Sunday, 8 September 2013

Caravan Diaries (organised chaos*)

We were a bit late starting, so got to Newport just at the time that the robots who control the variable speed limits were changing shift.  The traffic was light, but we were told to keep to 40 as there were queues.  I was about to make a clever-clogs remark about this when we hit (not literally!) the back of a queue.  I decided that this was an example of what I dubbed ‘reverse effect syndrome’ – the speed limit causes the tailback; or to generalise, cures cause diseases.  This insight was met with a “hmm”, or possibly “hmmph”; but as the speed limit disappeared, so did the queue.

As a result, we were a bit late arriving.  It was dark, we were hungry and thirsty, but first I had to fill the water tank.  This usually simple procedure wasn’t.  I won’t go into details, because they’re embarrassing, but it concerns the hose, my inability to find the end of it, and, to generalise again, the need to guard against the outcomes of switching too quickly from one mode of thinking (driving fast – requires quick reactions and no interpretation) to the opposite one.  By the time I’d failed to solve my self-created problem, it was nearly ten o’clock.  Fortunately the gin bottle doesn’t have a ‘use by’ timestamp.


Saturday morning, after we’d resolved the hose crisis, and I’d reflected on how a stupid false assumption (which you may not even realise you’ve made) can lead to massive unforeseen consequences, we decided to go to Tenby.  I’ve been there so often I know it by heart, but Bee hadn’t been for years.  As we approached the town walls, we’d noticed signs saying ‘IRON MAN, ROAD CLOSED, 8 SEPT 9.30 am-5.50pm’.  Then there was a police roadblock, where a very polite smiling PC helped me do a U turn and go back the way we’d come.  So we went to Manorbier instead, had a lovely walk on the beach, and headed back to the van.  Seeing more and more of those signs. 
I wasn’t unduly worried, until I noticed one on the road along the seafront, which is the only way out of the caravan site.  We’d been planning a leisurely breakfast, perhaps a wander on the beach, head home about eleven.

Luckily, we bumped into a caravan neighbour, who explained that it meant what it said: get on this road before half-nine, or you’ll be stuck here watching cyclists whizz by until half-five.  “Will you be staying to watch it?” she asked.  Apparently (I found out later) Iron Man Races are massive long distance triathlon events (promoted, incidentally, by a rather shady profit-making organisation with, it would seem, the power to close down half a county).  So we rethought our plans and were on the road by nine this morning.


Just after Bristol, the car issued a warning: ‘ENGINE FAILURE: DRIVE MODERATELY.’  This being a German car, I guessed that meant ‘don’t exceed 120 mph’, but I was more moderate than that.  I’ve had this happen before.  I’ll sort it out tomorrow.


* Prominent in my oxymoron collection, but I rarely experience a whole weekend of it.


  1. Hope there's still some gin in that bottle. Seems to have been an over-eventful weekend.

  2. I used to do Iron Man Marathons when I had a pressing engagement with a couple of week's worth of shirts and an ironing board in dim past.

    A bit of serendipity and mild adversity turns a weekend away into an adventure. And it could have been worse. I can imagine possibilities for the caravan water cock up to have been more serious in a "getting your own back" sense.

  3. In this house, 'empty gin bottle' is another oxymoron, Z.

    Rog, having just got back here - I had to do an Iron Man marathon meself today. I know what you're going to think - my advice is, don't go there! She'd castigate you, and you wouldn't like that...
    You're right about adventures, though.