| Topic: a day (or three) in the life....
Message posted by gedsjeep on 04/10/2017 at 12:25am
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this was written last year, but the post about cows in fields prompted me to share this with you.
to set the scene, i am part of a group of friends that raise money for Macmillan by doing daft thing throughout the year. every september, we man the car park at the Adventure overland show at stratford upon avon racecourse, and every penny we raise goes to Macmillan.
this was my weekend...
alternative title - 3 miles up the M40
Or “ why do cows not like me"
Or “ my overland adventure.
the following tale of woe, misadventure and bovine hostility is true in its entirety as will no doubt be attested to by the other parties mentioned in the following text.
this tale will be related over the period of a few days, or as and when the flashbacks occur.
This is a cautionary tale and should in no way be used as an instruction manual.
Those that know me know that I am a very reactive mechanic. If It breaks I fix it. (or get help to). Seldom do I forward plan enough to factor out breakdowns and I normally rely on the toughness of the merc engine to get me home. The exception to this rule is when I have a trip away, especially towing the caravan. That`s when I do all them little jobs I keep meaning to do. Retune the radio, check the tyre pressures and see if the dipstick is still where I last saw it.
So, prepping for the Adventure Overland show was done, 100L of freshly filtered waste veg oil was in the boot alongside the full tank (yeah, but you can never have enough cheap fuel). The food bag was on the back seat (lamb chops, home made chicken soup and an emergency pot noodle). Everything was ready. The weekend consists of a couple of friends manning the team chaos stand, whilst me and tony and whoever else we can rope in man the car park. Its not bad as we get to take it in turns to look around the show and raise a fair bit of dosh for Macmillan.
The plan was to collect the caravan from the yard about ½ a mile away. Fit the freshly charged leisure battery and have a nice relaxing drive down the M6, through Brum, down the M42 and M40 and into Stratford racecourse mid afternoon. What could possibly go wrong.
Well the first thing was the weird scraping noise at approx 20 yards away from the house. I drove backward and forward and isolated the noise to the nearside. A quick wiggle of the front wheel and I diagnosed the bearing was slightly loose. Easy this mechanics stuff innit? So, reverse back into the driveway, crack out the allen key of the correct size and start undoing the hub to tighten the bearing. Well, theoretically that`s how it went in my head. What actually happened was I emptied the water out of the tool kit that I had forgotten to put away a few weeks before, dug out the right size key and proceeded to round it off in the first 5 seconds.
That sort of set the tone for the whole weekend.
So, I rings a mate who is only a few miles the wrong way and pootle on over there to use his proper allen key set. Job done in quick time on his driveway and goodbyes and thank you`s done I jumped in the musso. I turned the ignition on and no glow plug light. Starts the engine and glow plug light comes on. Ok, no problem. Out comes the multimeter and I diagnose number 4 plug blown. (see, easy this mechanics stuff). Locate number 4 plug and decide it can bloody well stay blown till I get back coz its hiding behind the fuel pump. More goodbyes and off I go. Then after 20 yards I reverse back and try and find out where the bloody scraping noise is STILL coming from. After completely failing I decided that if I took my hearing aids out, closed the window and turned the radio up, the noise went away. See, told you this mechanics stuff was easy.
So, I arrives at the caravan a few mins later and set about hitching up. I unlocked the door and went inside to fill the fridge freezer. Well, what actually happened was I got half way through the door, then made a mad dive for the front end to try and put the nose back on the floor. With hindsight I should probably have dived back out as the next puzzle was how to get out without it tipping up. I knew I should have left the rear legs down..
After a bit of rearranging I managed to get out and wound the rear legs down. I went to connect the leisure battery in its little space on the outside and managed to rip the negative connections from the cabling. After a very deep breath I got the tools out and rewired everything. 20 mins later I had the battery strapped in, connected up and everything working inside. Time to move the van to the car. Yup, I got that the right way round. See the caravan was the top of the range in 1999 and has every gadget you can think of. Hot and cold running water, nice blown air heating, fridge freezer, full oven/grill/quad hob, everything. Even a motor mover. For those that have never succumbed to the abject luxury of a tin shed on wheels, it`s a remote control that drives two wheels that rub against your tyres on the van and shift the sodding thing off rough ground to your car.
What actually happened was I wound the legs up and pushed the button. Then flicked the switch. Then swore a lot. Then wound the rear legs down and unpacked all the bedding and flicked the trip switch for the motor mover then repacked all the bedding then wound the legs up then moved the van to the car and hitched it up.
After a onehundredandtwentyseventhousand point turn I was finally ready. So I set off and stopped after 20 yards. I fitted the anti snake device and set off. After another 30 yards I stopped again. I locked the front hatch, checked all the windows for the third time and set off. I went round the roundabout and up the slip road onto the M57. Looked in the mirror and saw my evening meal fly out of the fridge. I pulled over, repacked the fridge and remembered to lock it.
4 hours later and after an uneventful journey I was set up at stratford racecourse. I busied myself setting out all the signs to the car park, making sure the exits were clear and sorting out the radio`s ect for the next morning. Colin and maria arrived and we set about getting the team chaos stall set up. so, much later I wandered off to the beer tent for a much needed cold beer. What I actually got was a lukewarm, flat, sweet glass of liquid. That`s the nicest im prepared to be about the beer. Now the eye was starting to twitch and the fists were clenching at this point so I went in search of stella.
......And found her in the event organisers fridge. After leaving an iou for the 10 cans I managed to stuff into all my pockets (scouser, remember?) I headed back to the beer tent.
After the argument with the barman had finished and I had been barred from the tent I set up shop on a table just outside and proceeded to get very drunk on technically stolen stella.
About midnight myself, colins son, his mate and his stalker wandered off to bed. Nice comfy bed with nice comfy quilt and away with the fairy`s I went.
So imagine my joy when whilst still in the warm fug of a slightly drunken stupor, I was awoken by a screeching jeep grand Cherokee alarm, set off by its bloody owner who couldn`t remember what button to push after she had staggered back across the racecourse slightly worse for wear at 3:30 am. So I lay there. And lay there and lay there for a bit more till I finally drifted off at about 5am.
next post will be all about the saturday. it was a long saturday.....
Message posted by gedsjeep on 04/10/2017 at 12:32am
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So. After drifting off at about 5am I was most annoyed to find one of 617 sqn`s tornado GR4`s doing an engine test outside the caravan door.
It turned out to be a sodding hot air balloon.....
And I swear if i`d had an air rifle.
So, breakfast made, eaten and a few cups of tea later I headed off to collect the emergency radio`s for the day. Well, what actually happened was I turned the key and was rewarded by that stomach dropping click as you realise that the battery is flat.
So, with the cheapest set of jump leads on the planet, the musso was started and off to get the radios.
To be fair, Saturday wasn`t as bad as I made out. Not with Sunday yet to come. apart from having to explain to a few Range Rover vogue owners that owning a RR does not entitle them to park in the disabled spaces. Their indignant protests were met with the very polite, you move it, or i`ll move it...... Mate.
Then there was the confused old man that didn`t know who he was, where he was or what he was doing there. Yet he had driven all the way there and bought tickets.
So after a nice grilled lamb chop, tatties and mushy peas dinner and a communal trip to the supermarket for real beer off we wandered to the beer tent and seeing as it was a nice evening we found some benches..and found a huge round table and found a few crates of stella, copperaberg and a 40L box of real ale. And sat down outside (I was still barred, remember) to enjoy the evenings company and entertainment
At which point the sound of a jazz string quartet wafted out of the tent.
I **** you not.
A jazz string quartet.
Now every one at this show was dressed in outdoor gear. Shorts, combats, boots ect. Sitting in the corner was a jazz string quartet, complete with formal evening wear. It was such a surreal sight that the obligatory plethora of phones came out to video the spectacle. I think tony has one.
So after trudging back to the caravan for my large Bluetooth speaker we carried on enjoying the evening. There was the extremely drunk man on a pushbike that managed to get his head stuck in his own hi viz jacket and the GLASS executive that went off piste whilst wearing his suit and ended up stuck, up to his knees in a 10 foot deep ditch. I would like to apologise to the man with the quad copter drone who was trying to film the evening. That was me with the high power laser pen.
And don`t ask about the nice waving man.
So, we staggered back to our respective night time shelters and off we all went to sleep.
Sunday morning and another click from the starter as the battery was flat again.
Another jump start and the same arguments with range rover owners about disabled parking and Sunday afternoon was upon us.
I packed the caravan away as I had the longest drive home and prepared to set off. Goodbyes and farewells later and I slipped quietly out of the showground and headed off through Stratford upon Avon. I called home with my eta and settled back to a nice relaxing drive home.
That`s when I started having a bad weekend..
Message posted by gedsjeep on 04/10/2017 at 12:40am
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So a few pleasant A roads then on to the M40.
Three miles up the M40 to be exact. Just at the top of a long hill
Just here in fact
that`s where the temp gauge went all the way off the top.
So, I pulls over quick smart and killed the engine. After opening the bonnet and watching the steam for a while I decided to let everyone know where I was. Problem was, everyone was either going the wrong way, had caravans of their own to worry about or were unreachable.
Water. The car needed water. I turned to the caravan with dismay. I had spent 10 mins draining it down before I left as it was going straight back into storage. Ok, theres a bridge and it looks like a canal. Canals = water.
Ahh. It`s a railway line.
So I ponders for a moment.
There`s a field full of cows next to the motorway. Cows need water.
Allow me a moment to describe my attire. As it was a pleasant day I had opted for my nice iron maiden tshirt, a pair of knee length camo shorts and my Karrimor trainers complete with trainer socks.
So armed with a 500ml empty bottle I slide down the embankment, through the nettles, over the barbed wire fence, through the chest high brambles and onto the path that led down to the bottom of the field where there were signs of life. To be fair, most of the life was cows, but there were signs of builders materials, blue nylon pipes ect (you can see them on satellite view) I will admit to stopping a few times to pick the odd doc leaf for the nettle stings and even managed to get a few thorns out of my hands on the way. So im walking quite happily through the cows towards the gate when I hears the drum of hooves behind me.
I turned round, shat my shorts and ran like feck for the piles of blue pipes at the bottom.
Maybe they liked jazz, and not iron maiden but one things for sure, they didn`t like me in their field. So whilst im stood on the pile of pipes, wondering what to do next, the bovine bastards had sent out a telepathic message to the rest of the herd. Who all decided to come and see what was going on.
So I walked toward the end of the pipes nearest the gate, obviously trying to escape and they followed me. They were probably looking for food or something.
Or maybe cows are like dolphins, maybe they have learned not to bite humans when other humans are watching
So I walked back to the top end of the pipes, and again they followed me. So I walked to the furthest point away from the gate I could get to. And they followed me.
I turned and in my mind, sprinted for the gate, clearing it with a single bound to end with a forward roll on the other side while the cows stood there wondering how they had been so stupid not to cover the exit..
What actually happened was I fell over, got my foot stuck, slipped into a patch of nettles, hobbled to the gate and hauled myself over into a heap on the floor
And the cows never moved an inch.
So, im stood in a single track lane in the Warwickshire countryside with a herd of cows between me and the car and no water.
After a bit of poking round in the ditch I found a few inches of stagnant water. I knew it was water as it had swimmy things in. like tadpoles only quicker. Or maybe it was cow p**s. Whatever, I filled my bottle and turned to the gate. That`s where all the cows were stood. I tried a few shoo`s but apart from a few wiggled ears, they weren`t moving. So I moved to the gate in the next field, figuring I could walk up to the motorway then along the hard shoulder. I must admit to being impressed with the speed that they came through the gap in the hedge. So, im now stood there with two fields full of killer cows.
Ok, railway bridge. So I walks under the bridge, up the steps, through another barbed wire fence and after checking it wasn`t electrified I set off towards the motorway.
Now before anyone gets on your high horses, I know its illegal. And dangerous. But it was Sunday afternoon, in the middle of nowhere and the chances of getting a train this far out in the sticks was pretty slim. So I walked up to where the motorway crossed over the railway and tried to get up the embankment.
After 10 mins of trying to extricate myself from a massive patch of dog roses I emerged next to the barbed wire fence and crawled up to the hard shoulder.
Through the nettles. Wearing shorts.
I poured the water in and watched as it went glug gone.......
Deep breath. Wipe blood off legs with a nice dirty rag and put hearing aids in dashboard.
Right, into the caravan, under the seats, along the hard shoulder. I looked everywhere and found 2.5L worth of bottles.
Actually I found more but decided to leave the yellow ones where they were.
The field was out of the question because the cows had wandered up to the fence to see if I would do any more gymnastics for them, so here we go again.
Down through the nettles, get ripped to shreds by the dog roses, and onto the railway line and headed for the bridge by the ditch.
That`s when I decided I should have left my hearing aids in.
actually, as im trying to be accurate, I decided I should have left my hearing aids in when the train came flying round the corner.
I jumped to the side and found myself still alive, but chest deep in brambles. And bleeding.
As it turned out, this wasn`t as bad as it seems, coz on this side of the tracks there wasn`t any cows.
There was horses.
Now I can do horses, weve got a horse and horses really do drink water.
So I picked my way daintily through the brambles down to the horses field.
That statement implies that this was easy. I found a few things out on this part of the journey, one of them being that im too fat and too old to get my foot up to chest height to trample the brambles down. Especially going down hill.
I just sort of settled for trying to keep my head above them as I fell face first down the embankment.
After a brief pause to assess the blood loss I jumped the small ditch and cocked my leg over the fence to the horses field. After I had stopped screaming I got up and cursed all electric fences everywhere. I wandered down to the stable block and started calling out to see if anyone was about.
Getting no answer I started looking for the tap to fill the bottles. That`s when the nice lady that owns the stables came round the corner and found a bleeding, bedraggled scouser in a torn tshirt poking round her yard. After what felt like an eternity of screaming, accusations and threats she finally calmed down and showed me where the tap was.
Loaded up with 2.5L of nice fresh water and I asked if it was ok to retrace my steps through her field. Of course¯ she said, ¯just mind the electric fence.....
I think I managed to hide the twitch and staggered off up the field. Choosing to duck under the fence this time I managed not to get electrocuted in the nackers.
Instead I stood up too soon and got it in the shoulder
So, up through the brambles, along the railway line, up through the roses and the nettles and reaches the car.
I pours the 2.5L of water in and watch as it all disappears. I kneel down and no water underneath. I check the footwells in case the matrix has gone and nothing. Bone dry.
Not wanting to subject my bruised and bleeding body to any more pain, I have a little sit down and rack my brains.
Just how much urine does the average human pass in one sitting.
Well, not enough to fill a musso radiator was the answer. Then I spied the washer bottle. Must be 2L in there. So I fech some tubing from the boot and proceed to siphon the bottle dry.
Well, what I actually did was ring the missis and ask if windolene was poisonous whilst retching at the side of the car.
Seems i`d be ok,
Chucked that in and pumped the top hose. Nothing. Empty.
I decided then to sit down for a couple of mins whilst I had a little moment.
I checked my watch. 5:30pm. I had broken down at 3:30pm. Two hours.
Right, up I got, metaphorically kicked myself up the arse and set off.
Through the nettles, down through the roses, along the line through the brambles, over the fence (safely) back to the stables, yes love, thanks love cheers for the water, back through the field, over the fence, up through the brambles, along the line up through the roses, through the nettles and back to the car.
I put the water in and joy, it started to fill up. I pumped a chunk of air out and was left with about 3/4 L.
I put the expansion bottle cap on and gave the hose a final pump. That`s when I realised that the cap had failed and wasn`t sealing the system.
Stuff this im on a roll. After a brief pause I jumped in the caravan and grabbed the cling film. Two neat squares over the filler hole, screw the cap on and eureka!!! I have a seal. Don`t know how long it will last, but it`s a start. Feeling all smug and proud I jump in, turn the key and then find out that the battery was dead.
This was when the cows realised their mistake and found out that Humans are top of the food chain. They derived this information from the primal scream that filled the air for a few seconds.
When the wildlife recovered and flew, scuttled ran and slithered to a safe distance I had another eureka moment. Remember the caravan with all the gadgets? It has a leisure battery.
So, after nearly getting splattered by a coach I managed to get the batteries swapped over and the bastard thing started. I made a dash for the first exit and noticed that the temp was holding steady. I called off the major rescue operation that the event organiser was planning and after a call to the missis, I made a mad dash back to the racecourse. In another stroke of genius I plugged the caravan into the mains and left the car battery in place of the leisure battery so at least I could start the car in the morning.
The whole episode had taken just over three hours.
To do a 12 mile round trip..
Tom (the event organiser) kindly invited me to the indian restaurant up the road with his team and we had many beers and good food. That`s when I got back to the caravan, stepped on the step that chose that precise moment to fail and trap my leg against the awning skirt rail, cutting my shin to the bone..
So, lets fast forward to the next morning.
I bought a new cap for six pounds fifty and drove home.
Theres more, but you will have to watch the live tour for that.
I could have made this up, but it was that bizzare, that I didn`t.
Post last edited on 04/10/2017 00:50:48