World Cup 2006 Blog

From our reporters in Germany

Carry on camper van

fletch203.jpgLONDON - Hello I'm Paul Fletcher, one half of "Fletch and Ricco" - we'll be the most regular contributors to this World Cup blog.

Our blog starts for real when we leave England for Germany on 7 June, but don’t for a moment think that we haven’t already been busy.

Ricco (Martin Richardson) and I will travel around Germany in a mobile home and with this in mind recently went on a day’s driver training with one of the best in the business - Ronny Mapes.

“Ronny,” said Ronny, “has a saying for everything.” And he really wasn’t joking.

“If it's clear grab a gear”, “Brakes to slow, gears to go” and “More paint, more danger”, are just a selection of Mapes' wisdom.

We met at a car park off the A3 south of London early in the morning and for the next few hours learnt how to drive the Ronny way.

van203.jpg

Of course, as all instructors who have been round the block a time or two well know, the key to underlining you own skills is best achieved by highlighting the numerous flaws of those you are teaching.

Martin and I each drove for a few miles - I simply wasn’t very good, Martin had a touch of the boy racer about him.

Then Ronny took over - smooth corners, vanishing points and optimum sight lines. Honest, it was a joy to behold.

I’d picked the mobile home up the day before and spent ages looking at it before plucking up the courage to climb in and drive.

van270.jpg

The 2.8 litre Fiat Ducato, for those of you in the know, is huge, especially given that we got the last one left. How does this affect the size? Because it is disabled converted and, with its huge shower space at the back, stretches for an impressive 6.3 metres.

Being a mini driver, the motor home seemed huge but Ronny was full of reassuring words and handy clichés that soon put me at ease.

We lunched at another car park, this one over looking the North Downs, and ate our bacon butties surrounded by police driving instructors and people walking their dogs.

Ronny then took us for a spin on the M25, explaining the true art of overtaking and the merits of triangle and diamond formations (don’t ask).

By the time we shook hands and bade our farewells to Ronny in mid-afternoon I felt as though I was well on the way to taming the monster.

Of course, we drive on the left in England. . .

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:42 PM on 16 May 2006,
  • Richard A wrote:

If you leave for Germany on the 7th of July you will sadly have missed the entire tournament although there will be a tremendous sausage festival to visit in Dortmund.

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  • 2.
  • At 01:48 PM on 17 May 2006,
  • claire, blog editor wrote:

Well spotted Richard, that now reads '7 June', though Fletch will no doubt appreciate the tip about the sausage festival..

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  • 3.
  • At 04:48 PM on 17 May 2006,
  • mspoke wrote:

Car-parks, in a motorhome, blimey can you post the picture once you have ripped the roof off the thing please.

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  • 4.
  • At 06:11 PM on 17 May 2006,
  • Andrew King wrote:

To mspoke,

Have you never heard of an outdoor carpark?

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Excellent article for your blog. I am predicting that Germany or Brazil will win the World Cup given experience and discipline. In the first game between Germany and Costa Rica, Germany will defeat Costa Rica by a goal of 2 to 1 [I say this with a heavy heart because Costa Rica is one of my favorite teams].

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  • 6.
  • At 11:14 AM on 18 May 2006,
  • mspoke wrote:

Andrew - yes, but all over the continent the entrance to car parks (outdoor ones too!) usually have a 7-8ft height barrier and you are likely to forget you are driving something 10 feet tall. Just posting from experience having followed sports events across Europe myself, I've had a few near-misses when I've forgotten what I'm driving.

Driving on the right is the least of their worries.

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  • 7.
  • At 11:37 AM on 18 May 2006,
  • John Durrant wrote:

Hello, I am a freelance sports journalist from Scotland and was unfortunately unable to get any media accreditation for the World Cup (but like the Murphys I'm not bitter) and was just wondering if there is any space left on the camper van (sorry, motor home) for me?
Being a Scot, maybe I'd bring an interesting dimension to the trip considering my country is a footballing non-entity and the Auld Enemy, England, have a very real chance of winning football's biggest prize.

PS: I'll cook breakfast and dinner every day of the trip...and wash the dishes. Shall I pack my bags then?

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  • 8.
  • At 02:56 PM on 18 May 2006,
  • Fletch wrote:

John, the idea of somebody making breakfast every morning really has its appeals, especially with a promise to do the washing up as well.

Alas, I'm not sure that there will be any spare room inside the mobile home. It is a bit like the tardis in reverse - it seems huge from the outside (and when you're driving), but not quite so spacious once inside.

You are not the first person to ask the question but you definitely delivered the best pitch.

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  • 9.
  • At 03:01 PM on 18 May 2006,
  • Ben Gallop, Editor, BBC Sport Interactive wrote:

Mspoke is spot-on. These continental car parks seem designed to trap unsuspecting tourists. I should know - I tried to drive under one such barrier in Brittany last summer, totally forgetting there was a roof box on the top of the car. Believe me, it did not make for a pleasant outcome. Hopefully Fletch and Ricco will be nothing like as less absent-minded than me - but fellas, just make sure you're attuned to the sound of ripping metal...

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  • 10.
  • At 04:23 PM on 18 May 2006,
  • Richard wrote:

Hello, we shall be travelling to Germany in our very own campervan.
It's a six birth monster....unfortunately I have five rather large friends along for the journey!

Any tips on where to stay in Frankfurt.
We are thinking Eine Tesco Karpark ?

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  • 11.
  • At 04:34 PM on 18 May 2006,
  • Andrew wrote:

Assuming you make it to Munich for June 9th...! make sure you head to the English Garden for some pre-tournament build up before the opening game. The place hosts a wonderful beer garden where ample waitressess serve steins of beer, 4 at a time.
Look forward to seeing you there!
Good luck
;o)

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I'm very envious here. As a podcaster covering the World Cup, I'd love to be out there in person.

If you're trying to pass the time inbetween matches, check out the podcast. We put out a new one every day, chock full of news and listener comments. Feel free to cover us in your blog :)

The site is: http://soccershout.com

Our free world cup wallchart can be found at: http://media.libsyn.com/media/soccershout/
Soccer_Shout_World_Cup_Wallchart_v1.xls

The wallchart can help you run a prediction league with all the people in your office / class / mobile home.

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  • 13.
  • At 11:58 AM on 19 May 2006,
  • James Piggford wrote:

Fletch, you think that you will be struggling for space in your motorhome? there are 2 of you in yours, we have got 5 of us... in a 4 berth motor home!!!
Gonna be more the friendly :-)

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  • 14.
  • At 03:43 PM on 19 May 2006,
  • Peter Hobson wrote:

Hi there.

Im one of 8 lads going off in a minibus / camper van. Set off 6th june arrive back 12 july. Most of our places of rest are sorted except frankfurt.

Whats this eine tesco Karpark then? is eine an area of the city? or is this a wind up or are you really staying there?

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  • 15.
  • At 01:36 AM on 20 May 2006,
  • Jim wrote:

to Peter Hobson... I think the literal translation of eine Tesco Karpark would be, well, a Tesco carpark... it's certainly gonna be a long trip for your mates!

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  • 16.
  • At 01:50 PM on 23 May 2006,
  • Blog Editor wrote:

I tend to agree with the point made by Mark above.

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  • 17.
  • At 01:51 PM on 23 May 2006,
  • Blog Editor wrote:

I tend to agree with the point made by Mark above.

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  • 18.
  • At 05:19 PM on 23 May 2006,
  • Fletch, Journalist, BBC Sport Interactive wrote:

Matt,

Good to hear from you. We have only a rough schedule of where we will be staying. I guess that we will just to have to play it by ear since we do not know where we are going to be half the time.

I'm hoping that plenty of people will use this blog to post their ideas and suggestions of what to do - and just as importantly - where to avoid.

I get the impression that the campsites of Germany are going to be heaving with people travelling around.

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  • 19.
  • At 02:38 PM on 03 Jun 2006,
  • nigelbs wrote:

According to Football Focus, you want some suggestions of things to do during your stay in Germany.

If you're into interesting transport, why not visit the town of Wuppertal, and take a trip on the Einschienige Hängebahn System Eugen Langen, or the Schwebebahn (suspension railway) that runs along the course of the river Wupper?

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  • 20.
  • At 07:29 PM on 03 Jun 2006,
  • Richard Burnell wrote:

Well chaps, if you are going to be touring Deutschland for the duration of the World Cup I have a suggestion that should be irresistable...

Are you aware that the famous Nurburgring F1 circuit is open to ordinary motorists in their own cars (or camper vans)?

After your advanced lessons in cornering and overtaking on the public highway how about Fletch and Ricco taking on the curves and straights of the infamous 20Km Nurburging circuit?!

I can think of nothing better than two brits tearing up Schumacher's Lap Record in the BBC Camper Van... Do it for Blighty!

Here is a link with openig times and cost for the track! Ich Wunsche Dir Gluck...Viel Spass

http://www.nuerburgring.de/1_nuerburgring/touristenfahrten/index.html?L=1

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