Nothing to Declare (OS030)

Previously: In my panic to get away from the disturbing ‘Camp Horated’ I guess I drove without due care and attention or recklessly (however the police put it) or like an idiot, as Pam put it. Fair comment. Anyway, as a result, two walkers got some cuts and grazes in Scotland and unbelievably they turned up at the same garage in Barnsley and recognised my campervan. Consequently, we find ourselves hiding behind a shelf in a garage in Barnsley (as you do).

Curiosity got the better of me so I took out my phone and checked how far we had come from Scotland and informed Pam;

“We’re two hundred and thirty miles from ‘Camp Horated’. They must have gone to A&E whilst we had a coffee at ‘Loch Smith’ and then went wild swimming at ‘Loch Err’. I mean, what’s the chances of them turning up here at the very same time? I think I should go over and apologise and explain that we were escaping from a possible ghost situation.”

“Put your phone away and don’t say ghosts” said Pam abruptly.

Actually, I’ve been thinking about that. All we saw were parts of a crashed golf buggy under the bridge, no bodies.”

“Well, there wouldn’t be would there?” Pam scolded.

“I guess but ‘Warden Den’ and ‘Assistant Ant’ looked flesh and blood, not like an orb or an ethereal figure with their head under their arm. Maybe it was someone else who crashed. Let’s call them (say) ‘Owner Owen’”

Pam chuckled quietly and suggested we park the discussion.

“Let’s sort this issue first. The walkers didn’t look happy. Keep quiet and keep your head down. I’ve an idea. I don’t think they will recognise us, just the van.”

“Come on Pam, one was right next to your window.”

“Yes, but he adjusted the wing mirror with his face and then dragged his cheek along the side window looking away from me and the other one was busy running away.”

“I think you may have something there Pam.”

Just then, the garage attendant peered round the edge of the shelf and said ‘What yer up to”.

Pam replied quickly “Oh, we’re just choosing from your wide selection of … “then glancing at the shelf, “windscreen wipers”.

I butted in “I think we may be OK for another couple of thousand miles though.”

Pam actually did have a plan and we put it into action. We walked to the car at the pump next to the van and struck up a conversation next to it. When the walkers were satisfied that we were not driving the van they turned their backs. We were just about to make a run for the van and drive off when car owner yelled over “Oy! Wats tha doin? Gerout me car.” I had overdone the act a bit by opening the car door and the owner was watching. This of course alerted the walkers.

‘Run” said Pam. We did and sped off. “Idiot”.

Fortunately, the walkers were slow, one being in a wheelchair. On the other hand, their car looked a lot faster than my old converted builder’s van.

Pam took charge “Put your foot down and pull into that track on the right.”

I did as instructed and we stayed there half an hour.

“That should do it.” said Pam and we set off, cautiously, to the shops figuring we would lose them in the crowds. Shopping, was time consuming and extensive. We decided to spend time hiking on the trip, so Pam made quite a lot of purchases; walking boots, walking socks, waterproofs, a rucksack, flask, dehydrated food and energy tablets, handheld GPS and portable camping stove all of which went into her ‘Poppins’ bag. I advised against the emergency shelter, flares and a marine band radio. I was hoping to limit the hiking to city or coastal walks, not an expedition into the outback (which I don’t think they have in northern Europe).  Anyway, I don’t think it is mountain / marine rescue week at Aldi.

Before long we were boarding a ferry at Hull, bound for Rotterdam.

We spent some time watching the land fade over the horizon with Pam taking a few shots on her phone.

A fellow passenger enjoying the same view, asked if we wanted a picture of the two of us.

“That would be great, thanks,” said Pam.

“On your honeymoon?” asked the lady.

Why would she think that? I was about to disappoint the lady, when Pam said

“Yes, that’s right. Just married, last week.”

This was followed by an extensive discussion of the imaginary; dress, colours, venue, band, food and speeches.

I was stunned by Pam’s elaborate fabrication but decided playing along would be the best course of action.

Pam put her arm around me and the lady commenced the photography process in an annoyingly rigorous way:

“No, you have your eyes closed… Smile properly…. Flatten your hair down…. May be best if you put the rucsack down…. No, out of the shot.”

The wedding photographer wasn’t even that demanding at the fictional wedding.

Pam studied the many images and commented “You’ve taken some lovely shots. I’ll show them to our children, when we start a family.”

The lady smiled and I swear a tear welled in her eye. “You two, have a great honeymoon” she urged and wandered off.

That was embarrassing. I could not imagine why Pam had fabricated this alternative existence. She assured me that it was just for a laugh to avoid having to explain. She’s deep.

The ferry trip was mercifully quick as the sea was rough.

We left the ferry and Pam asked “Why are you singing ‘Pass the Dutchie on the left-hand side.”

“Was, I?” I asked, “Oh! it’s just to remind me to pass dutch cars on the left.”

“You can’t sing that and anyway it’s wrong. They drive on the right.”

“I know but if it’s a dual carriage way….”

“Great, have you got a song for roundabouts and pelican crossings too?”

“You always sing whatever’s in your head, don’t you?” she added. “You sang ‘There could be trouble ahead’ when we left the house. That didn’t help at all.”

“I didn’t…. did I?  It’s not concious, just happens. I didn’t mean anything.”

“Think with your mind before you sing with your mouth.” She scolded.

“Anyway, focus Pam, that customs officer seems to be heading for us. What’s that expression Pam.”
“Business, Oliver. He means business.”

He waved us into a covered area and asked us to get out of the van.  There were numerous questions about where we are from, where we are going. He checked our passports, driving licence and then asked Pam to empty her bag on the counter. Pam looked horrified for some reason.

I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to add comments about the blog at the bottom of the blog. You could tell me about your challenging trips.

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