Friday, 30 August 2013

Break-Downs and Midnight Adventures

You would have thought that after our horrendous journey to Northern Ireland last week, we might have been able to pull off an uneventful return... but no, it seems that any long journey in our family, right now, has to be accompanied by some serious drama... and so the tale begins...

Happy faces on the sea-crossing this time!

We had had a dream crossing... the total opposite of our sea-storm experience the week before... the sea was calm, everyone was happy, the girls were familiar with the noises and I had come a bit more prepared. Boat bag was at the ready, so there was no last minute "gathering" happening on the car deck below. We docked early, swiftly got off the boat and were on the Welsh roads by 4.30pm. The TomTom reckoned we had a four and a half hour drive ahead of us. Adding in the hour stopover that I knew we'd need for some food and Heidi's bedtime feed, I reckoned we'd be home by 10.30/11ish.

Not too late, I thought.

Oh how wrong I was!

We settled into the journey, Heidi asleep in the back, Ava was watching Postman Pat on the I-Pad and I was busy texting some friends when I heard a groan from the driver's seat and the words you never want to hear when you're driving in the fast lane...

"We're breaking down,"


Dave was brilliant, he pulled over as quickly as he could into the slower lanes, and, praise God, there was a side road just as the car was slowing down. We pulled round the corner and stopped the car at the top of a little culdesac. We looked at each other.

Dave was on the phone to the AA... but we had no idea where we were... the TomTom was very helpful (not!) telling us that we were on an unnamed road somewhere between the A5151 and the A55. Great.

The TomTom's very helpful 
As Dave was on the phone, I spotted a house around the corner and I ran round with Ava to find out where we were. The couple were in and wrote their postcode down for us. We headed back to the car armed with a location.

Choosing to be positive, while Dave waits for the road-help...

I'm learning that in these kind of situations, you have two options. You either let it bother you, be the victim and have a mega-stress, or you go with the flow and embrace the adventure. With the option to cry, or to laugh, we decided to choose the latter and see this as a bit of an adventure...

The adventure was about to get a whole lot more exciting.

After an hour and a half of waiting (and about 3 cars passing us by, having a good old stare but not asking if we were OK, if we needed anything...) the road help arrived. He had a brief look over the engine, but with two small children, said he didn't want to risk letting us drive when he wasn't sure what the issue was. He could've pulled the engine apart and had a proper look, but we had Relay on our insurance, and so he recommended just getting us home and sorting it out once we got back.

To be honest, that sounded like the best option. By this point it was gone 8pm and we still had around a 3 hour drive.

I thought.

And so our journey began. The guy tied our car up to the back of his pick-up and drove us as far as Chester. From there, a big AA lorry would pick us up and drive us home.

We thought.

We climbed into the lorry feeling positive. It had been ready and waiting for us at Chester services, and both drivers had been friendly and helpful. Ava was over the moon to be travelling in a lorry, and we were reminding ourselves of the positives... we could sleep on the journey home now, and we wouldn't have any petrol costs! Of course, the fiasco had added an extra couple of hours to our journey, but at least we were now on the way home. The girls fell asleep quickly and we sat in the back watching the world go by...

"I'm taking you to the M40 services at junction 10. Another lorry will pick you up from there. We should arrive there about 1am"

Our 2nd lorry... dropping us off at 1am...
Another changeover? 1am? I was hoping to be home by 1am... and why did we have to change again... that would mean waking the girls again, it would probably mean feeding Heidi again which would be another delay, and while Ava was coping well with the situation, Heidi was scared. The second she couldn't see Dave or my face, her bottom lip would wobble and the tears would come...

We were beginning to struggle with the whole adventure approach.

We arrived at the next services at 12.45am, the new lorry wasn't there, so we headed into the services, recounting to each other the reasons we had to be thankful...

It was warm and dry outside...
We, and our car, were being transported for free across the country...
The girls were fine...
We were fine...
We hadn't had an accident...
It didn't appear there was anything too seriously wrong with our car...

We sat in the services and waited. I fed Heidi and Ava played in a little play area. The place was eerily quiet. It seemed we were alone on the road tonight.

The next driver arrived and loaded us up. At last we were on the route home... the girls would hopefully fall quickly back to sleep with the movement of the car and we should be home by 2.30am.

"I'm taking you to the M40 services at junction 2. Another lorry will pick you up from there. We should be there about 2am"

Seriously? You have got to be kidding. We were 75 miles from home. An hour and a half drive at most... couldn't he just take us home? Did we really need to disturb the girls again?

It seemed yes. We arrived at the next services at 1.45am. Again, we shifted ourselves into the services with two pairs of little blue eyes peering up at us. Thankfully the wait wasn't long as we piled the girls into what we hoped would be the final lorry.

To be honest, I don't remember anything. I think I must have fallen straight to sleep and woke up with recognisable roads around me. We were nearly home. At last. My little family slept all around me. The roads were empty and me, and the driver, seemed to be the only ones in the world awake. I looked up at the moon and realised, again, how much I had to be thankful for. A 3am arrival home really was nothing to get worked up about in the grand scheme of things. We were safe. We were together. That's what mattered.

The girls transferred easily. Heidi didn't even stir as I laid her into her cot. Ava rolled over, whispered good night and was asleep again the moment her head touched the pillow. We emptied the car into the lounge and rolled into bed. It was nearly 3.30am.

I lay down, asleep within seconds, but just before I nodded off, I thanked God for our holiday. Surrounded by two rather eventful journeys, we had had a wonderful time.

And let's be honest, with journeys like that... it was most certainly a holiday we'll never forget!


  1. You've certainly had an eventful time! I'm not sure I would have managed to keep my cool with so many changes and two little one in tow. But, as you said, at least you got home and it's another little adventure!!

  2. At least you got a good story out of it!

  3. Wow, how unlucky were you?! Good job you had the good times in between. Bizarrely, you broke down about five minutes from where my house is in North Wales. Now you know who to call if it happens again :-)


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