Well, this blog post should really be about how we arrived yesterday in Narbonne, saw some of the town, met up with Julie and Jason of OurTour.co.uk and stayed at the aire a few minutes walk from town. But in fact, the post will relate our little drama from today.
Having driven down from Carcassonne yesterday, we did indeed get to meet fellow MoHo travellers, Julie and Jason, who, after 6 months on the road are old hands at all this. After a drink in the afternoon, they then joined us in the evening for wine and chatting about our travels and vans. Charlie the dog came too, and they’re lucky to still have him – he’s so cute, I wanted to steal him. Julie and Jason have been holed up Narbonne for a few days now, as their own van needed some major clutch repair work.
After our very first evening of entertaining since we set off, we got up bright and early this morning with the plan to head off towards Agde or Sete, for a little bit of Mediterranean magic. But it was not to be. We moved the vvan up to the service point, to do all the necessary emptying and filling operations before we set off. So far so good, until it was time to move the van off the service space. The engine started, gave a gasp of power then juddered and stopped. Try again,,,same again. Somehow I managed to get the van into a corner so that it didn’t block the other vans who were queueing behind me to leave the aire.
The AA were promptly called and the breakdown truck arrived in really no time at all. Julie and Jason also arrived at the same time, to offer moral support. Then began the slightly alarming task of getting Dolly in all her 3.5t glory onto the truck, without grounding her back end. Much wincing ensued, and little blocks of wood were produced which seemed to do the trick.
I have to confess that I’ve never had a ride in a recovery truck before – I don’t think I’ve even ever called out the AA before today! But the ride was short-lived because the Fiat dealership is only 1km from the aire.
At the other end, the unloading of Dolly was even more precarious, with much wobbling, shunting and shuffling and much bigger lumps of wood required to stop Dolly grounding. The most alarming bit was when the recovery truck’s wheels were waggling in the air!
By this time it was 10 minutes before noon. Since everything shuts down here from noon to 2p.m. we weren’t hopeful of seeing Dolly again today, and we were braced for a night at the Etap Hotel, where Julie and Jason had been staying whilst their van was repaired. Pascal the Workshop Manager told us to come back at 4pm for the prognosis…and pointed us in the direction of the Carrefour hypermarket opposite. I suppose I should be grateful that the garage was next to a retail park, but 4 hours milling around was a teensy bit dull.
Still, it was all worth it in the end! When we got back, we had to wait another half hour or so, but then hey presto! Dolly was mended. Apparently, she had a damaged diesel filter which had had to be replaced. This makes me ever so slightly peeved, as all Dolly’s filters were changed as part of a major service we had done just a few week’s prior to leaving England in March. Given our general level of (un)happiness with that service (mechanical and interior), my money is that the UK company that serviced Dolly did something wrong and messed her up. We won’t be going back there for another service!
Still, back to positive thinking – it could have been worse if we’d got a few miles down the road when she broke down, and she’s mended sooner than we had imagined. We’d even toyed with going to Barcelona by train for the weekend if they had needed to keep her for a few days. But Barcelona can wait a few more weeks now, and we’re off tomorrow, heading towards the Camargue.
All’s well that end’s well.
Photo of Dolly’s journey on the recovery truck – thanks to OurTour.co.uk