YOUR HOLIDAY DISASTER

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The Independent Travel
When David Culver Williams went on a caravan holiday to Cornwall most of his time was spent in garages - and thick fog

SATURDAY: left home early for a simple two-week caravan holiday in Cornwall, after having had a full service to car (with new radiator fitted) and the caravan thoroughly checked. Immediately noticed 'van brake lights not working. Travelled eight miles in opposite direction to garage for repairs. En route again until at first large roundabout car gave a sudden lurch accompanied by hissing noise. Found a discarded dipstick had become embedded in the rear tyre. Changed wheel and drove to nearby depot to obtain new spare. While fitting spare into boot, noticed water pooling under front of car from radiator. Unhitched caravan and left it parked in depot yard. Drove slowly back to garage where incredulous mechanic decided another new radiator was needed. Set off again and eventually reached Bodmin in heavy mist. Switched on lights and again found none working on caravan. Decided to carry on driving anyhow. Got lost in thick fog so stopped to ask directions and check light connections. Horrified to discover that link cable from car lighting to 'van had dragged on ground all the way from tyre depot and all six core wires had worn through. Unable to fix on spot so drove on through increasing gloom to seek nearest emergency site - in middle of Bodmin Moor. Once there, knocked up farmer/owner who said site was not really open, as it was newly listed and no facilities were available. However, after learning of my predicament he allowed camp to be pitched in a field of long, wet grass. By this time all were very tired and hungry. Decided to eat filled bread rolls but as I took a huge bite felt something hard in my mouth. Spat out a recently-fixed tooth filling which had come loose leaving a large cavity. Luckily it was not painful so all retired for the night until wife fell out of bunk onto the dog at 3am.

Sunday: managed temporary repair to lights by splicing and taping all cable strands. Fortunately system worked. Continued journey, reaching original destination late pm.

Monday: travelled to nearest town where I found dentist who inserted temporary tooth dressing. While shopping for dinner plates (having forgotten to pack ours) wife tripped on uneven pavement and fell, hurting knee. Returned to caravan site and rested for remainder of day.

Tuesday: went on sightseeing trip and found car gears very difficult to select. Thick mist again descended.

Wednesday: wife drove car into town. On return complained gears were still troublesome so decided to make for nearest garage. Got as far as field gate where gears seized up completely. Unable to move car, phoned from farmhouse for emergency tow to garage 12 miles away where master cylinder renewed. Motored back to camp where, on opening field gate, this collapsed and fell off hinges onto foot.

Thursday: rested sore foot and knee. Friday: car engine still sounding rough. Quiet weekend.

Monday: back to garage for engine check. Learnt that a sparking plug had become unseated, damaging lead on same. Both renewed at further expense.

Tuesday: wife's knee now very swollen and painful and weather still deteriorating. Gave up and returned home.

A few weeks later: car changed; caravan sold at a loss.

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