Victor’s First Venture

Although monochrome of hue, Victor the camper van wouldn’t have looked any more impressive if clad in chromatic peacock feathers, standing on my drive pre- journey. His bonnet puffing out with the self-satisfied hubris a boxer exhibits when knocking an opponent to the floor.

Incidentally, my use of ‘his’ above is merely a term of endearment. There are no X & Y chromosomes in play with the vehicle; that being said, for the record, this motorhome will be henceforth referred to in the masculine form.

Before going further, yours truly should explain Victor is the name bestowed by my partner Sarah. The converted VW Transporter provided with the moniker as we drove him north from Sheffield shortly after procuring the metallic dazzler.

Sarah, or Sazington as I occasionally dub the lady when moved to irritate her, asserting the vehicle needed an endearing title beginning with the letter V. The latter idea, I assume, borne from him being a VW van and her desire to bring alliteration into play.

This literary scribble on the back of a fag packet contain observations from Victor’s inaugural trip since joining the family in early autumn….. Sadly, though, so far I appear to have unnecessarily wasted four paragraphs on how his moniker came about.

This first destination for our mobile outdoor gaff was Rudding Holiday Park on the outskirts of Harrogate. A place where a Yorkshire man, lady and dog lost their camping break virginity; oh, and I was moved to wee outside for the first time since childhood…… Ok…… ok, I’ll admit it, wee outside for the first time since a boozy lad’s Portuguese holiday three weeks ago.

Arriving to a greeting of midday sunshine, after pulling Victor into his spot for the afternoon/night, Sarah and I set about affixing the awning to our recently acquired motorised ‘offspring’. Although I watched several runs of the Youtube video guiding punters through erection of this camping accessory, it has gotta be said I felt a tad apprehensive about its assembly.

As a novice to outdoor living, along with being a fella who puts far too much store into guidance from Carry On movies, it appeared to me raising a tent seemed a task fraught with jeopardy. This apprehension leading to fears I’d inadvertently mimic Sid James and Bernard Bresslaw, who in Carry On Camping, made a right pig’s ear of erecting their canvas home.

It took further reflection for GJ Strachan to re-assure himself the inaugural attachment of Victor’s awning would not play out so farcically; after all, I’d not be faced with the bawdy distractions Sid and Bernard endured. Scenes such as a buxom Barbara Windsoresque character losing her bikini top mid-keep fit session.

This newfound calmer approach paying dividends when, after a half hour or so of modest graft, it stood loud and proud, hugging Victor like they were re-united long-lost brothers

In a crinkled state from being wrapped up in a bag, the awning may not have borne the cock sure vanity exhibiting by old Vic. However, as it was surviving a decent buffering from the prevailing North Yorkshire breeze, Sarah and me surveyed our handiwork work with contentment.

Footnote – Incidentally, when writing old Vic, I’m referring to Victor (who has almost 100k miles on his clock), not the famous theatre in London. Sarah and me have not on any occasion asked management of the 200-hundred-year-old Waterloo based venue if we can attach our bivouac to the ‘not for profit’ playhouse… Ok, I’ll admit it, she has written them a letter inquiring about progressing with this hare-brained scheme… Unsurprisingly, she’s still awaiting a response.

While my Ossett squeeze and I made the awning fit for purpose, her German Shepherd dog, Zella, watched on. The beautiful pooch no doubt wondering what was afoot as we unpacked the large accessory from its holdall and its subsequent assembly.

Who knows, as she watched, perhaps the endearing canine was opining yours truly’s recent binge watch of a boxset Bear Grylls had paid dividends.

Prior to our scheduled camping break experienced users of camper vans warned Sarah and me we’d make plenty of mistakes during our first few treks in old Vic.

Amongst the lessons learned was the overcoming of teething problems connecting Victor to the site’s electricity supply. An issue swiftly and effectively dealt with by on-site premises staff, which is an error I’ll not make on future ventures.

Perhaps the biggest lesson, though, was how easily it is to overlook the simple tin opener as an essential cooking utensil. This becoming apparent upon returning to our camper van from the on-site club house in the early evening.

It was a short walk back to the comfort of Vic’s realm. This entrance made after a heavy-handed awning door unzip, followed by tentative navigation of the tent to avoid camping accessory trip hazards.

Once ensconced in Victor’s bowels the first task was to feed Zella. A simple enough task – Access to food gained by dragging back the Pedigree Chum lid with a ring pull. The contents, which she ordinarily consumes in less than a minute, then added to a silver-coloured dog bowl.

Sadly, on this occasion, due to an overly aggressive tug by GJ Strachan the ring pull detached from the still closed can lid. If I would have been at home a simple enough conundrum to remedy with the assistance of my friendly tin opener Gerald…… Yes, Sarah also names my kitchen utensils; chuffing weirdo.

Sadly, as we only had this one ring pull can to open all trip, it was decided we’d not need Gerald on this journey. He was upset, however, explaining to him how we can only take essentials due to Victor’s space constrictions seemed to placate him….. Well, he didn’t push back and argue to the contrary.

Without Gerald the tin opener, yours truly was forced into a half assed attempt at retrieving Zella’s food by puncturing the tin lid with a standard table knife. An act followed by squeezing the can to allow minced pieces of chicken in jelly to drop into the dog bowl.

It was challenging work squeezing the tin, which sadly was not as flimsy as the beer can I’d earlier crushed and binned. While removing small pieces of meat through the punctured hole, it evoked visions of Popeye cartoons from my childhood. The sailor, though, having a great deal more success ejecting spinach from his sealed tins with brute force than I did with Zella’s food….. It’s time I hit the gym more!!

As a friend, who viewed a video of this ham-fisted episode on social media pointed out “You’re making a right dog’s dinner of that, Gary….. Or, maybe not!”

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