It’s been a day of two halves today, literally poles apart. The day began beautifully with bright sunshine and some big fluffy clouds in the sky which was a godsend to us as we packed up to move on to the next stage in our holiday. As anyone who has ever been camping knows, it’s rotten to set up or strike camp in the wind and the rain as canvas tends to act as sails making folding tents a nightmare. We were fortunate this morning that the weather was in our favour.
But then we set off and things quickly changed. My dad developed an electrical problem on his car, which meant that he didn’t have a connection to his nearside indicator on his caravan. We usually lead and dad usually follows us, but because of this problem we went behind today because at least we knew where he was heading and the chances of annoying other motorists were reduced if it was us behind him.
If we hadn’t done that then what happened next might not have been quite so catastrophic…
We crossed the border into Scotland, and we met Weather with a capital “W”.
And unbeknown to us at this point we were developing our own mechanical fault of our own. We stopped for lunch at a service station and it was pouring down with rain so didn’t stop long, but when we set off again it was like armageddon out there.
We had a slight argument with the satnav as we wanted to follow the road signs to the Forth Bridge but Tom wanted to take us through Edinburgh City. Erm, no Tom, not a great idea when towing a couple of caravans in convoy, one of which can’t indicate left.
So we found ourselves on the M9 (which I thought was the M90) going round a huge left hand bend coming onto the main carriageway when we heard a big bang, and then a grinding noise from behind us. The car felt like we were dragging a dead weight behind us and so we pulled over onto the hard shoulder. We were just about at the end of the bit where we could have pulled over because there was another slip road coming in to our left. Not the best or the safest place to have an emergency stop!!
Still pouring down with torrential rain, the three of us got out to check what had happened and oh boy…
The nearside wheel had come OFF the van, breaking the wheel arch in the process and leaving the hub dragging into the tarmac. All four wheel bolts had come off (how, HOW?!?!) and the tyre had shredded inside the archway, giving off plumes of burnt rubber smoke inside and outside the van.
We rang for the RAC, but as the problem was the caravan and not the car, they told us they might not be able to help but would get someone to us within an hour. They told us to wait by the side of the carriageway away from the car. The weather was appalling and we got very wet very quickly, but we were “rescued” by two men in a BEAR Scotland truck after about 20 minutes.
They weren’t supposed to help us, but they were fantastic and got the caravan jacked up for us so we could get the weight off the hub. While they were doing that we saw that the bolt holes in the wheel had all become enlarged, possibly as the bolts had worked themselves loose, rendering the wheel useless.
Kevin had an amazing light bulb moment when he realised that as the car had 4 safety bolts on the wheels, we were carrying the extra “spare” ones, which we could use to attach the spare wheel. Hurrah!! Problem solved!!
Looking forward to getting warm and dry and on the move again, once the spare wheel was attached with the spare wheel bolts, we got on with the job of rehitching the van, lowering the legs, upping the jockey wheel and restarting the engine.
Only to find that the battery was dead because we’d followed the RAC ‘s instructions to leave the hazard warning lights on and the side lights on. Very embarrassing to have to ask the BEAR men to give us a jump start as well. Oops!
Those men were fantastic and really
helped us out, and although their advice to “get on a plane somewhere hot next time” might not be taken up, they were brilliant with us throughout it all.
Finally back on the road and we eventually found the campsite, getting the whole party back together again. Obviously, being stranded on a motorway, dad couldn’t stop to help us and had to carry on without us.
So here we are at the end of a difficult and very different day. What started out as beautiful weather, gorgeous driving conditions and a calm and peaceful camping party has turned out to be very very wet, dangerous, difficult and stressful journey and tetchy (!) campers at the end.
It is still torrential rain out there and we have not got a dry coat between us after the debacle on the road and setting up in the torrent, but we have had a great time in our awning this evening playing cards, telling daft jokes and having a sing song.
It’s great this camping lark isn’t it??!