When the Saga recovery lorry left us, I spent twenty exhausting minutes shoehorning the deflated tyre and wheel into its impossibly tight and hard to reach recess. I resorted to crawling into the Hymer’s garage and kicking it with both feet. I wedged it successfully into its proper space knowing that getting it out again was going to be a far more difficult affair. Cynthia suggested doing something sensible like fitting a strap around it so that I can pull it out without straining my back. I pretended not to hear her useful advice and gave the tyre an extra kick to make getting it out even more of a challenge.
The large garage is designed for storing large and bulky items. We live in the Hymer full time, so our garage is filled to capacity. Why put a spare wheel storage space somewhere which can only be reached if the garage is completely emptied first? Getting the spare out was hard enough on a sunny day in a relatively quiet car park. Repeating the operation on a dark night in heavy rain on a motorway hard shoulder would be a far more unpleasant and worrying affair.
We drove towards Narbonne cautiously. The emergency breakdown driver who replaced our wheel confidently assured us the spare was only good for fifty kilometres. Just to make sure we didn’t tax the tyre too much we stopped to enjoy one last wild camp on the coast surrounded by region’s pink flamingoes. After a peaceful night gently rocking in the wind scouring the Étang de Bages-Sigean, we said goodbye to the French Mediterranean. We needed to leave spring behind and drive north towards cooler days and cloudy skies.
Our Dutch boating season beckons. We have much to do.
Our new boat is unprepared for the boating season ahead. We need to do a little work before we set sail. Our surveyor recommended some repairs and improvements when we purchased the thirty-five feet Linssen yacht last October. We need to replace a rusty exhaust vent, repair or change a leaking shower tray, clean and antifoul the long-neglected hull and, last but not least, move our summer home three hundred and fifty kilometres from Belgium to our cruising base in the Netherlands.
Before that, we have to prepare our old boat, Julisa, for sale. It’s on hard standing in a small and crowded boatyard in beautiful Leiden. Our broker has taken two potential buyers to view the cruiser so far, both on cold and miserable winter days. Once in heavy snow and once in horizontal sleet. Neither day did our canvas topped mahogany and steel summer cruiser any favours. She needs varnishing, painting and moving to a mooring suitable for taking potential buyers on sun-soaked sea trials if we are to have any chance of selling her this year.
We need to prepare and move both boats in April. It’s going to be a busy month. I also have to take our Hymer back to England and leave it there for ten days to have some warranty work done. Neither the odometer or fuel gauge work, and the radiator needs replacing. So does a gearbox seal which will mean taking most of the engine out. The work would cost us several thousand pounds if we had it done privately on the continent. I will drive to Nottingham, fly back to Amsterdam and then return to Nottingham when the work has been completed. Then I’ll endure four hundred and fifty miles of motorway tedium before returning to Cynthia. It will be a worthwhile but tiring financial exercise.
Driving any significant distance at all requires a full set of working tyres. The first step of our spring migration was to have our flat tyre either repaired or replaced. Our breakdown man recommended two tyre repair centres in Narbonne. We couldn’t have been happier with the first of his suggestions. Norauto Narbonne is part of a thriving national chain. It’s easy to see why.
Despite frantic activity around the business’s half dozen filled work bays, a smiling receptionist quickly found a free mechanic to examine our poorly tyre. He waited patiently while I filled their car parking area with the bulky contents of our cavernous garage before I could heave the tyre out of its tight slot. The mechanic was able to repair rather than replace the tyre. We won’t be able to run on it for long, but at least we have a serviceable emergency spare again. The tyre repair was done free of charge. To add to the day’s good news, we discovered that the spare tyre our breakdown man told us could only be used for emergencies is, in fact, a quality Michelin tyre which should last twenty thousand miles. At the rate we’re going we’ll probably do most of them this year.