I took the DFDS ferry from Calais, it was due to depart at 8 pm but was delayed and in the end I arrived in Dover at 9:20 local time. I pulled onto the seafront road and spent the night there rather than driving any further. The following morning dawned bright and sunny, it looked like being a nice day, which it proved to be. I set off after a lazy breakfast towards Bedford where I would stay for a night or two. The Formula 1 Italian Grand Prix was on and the highlights were being shown on BBC TV. Keen to watch I found a McDonalds close to Bedford, settled down with a burger and coffee and watched the highlights on the iPad. Lewis Hamilton won again, his team mate and closest rival for the World Championship, Nico Rosberg failed to finish after a mechanical problem, leaving Lewis with a commanding 54 point lead in the championship standings. Later that evening I shared a bottle of wine and had dinner with mamma before retiring to the van for a good nights sleep.
The following morning I walked into Bedford town centre, had a haircut and booked an appointment to have my eyes tested, the first time in three years which isn't good. After a walk around the shops I walked back and shared a lunchtime pizza with mamma. We spent the afternoon talking, mamma reminiscing about her childhood and her time in Kenya. For dinner we had good old fish & chips from the fish shop, very tasty and very filling.
I had an appointment at the opticians so I walked into town as there is always a problem parking. My appointment was for 10:35 and although I was seen on time it took two hours to have the test and choose a new pair of glasses. They cost me £261:00, not cheap, but actually cheaper than the pair I bought in Germany three years ago. Returning to the van I took my washing to the laundrette, spending an hour or so washing and drying. I then set off to Wallingford to look at a couple of Mercedes Sprinter 4x4 vans, both secondhand, but could be the basis of a great campervan conversion. Being quite late when I arrived at the garage I just had a quick look and said I would return the following morning for a better look and a test drive. I managed to find a small campsite not to far from the garage and booked in for the night
After a good nights sleep and a relaxing morning I returned to the garage at midday. They had managed to move some other vans in order to get the Sprinter out, but when they tried to start it the battery was flat. A quick jumpstart fired the engine up and with a trade plate in the windscreen I went out for a test drive. At the end of the industrial estate I turned left and half a mile along the road came to a roundabout, the engine died, I was stuck the engine refused to start, even the hazard lights wouldn't work. I managed to push the Sprinter back a little and a passing couple helped me push it off the roundabout. I locked it and walked back to the garage, not a promising start. A man was sent out with a new battery and returned with the Sprinter a little while later. Once again I set off for my test drive. The vehicle drove quite well but having stopped in a lay by I started to notice a few things wrong, nothing serious, but things that would need attention. One of the front suspension struts was missing a cover exposing the unit to the elements, there was a fair bit of light rust to the chassis and brackets holding various bits to it. The Sprinter was originally owned by the RAF and I wondered if it has been sent abroad on service duty. I couldn't put my finger on it but it just didn't feel right. When I returned to the garage they told me it would take about a month to have it re-registered and that it would be difficult to get it MOT'd as it could not be done by the majority of MOT stations. They said they could take out some of the portioning in the rear and temporary fix in some seats which would mean it could be MOT'd more easily. Then suggested that they could have a pre MOT carried out, then later, when I had bought and converted it, a proper MOT could be carried out, it all seemed a bit vague and not very professional, which didn't give me a lot of confidence, I decided to walk away and leave it.
I made way across country towards the VW camping weekend venue I’d booked up for, stopping for the night in a quite road on the outskirts of Swindon.
It seems I've been travelling for most of my life.
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