PHOTOGRAPHS NOVEMBER 2007
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When I'm in the UK I spend an awful lot of time in the company of Caliburn. And what with my bed, my heater, my electric blanket and so on, I'm quite comfortable sleeping in him
I have quite a database of places where I sleep on my travels around the UK. This is at Rudyard, near Leek, where there is an abandoned railway station now used as a model railway exhibition. This little corner of what used to be the goods yard is quite comfortable.
A few days later saw me in London at the Public Records Office - now the National Archives. I slept in Caliburn on Kew Green, a really nice place to stay as you can see in the photograph. No public convenience or suitable bush, at least as far as I can see. At least I have the flower pot, but I could make good use of a large wide-necked plastic bottle.
One problem with being out and about in France late at night and early in the morning is the problem of obtaining fuel.
On the motorways it's not all that bad but anywhere else it's rather difficult. Manned petrol stations are few and far between (in the "hundreds of miles" category) and I have yet to find an automated pump that takes a foreign credit card.
This is why I travel around with a pressure pump and two 20-litre containers full of fuel. Transferring the diesel with the pump takes seconds.
You'll notice that the containers are calibrated into litres. I found an automatic petrol station in Belgium and using my Belgian card put the fuel in litre by litre, marking off the levels with a black marker pen.
Crude, but effective. Just like me in fact.
The Mini these days is no longer made by Morris, or British Leyland, or Rover but by BMW - which bought Rover, stripped the company of its 4-wheel drive technology, absorbed the Mini, and then abandoned the rump of the company to the wolves.
BMW redesigned the Mini and walloped up the price, and then left it at that. That is, of course, until just now. This one-car range has now been supplemented by an estate car, known as the Clubman - a name that is a throwback to the late 1960s and early 1970s when there was an older style of mini with that name.
I can't make up my mind whether or not I like it, but there's certainly something quite attractive about the rear end. Wasn't it the actress who said to the bishop that the best bits are always round the back?
But whether you like it or not, the thing that is going through my mind is whether or not BMW is going to relaunch the Minivan. One of British Leyland's biggest failures was to abandon that and I'd certainly be interested - although not at the price that BMW will want for one.
From this side you can actually see the join! And you'll notice that the right-hand side is different from the left hand side. I'm not quite sure who would want to do this or why they would want to do it anyway, but there you go.
I think I'm gradually coming round to the idea that I like the car. But there isn't any way I'm going to buy one. It might be of more practical use than a saloon, but if the price of the saloon is anything to go by, then it's likely to be way out of my pocket.
Another place I can recommend stopping for the night is a lay-by that I found on the A10 near Puckeridge, just north of the turning for Bishops Stortford and Stansted.
Again, it's nice, quiet and sheltered from the traffic. There's also a burger van that pulls in here in the morning, from which coffee can be purchased at a most democratic price.
Downside is that there is no privacy for the early morning trip to the beichstuhl and so the flower pot came in quite handy here. And it was only then that I noticed that there was no waste bin either. I bet the guy with the burger van had quite a surprise when he emptied his rubbish that evening.
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