Peterborough to Doncaster (99 miles)
We had heard a slight ‘pitter patter‘ on the roof of the van during the night but nothing too dramatic and we awoke to some pleasant morning sunshine. We had been on this site for ten days, the longest continuous period we have stayed in any one place !! This had been an ideal location and one which we would not hesitate in stopping at again (or working as Elf and Elfette for that matter), but today was ‘moving on’ day yet again, it was going to be a straightforward drive back to Doncaster and the ‘Bricks and Mortar’ sanctuary of Sharon’s mums. We certainly hadn’t anticipated spending this much time back under a ’tiled’ roof but when needs must.
Remember the issue with our internal waste water gauge ? Well we attempted a ‘quick fix’ solution but that didn’t work so now we had to do the job properly ! This was simply a matter of completely emptying the waste tank, adding the cleaning and descaler fluid, then filing up the waste tank to about 80%, this would allow some ‘slosh around’ space. The two-hour drive should provide a good period of time for the water to ‘agitate’ and then we shall see if it did the job, fingers crossed !!
We were just moving off the ‘pitch’ to go to the Motorhome Service Point when the inevitable deluge, from the standing water on the roof, came forward and cascaded down from one of the front corners. This was not unusual, however, I suddenly heard water dripping from inside the van and as I looked over my shoulder I could see water on the leather settee, not a massive quantity but water nonetheless !! I soon located the source of the water ingress, but there was no damp mark on the ceiling. However, if water was finding its way inside then there was quite obviously a loose joint on the roof seal, something that needs investigating and repairing sooner rather than later ! We had been subject to lots of rain over the last ten days and there was certainly no signs of water ingress whilst it had been bucketing it down so it must have been the quantity of water that had been standing on the roof and forced forward like a mini-tidal wave. Oh well, another job to be done, there certainly is never a dull moment but it’s all part of ‘home maintenance’ I suppose.
The next priority, upon leaving the site, was to get to a fuel station as the fuel warning light had come on as we arrived at the site ten days ago and my ‘range’ indicator was dropping fairly quickly. This would be the first re-fuel of ‘Big Momma’ since topping up on our way to the ferry at Bilbao on the 16th January. The fuel station also had LPG and the pump was located quite conveniently along with the fuel pumps. Although we had last filled up with LPG in Spain on the 11th January we had not used that much and still hadn’t used our first bottle, but at £0.75 per Litre this was too good an opportunity to miss and I was pleasantly surprised when it only took 12 Litres. So with fully loaded fuel and LPG we set the ‘cruise control’, sat back and let ‘Big Momma’ take us effortlessly to our destination. The sun was shining and all was well in our world.
I had left the chemical and descaler fluid in the waste tank for a full day before draining it in the hope that it would work its magic, it didn’t ! The waste tank, even though empty, was still showing 100% full on the internal digital gauge! it was back to the ‘drawing board’ ? We were now out of the ‘Tank Cleaning’ fluid so it would have to wait until we could purchase some more. I think that the internal probes must have thicker ‘calcite’ deposits than I had accounted for, at least I was hoping that was all it was. So, my next ‘attack’ would be to get more ‘Tank Cleaner’, add a stronger mix of the solution than what I had on the first attempt, fill the tank again but this time 100% full and then drive to our next destination. This would ensure that with the movement of the vehicle the solution should get another good ‘slosh’ around but the ‘calcified’ probes inside the tank would also be fully immersed allowing they ‘descaler’ to eat away at the ‘calcite’. Well that is the theory but will it provide the solution to the problem in reality ? I do want everything to be working correctly, but if this next attempt fails to resolve the issue it is not a major disaster, just an irritation. The ‘Fresh Water’ tank holds 100 Litres, the ‘Waste Tank’ holds 80 Litres, so when the level gauge on the ‘Fresh’ water shows that is down to 25% (The Digital Monitor only reads in 25% incremental stages) then we know that the ‘Grey’ tank will need to be emptied !!
We awoke on Monday morning to a hard frost ! Shazza was taking ‘Wuxly’ for its annual service and MOT, we had renewed its annual road tax a couple of days earlier so by the end of today that would be the car taken care of for another year. She went out for the ‘day’ with her mum and was meeting up with her Aunt Linda, that meant that I wouldn’t be seeing them for the majority of the day, a bit of shopping, a spot of lunch then perhaps some more shopping until she received the call to go and collect the car. I was hoping that they wouldn’t take all day about it, although it was a wasted hope because as us men already know, women have refined the art and can effortlessly ‘bash the cash’ in record time !! In fact, my only surprise is that there isn’t a related event in the Olympics yet, Shazza would definitely win ‘Gold’ every time !!
Whilst they were out enjoying some ‘retail therapy’ my task was to investigate and repair the leak !! Shazza was a little concerned about me climbing up onto a slippery roof. Many years ago, when I owned my very first Motorhome, a much smaller van which had a ‘top box’ on the roof where the outdoor table and chairs were stored, I had lost my footing and fallen from the top causing myself a great deal of pain !! Fortunately, no broken bones but severe internal bruising which necessitated a few months of physiotherapy. Anyway, I assured her that the sun would melt the frost, yes we had some welcome sunshine, and I would clear any excess water before attempting to do any work on the roof. To save keep climbing up and down I gathered everything that I thought that I may need, long-handled wash brush to clear off any excess water, sponge, cloths, blue roll, scissors, screwdrivers, a roll of new ‘Mastic’ and placed them all into my recently acquired ‘folding bucket’. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the roof wasn’t actually that bad, not even enough standing water to necessitate the use of the brush, so a quick wipe down and I was ready to go. I encountered my first ‘head scratch’ moment almost immediately, I had anticipated finding a seam that ran across the width of the roof and had thought that it would have simply been a matter of removing some old perished ‘Mastic’ and renewing it. But there was no seam, I had never noticed before, well why would I, but it was a one piece roof !! So this is where my former ‘detective skills’ were called into action once more. Who would have thought that Police Training would have so many non-police uses ? I knew where the water ingress was inside the van but there was no seam at or near that point on the outside ? The only cavity anywhere near that location was the large ‘Heki’ skylight so I did not need either ‘Sherlock or Dr Watson’ to assist in this power of deduction. Although the ‘Mastic’ used to provide a water tight seal around the outer frame of the ‘Heki’ didn’t look in too bad condition, when I pressed around some of the edges there was evidence of some moisture seeping out, so perhaps there was a small amount that had perished, not enough to let normal rainfall pour through, but enough to let some through from the force of a sudden cascade of standing water ? In the absence of any other logical explanation I decided to go with my ‘gut’ feeling and removed the old ‘Mastic’ and replaced it with new. This wasn’t a ‘proper’ job, for that I would have needed to have had access to an indoor workshop, removed the Heki completely, removed all the old ‘Mastic’, rubbed and cleaned the surface area down, replaced new ‘Mastic’, re-fitted the ‘Heki’ and then probably sealed with some ‘Silkaflex’. No, today was going to have to just be a ‘temporary’ fix, I wouldn’t really know if this had been the source of the water ingress until I moved the van again after a period of rain, but something tells me, namely the local weather forecast, that I won’t be having to wait too long to find out !!
It was almost tea time when the ‘shopaholics’ returned, ‘Wuxly’ was serviced for another year and given a clean bill of health, passing the annual MOT requiring no attention. Shazza had also gone to the supermarket on the way home to ensure that we had plenty of provisions for a while as with no let up in the weather, for the foreseeable future, our planned movements will have to be reviewed on a daily basis. This flooding, and the continuous rainfall, was really becoming rather serious. Although we were well aware of the major disaster in the South West this had now spread right along the East Coast and up into Berkshire and Worcestershire and beyond, the question on both our minds was whether we should really be considering travelling South !!
Doncaster – Lincoln – Peterborough (115 miles)
We awoke to heavy rain and as we watched the breakfast News and weather, the first signs of snow were also being forecast, although with this much water there was little chance that it would lay. The biggest threat would be from the cold, if all this water froze then the problems would intensify !! Although we often laugh at ourselves when it comes to the ‘British’ weather, I have never seen as much rain for such a prolonged period in all my life, the Country was in one hell of a state and rather selfishly we wished that right now we were in Morocco enjoying their 23 degree(c) sunshine. We needed to be at the ‘Batribike’ workshop for 11:00am so there was no time to hang around we really needed to get a bit of a ‘wiggle’ on and get ‘Big Momma’ ready to roll. It wasn’t pleasant traipsing in and out between the house and the van in the ‘cold’ and ‘wet’, replacing items that we needed whilst in the house, transferring the shopping and stowing them and then removing the silver screens and stowing them, we were soaking wet before we had even started our journey. With snoopy programmed we pulled away, once again, from Sonia’s and headed for Lincoln to get ‘my’ electric bicycle sorted.
The rain didn’t let up, we arrived at the ‘Batribike’ workshop and once I had confirmed that they were ready for me we had to get the bike off the rear cycle carrier. Under normal circumstances this was quite an easy task but in the wind and heavy rain it wasn’t pleasant. First task was to get the ladder out of ‘Big Mommas’ rear garage which involved removing several other items first. Then the cycle cover had to be removed, the padlock and chain ‘unlocked’ and removed and then my electric bike removed. As ‘sods law’ would have it, ‘Shazza’s’ bicycle was loaded last so that meant having to remove hers first before I could get at mine !! Eventually I wheeled my bike into the workshop and went to demonstrate the problem with the faulty ‘Controller’, remember the faith I had in my ‘DIY Skills’ ? Well they were well founded as everything was working. I must have tried it a dozen times and yes it worked every time. So, Dilemma ? Do I walk away or do I get them to fit the new controller anyway ? I decided to have the new one fitted and to keep the existing one as a spare as there was always a nagging doubt that it may fail again, yes even after my competent DIY skills !! The decision proved to be a good one as ‘sods law’ struck again when the chap went to move my bike, he tried it the ‘controller’ and this time it didn’t work !! We just looked at each and smiled, there was just no rhyme or reason for it, but I was actually thankfully that it had failed now !! There would be no need to park overnight in their yard either as he told me he would have the new ‘controller’ fitted within half an hour. As I left the workshop to return to the van for a nice hot cuppa it was still raining but now the earlier forecasted snow had arrived !!
As promised, half an hour later he knocked on our door and told me it was all done. I paid the bill and then in the rain and snow, both bikes were replaced on the cycle rack, cover re-fitted and everything replaced in ‘Big Mommas’ garage. I was happy that ‘my’ bike was now fixed but I also had another reason to smile. As we pulled away, the large amount of standing water that had accumulated whilst we were parked up cascaded forward in one massive torrent but no water came inside, yee hah !! Yesterday’s repair had worked, I was getting good at this DIY stuff !!
The plan had been to drive the short distance to the ‘Milestone’ Camping Site as we had drained the fresh water tank whilst it was parked at Sonia’s, we didn’t want any damage caused should the temperatures have dropped and the water frozen, but now we needed to re-fill it again, so because we were familiar with the site services and facilities, having now used this particular site on two separate occasions recently, the pitches were Hardstanding and the ‘ablutions’ facilities were very good, we had decided to use this as our first night stop. The only downside on this site was the lack of WiFi. We had pre-booked to then stay at another site at ‘Worcester’ for three nights before making our way to Salisbury on the Saturday to see Stacey, my daughter. However, watching the News on the floods we discovered that the town of ‘Worcester’ was under water !! Whilst the site we had pre-booked on was some way outside the town it did make us wonder whether this was now an area that we should avoid, considering the current weather and no let up in the rainfall. I think that Shazza and I had our ESP monitors finally tuned in, for when I suggested missing out the ‘Milestone’ site altogether and driving a bit further down to the Peterborough site, the one we had just left prior to returning to Doncaster she was all for it. There are some sites that just have that certain feel about them and we had both liked the Peterborough site, plus it had excellent WiFi accessibility on the pitches !! So decision made, whilst I was driving Shazza rang Peterborough and confirmed that they had a pitch available for us, we drove past the ‘Milestone’ site and cancelled the booking for the ‘Worcester’ site and then, lo and behold the rain stopped and the sun came out !!