Happy Christmas (OS034)

Previously: I’m in Dunkirk with Pam (my Lodger who wouldn’t return to my house due to suspicions about my other lodger Mal Evolent). Foolishly, I wrote a blunt postcard to Mal asking him to vacate the house. He reacted badly to this but as it happens that mattered little as the police called to arrest him for Cybercrime. In order to conceal the evidence, he blew up his room and for all I know, the rest of MY house”. Due to mistakes, I made as a youth, the police may want to arrest me also. I just don’t know.

Bit of a dilemma. I’d like to go home and check out the damage to the house but there is a risk I may be arrested. Pam suggested her father could come over in his motor cruiser and give us a lift back. What? I knew he ran a successful business but that’s real money. We discussed it and agreed, I could get into even more trouble and Pam and her father could be prosecuted for assisting a criminal or something.

In the end, we decided, not to return until we knew whether I am a wanted criminal. In the meantime, it’s Christmas and we should try to enjoy it.

I received a text from my neighbour showing Teddy with the toy Crocodile I bought for him. He looks like he’s well on the way to ripping it apart. Dogs!

I thought that I’d get Pam something as she is with me on the trip so whilst in the gents (in the Art Gallery) I ordered a Meditation course, knowing that she is often anxious. I completed the task despite much banging on the WC door and some French phrases which I fortunately am unable to translate. Bit of an unfortunate present now that we’re not sure if and when we’ll be back in Manchester.

Pam pulled a large package from her bag. Hastily unwrapping it, I found reflective jackets, something to stick on the headlamps, a GB sticker and warning triangle. A bit pessimistic I thought but she said it was all essential and that we’re not legal at the moment. Thoughtful. She had also bought two turkey ready meals and cranberry sauce. So, that’s how we spent Christmas day with a microwave Christmas dinner, pulling crackers and wearing high vis jackets. I’ve had worse Christmases.

In the afternoon, we decided to drive along the coast. No sooner had we set off than my mobile rang. It was ‘Ali Teration’ who I worked with at the Biscuit Factory rang and said, Claire Voyant just came in and said,

“Campers clapped out, cornering carelessly could collapse clutch catastrophically”

Just a bit of background. Ali is one of my few friends from the biscuit factory and Claire works for the ‘Futures’ department in the factory predicting future biscuit trends. She has an amazing ability to foretell the future, unfortunately, only by thirty seconds or so. Before I left my job, she predicted the explosion in the biscuit factory. Anyway, I was still on the phone when it happened. Nothing to do with me, I hasten to add. It’s all in my short story (below).

This time, I hoped that her prediction was wrong. I was still hoping, when I turned off the promenade and the van slowed to a halt with the engine revving. 

“Thanks for ringing Ali but please could you ask Claire to look a bit further ahead as less than a minute’s notice is not helpful.”

“Thanks anyway.”

Pam prodded me …

“Oh! Yes, have a great Christmas.” I added.

“Ave an amazing adventure.” alliterated Ali.

I broke out the warning tringle and we donned the reflective jackets again getting a few curious looks from the locals and tourists alike.

Fortunately, we were near to a garage and the mechanic came out to view the camper. I don’t know why he didn’t have a reflective jacket but I caught him looking enviously at ours. I think it was envy.

The mechanic diagnosed “ ton embrayage est cassé” which Pam translated to mean your clutch is not too well.

“I didn’t know that you speak French Pam.” I said. ….

“Multi-talented. I speak French, German and Barnsley, since travelling with you.”


Fortunately, the garage owner had an empty “Gite” which he rented out. He gave us (Pam) directions and asked us to be careful to not hurt ‘Boris’ the spider who had lived there years. We followed his directions, or more precisely Pam’s interpretation of the directions.

Pam explained “He said ‘walk upstream’ at the junction. I think he meant against the traffic, but it could have been referring to a real stream”

No stream in sight, we walked on passing a number of derelict houses.

“Look Oliver, les chauves-souris. A bat. Do you know that means bald mouse?”

“Interesting” but begs the question, what do they call a bald mouse?

Pam conversed further with the only person we came across and found to our dismay that it was one of the derelict houses we had passed.

“That’s not a Gite. It’s an accident waiting to happen.” I commented.

”Kicking open the jammed door of this derelict building, mice and beetles (bigger than the mice) scattered in all directions. Unfortunately, the door swung back and on closing it, we found what I’m guessing was Boris squashed on the wall. That was no ordinary spider. He was enormous, no doubt kept to chase off the mice (and probably cats judging by his size).

The downstairs walls were lined with hardboard and there was no indication as to what was behind there but I suspected little in the way of mortar. Upstairs was marginally more habitable. It looked like this was the living / sleeping area, kind of hermetically sealed by a door and more hardboard walls keeping out the wildlife park beneath. We just stayed to sleep, which we did with the light on. This sadly attracted moths bigger than the bats circling outside the building. I wonder what the French for moth is, maybe ‘hairy toad’ or something.

“Papillon de nuit” I was reliably informed.

We heard noises below but assumed that some larger animal, maybe a fox had taken up residence now that Boris was in no fit state to chase them away. Sleep was an option neither of us took up. I sat up, wooden baton in hand, which had earlier fallen off the hardboard wall. Nothing was going to catch me unaware.

Dawn arrived slowly and we jointly rejected the thought of cooking anything in the wildlife kitchen. Pam said she hadn’t slept a wink due to rusty bed springs digging in her back and the unfamiliar wildlife sounds keeping her awake all night.

The mechanic did not say how long the job would take and to be honest we wondered if he would complete quickly with us paying to rent his condemned building?

Either way, we agreed not to spend another night in the Gite after Pam had protested loudly even if it meant sleeping on another park bench being buzzed by bald mice. So that was it. Decision made. We walked ‘downstream’ (with no stream in sight) and soon approached the garage hoping that we would be soon on our way. My precious camper was in the garage with a raised bonnet but no owner in sight. Pam called out something in French and we waited and waited …

… and waited.

I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to add comments about the blog at the bottom of the blog. Here’s some thoughts:
    • Whats your worst Christmas present?
    • Have you had any Christmas disasters?

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Stranded (OS035)