We thought the run of bad luck we've been having had come to a close. But oh no, fate had much more in store for us. It's as if this week has been some sort of endurance test, or looking at it a different way, A Comedy of Errors without the comedy, but that did come at the end, thank goodness.
So, Tuesday 6th Sept, we set off south east for Aschbach and the Concorde factory. (The Beep is back). We arrived and parked at the Aire next door which is free (+charge for electric and water). Roy went down to the reception to tell them we'd arrived, and was told we could take the Lady in that afternoon to get a head start on the habitation check next morning. So we took her down, parked and the supervisor came to see us, but he didn't speak English so fetched another manager who told us the process would take several hours, with a full report/tick sheet that went thru everything from air con to each blind on windows. The cost, he said with a straight face, would be €600+vat+parts and labour. I turned a whiter shade of pale & Roy nearly passed out. But we managed to get out without a word. This is a check that's done each year on each caravan/motorhome to make sure there's no water ingress, usually costs about £150 and takes 1-2 hours. We took Blue for a walk and discussed this. The Lady is more than 3 years old, therefore out of warranty. Any minor faults Roy is quite capable of mending himself, we don't need to be told that the large roof light fly screen is torn, or the fridge door sticks, we know. That seemed a ridiculous amount of money to spend, but more than that, their attitude was less than welcoming and we had expected so much more after the emails that Roy and the service manager had exchanged. We were looking forward to a tour of the factory, but it seemed totally abandoned, the huge showroom was empty, bar a few sofas and leaflets, the floor scattered with fallen leaves of the plants, neglected, the whole place looked empty, sad and dejected. We realised it was the week of the huge Dussledorf motorhome show an annual event that makes the NEC look like a garden party tea room. But we hadn't expected a Nothing.
The evening was not good. The Beep kept reminding us we had a problem somewhere. The other motorhomes that turned up were all Concordes, Morellos,or Pheonix, some we know, costing near half a million, some with slideouts, one with a fully auto washing machine, a couple of brand new ones, 15 ton and 11 metres long, all German registered and not a sense of humour between them. We went to bed wondering what to do. Awake at 6 am, Roy had decided to say that we had to go, (we'd get the check done in UK next year). I thought we'd have to explain why but Roy said no, leave it at that. So he did, and asked to pay for what had already been done yesterday (they said they'd invoice us) and we got ready for the off.
Turned ignition on, nothing. Not a click. So began a 36 hour saga of waiting, waiting, phone calls, explaining why we couldn't be towed, a very anxious time for me particularly, more waiting and more Beeping. RAC very helpful as usual, but they'd no idea of our size so Roy had to email photos and measurements and try to explain that towing the Lady to the nearest Iveco depot was impossible, the back end would be ripped off if it was towed from the front end. We made this clear from the outset. So nothing was done all day Wednesday. A lady turned up on behalf of the recovery company to take photos so they'd get the correct recovery vehicle but nothing else happened.
Thursday morning eventually a schoolboy turned up,spent an hour scratching his young head said sorry he didn't have a clue and departed. An hour later a guy with a tow truck appeared. Blocked the whole driveway off to the Aire and proceeded to try to get the metal bars in the correct place to lift the front to tow the Lady. Huge argument because we know it just isn't possible. Then, Iveco lads turned up to try a new starter motor. Didn't work but they rang their boss for advice, who told them to get it started then bring us back to their base at Bamberg. So the 2 lads, who spoke a little English and were polite, hot wired the Lady to get her going whilst we told the lorry driver to go. We had to pay €800 for the "false" call out.
Short trip to Bamberg arriving at the huge Iveco yard before 6pm. Rest of the staff there were friendly, fussed Blue, and made sure we were settled before they left for the night. We were given a key to the massive gate and tourist leaflet/map of the area and told the Lady would be looked at first thing in the morning, enjoy our evening. So we decided to take Blue for a walk across the adjacent bridge, find the small park then shop at nearby Aldi. Got as far as the gate and realised as it was a handle on our side of the gate, that once we were out we could unlock the gate, but not get in or open it from the other side!!!! In the end, Roy said he'd go on his own, just get water and something to eat as I'd not got anything out the freezer. So Blue and I chased around and around the yard in and out of trucks and even fire engines, plus relics from the '80s. We were both a little dirty by the time Roy returned with dinner. After a shower we opened the wine he'd bought to go with the take away, OMG we did laugh (see photo), but dished up the meal before having a drink.
Yes, the wine was "off", just beginning to turn slightly fizzy. Could not believe our bad luck had even penetrated our meals.... Roy went to bed early. I opened my last bottle of Muscatel, which I rarely have these days as it's so sweet. I did manage to limit myself to 2 glasses....
Friday morning and the yard was busy by 8am. The boys moved a truck behind us so we could get the smartie out and we went to find Lidl and walk Blue while the diagnostics proceeded. Got back to find the manager coming over to us to explain the problem. It was the whole ignition mechanism. Of course they don't keep this in stock. It had to come from Italy, it will be Tuesday/Wednesday when it arrives. The good news is that they can put a used, temporary one on, but it's an additional one just to start the motor, the electronics still need the original gubbins to operate that side of things, so we have two sets of ignition and keys until next week. He advised us not to go too far away, going back to the Aire at Concorde was preferable. We had the smartie to explore the area so we returned to Aschbach Friday afternoon, finding everyone gone early for the weekend and plenty of space on the Aire.