A Grand Day Out?

Last Thursday we set of to the National Exhibition Centre near Birmingham for the Caravan and Motorhome show, to look at up to 2000 camping options that we had no hope of buying.

I was interested in finding options for awning heating for the cooler months and mobile water heaters to help my wife to wash her horse.

After 45 minutes of stop-go on the A34 dual carriageway following an accident ahead, which had also fed back to the M4 motorway East and West, we finally made some progress. Just before entering the M40 motorway, we were halted again in traffic, when we noticed copious amounts of steam from under our bonnet (U.S hood). The radiator had boiled. This probably explained why the car heating was not working and we had been wiping condensation from the windscreen in the traffic queue.

We were now the traffic obstruction. Fortunately, a Highways Agency (aka “Traffic Womble”) vehicle arrived and escorted us to a safe haven about half a mile away.

We tried the AA (Automobile Association) ‘phone application and sent our position using the What3Words application. The AA app. said we needed to telephone. I called, and the recorded voice asked me to download and use the ‘phone app!

Eventually we made contact with someone, apparently in India, who sent me (to my “dumb ‘phone”) the link for the AA app and the What3Words App. 1. unusable on that ‘phone and 2. already used on my other ‘phone.

After a lot of argy-bargy I convinced him that we had actually broken down and where we were (On the A41, 200 m north of Junction 9 of the M40). Three times he tried to find us near the M42 and/or on the southbound carriageway, still insisting we should use the What3Words app., which location we had already sent.

So, we were told that a recovery truck would be with us in 90 minutes and advised of the registration number. Like I would see the licence plate before I spotted a large yellow vehicle with flashing orange lights.

30 minutes later a van (with the correct registration) arrived. One look and he said: “You’ve blown your head gasket and maybe the radiator. This will need recovery.” Then we discovered that we were not covered for vehicle recovery on our policy. Thus, an upgrade was needed (£75). In addition, we would need to pay the cost of today’s recovery (£156). With no choice I paid. we elected to have the car delivered to our usual local garage.

And so, we were escorted to a Tesco car park some 5 miles away, with the engine nearing bursting point with no cooling system. an hour later we were loaded up on a contracted recovery truck and two hours later we were back home.

Our garage gave us a ballpark estimate of £1000 – £3000 for repair. The car is valued in running order at £1250, although it is worth far more to us. But in the last 8 years we have spent more on servicing and repairs than we paid for it, so maybe it was goodbye.

Instead of looking enviously at caravans that we knew we could not afford we ended up looking at a car repair bill that we could afford but was not worth it. The next three days were spent searching for a new car and we have now agreed to replace our old Mitsubishi Shogun with a Jeep Grand Cherokee. We need something that will tow a caravan on or off-road or a harrow in a field, with enough space for the dog and to load bales of horse feed and bedding.

I have managed to negotiate enough for the old car (including a £150 tank of diesel) to pay for a towbar to be installed on the replacement. But the purchase has used up most of my recent inheritance from my late mother which I was hoping to spend on refurbishing one of our bedrooms this winter.

And we never even peeked into a shiny new caravan.

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General Whiskers

Wargaming butterfly (mainly solo), unpainted model figure amasser, and Historical Re-enactor of the black powder era.

2 thoughts on “A Grand Day Out?”

  1. Yes Chris. We’re a little odd in that respect. We’re it not for that requirement I would have bought a Chrysler Grand Voyager with 7 seats or a massive flat loading compartment (and 3 drop-down video screens for the dog’s entertainment).
    We have recommended that vehicle to my wife’s company for wedding “show” tours of the country estate where she works.

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