After making the decision to have the solar system replaced we returned to Turiscampo – the site where we had spent Christmas and New Year. It was the ideal place for proximity to Iain who was going to fix us, not to mention its good facilities and electric hook up. We knew we could relax here while everything was put to rights.
Thank goodness there are people in this world that understand stuff that we don’t! The lovely Iain from SolAlgarve spent a good bit of the weekend here renewing our solar set up. He installed 300w of solar panels on the roof, a new solar controller and a sophisticated bit of kit that tells us all kinds of interesting information about what’s going on with the batteries and the input of power. It’s too early to know whether our batteries, pretty depleted through insufficient charging, will recover but we’re hopeful. I keep listening for them slurping up the energy from the sun but it’s too quiet – probably because it’s raining today. It’s important to give credit where it’s due and Iain deserves much kudos for his patient and careful work, his use of good quality materials and his willingness to answer daft questions in words that we could understand. We discovered something rather disturbing while all this work was going on. We already knew that the materials used by the previous fitter of the solar system were poor quality. It was the last owner who had it fitted and it was clear he had been taken for a ride. (I wanted to use other words there but decided against it). What we discovered when Iain went up on the roof to take off the old panel was that it had been so badly fitted that it was at risk of being blown off in a high wind. A nasty accident for any following vehicles could have been the result. It had been our decision to have the old panel taken off and start again with new matching ones and it was most definitely the right one. We could have opted to leave that one on and add another – we’re so glad we didn’t.
Much of our weekend involved sitting about in chairs outside the motorhome, attempting to stop Poppy covering Iain in big slobbery kisses and watching the other residents of the site wander by trying to find out what was going on. Some asked directly, some stood and stared and some just happened to be walking by and took quick glances in the hopes of making sense of the man on our roof. When we weren’t doing that we were eating in the site restaurant because we couldn’t resist it and walking on the beach at Luz. Not a lot to report in other words. Well … except for the moment that Shirley lost her tatty.
Get back in the wagon woman
We arrived at Turiscampo on Friday morning to discover that there were only two pitches available. One was near the Brits on the CCC Rally, some of whom were still here from our last visit. We opted for this pitch because we wanted to chat to some familiar faces and maybe join in one or two activities if the urge should take us. The pitch, it turned out, was long and narrow and a bit slanted. I was driving and Shirley guiding me in and we realised straight away that we would need the levelling blocks. We wrestled them out of their cupboard on the side of the van, after dragging out all the other stuff that lives with them, and got them placed ready to drive on to. Very quickly we realised this wasn’t going to work because the ground was too soft and we were spinning our wheels. At this point an elderly German gentleman came over, decided he should be in charge and began to shout instructions in German. I was in the driving seat trying to work out whether Shirley was giving the same instructions or different ones. He was very determined that I should reverse to get off the patch of mud the van wheels had created. Unfortunately and unknown to me Shirley had been asking the man to stop giving shouted instructions in German so that she could let me know which way to drive. The upshot of this was the van getting stuck on the wedge, Shirley losing the plot and shouting a certain four letter word. After a stunned silence we found ourselves standing looking with dismay at our stuck van. The German man had, quite sensibly in my opinion, run back to his van by this point and we were left with what looked like an impossible problem. Fortunately another neighbour came out, approached cautiously and asked in a calm voice – the kind you might use when faced with an angry dog – “Can I help?” (Shirley isn’t keen on the angry dog metaphor but the man next door doesn’t know she’s a pussy cat) He quickly saw a solution and turned the tap on the waste water to make enough clearance to get off the ramp – he also got doused in waste water. There seems to be a theme going on here after the mechanic from Camperserv got drenched in our fresh water. Sorry folks!
We were soon settled and reasonably level but we didn’t like the pitch at all. It was very dark and too narrow to spread out in. A little later Shirley, now recovered from her debacle with the uninvited takeover man, spotted people a few pitches away getting ready to leave. She was out of her seat and over talking to them before you could say ‘Dead men’s shoes’, asking them if they were going and could we have the pitch. They said they were leaving the next day so she went to reception and asked for a transfer. I haven’t seen her move so fast in years. By nine the next morning the van was on a big open pitch, the uninvited takeover man had stopped flinching when he walked by and all was well with the world.
It’s a bit of a conundrum being lady motorhomers. Sometimes we really do need help and we’re very grateful when it’s offered but we’ve had a couple of situations when men have assumed they can just take over and start shouting instructions at us without so much as saying hello first. It’s great when motorhomers help one another out and we’re all for it but a bit of respect goes a long way.
Mystery in the waste water tank
When we’re on site we usually empty our waste water into a collapsable bucket and carry it to the water dump. We then carry fresh water back in a clean watering can. If nothing else it keeps us fit and we don’t waste diesel driving to the motorhome service point every other day.
Shirley was emptying the waste yesterday when a piece of paper the size of a large postage label slipped out of the waste tank and into the bucket. This really is a mystery because there is no way the paper could have got into the waste tank through any of the drain holes in the van. After the paper came out we found that the waste water was gloopy like thin wallpaper paste so we had to do a rinse out, flushing water through the system to clear it. Our pals on the motorhome fun forum came up with a few possible ideas for how it got there, some of them more comic than sensible. One suggested that there might be a bottle in there as well and maybe a shipwrecked mariner. Personally I wondered whether uninvited takeover man might have slipped something up there.