Still August 2009. Valerie & Clive are great. They always have been and always will be. We made it to Budleigh Salterton (that’s in Devon) and given the average travelling speed perhaps we were a little bit late in arriving. Although if you’ve ever been to Budleigh Salterton and given myself and Sarah are still in our 30’s one could argue we were early… by about 30 years.Keefy and Marion were there to meet us too. They’d probably assembled themselves to greet us on the driveway as they heard us coming over the hill.. then waited half an hour for the physical to catch up with the noise-ical, if you get my drift.
We powered into the driveway. When I say powered I mean my Popeye arms powered us in through the narrow gate to the driveway and into our pre-reserved parking space. Now then. This gesture of Clive to save us a space on his drive says a lot about Clive. A few years before, the weekend I first met Sarah’s Auntie and Uncle, we joked and laughed about how rubbish our crappy Peugeot 306 was and that it leaked more oil than the Exxon Valdez. In the same way some people carry a spare tyre, I used to carry on of those international environment saving booms to contain the slick when parked up. I also had a special soap tank fitted that we kept full of washing up liquid ready to clean up small birds that had got caught up in the slick whilst we’d been shopping. I once saved an albatross although we couldn’t get that penguin completely clean, save its tummy….despite the wire brushes and everything. I mean everything. Poor little devil.
There’s a car park in Sutton on top of Safeways where we used to do our weekly supermarket run and sometimes we’d stay longer and shop in other shops too (dangerous parking habits I know). Well they’ve now converted the rooftop car park into one of those oil-slick race tracks where you can turn up and race a battered Ford Sierra around with bald tyres. Apparently the business case to create a dodgems race track was cheaper than clearing up the mess left behind by the 306. I wonder if this is the answer to VW buses without powered steering? Coat your tyres in old engine oil?
So when we left Clive’s the next day we had a good laugh as we reminded ourselves of the silly 306 leaky oil stories of the night before and for some funny reason, as I reversed off the driveway, their laughter turned into one of politeness and mine turned into one tinged with a teeny bit of guilt. Their driveway had a slightly stronger tinge.
So….to be given a parking space given our previous track record and knowing that we were arriving in a smoking choking 35 year old bus that potentially could have the oil leakage measure of the old 306 smoker…well that says a lot about Valerie & Clive.
And the only way to arrive is to give two bursts of the clown’s nose. Hu-onk-onk!
And this was us. We’d completed our first proper journey. 170 miles of it. All in one go. One complete tank full of fuel’s worth of a journey. That’s about 20 miles to the gallon. And that’s one complete tank full of fuel. One complete tank. From filled up to completely nearly empty. One tank. Just one. One
Not a spot of oil though. Not one. None in fact. None!