Setting off from Pijnacker in the Netherlands on our next European adventure on such a rainy and miserable day should have dampened our spirits but we set off full of excitement and anticipation.
Less than half an hour later we were feeling more anxious than excited and the anticipation was more a like a feeling of dread.
As we were were driving down the freeway towards Belgium our camper van’s engine lost power and started to “miss”.
We entered a road tunnel terrified that the engine was going to die altogether. Jonathan changed down through the gears hoping to find a stopping place. The engine stalled briefly but thankfully it started again and we crawled along in first gear with our hazards on at ten kilometres an hour.
I was worried that with all the traffic whizzing along at high speed we would cause an accident but luckily we must have been spotted on traffic cam as suddenly signs flashed up to say the lane we were in was closed and we crawled along in splendid isolation.
Fortunately there was a petrol station straight after the tunnel and after we filled up we had a little test run round the car park. It seemed that the van would only go so fast in each gear – we thought that maybe the turbo had gone but we discovered later that the onboard computer limits the speed in each gear when it recognises something is amiss with the engine, thereby avoiding collateral damage.
So we limped on in the pouring rain to our first stop in Bruges and arrived at our campsite just in time for dinner with our yachting friends Sara and Chris who were wintering over in Bruges on their beautiful canal barge “Pelican”.
We had first met Sara and Chris on the Sail to Indonesia Rally in 2015 and last met the day they sold their Lagoon 420 catamaran in Malaysia in 2017.
It was great to catch up with them again and see their beautiful new vessel.
The following day we contacted the Ford dealers in Bruges and for the second time since we bought our van ended up sleeping in the van parked on the forecourt of a Ford dealership.
We were stuck in Bruges for four days while the van was repaired under warranty (the fuel injectors needed replacing for the second time). I must admit there are worse places to get stuck in!
While we were there we did lots of sightseeing including a canal trip round the ancient city. We also had an excellent lunch of that delicious Belgian speciality – mussels – with Chris and Sarah.
It was great to be back on the road again once the repairs had been made and off we went again with our spirits only slightly dampened.