Welsh hospitality and skiing Austria

David Honeyfield on a skiing holiday with his Kombi at Kirchberg, Tyrol, Austria. The Kombi had...
David Honeyfield on a skiing holiday with his Kombi at Kirchberg, Tyrol, Austria. The Kombi had just been started after a winter parked up. Photo supplied.
We bought our Dutch-registered 1975 converted Kombi at Hungerford Bridge, Waterloo, in London, where all these vehicles were traded in the mid-'80s.

We needed accommodation as it was a week after our arrival in London.

An early trip in the Kombi was to the Newmarket races to attend an Air New Zealand-sponsored meeting with the late chairman Bob Owens, of Tauranga. We parked in the members' car park with the Rolls-Royces, which embarrassed a few officials.

Next was the 1982 New Zealand Maori tour of Wales, during which a convoy of 30-50 campervans (mostly Kombis) followed the team and enjoyed the Welsh hospitality. I have some great memories of car parks outside rugby clubs crammed with Kombis and vans enjoying the facilities the Welsh had opened up for their New Zealand friends.

We moved on to Europe to find work in an Austrian ski resort, which proved a very cold trip. I did not know the heat exchangers had been removed. We parked up there for the winter as it was a little scary to drive on icy roads.

Roll on April 1983, and we were off on an excursion south through Italy to Brindisi and then Corfu. I was required to have a stamp in my passport to say that when I left Greece I would be taking my Kombi out with me. A few people may have tried to sell their vehicles, which was against the law. What followed was a month in convoy with two other Kombis driving around the Peloponnese peninsula, doing free-camping.

We arrived back in northern Greece before our first major breakdown. The rocker covers had rusted through so we covered them with Araldite and sat in a tavern while our repairs dried. We rolled on to Yugoslavia (where petrol coupons were needed) and the Dubrovnik coast. It proved an interesting country and mixture of people, on the verge of the ethnic war that was to follow in the 1990s.

We travelled back through Austria in summer and back to London via Germany, France and Belgium to find work. Summer was spent working in a Cornwall caravan park with some time hop-picking in Kent.

More travelling around the UK, to the top of Scotland followed, then back to Austria for another winter working, domiciled in Kitzbuhul, Tyrol. After more travel on the way back to England in spring, we decided to sell the Kombi back at Hungerford Bridge where it all started.

We had bought the Kombi from some Australians in 1982 for 900 and sold it two years later for 800 to some more Australians.

It's a small world though. Later in Munich for Oktoberfest, I recognised the old Kombi being driven into Thalkirchen campsite by an old friend from Tauranga.

• Dave Honeyfield has been living in Dunedin since 1991.


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