After the great deflating tyre adventure that we’d had on our trip to Scotland and the Hebrides. I really wanted to get the currently deflating tyre changed before leaving for the monthly meeting in the north. My one day off this month would be spent pretty much on the road, a round trip of over four hundred miles in a little over twenty-four hours as I needed to get back for Ani… and I didn’t fancy getting stuck in the cold, rain and floods that are plaguing the country.
Between running around fruitlessly after work, trying to find someone who could supply and fit atyre before I left and the needs of one small dog whose current dog-sitting arrangement is not ideal, I didn’t set off until mid-afternoon, a good three hours later than usual. Never mind…at least I would be there early evening. With the clearest of runs, I can do this part of the journey in three and a half hours, but that doesn’t happen often and it usually takes a bit longer. This was not going to be a clear run…
The roads were bad, with vehicles kicking up enough spray to make driving hard work, deep puddles and standing water everywhere. Although the route I take is largely fairly quiet, there is a thirty-mile stretch of road that passes several towns. I managed to hit the start of it as rush-hour began and crawled for the next hour at snail’s pace in the dark.
I don’t mind night driving these days. Unlike its predecessors, this car has good lights. Even so, the unlit, winding roads through the hills were hard going with the rain, spray and flooding. There was no way to see whether the shining surface was merely wet or several inches deep in water, so progress was necessarily slow.
By the time I hit Ashbourne, where the road really climbs up into the hills, I was rather tired and looking forward to the cuppa, food and eventual glass of wine that I knew would be waiting.
So the blizzard was a bit mean.
It is only November, after all…
With the temperature already below freezing, the huge and unexpected snowflakes were settling nicely. Visibility was even worse than in the rain, the sinuous and ungritted roads made driving over the hills a tad hairy, to say the least. I paused near Arbor Low to let Stuart know I’d be a while, but I couldn’t help laughing… it really seemed as if the day was throwing every obstacle it could in my way.
I had been vaguely uneasy about this particular trip, but there was nothing concrete. Stuart had the odd niggle too. And there is a scan appointment looming that could happen any day. Maybe I should have listened to the inner prompting…
Five hours after leaving home, I climbed the last hills and headed down towards the lights of Sheffield. Which is when the warning light flashed, the engine shut itself down and the car died.
I managed to coast close to the side of the road, cursing and near tears. I was a mile from my destination. It could have been worse and at least I have breakdown cover.
Or not, apparently.
Not as I’d driven through the flooded landscape, as the breakdown service refused to come out to any vehicle that had done so. To make matters worse, my phone barely works since I fell on it… and I’d forgotten to pack my charger. I couldn’t even make my disgust at their unhelpful attitude heard.
Leaving a note in the car window… the car had stopped on double-yellow lines… and wearing sandals, I might add, I abandoned ship and walked to Stuart’s, coatless in the rain. Once fed and watered, we walked back to see if it was just the water and whether the car would now start. The console informed me I had now lost all the fuel that had been in the tank. There had to be a fuel leak… and a fairly bad one to drain all that fuel. We pushed the car to safety. Then we walked home.
Next morning, we walked back yet again… this time to a garage, a family-run business who were absolutely brilliant. I was worrying about head gaskets and flood damage… but they arranged for the car to be towed, did the repair and got me back on the road within a day to get home for Ani. A pipe had exploded, worn by years of friction, NOT floodwater… and sprayed the engine compartment with the contents of my fuel tank. Awful as it was, it could have been much, much worse.
But next time I get that uneasy feeling, I’m not getting out of bed.