We were supposed to stay in England for a week: get the MOT done, do the admin, pick up the mail and be on our way.
But that was based on a, now I see, misguided assumption that nothing major would break in the van by the time we got to London. As luck would have it, not one, but three things went bust along the way.
The 40-year old VW plastic fuse box snapped in two, leaving us with half the electricity gone. We patched up just enough cables together to stay road-legal (indicators, headlamps) and trundled on through wet and windy Europe. The oil light went next, showing us dangerously low oil pressure; this one was a bit more serious, but we still had to reach London, so after checking with the local garage that it’s still safe to drive, we moved on.
So we reached London on our “last wheels”. We spent the next two weeks between the garage and the campsite – having to drive right across the largest city in Europe, often in rush hour to make it on time. That’s when the third thing broke – our front breaks.
Our stay in London was nothing out of the ordinary – we visited the usual bunch of favourite markets, restaurants and cafes, spending way too much money we didn’t have; the weather was usual as well: cold, wet, windy with one or two sunny spells and a mini-heat wave in the middle. Just as expected from early English summer.
I fixed the fuse box myself, after three days of trying to figure out which cable connected to what. I’m rather proud of it, even if the finished job doesn’t look too solid – but it passed the MOT just fine, and the tester hadn’t even batted an eyelid! The oil light turned out to be a combination of several factors: faulty sensor – cheap and easy to replace – wrong oil – ditto – and an oil pump which has seen its better time. That was more dear to replace, but still, within reason.
The breaks were a mess, and the reason for the final few days of delay – with a bank holiday weekend in between, which we decided to spend in Hastings and Battle; at least the weather was nice. We took a gamble, and booked the ferry to Denmark, hoping for the best.
As always, everything worked out at the very last moment. After two long weeks of delays and uncertainty, the final two days were hectic: on Tuesday, we got the brakes fixed and passed the MOT re-test. On Wednesday we got the last of our necessary mail (bank stuff, insurance etc.). On Thursday we boarded the ferry to Denmark. At long last, we’re back travelling!