Friday, 11 July 2008

When Vanny met Bella

THIS is Fabio the VW Transporter, named after one part of a DnB DJ pairing Fabio & Grooverider, affectionately known as 'Vanny'... as in "Hiya Vannnyyyy!" or, in more fraught times, "Vanny you piece of shit, why won't you start?". Vanny was, on the whole, a reliable sort. Unless you drove him for more than about half an hour at a time, at which point if you turned him off, he'd refuse to start again until he'd cooled down. This, as you can imagine on a 1,764 km road trip, caused us one or two problems along the way. Namely problems that involved me pushing Vanny down a road / supermarket car park, usually watched by a car load of unhelpful (albeit slightly amused) French men, whilst Est sat in the drivers seat and did whatever you do to get vans going again.

One day me and Est pulled over at a supermarket near Perpignan in Southern France, parked up, turned off the engine, and went to get some lunch. Despite driving past the supermarket twice trying to find the entrance to the car park, we had missed the huge, great big banner across the front of it which said "Closed 13:00 - 15:00", so what with it being 14:00, we were more surprised than we should have been to find it dark, locked and unattended. As it turns out, most things in France close in the afternoon, and usually at the times when you most need something to eat or do, like lunchtime, tea time, and, in the case of tasting the goods at a Chateau de Vin, at the weekends. Anyway.

Of course, Vanny was knackered and busy recuperating after his long drive across the border that morning. We were the only two in the car park, apart from one youngish French bloke who was sitting on the kerb with a can of beer and a croque monsieur, bits of which he was picking off and feeding to a tiny black puppy at his feet, which made these pathetically small whining sounds whenever he got up to go somewhere else. Like across the road for a slash in the bush, for example. This emitted AWWWW's and OHHHHHHH's from me and Est. So we approached the bloke when he returned and, careful not to shake his hand, explained our problem and asked if he could help push the van, which he agreed to, as long as I "regardez le chien", which I went all gooey eyed over and picked up as much as possible. Because it looked like this:

Engine started, we had a conversation with the bloke, Michel, in broken French about three week old Bella. It turned out he'd only had her for three days, when he'd found her alone in the street, rifling about in some poubelles for food. Hearts warmed, we said our goodbyes and moved on, while I wrote a "to do" list for the trip ahead.

The last thing on the list, hidden in this picture is, of course "Pick up a stray dog (preferably puppy)". Despite numerous attempts, unfortunately this one wasn't ticked off by the end. Gypsies and crepés were, as was another addition to the list later on, which read 'get pulled over by the police'. Oops.


Boy said...

AWwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!! Puppy!

Hannah said...

Heh. Loving the fact that "Frenchie" is on le list.

Please Don't Eat With Your Mouth Open said...

boy - my thoughts exactly

hannah - Bagging a frenchie was Est's top, if not only priority during our trip. There was much horn beeping, much waving to ambulance men behind us, and much yelling out of van windows. Just like the french men do, in fact.

theperpetualspiral said...

I'm not sure I could hack driving across France in such a vehicle myself! Especially if it kept breaking down.

I did like the list of things to do though, how many did you manage?


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