Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Norway’s cities are currently emptying as at least half of the population heads off for an Easter holiday. A sizeable section of pleasure-seekers has gone abroad, while a far greater proportion has opted for staying within the country to ski. Inevitably, many folk are hytte-bound, and this, I suspect, is the reason for the superfluity of trailers currently whizzing around on the roads.
There are two aspects to this that have inspired my Trailer Spotting habit. Firstly, I am amazed at the sheer number of trailers. A decent trailer is not a flippant piece of kit...it requires space to store, a tow-bar on one’s vehicle (not a cheap item here) and no end of gadgets in order to make it road-worthy, safe and legal. None-the-less, a trailer seems to have reached the elevated status of a designer accessory. There are people with trailer-envy, you know.
Secondly, I am stunned at the skill of those driving these things. In Scotland, on farms, it is a sort of ‘coming-of-age’ thing to be able to reverse a tractor with a trailer (usually loaded with muck) through a narrow gate. I can’t claim to have enjoyed unlimited success in this area (I’m only admitting this for the purposes of this piece....I have no wish to prolong the boring argument about women drivers, reversing and spatial awareness, thank you). Driving a trailer is not exactly a piece of ‘kake’ as they say here. In Norway there are endless kilometres of narrow roads with a scarcity of passing places, which inevitably means the trailer-driver has to be skilled at reversing. And most of them are...I enjoyed a splendid moment in a ferry queue when a Norwegian was required to reverse his trailer down a concrete slope and then up a steep gang-plank onto a ferry, and into a miniscule space between two lorries. He did it effortlessly at astonishing speed and without flinching. I was quite cross that the queue of watching motorists didn’t burst into enthusiastic applause.
I have seen trailers with trees, logs, lavatories, generators, engines, furniture and actual kitchen sinks. I have witnessed pianos sailing along the motorway, whole collections of bicycles, windsurfers, pieces of boat, whole boats, and prawn-filled tanks. I have even spotted an entire hytte, pre-assembled and shining, sitting on top of a trailer ready for transport to a new site (it may have been a ‘Wendy-hytte’ but it was an adult-sized one). But my favourite example was a trailer with an absolute belter of a rock in it, a monster boulder clearly destined for a more worthy location than wherever the Ice Age had inconveniently dumped it. I noticed Obelix was driving.
But my favourite Trailer Spotting experience took place one wild, dark night. Despite strong wind and pelting rain, the inclement weather could not deter two Norwegian blokes from standing around in their driveway happily admiring their trailer. They were almost ecstatic. There was a large object in the trailer, a motor-bike perhaps, a mammoth tree stump or a stuffed bear...who could tell, hidden as it was beneath a flapping tarpaulin. The two guys, fully attired for a deep-sea fishing trip as usual, wandered around the trailer joyfully twanging various ropes, fondling straps and buckles and yelling ‘kjempe flott’ (absolutely marvellous) into the darkness. Pigs in their proverbial didn’t have a look in – these guys were in heaven.
Somehow, we have managed to survive without a trailer, but at least my Trailer Spotting has helped me to understand the attraction. How else are we meant to transport that folding canoe?
Posted by Returning Scot at 14:22