The house is pretty much ours.
Gez has work this morning, so he has already headed back to London.
Helen is still at work.
Simon has headed off for work.
I am just waking up.
Its kinda odd to wake up in someone else’s house in another country, with it all to yourself, and have the place to yourself, knowing that it is someone else’s house. Its kinda weird.
Anyway, we put the weirdness aside and get packing our stuff.
Helen comes home while I am in the shower, so I don’t get to officially say thanks, but we leave her and Simon a little note to say thanks instead.
We get in our van, and get on our way.
We are headed down the drive, all excited about heading to Liverpool and York, when no more than 10m down the drive, the front of the camper van slips into the little bank on the side of the road easier than an aussie kid with soap on the back yard tarp.
“You have got to be kidding me?” I say without hesitation.
Gez had told me story after story about visitors of theirs who had fancied themselves expert off and muddy road experts. I, confidently, listed myself among these. I mean, I’ve grown up around the bush. I haven’t done loads of off roading, but I’ve done enough to be able to handle myself on a measly welsh semi-farm road.
We are literally 15-20m away from the house, and I, for some unknown reason didn’t want to drive through a big puddle.
This is why we have cars.
So you don’t have to walk through puddles. You get to drive through them in the warmth and the dryness of the car. But instead, I decide to try dodge the puddle, straddle the lip of the path, which, with the right little turn of my tyre sent me slipping right off the edge.
Bec got to hear all these stories too, so she straight away knows the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in. She looks at me with this look in her eyes like “Please. Please tell me were not bogged”. I didn’t need to tell her the news she already knew. I try the accelerator to see whether we have any traction at all. Unsurprisingly, we’re only spinning out.
I hang my head in disappointment.
The frustration hasn’t set in yet, but trust you me, it will.
The car doesn’t look like it is that bogged, but its more the consistency of the soil, rather than the depth of it, and the consistency is more of a “go screw yourself”, than anything else. Before we call in someone to help tow us out, we figure that we might be able to get out. We don’t really want to wake Helen either. She has just finished a bloody big shift and is running on minimal sleep. By this point, she’s only been asleep about an hour or so. Not long enough to constitute a wake up cos the guys that you just hosted for the last few nights decided to go ahead and bog their van in the side of the road.
We head to the shed and grab a few armfuls of wood.
We chock the tyres with these, and try position them to give them the most traction possible. The only down side, is that by now, there is just mud in all the grooves, which doesn’t really help our cause all too much.
We try bricks.
We add more timber.
We try smaller sticks.
Actually, the thing that worked best was reversing the car enough to just get a little height, then accelerating. We actually made a good meter and a half. The really big issue was more the depth of the lip of the road. We couldn’t get enough traction or momentum to get the car back up onto the road.
With not many other options, we decided to call the Wicked roadside assistance number, with which, we were met with the notification that we would be footing the bill for someone to have to come out and tow us out.
Being that we didn’t want to do that, we turned to the local farmers. The closest one, being the neighbour at the end of the road.
We head off for a walk, and I knock on his door. I know there is someone inside, because I can see them. They don’t know this, and they do the whole “dont make eye contact with the animals” game. I know they have seen us, so I knock again.
This time, the door opens, and there is this bloke of pretty reasonable stature standing right in front of me, looking increasingly confused and concerned. I honestly don’t remember how I started the conversation, but I did such an appalling job it, that he actually asked if I wanted to start again. I kid you not.
For someone who used to knock on people’s doors for a living, this is all sorts of sad.
This time, I begin with “We’re mates of Geraint’s, and have just been staying with the Mansfields”. His eyebrows raise, cheeks lift and demeanour changes. Something has clicked, but I am not sure what. He chuckles to himself a little, as I continue my introduction. I tell him that we are bogged and we just need a tow out. “Any chance you’d be able to give us a hand?”.
He says to me “Well you know what?”
“Honest to God, I thought you two were Jehovahs Wittinesses”
I start laughing, only because I have been mistaken for J-dubs too many times in my life.
“I told my daughter to just wait in the living room, while I dealt with these guys at the door”, he begins to tell us.
“You know how they come to your house in pairs and all?”
Which is when I look to Bec, and I can totally see that. I mean, were not wearing the button-up shirts and black ties, but I can understand.
“I should have just asked if you have found the lord yet”, I say as Ryan begins to crack up again.
“Well. Lets go have a wee look, and we’ll see what I can do for you”, he says to us.
“After all, it is the least I could do after mistaking you for the wittinesses”.
I couldn’t care less to be honest, but if that is your driving force, you’re a much better man than me.
As we are walking to the car, I find out that he was a Vet in his past life, and now has this plot of land, and he grows and sells pigs to occupy himself. From saving animals, to growing them to only eat them later. Not sure what happened there, but I wanna know about the animal that really made him make that switch.
This leads me to discovering that since he isn’t really a farmer, he doesn’t have big farming equipment. We inspect the situation, and he heads back to his place to pick up his car for a tow. He’s playing it down like it wont do much, but to be honest, at this point, anything will do. He come back with this Mitsubishi Pajero. Im thinking “righto mate. Don’t have something to tow it with, my ass”, but I am proven wrong, as it turns out to just be his sister’s wagon.
He opens the boot, and has got a collection of ropes and a giant metal cable. We try the top first, which I wasn’t confident on, and sure as eggs, it snaps like nothing. Next, we fix the cable to the van and I can safely say that the front end of the van would have ripped off before that cable was going to snap.
Unsurprisingly, the 3.5 tonne towing 4WD pulls the van out with ease.
I sing Ryan’s praises and hail him as a saint and a scholar of the highest order. He acts all modest and stuff, but he knows that he really did save us a whole headache and a half.
We are now 2 hours behind.
All because I wanted to avoid a puddle.
That will learn me.
We get on the road, and now, our plan is to wind up in Liverpool instead of York. Still, it seems odd to still be able to drive half way across a country in half a day. That is still taking some getting used to.
We get on the road, and we are met with winding roads and picturesque forests. We stop more times than I care to count for photos, and Bec is more than patient as I take my time getting the right angle and frame that I am after.
The English countryside really is beautiful.
The forests and waterways are not like I have seen in Australia yet.
A few hours pass, along with scene after gorgeous scene, and we find ourselves pulling into Liverpool. Being that there is such an internationally known soccer team named after the city, I was expecting it to be so much bigger and alive than it was, but to be honest, I felt as though it was a little run down.
We headed to this park right in the middle of the town, which gave us somewhere to park up, cook and sleep for the evening. This worked absolutely brilliantly for us.
It was more of a dog park than anything else, but it was a brilliant park nontheless. There was this one guy who had something for English bulldogs, made evident by the 3 generations of dogs that he had in his company. Emily, the youngest dog was still learning what it meant to actually do what you are told. It was entertaining for everyone else watching, but I am sure that he would enjoy saying Emily about 113% less often.
She is cute as hell though, and everyone knows it.
Bec cooks up a wicked stir fry, and we settle in for a good nights sleep.
We get talking about what we think life will look like after we get home and all the things we want to achieve in life. Even though we have been together literally every waking minute for the past 2 months, its still nice to really get 100% on the same page and talk about all the fears and excitements that we have about the future.
Its one of those things, that surprisingly, doesn’t come up as often as you would expect it to. I mean, we talk about it, just not to the extent that you would expect, for the amount of time we spend together.
Needless to say, it is invaluable.
Come back tomorrow,