As if the Italians hadn’t had enough of the last trip, then the Dearest One went and organized another adventure tour. And it started like this………………

Dearest One - “I’m planning another trip to Italy in the Awelymor Chuckabug” “you are to service said vehicle and ensure it is safe and reliable for us to go to Italy, then through the South of France so we end up in Toulouse, then from there back home”

Me – “Who’s us”?

Dearest One – “I’m assembling the crew as we speak” “there will be me plus two others to be confirmed” “but early indications are that they are ready to move out at a moment’s notice”

Oh God………typical? Usual military precision so I assumed the trip was already prepped and ready to go even though it was months away. I was then briefed on the following:

1. Service the Landy
2. Fit new windscreen wipers (bug scrapers)
3. Stock the Landy with European regulation spares (bulbs, warning triangle, light deflectors, litre of oil, first aid kit, woman driver stickers, Baby not on board but we can be childish all the same)
4. Fill the Landy with fuel!!!!
5. Develop and create an automatic tea dispenser
6. Cost and establish the fitting of a child seat booster?
7. Make the inside of the Landy like Doctor Who’s Tardis – Massive!!!
8. Clean the Landy inside and out
9. Make sure all the components are in place for the Satnav!!
And and and……………

Organize and complete the procurement of a Wheel Cover for the Land Rover’s spare tyre. DONE….

All the above was duly completed with the exception of number 6?? (read on) The Landy was complete and ready to go and believe me you could see it coming now with its splendid new wheel cover (well to be honest, you would definitely see it coming if it was reversing at you)!!!!!!

And finally?

“You are to ensure this trip is funded in full and henceforth MY Bank account is to be credited with an enormous volume of cash”

“Oh yes dear, of course dear……….your wish is my command” (ish)

And so to the packing…………..

Now I travel a lot and have learned over time to travel light and fast. A woman could NEVER do this – it is not in their chemistry. Travel light and fast my ass……….travel heavy and slowly and make sure you pack a minimum of 50% of the stuff you’ll never unpack.
Its only when they get home you hear things like “Oh my God, did I pack that”? “Good grief I never knew I had that” – you know what I mean, I’m sure………….
So the new crew was contacted, dates, pick points and times were arranged.
The crew for this trip was ready and prepared and all set to go with the luggage capacity that only the hold of Jumbo Jet could take. Or a Land Rover Defender!!!!!

Now at this point let’s take an example of packing for a simple trip to Italy and France…well ok then for you and me it would be a simple trip. However??
What do you say to your travelling companion when you’re hundreds of miles into the trip that they may have over packed?

This is the person (who will remain anonymous) that has packed EVERYTHING. And then packed over the top of that with a ‘spare’ for EVERY occasion……….oh yes, there’s always one. You may even know one? You’ve certainly seen one……..
Opens her ‘bag’ and then re-organizes it for the umpteenth time……lighters (plural) cigarettes (more than one pack) chapsticks, lipsticks, make up (not used) creams, yesterdays sandwich, small screen telly and DVD, mobile phone, laptop, receipts, spare fan belt for the Landy, first aid kit, defibrillation unit, 9mm pistol, mace, pepper spray, CSI kit, vanity mirror, loose change and a half chewed lemon bon bon.
And in the other half………..!!!! Aaarrrggghhhhhhh

You know who you are!!!!!

And so the day came when the Dearest one set out from the house of the rising sun!! To pick up the crew of the Enterprise and head South…….to the Raduno. (These are the voyages of the Starship Land Rover, to boldly go where no Land rover has been before) No, No, No – forget that my mind went on walkabout……….
A dog show thingy in Italy – near Rimini………or on the Rimini coastline ish

At 0215hrs in the morning on the way to crew pick up the Awelymor Chuckabug meets an insomniac Tractor Driving Farmer who was:

a) Going home from the pub (the clocks work differently in Wales)
b) Going to the pub
c) Been or going poaching
d) Welsh car chase thriller in slow motion
e) Using up red diesel
f) It was not his tractor but he needed one
g) Hiding the tractor from the bailiff due the next morning
h) Hiding from the wife after she found out about his nightly trips
i) Had no wife but was going to impress a potential…..

Delete those that don’t apply………..

Now before you read the next bit I want you to know that I sponsored this trip for the Dearest One. I’m not telling you this for any other reason than I ploughed a small lottery win into ensuring that the Dearest One had ‘enough’ inclusive of contingency. NO……not her travelling colleague contingency!! But a sensible contingency.

So how do you think I feel when in France on the way down they find a little hotel near a beautiful lake and nature reserve. All very serene, picturesque and of course peaceful.

But as in nearly all my notes ‘nothing is ever as it seems’………….

Now I would never have thought about the sleeping arrangements, or even planned for that. I logically ‘assumed’ that between 3 women who are allegedly intelligent and of course ‘organized’ they would have this aspect of the trip well sorted.

So they all stayed in one room………no issues with that. Sensible and economical!!

But of course ‘nothing is ever as it seems’ and the Dearest One and friend ended up in the children’s bunk beds…..there’s being economic – and there’s being – IN BUNK BEDS – at their age!!!! Shame on you…………
I have no doubt that it was a hilarious moment……..I’m just glad I wasn’t there.
I’d have slept in the Landy…..with only half the luggage left in it from them taking the other half to the room I would have still had a single bed size to sleep in!!!
Oh no dear – you wouldn’t have humiliated me!!
And so we’re back on the road again……..not me of course – THEM

Miles whizz by……well ok then, whizzing as much as Land Rover whizzes!! To the land of the Ferrari and the Lambourghini and Maserati – er……and Fiats!!!
Well alright then let’s have a level playing field here? How many Ferrari’s have you seen off road in a foot of mud??
Exactly…….and let’s not forget that you can’t get 3 women’s luggage in a Ferrari either. The woman yes, but her handbag stays at home

Anyway, time for pit stop. Or rather a motor services station.

Ahha - the English have arrived…….lets be rude and appear odd to them?

So they did……….grumpy attitude over a packet of cigarettes – a sort of “they’re our cigarettes and we don’t really want to sell them to you lot”
Then outside the pet cat was being walked around the petrol station on its dog lead and harness – well, you do don’t you??
Of course there was no way on earth were the French going to out eccentric the Dearest One……..oh no way whatsoever?? What did she do??

She bought a kettle and tea bags because the hotel had no tea making facilities!!!

Note 1: Little Miss Contingency Packing didn’t think of that did she??

And so in to Italy………..

Oh what fun we’re having………….lets sing a happy song. Alternatively we could be worried!!

Why worry I hear you say?

Now let’s be clear about this – in a Land Rover you’re much higher off the ground, you can see more, see over the hedges, see over the cars in front of you and best of all they stay well out of your way. When we had our first big Defender the Dearest One was in an accident where a taxi (Nissan saloon) ploughed into the back of her when she was turning right. The driver of the taxi told the police at the scene he did not see her!!!!!!
He was taken away………..

Now all the above assumes just one small thing? And that is the assumption that once in the car you are tall enough to see over the dashboard!! And yes you’ve guessed it!! One of the crew couldn’t unless she organized and folded her coat on the seat to enable her to see over the dashboard when it was her turn to drive.

So point 6 above was overlooked because no one told me that one of the drivers was vertically challenged.
Had I have known this beforehand I would have probably asked the Dearest One if she also wanted me to fit blocks to the pedals as well……….

Note 2: Little Miss Contingency Packing didn’t think of that did she??

That night they found another ‘hotel’ to rest their weary souls and take on some food and drink.
And how come the Dearest One never drank Alcohol before these Italy trips?? Now I’m asked to fund a fine Red Wine (Barrel)!! No chance……..

So tonight it was to food that they went out for and of course this is Italy the obvious menu was thrown at them in a non too friendly Pizza restaurant. Believing the food would be thrown at them as well I have no doubt they turned to the red wine for comfort. But the English being as they are when abroad turned the whole episode to their advantage by laughing all the way through it. Proof as if it were needed that red wine calms the fevered brow when the chips are down………or the Pizza is thrown at you

And so the journey continues………….on and on our intrepid adventurers disappear into the distance to come back again and go off the beaten track?
Satnav – what Satnav?
So a ‘slight detour’ was agreed between the fearsome threesome that they would go on a detour to see more of the mountain pass………and by some quirk of luck also find a place to stop for the night. And so they did, ending up in little cosy village hotel with the mountains and snow all around them.
Oh bless……….how sweet, how simply so……….???

The next day they arrive at their appointed destination not far from the Raduno. Great, Leg 1 complete.

This was base camp Alpha for the next 4 days and of course they were not alone. Not by a long way. The ‘Brits’ abroad had all camped out in the same hotel, ‘most’ had flown over and hired cars. Those ‘most’ of all, wished they had driven it. This turned our fearsome threesome into overnight heroines.
So it was down for dinner and with 7 now at the table it was to the menu they turned – albeit the menu was in Italian (would the real Italian speaker please stand up) Please…
No one moved. So regardless and with the ‘when in Rome’ spirit (and the red wine spirit) they ordered straight from the menu.
No one knew what the hell they were eating but it was 5 courses and for 5 courses and not knowing what you’re eating is a brave move indeed. But the now famous red wine had taken affect so it tasted good.
But 5 courses are 5 courses and feeling more than overfed they retired for the evening.
And Little Miss Contingency Planning??
Yep………went through her bag again. No doubt a stock taking exercise (it reminded me of the scene in Toy Story with Mrs Potato Head packing for Mr potato head’s journey to save Woody) – oh forget it, I thought it was funny

For the next 3 days they spent in Dog World Heaven or more to the point Spin Heaven. Now I’m not going to comment on the dogs on show as they all working dogs but is the difference really that much over the ‘English’ Italian Spins……….???
Not for me to comment. And not going to…………over to you Dear!!!

On the last night they found (No Sat Nav was hurt during this detour moment) a fantastic pizza place across the road from the hotel!!!!! What?
Now here again the words food AND red wine join together and the Dearest One is clearly becoming an alcoholic. A sort of red wino…….
But the food was great – and for the menu - eeny meeny minee mo……..and another night of laughs. I assume over the yet again menu that was in Italian (what the hell did they expect for god sake? They’re in Italy) I know I know…….it was the pictures on the menu?

The following day was a sight-seeing day. Now this is simple enough isn’t it? Get in the car and have a drive around the local areas and take in the sights and sounds!!! Yep, you’ve guessed it? “Nothing is ever as it seems”

Like the French the Italians like their bicycle races and away from the winter chills the season for most the cycle clubs starts in March.
I know you’ve seen it many times in as many movies but this time it was the Awelymor Chuckabugs turn to get in amongst the riders and outperform them on the uphill bits and then get overtaken on the downhill bits. Well ok then, not quite overtaken but damned close. I was fascinated too understand how they came to get in amongst them in the first place? Then it hit me!!!!
Young Italian men, tight lycra shorts and………yea yea yea……..this is a family reading article.
Is that a spare water bottle or are you just pleased to us?
Sightseeing………..oh really……..!!
Anyway, I’ve digressed away from the show itself again. So we’ll get back on track here. Which is more than our intrepid adventurers did – the Satnav decided it couldn’t understand the Italian software being thrown at it and sent them out there way. As it was the Satnav tried to send them down a road that was blocked off. The crew never panicked nor were they stressed (much) If the Satnav said 20 minutes then 20 minutes it was……then the curse of death? One of the crew said it would take ‘about’ an hour and the Satnav was a Liar!!! And so it was too be. Their 20 minute journey took them the hour the crew member suggested it might. After this, the crew member concerned kept very quiet…and so did the Satnav. Useless thing didn’t even know the road was blocked off!!
But the guile and cunning of the crew got them to where they should have been.
By now though the car park was full and parking provided more entertainment. Oh come on? You’ve seen them parking a car – me, you and most of us could get a bus in that space. But ‘them’……….?

Car parked and it was off to see the parade of the dogs accompanied of course by men in tights? Cycle racers in lycra shorts and now men in tights….where’s this going?
It helps of course when the weather is so good as well with the gentle breeze wafting the crews Pizzas into the path of the dogs being shown!!!
Of course these dogs are air scent specialists and instead of running around the ring they headed straight towards the food source. Or would have done if they could. Close admittedly………but I bet the handlers were cursing them (in Italian of course)
As for the showing of the dogs? Completely different to the ‘English’ way of showing so an interesting comparison drawn and some lessons learned.

Souvenir buying next. Oh No!!!

I could run a competition here and ask you what you thought they bought. But that would be silly wouldn’t it?
I won’t keep you in suspense any longer……..they bought a book on Italian Spinones.

Disappointed?? I’m not, because I’m still trying to understand the logic?
It’s all in Italian (except the pictures of course - which are pictures)? Durrrrrrr
Leg 2 of this journey takes off from the Rimini coast through Northern Italy across to the South of France to a village called Modane. This little village sits nestled under the French Alps and the hills prior the Aix en Provence region and is a very lovely area. The crew knew the village had a hotel and they set off all rested and fully dogged up from the show days and sightseeing!!
The miles passed as did the scenery and of course eventually they crossed over into France, where it all came unstuck!!!
The French on hearing the crew were heading in their direction moved the village. Sounds ridiculous I know, but didn’t surprise me in the least. “Zose crazeee English Women are coming over the mountains, kwiklee, move the village”
Of course the crew was not lost, nor did it take a wrong road, nor indeed were they confused because an alp looked the same as the next alp. The Satnav was fine, they were fine, it was the French. They did this heinous act and moved that village.

Of course they found it eventually and settled for the evening – but those Frenchies?? Ces Naughtie

The journey from Modane the next day consisted of the sheer enjoyment of the scenery that is in abundance in this area. It’s a spectacular drive but I doubt without that folded up coat one of them wouldn’t have been able to see it!!!!

The Bourganeuf destination was the overnight stop and they found their friend’s house without the use of the Satnav, instead relying on good old telecommunications talking them in. I’m sure there was one who remained reasonably quiet at this point. There is a limit to cursing you know!!

A splendid evening with friends and of course the lovely hospitality of the hosts feeding and watering the crew – sorry that should read wining the crew (that’s wining and NOT whining) yea well, you know what I meant

The Satnav also rested that evening and was ready the next day for the trip to Calais and of course back to good old Blighty!! England!!!
But the Satnav was not finished with them yet for upon arrival at Calais the Satnav ‘suggested’ “This route requires a ferry” “would you like to take another route”???
The crew looked into the depths of the English Channel, looked at the Satnav and then fell about laughing. Which in itself was a unique experience? They did that without the aid of red wine………..

And for now folks that’s the end of this little adventure and all the crew were safely back in their homes. Where one of them was probably unpacking and will be for the next few days!!!! Little Miss Contingency Planning…….didn’t think about putting it all back did you?

As for the Dearest One?

Well I have to report that she has gone into Rehab

- I never budgeted for this element, but needs be and the devil drives
- (A Land Rover)!!!
- The Dearest One came back a raging Red Winoholic
- She is also suffering the withdrawal affects of Pizza every night whist in Italy
- They are also treating her eyes for overdosing on men in tights and lycra shorts

As for me?

- Well the above is cheaper than her bringing back a puppy as she did from the first trip!! That pleased me
- The Landy of course took it all in its stride
- I have had all traces of ANY wine removed from the house
- Pizza is Taboo

Stay tuned folks for the next episode of:

Italy trip 3: Spinone Baloni – Revenge of the Red Wino’s




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