Sunday, 28 July 2013

A road trip....with all our usual disasters!

I don't really know where to start,  the past 2 or 3 weeks have been a bit of a comedy of errors....without the comedy bit!
If you read my previous posts about holiday disasters you will be familiar with our holiday motto - "if it can go wrong, it will go wrong"!
I didn't realise it now applies to short road trips in the UK too though......

In the middle of July I took number 1 son to visit Sheffield University , I thought a trip for just the 2 of us might be nice, chatting along the way (he may say nagging...) However he entered the car with the pillow off his bed and said "wake me when we get there!". But we had a worthwhile visit in the end, despite the 3 and a half hour drive and me negotiating the one-way system of a city I've never been near before. I was feeling very proud of myself on the way home as up until about 10 years ago I had a huge fear of driving (possibly a huge fear of getting lost might be more accurate), and would have panic attacks if I had to go more than 5-6 miles from home.
I'm mostly over it now, the cure was a fateful holiday in Turkey where due to an expired passport I had to drive home from London Gatwick , at night, without map or SatNav - and we made it!
The other thing to assist my recovery was the birthday gift of a SatNav, a gift I promptly threw across the room on the day (where was the perfume and flowers?) but now I love my Aussie co-pilot.

Anyway the journey home from Sheffield was a long one but 45 from home I managed to drive into the car in front! No a bad accident but I was shaken, and number 1 son woke up! We were stationary at a roundabout and the man in front drove onto the roundabout, I glanced to my right to see if it was clear for me - not realising he'd stopped!
 It was almost a scene from a comedy sketch when the little Chinese man jumped out and spoke to me very fast in broken English
"Why you no stop?",
"I emergency stop, you no stop"
 "Why you no stop?".
However he was very kind and could see I was upset, we exchanged the appropriate details and I made it home, a little shaken and with a dented car.

So I contacted my insurance company as I thought I should, I've never had an accident in 30 years of driving - there are many jokes that there's been a multitude of them in my wake but it's not true! I was told I'd be contacted by their nominated repair shop the next morning who would also deliver me a courtesy car - fabulous, I didn't know I paid for courtesy car cover!
The following morning the garage called to say they'd collect my car on July 30th, nearly 3 weeks after the bump. I queried this as I wasn't sure it was fit to drive, they said I'd told the insurance company it was roadworthy - I pointed out that I'd managed to get it home but my mechanical know how (and that of the husband) stopped at the point of being 60% certain the engine was at the front! And the front had a big dent in it....
They apparently could do nothing until the 30th; I phoned the insurers back and explained the problem and the fact that we were off on a short holiday on the 24th.
My own local garage could do the job in time, was that ok? Yes I was within my rights to do this but could I hold fire for a few hours and the insurer would try to sort something. Obviously the mention of my own garage would mean a bigger invoice!
Within an hour a gentleman knocked on the door and handed me keys to a very tiny courtesy car, I was a little confused as no one had called me but on contacting the insurers designated repair place they assured me they'd "jiggled the jobs around" and my car would be ready for the 24th.
I spent the next few days driving the "toy car", it has a boot (trunk) on it slightly smaller than my handbag! Are any of you familiar with the size of a regular cricket bag - they're not called coffins for nothing you know!

Not our actual kit, we seem to have more than this!

So last Friday the repair place called me, just to advise the car would not be ready! Well I hit the roof, they'd promised! I complained to the manager, the insurance company, anyone who'd listen! I just need a normal size car to drive just over 6 hours, with 5 people, a cricket kit, and all our luggage. Would they supply a bigger one? No. Would they get mine repaired? No.
Would they let me pick it up and use it for a few days? No. What did they suggest? Nothing.
Apart from calling me back to ask if I'd like the number of a car hire firm! I explained that we were going on a 4 day holiday to Wales and Birmingham; there is a good reason why we were doing that - a hire car does not fit in the budget, and if it did I wouldn't be going for 4 days to Wales and Birmingham! (no offence to those who live there but I really would prefer Barbados!)
I think I almost reduced the garage manager to tears when I asked if I could pass the phone to my daughter, and would he mind explaining why we would no longer be going on holiday, the only holiday we could afford this year? He was reluctant to do so!

Anyway on the morning of the trip, after lodging complaints with anyone and everyone, we packed up the toy car, children sat on bags, we were all restricted to one change of clothes and clean knickers!
The car was overloaded and the kids were very squashed - cue arguing before we left the driveway. Off we set, 1st stop just outside Birmingham for number 2 son's cricket tour
- we also drop the husband there as he's a coach.
 And I then set the SatNav for my Dad's house in Wales - I trip I thought was about 40 minutes
 but I'd misread the routefinder and it was actually 1 hour 40 mins!

I don't see my Dad very often, the last time was around 18 months ago so it was an overdue visit. He's in Wales with the Wicked Witch of the West, as we affectionately call my step mother ( actually that's the wrong word, I don't mean affectionately I mean secretly!)
 - I hope to goodness this blog is still anonymous!

I phoned him a couple of times to say we'd be there about 7pm, and he sent a message back to say they were starting a barbecue for us - we were starving by then.
 I drove the little car like a rocket around those twisty roads, up hill and down valley
until we got there, on the dot of 7pm.
The 3 of us tumbled out of the car and were greeted by Dad, W W of the W, half sister, half sister's boyfriend and her 2 children.
 Sadly despite being in the car for 7 hours, and arriving on time, they'd just finished the barbecue, and drunk all the Pimm's!! What's the word?? Oh yes, Speechless!
 WW did fry some chips and chicken nuggets and Dad produced some curry which we ate quickly, they'd all finished you see!

Anyway the visit was done, we spent the night there and then made our way back to Birmingham where we were booked into a cheap hotel for 2 nights. Actually it was a Premier Inn, and very nice it was too, I was a little unnerved waking up next to Lenny Henry's picture but I mustn't grumble!

I've been running on a bit and the story doesn't end there, there are more disasters awaiting..... I'll continue In another post!


  1. We'll my friend, after reading this long post... I feel as if I need to bring over a bottle (make that two) of wine and let you put your feet up and relax! I'm sorry mostly for what your dad and the WW of the W did
    ..he's not seen you in 18 months and that's how he shows it? No bueno!
    Someone needs a shoe kicked in their backside.... but never mind, the hotel was nice and I hope you got at least a bit of rest! Tammy xx

    1. I'm looking forward to the wine Tammy!

  2. You can choose your friends but you can't choose your family. At least the Premier Inn was nice!!

    1. Sometimes I look around at the family and feel sure they don't belong to me!

  3. I bet you were tearing your hair out with the dreadful service from the insurance company.
    And fancy your family eating all the food and not saving anything for you.
    Just glad you all got home safely. You did didn't you??
    Lisa x

    1. We did get home Lisa, although it was touch and go at one point!

  4. You tell a good story ! I love the bit where you offer to put your daughter on the phone.... and the conversation on the roundabout...
    " Why you no stop " Ha Ha !

  5. Thanks Penny, I don't want to make fun of his accent but I almost laughed hysterically at that point!

  6. Blimey! What a story! It was stressful just reading it, can't imagine what it was like to live it. I think you need a big cup of tea! x

  7. Good Lord, sounds like you've been having a right old time of it. Never a dull moment, eh?!

  8. Oh good grief, you poor thing. I can well imagine how frustrating it was to be dealing with the insurance and garage people - rather like banging your head against a brick wall. I really hope things look up for you now! x

  9. Oh dear what a nightmare for you.... accidents are bad enough in theirselves let alone when you're fighting with garages for the repairs to be done, courtesy cars etc!

    Glad to hear you're all safe and well and like you I'd be lost without a sat nav!!

    Victoria x

  10. I'm almost too nervous to read the next instalment!