Friday greeted us with a hopeful air. We had formulated a plan to aid our incursion into the Black Forest by searching out a motor home dealer/shop/rental place to buy a book on Stellplatz in the region. We had written down a list of desirable needs now that we had lived in Caravaggio for a couple of weeks, not least of detailed items being the cap for the poop disposal cassette. On driving onto the parking lot to our exhilaration was also a service point, which meant that if we figured a service point in to our next stopover, a much needed shit, shower and shave was on the menu!
After gathering supplies of poop cap, Stellplatz book and map, ceramic fuses that seem to be like gold dust on the continent, even though they are sold in the UK as ‘continental’ types, I was intrigued by the massively cheaper, nearly €40, camping gas prices. After much discussion in my best German (English with lots of hand waving), we were roughly given the location of a scrap metal dealer in the next town. Caution and wallet to the wind, we made the purchase and rattled round town with one of the empty 7kg cylinders inside the camper.
After an hour of driving in circles and following directions of “straight on then left”, we decided to make a ‘gift’ of the scrap metal to a builder who had left some bricks piled up conveniently on the side of a service road behind a McDonald’s (no free WiFi). Only our quick getaway was scuppered by being directed to the side of the road for an inspection by the Polizei not 500 paces from the scene of our crime!!! Thankfully he was a jovial chap who compared our camper to his, did formal checks and let us on our way. In a time of political unrest and radical behaviour, leaving a big blue gas canister unattended by the side of the road was probably not our wisest move to date…
Showers were partaken on the grounds of World of Living, a Weberhaus eco-friendly project not far from the Rhein and the French border at Strasbourg. It looked suspiciously like another zoo, but the inmates were inanimate objects, giving rise to a feeling of Stepford or Children of the Damned. Saturday we rose to head for Kehl after replenishing, and a hop over the border for a recce in to France. We filled and emptied and set off.
200 yards on to the main road and the gearstick limped loosely away from my hands and towards Justina’s lap. This was no act of preference, it had lost it’s erectile function and therefore connection to anything in the engine which could take us all the way to civilization. With Stepford beckoning at our heels, I massaged the shaft into a gear and drove towards the next campsite, stopping a mere ejaculation away from an ADAC recovery truck. If that wasn’t a little blue pill, then call me a eunoch!
Why these things always seem to happen on a Saturday afternoon I do not know, but in calling in the job to ADAC, in their home country, they managed to send their pick up truck a round trip of 40km to arrive 10 yards from where he started. Thank heavens for roaming texts! As our last experience had proved fruitful, we listened to him give us the party line of ‘Peugeot garage 40km away and not til Monday. But I have a friend in the next village where you can stay at his garage if he can fix it for you Monday also’. Deal. Done. Something about having the man who owns the business try and help you out and fix things as opposed to a corporate body try and sell something new or fob you off, I will choose local man every time, and this proved no exception.
We limped, by limped I mean revving the engine like a formula one driver on the starting block to get the camera’s inertia up so that it wouldn’t stall starting in 4th. We got the 2km to the garage safely and the wonderfully charming mechanic that is Frank Doll, looked at me, the engine, then back at me and said disbelievingly “I need 30 minutes”. Indeed this genius not only had fixed by welding the broken piece back to the gear change mechanism, but had us installed at the best camper stop in the locality and “away from the French”, in under 60 minutes. Bloody marvellous man!
So now installed in Kehl or Kohl, with a fixed camper, just now waiting for the fixed calendar so the year gets back to thinking it is actually May and not November. Today has been consistent torrential downpours where we have had to empty the bathroom skylight out before using the bathroom for fear of an impromptu shower. The gas, being butane, loses the will to evaporate in cold temperatures, so when it’s dropped so much outside, we have no option but to wrap up in layers of clothing inside as the heater doesn’t work! Kettles take half an hour to boil to get a bit of warmth in, . And like the washing machine you can’t do two things at once. I am beginning to think that Caravaggio is indeed male, not female as I first thought…