What a nightmare! Having spent a busy week last week working and visiting friends and relatives, I left the UK on Saturday morning ready to return to our lovely home in France. I think the traffic and stress must have taken its toll on me!
My friend kindly took me to the airport for a lunchtime flight and after a quick cuppa I wandered through the security check area and on to the plane relaxed and chilled. For the first time in ages it was actually on time! After a pleasurable hour long chat with a nice Irish man I disembarked at Toulouse with everyone else to get my suitcase. That's when I realised .................I had left the keys for the van parked in the long term car park in a coat pocket at my sisters in the UK!
I mumbled a few expletives under my breath and tried to calmly ring my husband to organise him to bring the spare key in the other car to Toulouse.....................Oh dear, not a happy man, he did not have a spare key and the air was blue! After leaving the van at the airport we travelled home in silence and I organised a courier to get the keys to France as soon as possible.
We received them Wednesday morning and went off to the airport that afternoon. It was pouring with rain and after paying a large amount for an extra weeks parking, we made our way to the car park. Typically, no umbrella in the car and the van was parked at the furthest point from the entrance!
After a lecture by hubbie on how to start it (as he kindly informed me that the battery was playing up) I dashed trough the rain and puddles and jumped in before being drowned by a passing vehicle. Off I went to the barrier to pay and immediately smelt something "not right" from under the bonnet.
At the barrier I had to get out of the van as it is right hand drive. I need not have worried about being splashed by one vehicle, as within seconds I was soaked through by many and my feet were squelching in my socks and shoes. Unfortunately the ticket was wet too and wouldn't scan so I moved to a second barrier and asked for assistance as I couldn't get it to lift. After a two minute discussion with the security guard I returned to the van. OMG, lots of white smoke was rising from under the bonnet. I turned off the ignition immediately, that was it...... dead. I rang Nick to come from the other car to help explaining what had happened, guess what......................it was all my fault!!
We pushed the van through the barrier to the side of road and left it to find the French equivalent of Halfords to look for a tow pole. An hour later we started the 50 minute journey home in the dark and rain.
Oh, I forgot to mention it was Armistice Day and a bank holiday in France so the roads were heaving with people getting away for a short break. The journey started well and even though we were causing long traffic queues we made it through Toulouse and out towards Beaumont de Lomagne in an hour and a half. Then............. the van lost all power, so I was towing a vehicle in the dark with no lights, no brakes, no wipers and no heater around hairpin bends and in pouring rain. I was scared and starting to get tired. Abigail had been told to say nothing and play on her DS in the back of my car so I could concentrate!
On looking in the rear view mirror coming down a steep hill, I lost sight of Nick and heard a loud bang from behind....... I stopped quickly expecting the worst, fortunately he was still there but a bit shaken. The van had bent the tow pole, bent the towing eye and broken the numberplate, but fortunately that was all. At that point we both decided enough was enough and abandoned the van until the morning. We arrived home shattered at 9.30pm after the epic 3.5 hour trip and went straight to bed.
Yesterday we went back to collect it and bring it the last few miles home, which was a breeze in the daylight and no rain!
So, the moral of the story is........ don't be an airhead, check you have your car keys in your bag or pocket before going any trip. After over 100€ and a van repair to sort, I have learnt the hard way!