Saturday, 15 November 2008

Good old Bob and Dean

I wrote some of this post for Motorhome Monthly a while ago. On cold and miserable autuminal days such as today I reread it and, hey presto, I am transported back in time.

Memories are made of This

Those of us who can only be described of as ‘of mature years’ will undoubtedly remember a song recorded, by amongst others, Dean Martin in 1956. Called ‘Memories are Made of This’ it began with the lines
Sweet, sweet memories you gave-a me
You can’t beat the memories you gave-a me
Admittedly now considered rather twee, a remnant of a perhaps more gentle, innocent era, it nevertheless prompted me, mere months after purchase, to recall some of the delights our present motorhome has provided to date. Ordinary, unexceptional occurrences, yet experiences that bring a smile to lighten dark nights.
I suppose literally the first memory was the sight of a gleaming motorhome on a bright summer’s day, and the realisation that we were, at last the proud owners. Incidentally, it is the first new mode of transport I have ever purchased in nearly fifty years of driving, but well worth the wait. Plus the smell of a new vehicle is unique, an indescribable almost sensual heady mix that, bottled, would I’m sure rival Chanel, Dior or Nina Ricci for sales. (Raleigh bikes smelling of chain oil had the same effect when I was fifteen.) And finally my wife’s Cheshire Cat smile as she re-examined the washroom for the umpteenth time, surely the actions of a deprived child. Definitely a Royal Flush, if you like! All this and we hadn’t even left the dealers!
That first night, trying to comprehend the direction of the toilet in the early hours. (I’ve never used silver screens overnight before and found the blackness created by their presence disorienting in the extreme.) And the joy of lying in bed that first time, like children Christmas morning, excited beyond belief, the dawn, at least for us, of a new era.
Single nights, week-ends, weeks and longer, each and every occasion experiences, if not always to savour, at least to remember.
Excitement in Lancashire, tempered with not a little trepidation when, arriving back home, so to speak near Blackpool front we found our motorhome surrounded by numerous policeman. Evidently the result of an earlier ‘incident’ that we were relieved to discover, had nothing to do with us. Plus going to sleep only minutes later, the sound of clanking trams surprisingly soporific. Norfolk, unhurried and in the main unchanged. Walsingham, a meaningful haven for all, irrespective of creed or belief. A place of pilgrimage for centuries in an often disorderly world. To tread where pilgrims have trod for almost a thousand years, an awesome thought that surely cannot fail to impress. Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse, one of the best days out for under ten pounds I have ever experienced. Workhouse incarceration an austere, uncompromising existence, a sombre reminder of the cruelty of the not too distant past. Plus time spent in the company of a delightful individual who had exchanged the turmoil of modern day South Africa for the simple pleasures associated with hardware shop keeping in sleepy Mundersley.
The looks of astonished amazement from the gathered fishermen as we arrived in the tiniest of coves in Clovelly, Devon having misread the signs on approach. (The wife’s fault, of cause, as of always!) Extraditing ourselves with great difficulty and I maintain not a little skill. The fact that we should not have been there in the first place surely of no consequence!
An enchanting evening spent at the public house in The Lake District where we honeymooned all those years ago. (thirty seven years ago to be precise.) Overnight spent in the van on the road outside the pub. (The Mason’s Arms, Strawberry Bank near Windemere.) Who says romance is dead!
Hadrian’s Wall, County Durham where history and mystery combine. Well worth the visit, though much of the wall has since been spirited away by the enterprising hordes the Romans were so keen to repel. The sheer scale of the enterprise is mind bending. Originally over seventy miles long, mainly completed in ten years, I found the statistics too complex to take in, finding a fact from fiction more intriguing. A replica wall one kilometre in length was built in County Clare, Ireland for the film King Arthur. It took three hundred construction workers four months to build. (The largest movie set ever built in Ireland.) Remember, this replica was only one kilometre long!
Glorious sunsets at Blackpool, Fleetwood and Crackington Cove plus equally
splendid rainbows in the Yorkshire Dales. Surely the cheapest beer in the country in a pub near York, courtesy of Sam Smith, and some of the dearest campsites nationwide in the Lakes. The memories are endless.
High winds near Castleton, enough to rock the van, an eerie overnight stay both haunting and daunting. Non-stop rain at Eden Camp, near Maltby, the visit a fascinating reminder of the trials and tribulations of Britain at war.
Regular sojourns at Derby County Football Club home games. After the match we sit munching bacon butties or beef burgers, mug of steaming tea to hand and watch gridlocked supporters impatiently fume, blood pressures rising, their frustration perversely making our meal all the more enjoyable. Local radio echoing to the howls and growls of those stuck fast.
Fed and watered, nerves intact, we leave when the last car has disappeared over the railway bridge, forty-five minutes after the final whistle. (We arrive home fifteen minutes later than had we left immediately after the match ended.) A ritual repeated at fortnightly intervals.
The Christmas Market weekend at Lincoln early in December. The lights, the street entertainment, the market itself and the crowds. An enchanting countdown to Christmas attracting 160,000 visitors over four days: tiring but well worth the effort.
Plus the magic of Christmas itself. Parked outside the grandchildren’s house Christmas Eve so as to be ‘in situ’, so to speak when presents are opened Christmas morning.
Dressing up as Father Christmas, right down to full-length beard. Elaborate preparations including a scattering of ‘Reindeer Dust’ and walking up the street complete with sack. “Who’s this coming up the road?” Angelina aged five is asked by mother.
“Father Christmas” she replies on cue, eyes wide with amazement. “Who is it?” is enquired of brother Tommy, not yet three. “Santa Granddad” is the instant dismissive reply. Out of the mouth of babes and all that! ( I have been asked to be Father Christmas at the junior school where my daughter teaches. Only Tommy and Angelina now attend that school so I've no chance. I wonder if I'll get away as being 'Santa's brother.)
The illustrious Bob Hope adopted as his theme tune ‘Thanks for the Memory’ (Written in 1937 by Ralph Rainger and Leo Robin.) Included are the lines
Many’s the time that we feasted
And many’s the time that we fasted.
Oh well, it was swell while it lasted.
I don’t remember the fasting, Mr Hope, but it was certainly swell. If 2009 compares I for one won’t be disappointed. Memorable experiences to take into extreme old age, though not yet! Expensive cruises, who needs them!
Afterthoughts. 2008 became, out of the blue, the year of the 'great move'. Thus our travels were in the main 'on hold.' Roll on 2009!


Stinking Billy said...

ken, I wonder what happened to the comment I left here yesterday? But it does happen and this isn't the first time and it won't be the last.

I had asked how long you had been enjoying your motorhome (the year) and if you could confirm that it was the vehicle parked sideways onto the camera, waiting for the queue to disappear?

Clippy Mat said...

to change the date on your post you should be in compose new post mode, then click on post options on the bottom of the frame and you will see the time open up on the right hand side. be careful of the way you write the date and time. it will only accept it one format.
hope this helps :-)

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Did you ever get the info re motohome

Yes, that was the vehicle but the last but one. Gave me another to shut me up. The last one was atrocious. FIAT Fix It Again Tomorrow