Unpredictability - Good for your health

Our modern life is based on organising an environment free from the unexpected. The house needs to be as stable and reliable as possible. The job as safe as possible. Nothing should break down. Nothing but what we predict, should occur.
This is the life of the zoo animal. Let's explore the life of the Nomad. Let's live the life of the Nomad.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Nottingham - hotels and broken vans

I had prepared the van for the 200 mile trip to Nottingham.  Checked the oil, water and tyre pressure.  Changed a fuel filter.  It had been a very cold night and the mud around the caravan had frozen itself solid.  Nottingham is not too far from Derby and so I had booked the same camp site I had used during my Derby visit.  Well, I was ready for the journey and looking forward to a relaxing drive up the motorways - and on a Sunday these roads never seem to be too busy.  The van had other ideas and although the starter motor would turn engine over - the engine was unwilling to spark itself into life.  I tried several times but I was indeed weary of draining the battery.  The RAC, a breakdown service was called and the mechanic arrived an hour later.  Out came his multimeter and as instructed I attempted to start the engine whenever prompted to do so.  He commented on the looseness of some carburetor nuts.  So the nuts were tightened.  And again I was given the prompt to start the engine again.  This time there was nothing.  The starter made no sound and the engine did nothing.  The starter motor had given up.  Although this was a major disappointment it was not exactly a surprise since I did remember an incidence several months ago when the starter motor refused to kick the engine into life.  That time a few knocks from my hammer sorted the problem.

Well now I was in a predicament.  The RAC mechanic offered to tow the van to a service station, but I doubted any place would be open on a Sunday and time was ebbing away.  I needed to get to Nottingham for the week's work at the head office of a major Pharmaceutical retailer.  I wished the mechanic a pleasant day and walked back to the caravan - and I was rather subdued by my misfortune.  Why, oh why did I persist with this twenty three year old van?  Well I knew the answer but all this was irrelevant now. I needed to reorganise my agenda for the week, and had to do it quickly.

I rang the camp site up and cancelled the booking.  Because I booked through a third party I was not able to get a full refund - so that was a twenty pound deficit.  I found a hotel in the centre of Nottingham at a reasonable price and made the booking.  I checked the rail times and noted the station changes.  It was straightforward - a train into London Victoria, then the underground to London St Pancreas and then a train all the way to Nottingham.

I packed my pull-along case for the week, as I had done so many times before, and commenced the journey.

It was rather annoying to discover there were no seats available on the last, and longest part of the journey between London and Nottingham.  Thankfully the conductor announced a special offer to upgrade to first class for only 10 pounds.  I decided to do this - I didn't feel like sitting for several hours in the corridor.  And thus this part of the journey was a bargain and I had the free wi-fi and a coffee and a snack thrown in as well.

After arriving at Nottingham station I jumped into a taxi for the ten minute drive to the hotel.  I am no friend of hotels, preferring of course to stay in my camper.  But this three star hotel had a similar feel to the Adelphi hotel I had stayed in when working in Liverpool.  And there it was, written on a sign in front of the lift making it clear that customers were not permitted to bring their own food into the hotel.  At the Adelphi I had had a heated discussion with the manager who wouldn't let me bring a take-away meal into my room.  A silly rule, to be sure - but it must be a rule common to all these Britannia owned hotels.  British hoteliers could learn a few things from the hotel industry across the pond where such petty rules are not tolerated by paying customers.

The nice thing about the room was the view.  As can be seen, it was cold and it was mid winter and the snow had settled.  But the room was warm and I had to admit - I was glad to have a decent bed to sleep in and indeed it had to be a great luxury not to have to run across a frozen field to a cold and damp shower block.

The hotel's location was superb.  A two minute walk in the morning took me to a bus stop.  And once on the bus it was a twenty minute trip into the office.  The week's work turned into a real joy.  I just love working in an environment full of happy people.  How much more productive and how much more fulfilling is such an environment?  I will never understand how managers that breed an environment of fear and suspicion in their office, can proclaim any efficiency in their methods.  The team that welcomed me into their world for the week and treated me with respect and humour - this team were more than happy with the efforts I reciprocated as I did my best to deliver according to their requirements.

When I arrived back at the camp site the following week, the priority was to get the van fixed.  I visited a breaker yard not far from the site and although they had plenty of starter motors for the Ford Transit - all of these were for diesel engines.  I had to order a new one from a motor factors.

I picked up the starter motor from the motor factors, bought myself a battery jump starter and some wrenches. I thought the battery would be close to dead. It was cold and windy and things didn't start well when the wind blow the hood up off its prop and it landed on my back as I leant over the engine. Ouch. Then I realised that the bolts had the star type fit rather than the standard hex type fit. Thankfully a neighbour had the right key for me and even though I had damaged one of the bolts when I tried using the hex allen key - a bit of wd40 and a little tap with my hammer and I was able to get the old starter off. I positioned and bolted  the new one on, got in the cab and switched the ignition. The engine turned over - good. But wouldn't start. Not much battery life left either. Checked under bonnet again and the distributor cap didn't look right. The lead going into the centre of the cap was missing. Found this and plugged it in. Back in cab. Numb and greasy hands shaking slightly. Kicked her over and brrrmmmm. The sweetest sound. My old Transit Van alive again.

Peace to All