I wrote this blog in my head a few days ago, whilst travelling to a new caravan site. The journey was challenging and, ultimately, I had to choose whether to laugh or cry. I chose the former. The blog distracted me and helped me to maintain a state of amusement, whilst I drove through the Irish countryside towing the ‘ship on wheels’.
I set off from Clonakilty in the morning, en route to Cork. It was an hour’s detour in precisely the opposite direction to my destination. The purpose was to call in to a particular garage. My first visit there, several months earlier, was after embarking from the ferry, when I landed on the Emerald Isle. That time also required a detour. The reason was to top up the ‘ship’s’ gas tanks, as she requires LPG from a pump, via a nozzle (similar to filling up with fuel). And there are only a handful of such garages in Ireland. Bummer! However, what I didn’t know is that I would require an adapter to do this. So, the journey was wasted.
Since then, it’s been a worry that I might run out of cooking gas, and I needed to return to Cork, which was still the closest garage, despite numerous changes of location. Not wishing to make another mistake, I visited the garage a week before moving 'the ship', when I happened to be passing by, to check that the adapter fitted the pump. It did, phew! I also phoned the garage the night before leaving, to ensure they had plenty of gas. They did.
So, you can imagine my disappointment (understatement), when I arrived and connected to the pump, to find a big fat ‘nothing. No gas. They had run out. It seemed like Groundhog Day! To add insult to injury, my shiny new adapter was wedged in tight, and wouldn’t come out. Not even the strapping lad who worked at the garage, could remove it, and he cut his hand trying.
Having made the detour to Cork, the route to my destination was now far from ideal. This was the compromise. I was familiar with part of the route, as I had cycled it. Spectacularly beautiful, with stunning lakes (though I didn’t imagine I would have time to admire the view), the road was good in places and rough in others. There were steep inclines to negotiate, and several blind bends too, where the road narrowed to a single lane. Oh joy! I spent the night before spot-checking the ‘street view’ online, so I knew what I was in for. As usual, I wrote out directions, marked the route on a map, and set ‘sat-nav’ up on my phone. What could possibly go wrong?!
Irish roads are graded National, Regional and Local. ‘N’ roads are preferable, but not consistently reliable. ‘R’ roads are do-able in some areas and dodgy in others, and ‘L’ roads (as far as I am concerned) are for cycling only. My route was a ‘R’ road.
Knowing what lay ahead, I felt a degree of stress preparing the rig to travel in the morning, though this abated once I got started. Part of my routine is to check the weather forecast, and also dowse with a pendulum* the safest time to travel. Before setting off, I centre myself and invoke protection. I trust this process. If I then find myself in a seemingly impossible situation, ie. on a narrow section of road with a large vehicle approaching fast (when all I want to do is shut my eyes and pray), I know there will be a millimetre to spare and all will be well. I experienced several such ‘nip and tuck’ moments on this journey, after which I uttered the words, ‘thank you for saving me’!
There can be other occassional moments of panic when the sat nav, written directions and map, disagree with the road signs. You can’t ‘street-view’ every junction in advance, and things often look different on the ground. One disagreement occurred this time, forcing me to make a split-second decision, as Irish road signs are right on the junctions. A few hundred metres further on, I had second thoughts, and decided to turn around.
I pulled off the road into a small yard with the intention of reversing back out, so I couldn change direction and retrace my steps. However, I required help to stop the traffic before manoeuvring the 12.5 metre truck and rig onto the road. I got out of the truck and tentatively entered a factory to look for someone. It turned out to be a sanitised food production unit, where staff were wearing white coats, gloves and hair coverings, and they were not pleased to receive an unsanitsed visitor. However, with typical Irish kindness, someone offered to help me.
I drove off down the road and took the turning I had missed. But immediately, I had the feeling it wasn’t right. Two old chaps were sitting on the street sipping coffee, ogling at the ‘ship’, which was not a sight they had seen in the Irish countryside before (or anywhere else for that matter). I consulted them and discovered that my first decision had, in fact, been correct. Grrrhh! It made their day to inspect my rig, then they stopped the traffic so I could do another volte-face. Never a dull moment! But at least I was back on track, and the blessing at the end of a testing day, was that the campsite was better than expected.
The moral of the story is that even best laid plans are not foolproof. When things go pear-shaped, I have learned that maintaining a state of amusement is the least painful option. I am on the move again next week, and will be making another detour, this time to a different garage. Third time lucky!
(*You can find out how to dowse in my book, ‘The Ultimate Relationship… the one with yourself’.)
If you would like me to notify you when I publish new posts, click the Subscribe button below. You can also follow me on Substack where I publish short 'Notes', in between posts. If you like my content, please help me to spread the word. I don't use social media and rely on word of mouth. You can also support my work with a donation. Thank you.