A Life in the Slow Lane

Lets Go For A Drive

The weather has been pretty inclement for the past 36 hours although the sun has poked its head from behind the clouds this afternoon. Yesterday we attempted a walk to some wetland I had identified near our campsite where I was hopeful of finding some bird life. Unfortunately the main road we had to walk along to get there was too dangerous. It is supposed to have a 31mph speed limit (50kph), as have many country roads in this part of Italy, but in the Italian driver’s mind they must automatically add a multiplier of two to such speed limits and believe that the double white lines in the centre of the road an invitation to overtake. Not wishing to be run over we returned to base.

I have to say that as we have moved south in Italy the driving has noticeably worsened. Today we have seen overtaking on double white lines; overtaking of multiple cars at excessive speed in the middle of a town; the constant cutting of corners to take “the racing line” on twisty mountain road; and consistent driving in 50 kph zones and twice the speed limit.

A few days ago a bolt fell off the big kingsize bed at the front of the motorhome. It is a bed which sits above the driving seats and swings down if neede. We don’t use that bed, because we have our fixed beds in Basil’s rear end. But since it was raining I thought I would simply replace the bolt. Unfortunately things did not turn out to be quite that easy. First of all the only way I could reach where the bolt should fit was by lying flat on my back across the dashboard. Then manoeuvring a king size bed single handed proved too much for my puny arms. Sarah joined in and after many bouts of wrestling with said bed we could get the two parts that needed bolting together to within half a centimetre, but no closer. Exhausted we decided we leave it for another time, or possibly professionals.

I hope Basil’s dashboard is strong!

This morning I was checking Basil’s water level when I discovered I could not get Basil’s bonnet to lock shut. The big lad is showing his age and is clearly falling apart. After application of oil and much heaving Sarah and I together thought we had got it shut.

Back in the halcyon days of my childhood I dimly remember an occasional habit of my parents, at a weekend, of just going for a drive. Such was the novelty of cars and so empty the roads that people actually went for a drive for entertainment! Tell that to people sitting in traffic jams all over Britain these days.

Being a wet and miserable day we decided to take Basil for a drive, although we did have a couple of targets in mind; the first being a large supermarket so I could get Sarah a couple of treats for her upcoming birthday; and the second being a a Sanctuary where the Archangel Michael apparently made three appearances and as a result has been a place of pilgrimage since the early middle ages.

The first aim was completed, only after some heart stopping driving through unbelievably narrow streets in Manfredonia, as I managed to purchase some goodies to go with Sarah’s main present which has been brought from home. Sarah also got an early birthday treat by going for a wander round what was essentially a small shopping mall while I looked after the dogs and listened to Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA blaring out over the car park tannoy system!

We then headed for the Sanctuary which is located at 800m (2,600 feet) on the Gargano Peninsular. This gave Basil a real workout spiralling up into the clouds in the usually tortuous, but at least wide, Italian road. We reached the Sanctuary in thick cold cloud only to find they wanted €8 to park, even for one minute!! Hungry, parsimonious and not particularly inspired by a visit to the Sanctuary we said no thank you and that was when our expedition turned into “just a drive”.

I plotted a circuitous route back to the campsite, prioritising getting out of the clouds and we soon found a place in a lush valley full of irises and other beautiful wild flowers to park up for lunch. We had no sooner stopped than we found that the bonnet, which we thought we had secured, had fallen down. Luckily on Basil if the bonnet comes open it just falls down a few inches rather than with a car where it will end up in front of your windscreen.

Having finished lunch and refastened the bonnet we headed home and on arrival at the campsite were pleased to see Basil’s bonnet still in place!

I’ve been having one of my long chats with two other Brits on site. One couple in a caravan who come to this site for two months twice a year every year and a woman travelling on her own in a Hymer who I have discovered will be on the same ferry as us on Thursday.