We head to Europe via the UK on our first proper road trip in five years, and perhaps it’s not just the number of wheels that’s changed. Will we enjoy familiar routes as much in the car as we did by bike? Can I still take the occasional photo of a set of bends or a balcony road? Is the wine still good in France? Read on …
The first ride in what feels like a month of lifetimes finds me heading west to Ireland, dusting off the trusty GS in order to explore the Wild Atlantic Way. Reason for the trip? Just fancied a ride worth strapping the panniers on for now that the racing’s done, and Dublin’s almost £200 cheaper by boat than Liverpool. Time for something new.
I need a break, and the new bike needs a proper run, so the both of us head across the water for a spot of mindless self-indulgence. Swapping campsites for cheap hotels and minimal luggage I’m going to spend a week going where the wheels take me, recording the usual irreverent observations and mediocre photos here for posterity. This is cruft, mere content, so I’m not going to bother with separate posts. Read at your own peril.
It’s been ages since I had a good long ride (actress to bishop) so as the kids head back to school I’m heading south with everything an expedition needs: bike, tent, and a keen novice. That’s right folks, there’s somebody mad enough to come with me on a three week camping trip that optimistically aims to take in France, Switzerland, Italy and Spain before looping back to Blighty for a shower and detox.
Nothing is as big a turn off – on any level – as a caravan. Their sad, beige contents are usually flimsy, they smell of chemical toilets, and they make your car handle like a combine harvester. You’re unwelcome everywhere you go, except for authorised caravan sites where you can mingle with your balding peers and bicker about the latest outrage in the news.
Why anybody would voluntarily do this is beyond me, but a camper van – now that’s an entirely different proposition. For a start you’ve got a vehicle which drives like a car, reverses like a car, and fits in a regular parking space. There’s leather, alloy wheels, a rack for your surfboard and a towing hitch for the trailer with your dirt bikes. Could this be the ideal mix of camping adventure and home comforts? We rent a VW California and take it for a lap of Britain to find out.