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How not to travel with an American Motorhome (RV) in Europe
on 28 April 2015
I am so glad that I read this book. No, not read, finished this book. And the only reason that I did finish it was because on principal I do not like to leave a book half read. Since first picking it up I struggled to find even the remotest interest within the pages. The author managed to take what could have been mildly amusing accounts and suck the life out of them by turning them into shallow, disjointed ramblings.
The premise of the book is that the author, and his long suffering wife, buy a hugely expensive and overlarge motorhome to travel through Europe. He is neither capable nor qualified to drive such a vehicle, so the first few chapters are devoted to a fragmented expose of how they came to buy this monstrosity and the process of learning to drive it. As becomes familiar later in the book, any setbacks are always the making of others and seldom result in anything approaching an amusing anecdote, let alone the hilarity promised by reading the back cover. Having finally got on the road, we are then forced to read what appears to be a street atlas of road numbers as he navigates through France and Spain, staying at one inappropriate camp site after another. You would have thought that when buying a motorhome the size of Dorset, and attaching Boris the ‘Mercedes’ to the back of it, he might actually have planned his route ahead to avoid minor lanes and campsites smaller than his ‘pull-out living area’.
Still eager to find the promised ‘hilarious scrapes’, I persevered only to read of how they enjoyed a leisurely Sunday when he read a book while his wife did the domestic chores. Or when he was amused by the prolonged setting up of recent German arrivals as they made ready their site including ‘digging trenches’. And oh the fun in learning that as he showed 30 Spaniards around the RV, he held one of his shoes aloft to indicate that they should remove theirs, and not that he was a Muslim. Not of course that all 30 wanted to go aboard, no, of course only the women were interested in the domestic arrangements and the men far more engrossed by the external lockers. But probably one of the more disquieting revelations, was his annoyance that the Spanish authority run establishments that closed for the day in acknowledgement of the Madrid bombings when he only had that particular day to visit. Such heart-warming empathy is rare.
Now if you are still reading this review, then I consider that I have done a better job than the author who habitually starts what appears might be an interesting story, only to suddenly deviate away to such trivia as ‘we noted a Lidl for potential shopping later’. Thank goodness for the great British supermarket abroad I say. Or his copied and pasted descriptions of historic sites that lack any warmth or character and in which he manages to come across as being totally unmoved by the most notable attractions. He even makes some of the most stunning mountain routes in Europe sound boring, largely I guess because his own enjoyment of them was spoilt by his anxieties of driving a monster RV.
So, would I recommend this book? No, not unless you get bored of sticking a red hot needle in your eye and can think of nothing better to do. I was given more interesting books to read at school for exams and that’s saying something. Is it a good read? Not even if you happen to be on holiday in Europe and your talkative neighbours drive a socking great RV with a Mercedes strapped to the back of it!
(Reviewed by an ardent motorhome owner who loves the thrills of travelling abroad, and who has not been put off by How Katie Pulled Boris!)