My van is in the garage at present being welded for her MOT, it is safe to say I’ve missed the slow paced antics a VW camper brings and I can’t wait to get her back. That means no blog posts, absolutely nothing to write about. This got me thinking back to my first trip out in Cookie and the rather surreal experience that unfolded. Cue scooby doo style wibbly flash back…
It was a glorious but chilly November Sunday and we decided to take Cookie for a proper run to blow out the cobwebs and of course drink a cup of tea somewhere with a view. After a brief google and some suggestions from the club80-90 bunch, we settled on British Camp in the Malverns. For those who haven’t been, its a beautiful series of Iron age earthworks that used to be home to a fort around 2 BC. For me it would be the first visit and although I was nervous of the hills in my humble 1.6 diesel bus, I was assured the climb was worth it.
We pootled along, hoping to arrive before sunset, enjoying the glorious afternoon sunshine., the views got better and better as we approached the Malverns. As is always the way with me, I planned to take a few snaps on the phone and with my compact camera. Despite being a portrait photographer, I really don’t like to carry my SLRs with me on trips and so pack light, but memories are a must. The photo below and the final image are the only two pictures I took on the day.
Cookie struggled up the final steep hill, my first time in the horse power challenged bus, 1st gear was the only way on the final leg. Then at the top as we around by the Malvern Hill Hotel , the engine spluttered and died…
Now, it’s worth pointing out at this point that I have no fuel gauge, it doesn’t work at present and although we had been told that 300 miles before top up was fine, we had hit around 250 miles. We thought we had run out of fuel but at least we were next to a pub. Various locals offered to find us fuel but realised that most of the local garages would be shut early that day. So we resigned ourselves to calling the AA and waited with a cup of tea and a bakewell tart… I have to admit for my first breakdown, the bus was much more preferable to my other experience in a new car on the M1.
Mark the friendly AA man turned up, within minutes had discovered my other car is an Alfa and so we got on like a house on fire. Well to be more exact he forgave me for owning a AA man magnet… Then again some might argue an Alfa is the same. We didn’t let on we thought we may have ran out of diesel. As luck would have it within ten seconds he had spotted a broken wire and he reconnected it and asked me to fire it up. She started and Mark set about fixing the wire properly. Two minutes later, he invited me to start her again.
In my excitement of discovering that Cookie wasn’t a lemon and would live again, I leapt in via the sliding door and stood up slightly too early. My girlfriend later thought someone had crashed into the van the noise was apparently so loud, but no it was just my thick skull hitting metal.
I know many camper owners will have done this and on my first trip out I was fully welcomed into the camper club by splitting my head open. I waited for a few seconds to see if I would bleed but I knew the answer even before I felt it. Fortunately I am it seems calm when I bleed and our AA friend was brilliant too. I got told off for trying to take my coat off (it was new!) and apparently asked very gently if my new GF was ok with blood. The fact I was saying this looking like Carrie’s long lost brother probably didn’t enhance my attempt at calm concern.
Mark kindly lead us to the nearest hospital, and I braced myself for a 4 hour wait… On the drive there, me in the passenger seat Vanessa looked concerned.
“Does it hurt?” she asked thoughtfully.
“I must admit my arms are aching holding this towel in place for so long” I replied.
Bizarrely the hospital was a specialist unit and not your standard A&E, they dealt almost exclusively with head injuries (what are the chances?) . I signed in at reception and sat there with Vanessa for all of 2 minutes before I was called in to get my scalp glued. Probably my best NHS experience ever.
Vanessa drove back, and my concerns about Cookie holding up trucks were gone as she overtook trucks and cars a plenty. The first few we pondered getting little stickers like pilots might place on their fighter aircraft for each truck we overtook but it soon became apparent I’d need a bigger van.
So now back to today, the rather horrific gaping wound has thankfully shrunk to a tiny size, but the little bump is still there, an unusual momento of my first day out in my t25 bus.