Graham Laing decided to retire 10 years earlier than planned to enjoy an epic driving tour with his SLC. The plan, inspired by conversations with his Father, was to drive the SLC from the southern most tip of mainland Europe in Spain to the northernmost tip of mainland Europe in Norway.
When he told his children, they said ‘you should write a blog about it’… So that’s exactly what Graham is doing. Graham approached the SLSHOP and asked whether we would be interested in hosting his work, and we were only too happy to share his story. The SLCenic Route was born!
In this final instalment Graham arrives home after 10,000 miles behind the wheel of his SLC, and summarises the trip.
The SLCenic Route
Episode 33 – Charleroi to Home via ferry 220 miles
Nothing fancy today, this part of Europe is fairly flat and I needed to get to the early morning ferry so for once it was a quick motorway blast to Calais.
This gave me time to think about my Dad and how much he would have enjoyed doing this. Not on his own, but with Mum they would have been a great team and had a brilliant time. One of my first things to do, once back in the UK, is a drive to Scotland to sit with Mum and tell her all about it.
In total I’ve driven 10,000 miles through the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar, Andorra, Monaco, Italy, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Twelve foreign languages; none learned. Even when I thought I had learned “be calm” in Italian while waiting in the alps, I had forgotten by the evening and when googling it, got it wrong and was caught out by a much smarter friend. I’m bad enough at English; other languages are beyond my sad brain. However, if there is one language I recommend you learn, it’s French, not the most widely spoken or known by the most people, but the one that is spoken by people who are least likely to speak English. Oui?
It’s wrong to generalise too much, as my lovely French friends all speak better English than me. But in France I found it hardest to communicate and wish I had tried harder to learn their language.
Met some marvellous people, seen amazing sights, learned things, made lasting memories and thought mad thoughts. My best holiday ever.
On the run to Calais, I got a text from my eldest, asking for a lift, a couple of hours after I was due to arrive.
Nothing quite like being wanted, but it did get me thinking, where next and how soon can I get away!
At the moment there are 3 areas vying for the next journey.
- Northern Spain, the Pyrenees and a return visit to Sad Hill Cemetery.
- The bit of the trip I missed out, a drive down western Germany to do a week or 2 in Switzerland, taking in a few walks and driving the many passes I missed, then back home via Paris.
- My favourite country Norway and a 3 or 4 week trip. At least two weeks driving round the south west and a run up to Lofoten Islands broken in half by an 11 day, small mail boat trip, round the fjords.
Or maybe something else, who knows.
The cross channel ferry was empty, early seems to be a good time to travel, comfy seats and got a decent rest for once, ready to reset my brain to drive on the left again. It took me a couple of weeks of driving on the right before it came naturally; I wonder what it will feel like going back to the left?
It took 5 minutes, brains are wonderful things.
It’s great to be back in my own bed, see family and friends, having a fridge full of food and not living out of a suitcase, but it was a great 5 weeks.
A good friend asked if I had changed. Others seemed to have; unfortunately I’m just as daft as ever.
Now to dig out the DVD of The Good the Bad and the Ugly.
The star of the trip is of course the SLC.
Perfect all the way, not a nut or washer out of place. Truly a majestic car. It does need a service, a wash and a hoover but if there is one thing I would like to tell people that have a classic Mercedes-Benz or are thinking about getting one…. Polish less, drive more.
Polish less, drive more.Graham Laing, after 10,000 miles of driving the SLCenic route
The SL Shop would like to thank Graham for all his hard work in putting this fantastic blog together. Are you thinking of embarking on a trip in your SL? Contact us, we’re keen to support SL based adventures big or small.