So, how do you get from the Wirral to the Lake District if you are trying to avoid motorways? You could always try weaving your way though the conurbations between Liverpool and Manchester. A formidable and unplanned mess of urban sprawl. Driving through this lot would be like trying to take on every English rugby league team all at once – literally. Look at the names: Widnes, Warrington, St Helens and Wigan. I choose the easy and less sweaty path.
The M6 was congested but was moving at a healthy pace. To break the motorway monotony I thought I’ll make eye contact with one of the lorry drivers we were overtaking. Not the “Hey fella, I like your semi-articulated” sort of eye contact. Just a laugh at what was going on. When I say we were overtaking, it was a case of Hans starting the overtaking manoeuver, but getting bored halfway through. He lacks a bit of puff on a long incline and in this case the lorry started to gain ground on us and draw level. Aaaargh, I hate that, you get sucked back into the lorry’s vortex and it’s difficult to break free. Car drivers won’t know what this is like, you have to drive a big box to experience this. As the lorry drew level, I shook at the steering wheel to urge Hans on. As we made it to the top of the hill, Hans finally decided to try again and started slowly pulling away. As we edged ahead, I made an aggressive fist gesture at the dashboard and shouted “COME ON!” You know the type of gesture and shouting? When you are proud of a player, a team or an anthropomorphized motorhome and you wish to show your admiration in a manly sort of way. Thankfully the lorry driver had a sense of humour and was having a good old laugh with us. Or he could have just been laughing at us! Or just at me.
If you’re a fan of the colour green the Lake District in Cumbria is the place to come. This is a spectacularly beautiful little part of a spectacularly busy little island. But like so many parts of Blighty – even the busy ones, you can always find a quiet corner for yourself. Green is one of my favourite colours, tick; I like mountains, tick; trees, tick; dry stone walls and quiet twisty narrow lanes, tick-tick. Stay away from the tourist towns and big name sites and the Lake District ticks many boxes.
Apart from the green, in D’s Aesthetic Approval Check List above, Hans would beg to differ. Getting into our next campsite was a near disaster. Perhaps, I’m exaggerating. A slight catastrophy. No OK, but it certainly contained mild peril.
Poor campsite directions, silly satnav (which sent us down the wrong end of a very tight lane and therefore made us approach the campsite/farm from the wrong direction) and an over-optimistic pilot, ended the day with Hans stuck on a steep incline on full steering lock blocking the farm entrance. We were centimetres from a drystone wall one side with barely enough space to squeeze a cat let alone swing a 7.3 metre motorhome on the other. The incline was steep, the turn was tight. Hans wasn’t a happy chappie. I wasn’t a happy chappie. Shields were down, the Klingons were blasting torpedoes at us and Scotty was shouting “SHE CAN’T TAKE ANY MORRRE, SHE’S GOONNA BLLOW”! Of course this was all in my head. The smoke pouring out of the air vents from the burning clutch and the smoke alarm shrieking at me weren’t. The clutch wasn’t actually on fire, but it was doing a very good impression.
At this point, I decided to abandon ship and fight another day. Engine off, handbrake on as hard as I could pull (plus another click for good measure), open all vents, grab Uller the dog who had been sitting silently and patiently through all the mayhem and had a blank look of “this campsite better be good” on her face. Thankfully S was outside waving directions, otherwise there would have been more than mild peril inside!
We leaned on a drystone wall away from Hans listening to the handbrake creaking under the strain of four tonnes. Could this be a shorter adventure than we planned? In surprisingly good spirits, but unsure what to do at this point, we joked if the local pub was called The Winchester and whether we should go and wait for the whole thing to blow over (Shaun of the Dead reference).
Thankfully helpful Yorkshire lady from the caravan who’s husband always burns the BBQ meat, appeared and said she’ll ask the people in the next house along the lane if they knew how to get hold of the campsite owners. Well, he knew where they were. They were in the fields across the valley frantically bailing hay before the forecast rain. No phone signal, farm and campsite entrance blocked, tractors and trailers full of hay due this evening. After helpful Yorkshire lady had spoken to helpful neighbour he drove past in his little Land Rover Freelander and decided that Hans looked a bit heavy for his “lifestyle 4×4”. He drove off to let the farmers and campsite owners know about their new gate. Twenty minutes later, helpful neighbour reported that the farmers knew we were there because they could see across the valley and would be with us in another twenty minutes or so. I did wonder if twenty minute blocks were something significant.
The frantic mashing and tractor engine noises from across the valley slowly morphed into approaching tractor engine noise. There was a sense of excitement that these guys in their beefie tractors would be our saviours, but also slight anxiety that they weren’t going to be happy. I talked myself out of the anxiety when I remembered just how shit the directions were. As the first tractor pulled up, the chap sweating from his toil in the heat, took a look at Hans and put his face into his hands. Oh, I’m feeling bad again now. Later S said it was more of a “I’m tired, right, lets get this job done” face in hands rather than a “WTF, my life is hard enough without these stupid people in the way” face in hands.
So Massey Ferguson positioned behind Hans with a girt great hook and chain around the tow ball. Full lock, low evening sun in my face and dark shaded foliage with dry stone walls either side. Not ideal, but let’s see what this tractor can do and let’s hope it’s got enough beef to pull Hans from his precarious predicament. Out of gear, release the handbrake, lots of shouting and arm waving, release foot brake and clunk woosh! Well I never! The four tonnes of Hans lurched backwards like he was a mere toy. I felt like a can bobbling behind a wedding car. That Massey is my new hero. We also have to give thanks to St. Martin in the Field (Martin the patient farmer).
Was the campsite worth it? We think so. Later S went round to all the helpful people and gave them bottles of wine and beer as a little something for all their efforts. We downed our remaining bottle of wine with one of the best views we’ve seen from a campsite to the sweet sound of nothing. Well, except for that annoying sound of blood rushing past your ears you can hear when it’s so quiet.
ENGLISH MUM AND DAD
D, I don’t think you need worry about Massey’s ability to tow you uphill, the problem is more likely to be Hans losing his a***-end! What nice people you’re meeting. Better keep up a good stock of wine and beer.
‘LITTLE’ SARAH H
This just reinforces Jamie’s well practiced theory that alcohol can solve anything! Give Uller a cuddle for me xx
Well you wanted an adventure !! Did you actually go thro’ the gate or continue backwards behind the tractor ?
love all the green .
How exciting. Beats lots of things I could mention but can’t because I can’t mention that either!! I love the blog and the history lessons also. Thanks and keep up. I am looking forward to the next chapter xx
AUSSIE DAD AND JAN
I was enthralled with this blogstory but if that wasn’t enough, Nigella Lawson chimes in. Well well. Will there be instructions for whipping up a quick little chocolate treat for 17 or so guests? One certainly hopes so! Judging from Uller’s interest in what S is doing at the table, something very delicious and interesting was already being whipped up on site. Nothing like a few snacks and drinkies to reinstate equilibrium after an adrenalin hit like that. I hope there is a main entrance/exit for when you decide to move on.