Van Matters

European standardizing may prescribe the bend in bananas, but it has not reached the world of gas bottles. Every time we enter a new country, we have to change to a new system, gas bottle and all. By now, we have 5 adapters and two hoses, and in the last year, we’ve had 6 different gas bottles.


Enter the German arena, where every other country’s system is declared illegal, in fact life threatening. It doesn’t matter that Emma has recently been inspected by a UK certified plumber and has a Gas Safe certificate. Apparently, if we get stopped on the road here, we could get fined, and personel at a camping place may request to inspect the system and send us off the camp ground if found wanting. It would be relatively easy to convert to a German system ( still costing around 100 Euros), but the German system seems irremovable, with a kind of screw that eats itself into the thread. This would cause problems in all subsequent countries… We visit 4 different camping accessories and gas bottle shops before we strike lucky with GasProfi24 in Bonn, where a very friendly young man named Christian helps us find a solution. We are now the proud owners of a German adaptor, hose and bottle…which we can swap again once we get down to Italy!!!


Christian is about to go on a two-week holiday to Kos, to visit relatives. We ask him how the refugee situation has impacted on his family. He reckons that the media are distorting what is happening in Kos, creating an impression that the whole island is overrun by refugees. He says unless you are right by the port where people need to register with the police, you don’t notice that much difference. He thinks that Athens is much more affected.

Conversation everywhere in Germany, even with strangers, turns to the plight of the refugees within minutes. In Zons, where we visit my friend Lotte once more, I speak to a car park attendant and toilet cleaner, a simple-minded person, who admits himself that he would normally be suspicious of strangers. But somehow in Germany, the message has got across to put oneself into the place of the refugees and see things from their side. There is a German expression that says someone doesn’t look beyond the rim of their own plate. This man was such a person, but even so, he had compassion for the refugees. Mr. Car Park tells me in no uncertain terms that if Germany was a war zone, he’d flee too, who wouldn’t? You would flee too, he tells me, he’s sure of that.

As if ISIS is not enough, Russia and the USA are now bombing Syria too. I don’t know what the right solution is, but somehow I can’t imagine it makes a difference whose shrapnel destroys your house and kills your family when you are at the receiving end.


For some photos of the beautiful little town of Zons and a little story involving pigs, plus a couple of photos of my charming husband, go to Flikr.


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