On driving several tonnes of memories across Germany with no brakes

Wrote most some of this during the breaks in Friday’s adventure. I originally wanted to write about each step of the journey as it happened, but sometimes it was more important to participate than observe so I missed some lots of bits out, or wrote fragments instead of sentences. I thought about posting as was, but I had some time to kill on the flight and wanted to make it more readable so I’ve chopped and changed and added as necessary..

***

13:00 – motorway services carpark (where I bought my coffee)

S and I arranged to meet at the rental office at 8. I missed the train I wanted to catch so by the time I arrived she’d already sorted everything out and was raring to go – the helpers were booked to arrive soon and she had a couple of things she wanted to sort out before they turned up. All I had to do was hand over my driving licence (they gave it back afterwards)) and pick up the keys and then we could go.

***

The van is huuuuuge!! And has the turning circle of a block of flats. (Or at least a middle sized house). The place we borrowed it from has a lamppost directly next to the exit. Guess who dented the van before they’d even driven 200m….

Ho hum. We luckily have a good insurance policy.

Then we got a tiny bit lost on the way to S’s house so the helpers had to wait for us and S had to work round them.

They worked quickly and we were on the road half an hour earlier than we’d planned despite everything.

And now we’re on the first loobreak.

It’s windy and there are roadworks and it’s looking like rain, but there are no traffic jams (yet).

Wheeee!!

***

15:00 ish – Supermarket logistics centre carpark.

We’ve stopped because we have no brakes. Or at least dodgy brakes. Or not enough brakes. Or something.

We were driving along a motorway, minding our own business when the dashboard suddenly lit up like a rather monotonous Christmas tree (or a traffic light party).

I had no idea what some of the symbols and abbreviations meant, but some of them were red and I know red lights mean you should stop. The display screen told us to consult the handbook, but I didn’t fancy reading while driving and I’m against my dashboard telling me anything while I’m on the motorway, so we took the next exit and stopped in a logistics centre carpark.

According to the display and the guide to dashboard lights, we have no ESP, no ABS, no ASR, no hill holder…. Nuffink.

We consulted the handbook.
The handbook was almost entirely useless – it basically told us that a) it was something to do with the brakes and b) we should consult someone knowledgeable.

That we had no brakes can’t be quite true because I did bring it to a halt.

S is on the phone to the rental company to find out what to do next.

I used the time to smuggle my way into the logistics centre to use their loo. (If you don’t close the main door properly behind you, there will be someone who uses opportunity to follow you into the building..).

Life is never boring…

(Also, it didn’t just rain after we set off again earlier, it feels more accurate to say the sky fell down).

***

16:15 ish – still in the logistics carpark

A repair man is apparently on his way.. he is supposed to be here by 5… We originally wanted to be at the new house by then. That was honestly unlikely to happen, but we could have probably made it for just after 6. No chance of that now.

***

16:50 – still not going anywhere

I wrote: “New loo – lorry driver shed – renovation and lots of dust”

This was good. I walked up to the gatemen at the edge of the lorry park and asked if I could use the loo. They said they didn’t have one and they couldn’t let me onto the grounds to get to the main building. I asked where I should go instead, and they pointed me in the general direction of a garage. When I asked how far away that was and said I was on foot because my car had broken down, they admitted that they did indeed have a working toilet but that it was very dirty due to the renovation work going on. I was welcome to use it if I didn’t mind the rubble.

It was very rubbley, but still a lot better than a lot of motorway loos 😉

***

19:00 ish – van repair workshop

The repair man arrived (at the carpark) at 17:something-late.. He’d got caught in a motorway closure and resulting traffic jams, and a journey that should have taken just under half an hour took him almost two.

He was friendly and helpful and thorough and unplugged things and tested things and checked things with a computer.

It turned out that something to do with the ABS/rear brakes was broken. I could either sign something to say that I was personally responsible for any accident that occurred on the rest of the journey, or we could get it repaired before continuing Essenwards. We were already so late that the unpacking helpers would be gone when we arrived, and I really didn’t want to be responsible for any more accidents, so we decided to get it repaired.

He couldn’t repair anything in the carpark in the dark, so we followed him back to the workshop.. slowly and carefully.

We now have a drinks machine with free cocoa/coffee/water and a couple of sofas to play with 🙂

I’m going to sleep for a bit while they work on the van.

***

Midnight – at S’s parents’ house.

We got in, alive and well at 23:15 ish.

The last entry was as I was trying to sleep at the workshop…

No such luck. Or more luck, depending on how you look at it. Just as I was getting close to sleeping, they came back and said we could go – everything was mended :).

We drove the last 270something km in approximately 4 hours (including refuelling and getting lost in a car park). That’s incredibly slow for German motorways, but I’m a wimp and it was windy and I didn’t want to overtake all the lorries. I’m not good at overtaking on a good day in my car. On a crazy day like today in a 20something foot van, with less than enough sleep, I was even more reluctant than usual.. It’s amazing how much wind you don’t notice in a car..

S’s parents waited up for us, and we had soup as a kind of midnight snack while we recounted the days events.

***

I think, on balance, we did really well, considering, even if we could theoretically have done better..

5 Replies to “On driving several tonnes of memories across Germany with no brakes”

  1. Wow, sometimes things do not go as planned, and you manged very well with that. Vans can be horrid to drive (I drove a tiptruck once, to move old bricks from the house I had moved to where I live now – the first 30 kms or so I didn’t even get it out of 2nd gear 🙂 )

    1. Oh man! Bricks sound awfully heavy! And tiptruck sounds enormous! And even less streamlined than ‘my’ van.. I hope it wasn’t windy for you?

  2. Ah I remember those bricks Claudette! Jesska I salute you! What a huge van to drive, the lamppost would not be there if I had been in the drivers seat! Glad those workmen let you use the loo though, very important part of journeys to find one every now and then. Thanks for the ride!

    1. You’re very welcome! I hope you don’t mind if I say I’m glad you weren’t in the van while I was driving though – the less (/fewer) people to worry about the better!
      And yes, they were fantastic 🙂 there are usually toilets/service stations at regular intervals along the motorways, but much less common on industrial estate carparks. I was very glad they were willing to bend the rules 🙂

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