V is for Volvo
When we were young and daft, in the days before we got married, we toured the countryside in a very unchic Volvo 345. It was ice-blue in colour and weighed an absolute tonne. We know this because of the time we had to push it to get it started one morning…
The morning in question was one summer’s day on the seafront at Eastbourne. It was the summer Kevin and I cycled from our homes in Manchester to my Gran’s house in Stokenchurch, a trip that took us 3 days to complete and we stayed in youth hostels along the way. The week after that we decided to do a road trip in the conventional sense, in a car not on bikes.
We had pretty much spent up the week before and we couldn’t really afford to pay for hotels or even youth hostels as well as the cost of the petrol so we thought we would be clever and sleep in the car for a couple of nights. We were young, we were fit and healthy, and we were up for a bit of adventure.
The first day, we drove from Manchester to Eastbourne and we thought it would be really romantic/adventurous/daft to spend the night on top of Beachy Head. If you are British you will probably know that Beachy Head is a notorious suicide spot – we didn’t know that at the time – but it is on a line of cliffs that are absolutely spectacular, overlooking the sea and in the near distance was France. Very exotic to a 19 and a 17 year old….
We had our tea in a little cafe and decided to scout out a suitable spot to park up for the night. We decided on a small car park on the cliff top and right near to the edge – we could hear the waves crashing hundreds of feet below us – and we were sorted. Back seats folded down, sleeping bags rolled out, cameras out for the sunset and the shooting stars….fantastic.
We settled down when it went dark and we were all snuggled up and generally feeling pretty good….until around midnight when other cars started appearing and disappearing in the car park. There was a lot of movement and some very mysterious noises, and of course it was pitch black, and we got a bit nervous…
The nerves very quickly turned to outright fear for some reason – nothing in particular happened but you know what it’s like when one of you is scared and the other one feeds off it and makes it worse?? Well, we’d convinced ourselves that we were about to be murdered or thrown off the cliffs or something and in a blind panic we drove pell mell down off the cliffs and into the town at around 2am.
It was cold enough at the top of the cliff but it was even colder down on the sea front but we were that scared we didn’t even dare get out of the car to climb in the back and into the sleeping bags laid out. We “slept” sat upright in the front seats under a streetlight instead.
I remember the seemingly endless stream of drunks passing us at chucking out time, but then the whole place went as quiet as the grave until dawn. It was the weirdest night of my life, but it doesn’t end there.
When we decided it was late/early enough to go and find a cafe for some breakfast and a hot drink we found the car wouldn’t start. We were tired, cold, sore, frightened and were faced with pushing Ten Ton Tessie up a slight rise on the seafront to go and find food and warmth. ARGH!!!!
As safe and secure as the image Volvo has of its cars I can tell you that at 1am on a cliff top 200 miles away from home, they feel about as protective as a wet paper bag in a high wind.
And they aren’t very comfy to sleep in neither!!