Not Friday the 13th - but a really bad day.
I was driving, and we were heading off into Spain on the D914 along the coast.
It has been a whole sequence of events - which has ended up with extensive damage done to Dave - and us wondering whether we return home, or continue - as Dave is driveable.
Oh, if only we had the power of hindsight beforehand!
We were driving through Banyuls-sur-Mer. At a roundabout, the road we wanted was ‘route barre’ - road blocked - with barriers and an artic lorry behind it for good measure.
Only one route to follow, so we followed the deviation (diversion). Lots of traffic, really slow - so just waited apprehensively with everyone else. The roads were quite narrow, but somehow a police car managed to get through...
Around a corner and up a hill we saw a sign meaning there was a height restriction of 2m, so couldn’t go that way. The only other road was a hairpin bend, and a man specifically told us we couldn’t go that route.
Having seen the very steep hill and the tight left hand bend at the top, I was quite worried, but Tintin thought we had to give it a go.
The sad result is that first we scrapped the back of Dave’s underside, then we were wheel spinning and couldn’t get around.
Two policemen appeared - and along with Tintin tried to push to us going on the steep corner. I knew I was close on the left hand side, but honestly thought that with the three of them outside, that they would have stopped me if I was too close.
There was a loud noise, and a sinking feeling - the railing edge was embedded into the side of Dave.
Think we were all quite shocked. There were cars everywhere. Tintin took over, and eventually slowly reversed back down the hill. Even that wasn’t easy, Dave’s front wheel barely had any purchase.
The police didn’t really speak much English. We pulled into the side of the road.
There was chaos around us, so many cars, trying to go the same route as us, lots wheel spinning too. We got the gist that the police wanted us to just stay put for 10 minutes.
By about midday, they just walked up the hill and disappeared! They had said to drive up the hairpin road which was narrow, but we had seen at least half a dozen other mohos slowly go up.
Whilst waiting, another two policemen arrived. We couldn’t believe it, the Mairie was concerned that we had done damage to his railing! Also, what would have happened if we’d driven off? We only waited because there was just so much traffic.
By this time I was really annoyed. One of the first two policeman had been talking on his radio and saying no more camping cars allowed up this road, but send hundreds of cars that way.
We could not understand how we had been allowed to follow the deviation, if there was no where for larges vehicles to go. There should have been someone at the first barrier simply not allowing it!
It turns out that it is the end of a five day festival for the end of the grape harvest (found out from Google later in the day).
So the second lot of policemen photographed our insurance and my driving licence. They also put tape across the road we’d tried to go up, and said no one should have been going that way. We tried to tell them that the previous policeman had been directing people that way. Tintin had already contacted our insurance - but it’s Sunday - so they’ll phone, hopefully tomorrow. He’d said there was no damage other than to Dave, but now we have to ask the insurance company to get a French speaking person to phone the Mairie to discuss the railings further.
We were finally going to try the narrow route, but a car coming down said we couldn’t! He was followed by a policeman on a bike, who said the same. I said the other policemen had just told us to go that way.
He indicated that we should go down the way we had come. I asked if he could lead the way, which he did. He must have phoned ahead to a roundabout, and they held up all the traffic so we could drive that way.
What a total cock-up.
The saddest part is that Dave is badly damaged. We can see right through the thin fibreglass to his insides. Tintin has taped him up so at least he should be waterproof. Also lucky it wasn’t any further, or could have damaged all the internal water pipes.
We’re now thinking about what to do next. Do we come home? Do we try again tomorrow when the road will be open again? (any other roads were also blocked - so short of a traipse around the Pyrenees, this is the main road). The way I feel, not sure I even want to travel again - but think I’m still shocked by what happened. I feel responsible as I was driving, but I do think it was a total combination of factors, I should have stuck to my inner voice which had said to go up the hairpin bend instead. But, you tend to listen to others when you don’t know where the roads go - and he had said don’t.
If we’d been a day later, none of this would have been an issue, as the main road would have been open.
As it stands, we now have a damaged Dave, and Tintin has a wife who probably doesn’t want to drive it again, and we’re disillusioned about the whole insurance business. We still haven’t got the Mobilvetta parts from when the German lady backed into us whilst stationary when in Germany earlier this year.
Who knows who can do this repair. Do Trust Ford in Guernsey have an assessor? Will we need to take it to the UK? So many questions.
We’ve returned to the carpark we were at last night to lick our wounds - and try to decide what to do next.
The positive amongst you - yes Mum, will say that at least nobody was hurt - and I agree, but that doesn’t really help at present.