Some time around late winter or early spring this year, Zuleikha asked me something about seasickness. To which my reply was, more or less, that this is something hard to explain, and it must rather be felt by oneself to be fully understood. I wasn’t really seasick ever, but I remembered going to England by ferry, and seeing other people struggle with it. And so the idea was born to go again. To England. By ferry.
We had planned everything nicely, using a newly found site called Rome2rio, and had booked both a hotel in London and a ferry for us and our car to spend a week in another capital (like last year already when we drove to Paris, France). And so a week ago in the night from Sunday to Monday we left, headed for England.
We passed Cologne after about two hours like planned, and were on our way to Aachen and the border to Belgium, when another light in the car’s tachometer lit – this time not the engine, but the battery. Hm. It was kind of blinking, I drove a bit faster, and it went off again. So we crossed the border, and I thought that the car should be checked again after arriving in London.
Then, on our way to Brussels, the ABS light went on. Strange. I tried the brakes, and they felt ok. The battery light came back blinking, and I thought of some kind of electrical problem. But the car itself showed no symptom, and tho worried, I continued.
Then the lights in the tachometer went out. The front lights were still on, and so I checked switching the lights off and on again. Now one after the other, all electrical signs in the car lit, while the lights in the tacho weren’t on at all…
… I stopped to check the front lights from outside, and they were on. But the power steering definitely had left us, as the car was really hard to steer by now. So the state of “being worried” went to something worse, hoping that we’d make it to the ferry (at 10am), and that the car, once off, would even start again. If it really was the battery, so my assumption, then it could be a problem with the generator loading it, and so I was worried that once I’d turn it off, that would be it with our journey…
… and so it came. The lorries we overtook started blinking, then other cars started blinking before overtaking us – and both Mitchie and me decided that this wasn’t good – if we didn’t have lights anymore, it would be too dangerous to continue – so we went off the motorway even before reaching Brussels. And: off was the car. By itself. And couldn’t be started anymore.
There we were, in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere (short before Leuven, Belgium, as it turned out). So our journey went from this planned route:
to this one instead:
We called a road service, and after a while the guy came and confirmed my assumption: generator had not enough power output to load the battery. He towed us to the next Toyota garage near Leuven, where we had to wait until they opened. Planned opening time was 8 o’clock, so that was it with our ferry.
Options? #1 was to wait and see what the damage was, how long it would take to get the car repaired, forget about the ferry (non-refundable), and then think again.
And that was what we did. The car mechanic came short before eight, opened the shop, drove out some cars to sell them, and then looked at ours. Same diagnosis, so he started doing phone calls. A generator )not original) would probably be available the same day, an original one the next day. We opted for the original one, which meant that the car had to stay. The man offered that his colleague could bring us to Leuven station, which we gladly accepted, telling him that we’d need the car back next Saturday.
Again, options? #1 was to stay and wait for the car to be repaired (and to lose nights in London for which we’d paid already as well). #2 was to take a train to London instead, and #3 to take a train to Dunkirk, to hop onto the ferry as passengers without a car, and to find another train from Dover to London afterwards. I would have preferred this option, but our paid ferry was gone, and it was unclear if we could simply take another one, so it came back to #2, a train through the tunnel.
#2a: same day (expensive), or #2b: next day (expensive as well, but slightly cheaper). Since we’d paid for a hotel in London already and I didn’t fancy finding and paying again for another one in Leuven, I decided to take option #2a. The lady at Leuven station printed the tickets, and so we went Leuven-Brussels with a normal train and then Brussels-London with the Eurostar. We had informed the hotel in London that we’d be late, and so they expected us for around midnight. Which is almost the time it took us – the train we got from Brussels was a late one.
So we *did* arrive, tho slightly different from what was planned. And then, London – but that’s another (photo-) story…
As always, thanks for reading.