Of lice and van.*

Rock Colours, originally uploaded by Alex Leigh.

Hello from Auckland and goodbye to the funky bus. It’s been a faithful servant for 2,500 kilometres – over innumerable mountain passes, through hundreds of one horse towns**, and abandoned at every more raffish pavement angles. We’re going to miss it like an amusing but hyperactive relative. Two weeks cooped up with a similar amount of children in eighteen feet of mobile home has been a fantastic experience. But we’re ready to give it back before localised parental volcanic action will mirror that of these great islands.

Living with the motorhome is, – of course – living in it, and for all the positive experiences, there are a number of issues worth sharing. It’s only when you’ve been dispatched alone on some emergency shopping expedition that it becomes apparent how bloody big it is. Driving it is fine, reversing it less so without a willing helper or a man with a red flag.

But let us turn the eye of critique to the interior. For example take the ladder which acts as the gateway to Lucifer’a portal – or the over cab bedroom as labelled by traditionalists. It is a triumph of isolationist design working perfectly to shuttle children up and down into the roof space, while blocking off access to the indoor bog.

Well if you are more than about 6 inches wide which- ahem – at least one of us is. The resultant gap is, in fact, the exact width of my body minus the much loved wedding vegetables. So any attempted night-time entry is rewarded with an eye watering scrotal injury from the razor sharp door fittings.

However, the gas fired hob was always functional if a little slow. In fact, it would be quicker to travel back in time to pre-history and discover fire, rather than waiting for the kettle to boil in real time. The grill bucked this trend by carbonising toast in the nanosecond between the states of virgin bread and on fire***.

And the fly-screen lacks a certain winged bitey blocking efficacy. In truth the gap between door and van was such that anything in the bird family from a pterodactyl down would fly in unobstructed on a well known trade route to my tender parts****. At night, many of these blood bloated parasites would get trapped under the duvet and attempt to tunnel out through my ankle.

Joining up the multitude of throbbing bites in a dot to dot style would spell “scratch me now”and boy did we want to. Eventually this urge became too strong to ignore, generally during a dull spell of distance driving. Which was slightly perturbing as your spouse would suddenly disappear from view, except for a nonchalant finger resting lightly on the steering wheel.

The rest of her would be under the dashboard desperately scratching at the never ending itch. And that’s generally fine due to the total lack of traffic but occasionally a orgasmic “ahhhhh” would be firmly interrupted with a shriek of “CLIFF AHEAD” from the passenger seat.

Talking of gaps as we are, the floor to ceiling distance between Cab and Slab is around 5 feet. I am 6 feet, or at least I was. I am gradually being whittled down through attritional smacks round the back of the head. Over the last two weeks, my retreating summit has been glacially eroded to 5ft 7, and all my hair is falling out. Although the latter has been going on for some time, based on some recent and disturbing photo evidence.

As observed in an earlier post, there are certain mechanical traits which smack of genius including an electrical system which operates on both 12v and 240v without exploding during the transition between the two, and a complex two tank water system which somehow fails to irrigate the road in your direction of travel. But some quick work with a calculator establishes that three tons of ventilated brick – driven mostly on full throttle – manages nearly 23 miles to the gallon. That’s not genius, that’s bloody magic.

Tomorrow we’re trading in the bus for a normal family sized car. This strange and small vehicle will transport us to the Coromandel where most of the family will spend in different rooms adjusting to a non motorised house. Except for this one who’ll be substituting “lying on a beach” with “ragging round a mountain bike trail”

Less than a week left. Tell me the UK has magically become warm, clean, inviting and deficient of about fifty million people.

* Random had transported some illegal hair termites into the country. Which means someone in her class has some explaining to do.

** Although in most cases, the horse had died of boredom.

*** This is known in academic circles as Schroedinger’s Crumpet

**** This did solve the nocturnal problem with needing a wee. I’m sure you can work it out.

2 thoughts on “Of lice and van.*”

  1. thanks Alex. The wife has just woken up due to my uncontrolled laughter. She’s now demanding to know just what the hell I could find so funny at quarter to one in the morning. A particular favorite was the travelling back in time comment. Glad you enjoyed your holiday.

  2. Delighted to be back. Sorry, no in an avowed effort to total honestly, that is of course total nonsense.

    Still never mind, only another ten years or so before we can afford to go back 😉

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