Andy Richardson: Muddy marvellous mate ends motorhome mayhem
It was the moment I’d been dreading. I had to reverse a too-long motorhome onto a too-narrow driveway by driving across a neighbour’s waterlogged lawn. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
For two years’ running, I’ve endured vehicles stuck in the mud.
On the first occasion, a Transit van that I ill-advisedly drove onto a lawn, to deposit a winter’s worth of wood for the fire, became marooned for about two months.
When it was eventually rescued, the lawn had been gouged like the skin of a deer under attack from a lion.
The brakes had been destroyed, on one side, with an important cable severed and all sorts of damaged caused by my crazy attempts to remove it.
The following year, I got wise to the mud.
And so having beached the same vehicle on a different part of my own lawn – I know, idiot, idiot, idiot – I did the sensible thing. I jacked it up, slipped plastic grids beneath the wheels, then drove it off the grass.
The only trouble was, the jack had to lift the vehicle so high that the chassis buckled and I ended up with an underside of the van that looked like a boxer’s face after sparring with Tyson Fury. Not pretty.
The guy in the garage told me I had to get it fixed and so, for two years running, there were frightening bills for extracting an innocent Transit van from a lawn that resembles a green and brown swimming pool.
The thing is; we live in an area where the ground holds water like a lover. Between October and April, the only sensible thing to do is keep well away, or invest in a decent pair of Wellington boots.
Except they don’t make Wellington boots for Transit vans, so they keep getting stuck.
Which is why I’d been dreading today.
A motorhome that had been merrily driving along the highways and byways of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales was returned.
And muggins – sorry, and I – had the responsibility of getting it back to base, which involved an impossible excursion over part of the neighbour’s lawn.
I did the sensible thing and bought a few square metres of plastic grids, that allow you to drive over stuff without getting stuck.
And perhaps they’d have worked, if I’d laid them out end-to-end and spent an hour pressing them down.
There’s never an hour though, is there, for laying out plastic squares end-to-end, and after a few minutes of shuffling around, I reversed, the wheels slid off the plastic, and then the inevitable happened.
Deeper and deeper the 5-tonne vehicle plunged.
The word ‘stressful’ accurately describes the ensuing moments. I’d successfully blocked a driveway used by six neighbours with five tonnes of heavy metal.
I’d successfully destroyed a neighbours’ lawn. I’d successfully blocked one of my own vans onto a drive – with that van required at an address later that day and already laden with cargo.
I phoned a friend: Luke, the local mechanic, who frequently proves that superheroes don’t always wear capes.
Sometimes they drive 4x4 vehicles equipped with towbars that help foolish motorhome buyers who are literally stuck in the mud.
He reversed. It took less than a minute. And the motorhome was free. I paid him. He refused to take the money. There are some decent people in the world, if you look hard enough.
Usually, they’re hiding among the fakes and frauds, the ne’er-do-wells and the crooks.
But they do exist. And Luke saved the day.
The prospect of enduring similar next year was too much, however, and so I phoned another friend.
Yes, a new drive, new gates, and the removal of a leylandii hedge are all going to be necessary as long as I continue on my journey with a too-long motorhome that really doesn’t enjoy driving down a narrow track and reversing over a neighbour’s lawn that resembles a bog.
It wasn’t just Luke who was given a tip. We bought flowers, an apology and fixed the turf for the neighbours.
And now we’re in the hands of a chap who’s going to fix the drive, and the leylandii.
What could possibly go wrong?