I’m not a fast driver.
“Go faster, Pops!” shout our grandkids (the boys anyway) when I’m driving them back to their Mum and Dad in Edinburgh.
As a young man, I did my fair share of speeding around the mean streets of Stoke in the years after passing my test, and I did once get up to 100mph on a quiet night on the M6.
But I’m not a natural speed freak. A car is a useful tool for getting around, and they’re great things to have. But I basically can’t be bothered with the extra stress that goes with always trying to get around as fast as you can.
So driving a 21-year old, 3-tonne motorhome for a year is right up my street.
I can cruise at 100kph (60mph) on a flat motorway, and even overtake lorries. But it has next to no acceleration from a standing start, and slows down even further on the tiniest incline.
It is most definitely not a Ferrari.
With no timetables to meet, my default driving state is probably best described as sedate.
In the towns and cities we drive through, I often stop at junctions for what must seem like an age to the traffic behind me, ensuring that I follow Mrs Garmin’s directions correctly.
And on the narrower roads of the continent – especially those with steep drops to grass verges at the side – I tend to drive even slower, still bearing the scars of my recent encounter with a ditch in Dumfries.
So what has pleasantly surprised me is that I have encountered nothing but courtesy and patience from other road users.
We have been waved through at junctions where we clearly don’t have priority.
There has been no flashing of lights or tooting of horns in the long queues of other vehicles that often build up behind me.
Sure, other drivers overtake me at the first – mostly – safe chance they get.
But I don’t get the sense of any resentment at this stupid foreign driver holding them up.
Maybe that’s a bit naïve. But I like to think that they see a visitor to their country, unfamiliar with the roads, and are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Or maybe even that they like the ‘Our Europe’ logo on the back of the van.