Where are we? Well Cardiff, almost bang in the middle of the city centre, just along from the castle and cricket ground. It’s Wednesday 11th April and at the time of typing are awaiting a second visit from Green Flag to hopefully sort out an issue we had with the caravan road lights on the way here, a problem which was made worse by the first visit yesterday!
Anyway, I’ll get you up to date with what's happened in-between. It’s been erm, fun.
We were due to leave Monday at midnight. At about two hundred miles and towing it was estimated it would take about five hours driving. The idea was to get the bulk of the journey done and then pull up just outside Cardiff for a stop and a kip. This way, we could take our time and not be in anybody’s way.
Well, the weather forecast proved to be correct, but with the strong winds starting to subside a little after 1am we headed outside to hitch up. We had manoeuvred the van on to the road earlier in the evening in the hope of making as little noise as possible when we left.
We got the van hitched fairly easily but, owing to the slope and some additional weight both in the van and car, the jockey wheel was wedged between the road and the front of the A-frame. We started to wind the jockey wheel down again to reposition it when the winding handle became detached from the shaft. The locking pin had sheared off, whether due to age or too much brawn and not enough brain, I don't know. This meant that the wheel could not be lowered or raised when siting or manoeuvring the van, neither could it be stowed safely when being towed.
The immediate thought was that the trip would have to be delayed whilst we got someone out in the morning to fix it. However, eventually and with a lot of broken drill bits and swearing we managed to fashion a temporary repair. We had no idea how long the repair would last but at least we could get going.
It was almost exactly 3am when we pulled away with Trev driving the first leg. We swapped over at Reading services when another problem became apparent – the lights on the left hand side of the van had gone out. FFS! Having checked that we still had indicators and brake lights though we decided to carry on.
It was already daylight when we crossed the bridge in to Wales and handed over six quid for the privilege then had a brief stop at Magor services for the usual morning ablutions. Note for the future, if you do ever stop here – take your own loo roll!
We arrived in Cardiff soon after 8.30 am having abandoned the idea of stopping for a kip. The site was easy to find and despite being other 3 hours early, the warden helpfully located a pitch for us.
The moment of truth was upon us – would the repair hold. No is the simple answer. Our temporary pin broke as soon as the handle was turned to lower the wheel and unhitch the car. Then it started raining. Properly. Things weren't going well.
The shower soon passed though and I marched back to site office in search of a yellow pages. In the meantime our ‘neighbours’ - chap and his wife who were leaving came over to see what the problem was. In no time at all he had delved in to his tool box and found and fitted a suitable pin. Much to our relief we were able to site the van and get the kettle on.
Later that afternoon I called Green Flag to get someone out to look at the electrics. He was a pleasant chap, eager to help but clearly auto electrics was not his thing. He went away promising a visit from an expert the following morning but not before ensuring that none of the caravan road lights now worked!
Dinner was delicious – cottage pie, in true Blue Peter style prepared earlier. The TV – an addition since our first trip - to Crystal Palace – worked a treat.
But the wine worked even better……
Quick update – the Green Flag agent has been and made a temporary repair so at least we have full lights again. And it’s raining. Well, it is Wales!