The drive back to Bern was one of those journeys! As the Great Dane took up the back seat of the car, I bought a small 5′ x 3′ trailer, loaded it with assorted essentials, and included a deep frozen free range turkey for Christmas. My car was registered in Switzerland, so I ‘manufactured’ a Swiss style rear plate to conform to British rules. Fine – until we crossed the border at Basel. One kilometer into Switzerland and blue flashing lights appeared in my rear view mirror.
I pulled over and was told that I was using a forged Swiss plate and could not continue. They made me follow them to a secure depot where my sad little trailer was impounded. Doreen worried mostly about the turkey and we were allowed to take it with us in the car.
We were told that the trailer was too primitive to use on Swiss roads! A breakdown lorry would have to collect it. Arguing with Swiss police is futile, so we drove to our new apartment. A British friend saved the turkey in his deep freeze. Exhausted, we just fell into bed.
That same trailer, modified to carry my off-road electric buggy, has since been to Aberdeen, Cornwall and many places in between.
We lived another six years in Switzerland, taking trips to France, Germany, Italy and Corsica, with the Great Dane on the back seat. We loved the freedom to fill up with petrol and drive to anywhere in Europe.
Sadly, my MS was becoming more difficult to manage and in Spring 2000 I had to retire. The Swiss Company treated me very well, and made allowances for me and my wheelchair, but the mental pressure of working in 2 languages in a fast moving development environment proved too much in spite of the efforts of my neurologist who had me smoking cannabis (ugh!) and offered me ‘speed’ to kick-start my mornings. Not an option on the NHS!
So we come full circle. We sold the townhouse in Chester and bought an apartment in Spain which we visit mostly in winter. There have been a few incidents driving to Spain. We have been mugged twice on the Spanish motorway. Suffered a few mechanical problems in Franc; Once, driving in Northern France, the gear selector jammed. So we had an unplanned overnight stop in Arras and discovered a beautiful town, completely reconstructed after WW2. The locals have a special affection for the British, as we liberated the town on 3 occasions.
Here, we chose to live in Norfolk with its easy access to North London where both Jason and Rupert were working. No sooner had we moved here than Jason went to work in Geneva and then Cheshire, and Rupert is in Hampshire. But we have settled in Norfolk though sometimes feel we should be moving on somewhere. That is what our feet are telling us. A lifetime habit put to rest? Perhaps. Almost. Next summer we are going on holiday to the Peloponnese in Greece.
There are so many journeys we might still enjoy.
Cliff and Doreen Gardner
Edited, on behalf of the Editor, by Jean Marler