10oz Sirloin steak is on the menu. It’s juices overflow onto the mash and clean white plate. The sauce glistens inviting us to dive in. We do.
It is our last day in Scotland, it is possibly our last good meal for some months. It is cooked to perfection with all the chef’s heart. We enjoy every mouthful, even though we are behind schedule by at least 6 hours, you see the word schedule doesn’t really exist here. Before too long though we have said goodbye to the last three months and hello to endless kilometres of highway and sleeping in petrol stations.
With the steak digesting nicely in our stomachs, we made our way down to Bristol. It was here we were to find out the disadvantages of booking your ferry too late. 550 pounds the lady said, the guys watched my mouth drop. Before the phone call had even finished new plans were hatched. What could have easily been disastrous news became something of a crazy new adventure.
Now mathematicians we are not. But it doesn’t take Anthony Bennett (Our old school buddy, nerd, captain IT successful man) to work out that a ferry from Dover to Calais and a long, long drive to Spain would cost a small fraction of a cruise to Spain. So before we knew it, we were on the continent. Lee drove out of the ferry and onto the right side of the road, and by that I mean the wrong side of the road. We spend a night sleeping in our van outside what we think must have been a museum, but from then on everything was unknown. The language barrier was up, big time. Every road sign, every truck signage, everything was foreign. Infact we were foreign, we we’re in France with no idea. How do we ask for Leaded fuel? How do we find a supermarket? How do we find the N 121A?
Lee drove on. Wrong side of the road, the wrong way around round-abouts, fuelling up occasionally and watching our Euros burn away. Our Sony laptop now connected to our amplifier pumping out old and new tunes that keep us pumping all the way to a small town. We come to a halt around 4pm. Lee lets out a sigh. Jag and I hope that he meant it in a good way. He did not. The gear knob was flailing around like a propeller. Gear change we could not and drive we also could not. Options: Walk somewhere, borrow someone’s yellowpages, call a mobile motor mechanic, wait for it to arrive, negotiate a price, have it fixed etc……or we could try and fix it ourselves. Which option do you think we took?
On the roadside of a motorway onramp somewhere in the middle France Lee, JAG and I threw ideas around, pulled things apart and tried creating things. In four hours we had machined ourselves a spare part for our gearshift. After searching the van for whatever it was we were looking for, Lee found a paint roller and I began filing it to a short rod. To cut a long story short, this 20mm rod cut from a paint roller would see us safely to Pamplona in Spain over the next day. We had gotten ourselves out of a fix and it had cost us nothing but time and given us a some sort confidence to keep traveling, even if our van was now held together by chewing gum and paper clips.