Stops and Starts

One of what I like to call my regulars texted in the other day to point out that our trip round Europe would be over soon, since we were belting through it at such a rate. Good point, but like the small print says, past performance is no guarantee of future results. We’re only hastening northwards so that we can get to the Arctic Circle while there’s still a bit of sunshine around and before the ice floes and polar bears turn up. There’s not much fun to be had at that particular time of year, you only have to look at Shackleton’s expedition where they had to eat their dogs in order to survive. But just in case, I’ll start giving our dog extra rations. She’s a bit slim at the moment you see, and I don’t think we’d survive for long if we had to turn her into a pie or something.

Leaving that sort of thing to one side for the moment, I should point out that not all of our waking hours are spent grimly anchored to the wheel, flogging along autobahns and the like as fast as we can go. Shortly after entering Germany (albeit not via the traditional route through Venlo…) we started reminiscing over earlier days. BFG Fuel Coupons came up in conversation. So did food, and it wasn’t long before I developed a craving for bratty-and-chips, the cornerstone of any nutritious lunch. That was all it took to throw us way off course and we dived off the autobahn in search of a bratty stand. Unsurprisingly it wasn’t long before we spotted one. On went the brakes, out we went and in no time at all I was ordering ‘zweimal currywurst mit pommes und mayo, bitte’ accompanied by a Becks Bier, and it felt briefly as if the old BAOR days were back.

A quick trip to the diesel pumps was all it took to dispel that particular illusion, even though at 1.26 euros per litre it was still a fair bit less expensive (you’ll notice I didn’t use the word ‘cheaper’ in this context) than in the UK. With all of us appropriately refuelled it was time to get back on the road again. When the satnav came on, it had a snarky feel about it. “Was this a break?” it asked, before requiring us to put in a yes/no answer before it would go any further. We confessed that actually, yes it was a break, and a very enjoyable one at that. “Yes” we pressed. “Your break is over” sneered the satnav, clearly feeling more than a little put out that we hadn’t included it in the recent refuelling activities. It then whiled away the rest of the afternoon complaining that we were either going too fast or not doing what it had told us to do. Wretched thing, it was a relief to stop for the night in a parking area that we hadn’t asked it to take us to, and to turn it off right in the middle of one of its weary announcements of “route recalculation”…

The van is now parked up on the banks of the Elbe, waiting for the morning ferry to Glückstadt and all points East. With a bit of North.