Hello again – how have you been? Well I hope? We’ve been looking on enviously over the long hot summer while you all went off on holiday, leaving us in limbo-land between houses and missing our trips abroad. I hope you had a great time! With a bit of luck and a following wind that should all change in the next few weeks – more later…
We’ve made use of the time to get to the bottom of a few niggly problems with the big fella. You may remember me mentioning a pesky airbag warning light on Vince’s dashboard a few trips ago? Now that we live in the middle of nowhere, it’s not so easy to get to a Peugeot dealer to have a look at the problem. The nearest one is in Dumfries, an hour away, and just to plug their laptop into the diagnostic system is an extortionate £95 eek! I decided to have a little dig around and found that Vince’s previous owner had spun the front passenger seat around and around so many times that the cable to the seat belt tensioner had ripped out of its plug. The seat is meant to spin round of course so that you can face into the cabin, but ideally it should be rotated back in the opposite direction to avoid the problem. Ten minutes had the cables repaired with a block connector, and the next time I started the engine nobody was more surprised than me when the airbag light went out – result! Many £££’s saved so it all turned out well in the end…turned out…geddit? Oh well, please yourselves.
Sorry in advance for the next paragraph. Those of a non-technical disposition (or girlies) can skip over it without any loss of narrative flow whatsoever… 😉
We’ve replaced the hose which caused Vince’s recent red face and embarrassing leakage problem, as well as resolving the scary buzzing from his electrical system. That one had me ripping out my little remaining hair as there didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason for the constant tripping of the electricity supply. Sometimes it was fine then at random times everything would just switch off. I invested a few pounds in a multimeter, a deer-stalker and a magnifying glass and went in search of clues. By tracking back from Vince’s smart-charger (not so smart as it turns out) all was well until I came to what I later found out was the interface board – where the Peugeot chassis electrics meet the electrical system of the habitation area added by the coach-builder at the Auto-Sleeper factory. There was a large voltage drop between where the charge entered the board, and where it was supposed to leave it to send all the little electrons to the cab’s starter battery. That explained why the power seemed to trip randomly – when the smart-charger decided to switch from charging the leisure battery to the cab battery, either on solar or electric hook-up, the voltage drop made it think the battery was down to 7V so it shut down to protect the battery d’oh! The reason – as you can see from the pic – was a fried plug. An hour or two chatting with Mr. Google led to the discovery that issues like these can be caused by a loose fuse of all things; and sure enough, the main fuse to the battery was loose in its holder and although it hadn’t blown, its plastic was melted and charred too. When the van rattled over potholes and bumps, the movement of the fuse was causing electrical arcing which fried the plug. Once I’d tightened up the fuse holder with my trusty pliers and replaced the connections on the plug everything returned to normal, but I’ve ordered a new circuit board as a precaution. We don’t want everything going up in flames when we’re out of the van. Er… or in it, now I come to think about it!
Still with us? Sorry about that – it’s just that I’m feeling a bit smug about saving a fortune on dealer charges. It’s nice to win one now and again. Anyway this is supposed to be a travel blog so where have we been of late? Well, we’ve continued our exploration of our new home area with a run to the Wigtown Food Festival, and we’ve also spent a night or two at Gatehouse of Fleet where we met some friends from our old home town of Telford.
Wigtown is known as Scotland’s book town. There are more book shops per head of population in Wigtown than anywhere else in the UK with the possible exception of Hay-on-Wye. It’s close but I suspect the figures swing in favour of Wigtown given that the population there consists of three families, four sheep and a three-legged donkey called Elvis. If you’re a literary fan I can highly recommend the Book Festival which runs from 21-30 September this year – feel free to stay at ours 🙂 We spent ages in the biggest bookshop in the main street, and if you’re thinking Waterstone’s you’d be very wide of the mark. Think dim lighting, dusty shelves, nooks and crannies, comfy chairs, and vast numbers of new and second-hand volumes on all subjects under the sun. I spent half an hour leafing through an 1834 publication capturing Galloway stories handed down over the generations – all written in the local dialect. It was heavy going but well-observed and VERY rude!
The food festival marquee was in the square, and offered local produce with plenty of opportunity to try samples of artisan chocolate, cheeses, flavoured oat-cakes, artisan chocolate, cider, wine, artisan chocolate and did I say artisan chocolate? I like chocolate. We left with a whisky and orange flavoured cheese, some ginger oatcakes (the chilli ones were a bit fiery) and some strong cider which had been aged in oak casks giving it a very distinctive taste. We didn’t buy any chocolate as the number of samples I’d tried were beginning to make me feel a little queasy…
Today we’re in binge-recovery mode, having a quiet Sunday after some serious eating and drinking and late nights. Yesterday we were delighted to meet up for lunch (for the first time in nine years!) with Linda and Graham; Linda is a friend of Gill’s from her teacher-training days. Coincidentally, she was in the year above me at school near Edinburgh in the Middle Ages so we had lots to chat about. The time flew by for the four of us before L&G had to continue their journey back to Clun in Shropshire. They’ve recently opened their lovely home to guests via AirBNB so if you’re looking for a few nights in beautiful Shropshire countryside let me know!
I was hoping that yesterday’s visitors wouldn’t notice the bags under my eyes as we’d spent the previous few days in Vince at Gatehouse of Fleet partaking of one or several nights out with Roger & Sandra – former Telford neighbours and great friends. I can honestly say that from Tuesday night – when we met for a night out – to Friday night when we er… met for a night out (after nights out on Wednesday and Thursday – eek!), we didn’t stop talking and laughing for the whole time. We showed our visitors around the area, taking in the spectacular Mull of Galloway Lighthouse and exhibition; drinks were consumed in the quaint and charming village of Portpatrick (we were just sheltering from the rain, honest), and we also managed a fly-by over our new house. Sorry? Didn’t I say? Our limbo-days are finally over!
On 30 August – after ten homeless months – we get the keys to our new place here in Newton Stewart, yay! We’d tried out the possibility of building our own home, and we’d offered on one or two other houses without success, but this time we got to the finish line, allowing us to complete our plan to downsize, to move back to Scotland, and to release a bit of cash for more Vince travels. The house needs a bit of upgrading so that’s this winter taken care of, but we plan to hit the road in style next spring. That should fit in perfectly with my seasonal caravan-park bin-emptying job, and Gill’s supply-teaching contract. As soon as this post hits the news stands (and after I’ve gone back several times to correct all my spelling mistakes as usual) we plan to book the Bilbao ferry for a 3-4 month wander chasing the sun around Spain and Portugal with a side-dish of France on the way back via the tunnel. We’ll squeeze in a few more UK Vince-breaks before then of course so stay with us, but if any of our lovely readers want to suggest must-sees while we’re abroad we’d love to hear from you. All suggestions are welcome via the comments section below, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for bearing with the gaps between transmissions – to make up for it, you’re all invited to the house-warming. Chat soon 🙂