Roseanne does a Mumism!

We’re boarding the ferry. We drive into the ship, the stewards direct us round the back, doing a u-turn around the cones to queue up in a tidy line beside the trucks, when suddenly our SatNav Roseanne pipes up with perhaps the best observation ever…

“Caution: ferry”

We’re still laughing! 



The Insignia has character, no seriously!

When I told Mum about Dad’s 12-hour adventure getting to London yesterday, including a motorbike breakdown, 7-hour wait at Peterborough services and Caravan Club recovery, she was all sighs and bless him comments. That was until I told her what car he’d got as a replacement – the thought of a Vauxhall Insignia being his rescue option had her in hysterics!

Now I’ll be first to admit I’ve never liked my parents’ car – it’s heavy, unresponsive, sluggish, unreliable and handles like a wet sponge. But the one we’ve got for Spain is a vast improvement. According to the rental agreement, it’s a Sports Tourer (that’s an estate, to the rest of us) but it’s got character!

Introducing Roseanne

So I have a habit of naming inate objects. My laptops and tablets have all been named after Bond girls: Vesper… Domino… Solitaire… My cars have all had names: FiFi Le Focus… Jimi (my first A3)… Xenia (my Merc)… Toni (my TT – hairdresser’s car)… my beloved Bruno (the Black edition)… and his SatNav, Stella…

So when Dad and I acquaint ourselves with the SatNav in the Insignia today, we decide she needs a name.

Vauxhall is part of General Motors, which is American, so we think the SatNav lady should be named after a memorable American female; an icon of her era, someone whose voice was distinctive, a key feature of her persona, someone who commanded authority, who people listened to, someone whose company we’d enjoy, have fun with, have a laugh with… Got it!

Ladies and gentlemen – meet Roseanne…




Saved by the Caravan Club

So Dad sets off from Yorkshire on Tuesday morning, to arrive in London around lunchtime… Yep, well it kind of went a bit pear shaped there.

The fuel tank on a motorbike being smaller than a car means you have to stop more often to fill up. So Dad got as far as Peterborough services (90 miles from home) and pulled in to fill up, only to discover his bike battery had died. Or rather it hadn’t been charging properly since leaving home. Bugger.

No it’s ok, he’s called the Caravan Club. What? Turns out Dad has a comprehensive insurance policy with the Caravan Club, which covers him for bike breakdown. Great!

Well not quite – all our luggage is in panniers and tank bags designed to fit a Triumph Sprint ST, so they won’t fit on another (replacement) bike. Fuggerella.

No it’s ok, the Caravanners can get him a car instead… Except the ferry is booked for a motorbike and two passengers. Do they have room for an extra car? Yes… hurrah! …for an extra £205. Flippety bollox.

But guess what, the Caravan dudes will cover that as part of Dad’s policy. Bonus! So ok, driving across Spain in a hire car isn’t quite the same as riding on the bike. But we’re getting a Polo – it’s German, it’s a little hatch, it’ll handle the windy little mountain roads of Northern Spain, so we can still take the scenic route with some fun, right?

Erm not quite. They couldn’t get a Polo in the end, so we’ve got a Vauxhall Insignia. What? You’re joking! The car Mum and Dad have at home? The car they do nothing but moan about? The car that breaks down on them at least once a month? The car Mum convinced Dad to buy, and now can’t convince him to replace?

I knew the Caravan Club were no good! #bloodycaravans

I jest, but it’s not all bad. We meant to leave on Tuesday, it turns out to be Wednesday, so what? A bike turns out to be a car, but a scenic ride over the mountains turns into a booze cruise! And packing light turns out to include a rucksack, two cases, three handbags, four pairs of shoes, numerous scarves and a rainbow of nail colours and manicure kit… Of course it does!

Apparently, the word of the moment is #agile – plans change, goalposts move, bikes break down and there’s always a caravans leading the mayhem. But if anyone wants any wine or beer bringing back from Spain, we have an Insignia Sports Tourer to fill! Orders please…



Let’s go racing

A few people have asked me recently, how come I travel to so many F1 races. So before I share the silliness of this trip, a little background for those who don’t know the background…

A few years ago, I took my dad to the #BelgianGP in Spa – I’ve loved F1 for as long as I can remember, but I’d never been to a race, dad hadn’t been since before I was born, I could afford to buy the race tickets, so the deal was: if he could get us there, I’d get us in… Five months and a whole lot of excitement and planning later, we set off on his motorbike, complete with tent a camping kit strapped onto the back, and had a blast. During the obligatory post-race analytical celebratory refreshment process, we realised that if we continued to do one race each year, we’d complete the F1 calendar the year dad turns 80… well there’s a reason, if ever we needed one! And so began the annual pilgrimage of dad and I going to an F1 race together each year, now affectionately tagged as #letsgoracing

In 2011 we were drawn, like olive oil to balsamic vinegar, to the passionate, flamboyant home of motorsport… We joined the Tafiosi in a sea of Ferrari red, in the glorious Italian province of Monza for the #ItalianGp #trip2

In 2012 mum and dad went off round NZ in a camper van, like recycled grads on a gap yar, whilst I went off solo and explored Honkers and the East coast of Australia… Naturally, being so close, it was rude not to coordinate the trip with the #AustralianGP in Melbourne, right? #trip3

That being the first race of the year, by mid-season we were getting itchy feet, and because Melbourne hadn’t been just the two of us, and no motorbike was involved, it was only acceptable to do Spa again, right? #trip4

By this point I’d well and truly caught the bug, both for F1 and travel, and snuck in a few extras including the #SpanishGP in Barcelona, #MonacoGP in Monte Carlo, #HungarianGP in Budapest, #EuropeanGP in Valencia, #AbuDhabiGP on Yas Island…

One of the many advantages of living in Europe, is that travel is relatively easy (compared to other countries, where you can travel thousands of miles just to get out of the country). But unfortunately, the number of GPs in Europe is diminishing, as emerging wealth in other countries allows Bernie to demand more and more money for hosting a race. Don’t get me wrong; the newcomers are putting on some spectacular shows and justifying their place in the calendar, but the traditional venues are dropping like flies. A sad state of affairs. So whilst the long hauls are attractive, the iconic tracks closer to home are more so. So in 2013, dad and I joined the bikers of the F1 paddock (who, every other year, opt to ditch the first class lounge in favour of the Black Forest and take the scenic route) and rode to the iconic Nurburgring for the #GermanGP! #trip5

Last year, Bernie announced that F1 would be returning to Austria. I’ve never been to Austria dad… Haven’t you? That’s no good… No further discussion required (other than shall we fly rather than ride this time, to minimise time off work and potentially have time for another race later in the year…?) Three months later we fly out to Vienna, drive across to Graz (if you’ve never been, go, it’s so pretty!) and join a sellout crowd at the new RedBullRing in Spielberg for the #AustrianGP! #trip6

Whilst I’ve squeezed in a few more races (#CanadianGP in Montreal, #MalaysianGP in Kuala Lumpur, and old favourites Barcelona and Budapest), dad hasn’t missed out either – he’s done a few bike trips with his brother, but has talked for years about riding across Spain… I think there’s a ferry from Plymouth to Santander dad, and one from Portsmouth to Bilbao… Really?… And Google says you can ride from there to Barcelona in a day… I expect so… And the transport from Barcelona to the track is really good, the trains run direct from Sants to Montmello, it’s easy… Well… The next thing I know, I get an email from Papa along the lines of “Oooops! I hope your passport is still valid!”