother all at the same time. Who said men couldn’t multi-task? And when we refer to K-Man (aka Keefy) as Valerie’s little brother we mean younger in age. In other respects it would be a case for the trades description act. I digress.
Now for those of you who have driven the length of the A303 from Amazing Basingstoke to Honiton, you will have experienced the inevitable grinding halt about 2 miles from Stonehenge (which, by the way is not as big as you think) and then the stop start pattern from there until Timbuktu, or so it seems. Sometimes I wonder if the 303 is supposed to be a trunk road making up part of Great Britain’s strategic road network allowing us travellers to move swiftly from one part of the country to another or whether its a farmer’s track. The further you reach into Somerset and Devon the more farmer’s track it gets. Unsurprisingly, that’s not surprising, given the entire population are all farmers who drive around in ‘gert big tracters’ and combine ‘arversters. Apparently, in a game of West Country Top Trumps a Combined Harvester can only be ‘Top Trumped’ by Forty Three Acres .
And another thing you notice as you leave the modern day world further and further behind you is that facial hair becomes more common. Even amongst the ladies. I’m pretty sure if you made it down to Penzance the whole town will look like Jethro meets Brian Blessed.
Sorry. That should read BRIAAAANNNN ‘CAN YOU HEAR ME’ BLESSSSSSEDDDDD.
This may sound offensive, but hey, they don’t help themselves by dressing up as Morris Men (and woman). Morris Men, incidentally, dance with handkerchiefs and bells and jolly bent knees. All very pansy like. But if you ever want to see a proper fight then you can’t do better than a punch up at a Morris Dancer’s meet 12 pints in. Note to self. If you ever want to see one of those legendary punch ups up close just call a Morris Dancer a poof. Its that easy. Just remember, you don’t have the big bushy beard to absorb the impact of a big fat fist (with bells on).
I speak with some authority as I grew up in Somerset – the land where the word toilet is pronounced torlet. That’s right. My big sister (in age – not size) has a torlet in her Somerset house.
So we’re making good progress down the 303. We’re beyond Stonehenge and past Yeovil (come on you Glovers!). Past my old primary school stomping ground where apple scrummping was part of growing up. We’re past the Ilminster bypass that flip flops from single to dual carriageway every other mile! Who the hell came up with that idea. Well, as it happens, and I’m not sure I should own up to this, but in my day job I actually built a traffic model of that highway arrangement and suggested it would be a great idea.
Message for the Locals – Please leave your comments, suggestions and advice at the end of this blog.
By now we’re now well and truly into the tight bending steep gradient tree canopied tractor rutted 303. And guess what right. The road ahead was clear. Not a car in sight. We had the whole highway to ourselves. We could just open up the bus to show what she was made of. Pedal to the metal time. Or more accurately pedal to the metal/rust combination to be fair as our bus is not made entirely of metal.  Whoever said the 303 was one long traffic jam must have made it up. Either that, or they were in the queue behind me that went way back further than my rear view mirror could see. I must stress I wasn’t going slow on purpose. I was driving flat out.
The moral of that tale (back) is don’t do the 303 unless your in a bus! We did it. We really did.
 Top Trump Source: The Worzels, (1976. No.1 for TWO weeks). Did you know one of the Worzels is in fact from Penicuik in Scotland. That’s a fact! (that I might have made up)
 Our bus is made of the same stuff a dead sun is made of. It has its own gravitational pull that I think affects the tide. I think that’s also why there is a long queue behind you – as though you are a magnet that attracts other cars. It certainly explains why it’s hard to steer as you do get the feeling that you are trying to make the earth spin against its natural axis. I’ve calculated that if all the VW buses in the world were to drive from east to west at the same time in a kind of zig zag direction we could actually slow down the earth’s rotation…. Or what that speed it up – not quite sure which would exactly happen. Got to be worth a go though. And then, get this, if we all braked at the same time the planet would jolt and everyone on earth would all fall over at the same time.