A New Toy

We have gone over to the dark side. For more than 35 years I’ve been towing a caravan around chunks of Europe. Our caravan’s alter ego was Guillaume, when in France, and Guillaume served us well for the most part but he is no more. Following an ill-advised, expensive visit to the NEC Caravan and Motorhome Show in February, we’ve sold my beloved Guillaume and invested huge amounts of dosh in a motorhome.

Our new acquisition is an Autotrail F68 being 6.8m long. It is based on a Ford Transit. I wanted an auto gear box – didn’t fancy fiddling about with gears while trying to get to grips with driving a van and watching four distant corners – and went for the 170bhp engine upgrade (from 130bhp) ‘cos I didn’t fancy constantly urging the thing along, either. Surprisingly, given that some folks had stories of waiting a year or more for their chosen vehicle, one that matched our spec was due to arrive at the dealership in May. We duly collected him [I’ll get to that in a minute] on the last day of May. The dealer has an overnight facility so we could stay with them and try to learn how to use our new toy.

Right, him? With my dreadful habit of anthropomorphizing our leisure vehicles, in this case a suitable name sprang readily to mind. Being a Ford intended to travel the roads, “Frodo” seemed perfect, especially as Hobbits embark on long journeys.

Frodo’s first excursion was brief, though, a mere 10 miles or so from the dealer to a Certificated Location [5-unit site] near Lincoln. We got more used to him and found a teething issue; the water pump seemed prone to running on and even burst into life at 03:00 waking us up. Our dealer support man booked us back in to investigate. The mechanic found a small leak in the on-board plumbing and one drain tap was not quite shut fully. Fixed.

Having driven Frodo home, I got a call from the tracker monitoring service saying our van was on the move. “Yes,” I said, “I’ve just driven it home”. It seems our tracker had not de-activated as it should have when started with the correct key. We needed a replacement tracker. Our dealer support man leapt into action again. Happily they could fit us in if the tracker company could ship a new unit by overnight delivery. And so it came to pass on June 9th with another round trip to Lincolnshire.

Time had been pressing because Frodo was due to board a ferry from Portsmouth to St. Malo on June 10th; we had decided to leap in with both feet and get some time in France.

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Posted in 2019 Sri Lanka

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