You are not helping, mate
SHEPPARTON had an outdoor and caravan show recently, so we thought we'd toddle along and spend the day dreaming of what we could never afford to own.
Of course, as well as vans and camper trailers and tents and stuff, these shows always have heaps of stalls of associated - and sometimes totally irrelevant - gear.
One such display was of beds and mattresses.
These were not of the type you could plonk in your van but rather of the luxurious queen and king sized, remote controlled, adjustable, split down the middle types with built-in massage functions.
Trying to walk by these types of stands without getting accosted by a salesman is near on impossible.
"How's your back?” he asks, getting right in our faces.
Rita makes the mistake of replying: "It's buggered”.
That was like a red rag to a bull to this bloke.
He virtually threw Rita onto one of the beds and began playing with the buttons, lifting her legs, dropping her back and generally turning her into a human pretzel.
On goes the vibration and he says: "So when do you want it delivered?”
Rita is trying to tell him she has tried it all, in relation to her back problems, and this wasn't working.
She also tried telling him the vibrato made her sick. But to no avail.
This dude wanted us to part with $7000 on the spot.
Yeah, right. Like, I'd want to try it for a month before I'd part with $7K.
Now maybe the beds are great for some folk, and that's all well and good, but salesmen like this don't do themselves any favours.
We ended up nicely telling him where his bed would fit and, after un-pretzelling Rita, moved on.
Now, compare this with the car dealer who had his wares on display at the other end of the showgrounds.
This particular dude was from the local Range Rover and Volkswagen dealership and had the brand new VW Touareg on display.
I like these cars and so had my nose glued to the window, peering in.
"Hang on, I'll open it up for you,” said Pike Peters, the marketing manager with the strange name.
He did just that and left us to it until I asked him questions.
I'd prefaced these with the statement that there was no way we could afford a $100,000 car.
This deterred him not at all and he proceeded to take us through the car's functions, including the excellent massage front seats that are shiatsu, rather than vibrato.
I fell in love with the multi-function dashboard reminiscent of the excellent one in the new Merc truck I report on elsewhere in this issue (indeed, I nearly supplied the VW dash image instead of the MB one for that story).
So, we played with buttons and screens and seats et al and at no time did Pike try and pressure us.
At the end, as we said thanks for his time - when he probably had a couple of bonafide potential buyers standing by, he simply responded by saying it was his pleasure.
If ever I have the dough to buy one, I'll be going to Pike at the Shepparton VW dealership.
Then, of course, there were the caravans. There were small ones, big ones and bigger ones.
There were lots of camper trailers too but these were immediately discounted because Rita simply can't get up into them easily. Suits me. I'm a black-top kinda guy anyway.
We are at the stage of life where simplicity is the name of the game.
We love our pop-top but, if we were in the market - meaning if we could afford to be in the market - we'd go for a full van where we could pull up, open the door and pour a scotch.
Might as well have an electric roll-out awning too, while we're dreaming.
We walked around with me drooling.
I finally settled on the superb Coromal Princeton, 25-odd feet of travelling luxury. Love the (proper) queen bed and club lounge in the slide out.
Love the 40-inch TV on an electric runner you can slide in front of either of the aforementioned spaces.
This is our van.
And I say as much to Rita, who immediately responds with: "Don't I get a say?”
Well, basically, no, is my response. That led to an hour of argument about a caravan we will never be able to afford. Aren't people silly? Well, Rita is anyway.
On another entirely separate note, our Tom and Laura returned home to their old jobs after their Japanese adventure.
Not only did the owner keep them available for the three months they were away, Tom was promoted to head chef and Laura retains her position as head of front of house.
We're heading off to meet them now and, for the first time, experience Tom's culinary skills in a restaurant environment.
Wonder if it'll be of a Japanese flavour?
Take care of you, Kermie