The year is coming to an end, your CineCars reporters glance back at 2016 and look forward to 2017. Together they see you through the dark and merry days to a shiny New Year.

Like every year radio stations fill the air with Christmas songs. Mariah Carey, White Christmas, they drive you insane. Too much, too many. Still there is this one piece of popular music that makes me stare into oblivion every single time. ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ by Chris Rea. Of course, you might think, a choice we might have expected from a car enthousiast like you. You might, but the reason why is slightly different.

Rea’s song takes me back to the years we crammed the entire family into our little car to journey to Ireland in those dark days before Christmas. My wife is from Ireland and to the Irish being home for Christmas is like a holy pilgrimage. It’s a must. Over there Christmas is so much more than a long leisurely weekend with a nice display of food and drink. Christmas in Ireland is a family thing. Christmas in Ireland is something you celebrate together. Hence every time our bank manager let us, we drove to Ireland for Christmas. The boot filled with presents for the entire family, sleeping bags, clothing (too much, as ever) and an array of stuff you don’t really need. Three kids in the back seat with games and books. It’s a long journey, they need to be kept entertained. Bottles of wine underneath the seat, cause wine is very expensive in Ireland. My wife might be Irish, I’m still very very Dutch indeed.

The adventure only really took of once we drove of the ferry in Dover. Driving on the left side of the road makes every trip a little special and every time the first roundabout was a little nerve-wracking. The weather was usually a bit gloomy, which isn’t too bad for driving. It makes for a cosy feeling inside the car, as if the little Opel became a cocoon in which the outside world couldn’t get to you. Once we passed London, on the M4 west ward bound, we started looking for traveling companions. Usually British cars with Irish flags stuck to the boot lid. You could spot them from miles, being just as packed as we were. Presents, sleeping bags, the same ritual. The closer you got to the Welsh ferry terminal, the more Ireland travellers you could spot. Although you didn’t know these people, it still brought a strange feeling of solidarity. They were travellers on the same journey. On the road for the same destination.

Once on the ferry to Ireland the party kinda started. Someone would have brought a guitar, an other person would sing and drum on the edge of a table. We all listened, joined in and applauded. The man with the guitar we had spotted last year and we had recognised him on the motorway. His Volvo station wagon packed to the brim. Everybody would be in a great mood, having almost reached their destination. Getting my feet on holy ground.

Driving home for Christmas. The journey being almost as important as the arrival. Chris had it right, so right.
Martin Philippo