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………………
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”
– “Who’s us”?
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”
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:
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……………
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
“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”
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
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
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
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’………….
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.
they all stayed in one room………no issues
with that. Sensible and economical!!
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
Oh no dear – you wouldn’t have humiliated me!!
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 –
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
He was taken away………..
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
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……….
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’
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”
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
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
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
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!!!!
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
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
Satnav also rested that evening and was ready the next day
for the trip to Calais and of course back to good old Blighty!!
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
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
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