Belonging to motorhome fun, the online forum, has many benefits. The biggest one for us is the wealth of knowledge that the members are willing to share. We were advised to go and see Carlos near Olhao in the eastern Algarve after we scratched the roof and that advice has turned out to be worth its weight in rubies.
We got settled into Camping Algarve Moncarapacho which is a mile from Carlos’ workshop and consulted the sat nav to make sure that we knew where to take the van bright and early the next morning. Looking at the map on the screen I could see that the destination was directly down the road but the sat nav insisted that the only way was via a 4 mile detour round country lanes. I was puzzled and a bit worried. Was there a low bridge down the main road that would be too high for Holly to get through? At that moment Alan, the kind Geordie man from earlier came along to ask how things were going. I checked with him and he assured me that we could get to Carlos’ workshop on the direct route. He then told us that he had a hire car and offered to drive down in the morning and pick me up after I’d dropped the van off. Shirley could stay at the site with our little pile of outdoor furniture, a picnic, various games, knitting bags in case we got bored playing games, books to read and two very confused small dogs. It’s hard to describe how grateful we felt for Alan’s kindness. Later I checked the settings on the sat nav and discovered that I’d accidentally set the weight of the van to 44 tons instead of 4 tons. I don’t remember doing this but I do have a habit of fiddling with electronics just to see how they work. As soon as I reset it to 4 tons it told me I could use the main road. I felt a bit silly – especially as we’ve been meandering round country lanes for three days unnecessarily. Please don’t tell Shirley.
First thing the next morning I turned up at Carlos’ workshop at 8.55 a.m. and handed the van over. Just before I left, I mentioned that the rooflight above the lounge needed polishing because the original owner had left the plastic protective cover on and now it was well and truly stuck on. “No problem at all!” said Carlo, “I make the van beautiful.”
Ten minutes later I was back at the site, sitting in the sunshine, drinking coffee from a flask and ready to pass a long day with no van. Very fortunately this little site has toilets and showers.
Many of the small camper sites don’t have them because most motorhomes have their own facilities on board. We put our washing in the site washing machine and past several hours lazing about in the sun. It felt like a small miracle that the day was very sunny and warm so we were quite comfortable being homeless on a pitch with no van on it.
By 4 p.m. the novelty had definitely worn off and even the short walk into the nearest town for ice cream hadn’t cheered any of us up much. The dogs were bewildered and unwilling to indulge in their usual habit of sleeping the afternoon away, the air was beginning to cool a bit and the wait until 6 p.m. when Carlos had told me to go back seemed like an eternity away. Suddenly Corinne, the young French owner of the site appeared with two cups of hot water, a selection of herb teas and the keys to an empty caravan on the site. She took us over to show us it and said, in French, that we should sit in there so that we didn’t get cold. How lovely was that? At about 5.15 Alan came over and suggested he take me to Carlos’ because he was sure the van would be ready by now. Off we went down the road and found the van being vacuumed out ready to be taken away. Vacuumed? What amazing service is this? The repair is so good you would never know the accident had ever happened, the rooflight is polished and shining and we are very happy. The bill? €150. I’m certain it would have been three times that at home. So, thank you Carlos, Alan and Corinne. We were quite overwhelmed by the kindness and care we received.
Oh no! Holly is incontinent!
We set off west again after our diversion to get the van fixed and stopped on the way back towards Lagos at a Lidl’s supermarket. We approached it with some trepidation as it was in a Lidl’s car park that we damaged the roof of the motorhome on the canopies over the car park. Just the thought of doing it again gave us the horrors. We were relieved to park up in the motorhome spaces without incident and merrily did our shopping. When we came out we discovered that fresh water was dripping from under the van. We couldn’t believe it! it seems that we have a small leak from our fresh water tank, which explains why we’ve been surprised how often we’ve needed to fill up. We’ll have to look for a motorhome dealership at some point, but in the meantime we’ll just keep dripping.
A Cartoon Moment
I sometimes see the world in cartoon images – it can get me into trouble when I start laughing at someone else’s misfortunes. We were walking down the road in Lagos today when we saw the perfect cartoon moment. Imagine the scene.
Coming towards us was a woman walking a very large dog. It was on a long lead and she was well ahead of it, checking her mobile phone. She was clearly oblivious to the hound bumbling along behind her. The dog was walking close to the wall and fast approaching a woman taking money out of a cash machine. This woman was totally unaware of anything except the financial task she was undertaking and had one foot up resting against a ledge on the wall and the other on the pavement. We could see quite clearly that the dog was going to walk between the woman’s legs, wrapping the lead round the one that was holding her up and potentially sending her flying. I think our gasp and my howl of inappropriate laughter must have alerted the dog owner because she turned round just in time to see the accident about to happen. She ran back, shouted at the dog then put her hand between the other woman’s legs to try to stop the dog walking through. The woman at the bank machine’s expression was priceless. How I wish we’d had time to film it.