Kiri and


Oil’s well that ends well

April 18th, 2014 (by Steve)

167 miles in 4 days versus 592 miles in 4 days. You could say that we’re taking this loop a little more slowly than the previous loop! It’s not gone exactly according to plan thus far, but we’re in Belgium and Bruges is on the horizon for the Easter weekend, so we’re not deviating too far from the plan.

Once we’d overcome the minor hiccup with the fresh water tank cap, our first night was spent in Bray Dunes, just along the coast from Dunkirk. It’s a stunning bit of coastline, which makes it difficult to imagine the atrocities of war amongst the dunes there three quarters of a century ago. Even the wrecks of a few boats that are visible at low tide can’t begin to evoke pictures of the bloodshed there. All we can do is reflect on those who have given their lives and pray for peace in current war zones.


As we were in no rush, after the first evening, we decided that we’d stay there for a second night, so we had a chilled morning (including stocking up on French cheese!) before we decided to go for a wander along the beach together. We were just leaving Bertha, when Kiri spotted a puddle. Under Bertha. A quick dip of the finger into the puddle revealed that it was oil. A quick lie down next to Bertha revealed that it was coming from the drain plug of the sump tank. Not good news.


Abandoning the walk, we researched a local garage and looked up the French for “sump tank drain plug”. Eventually I settled on “bouchon d’huile” as an easier way of describing it and we set off for a garage. It’s amazing how far a few words of French and lots of hand gestures can get you. From what we understood, the mechanic told us we’d need to go to a Peugeot garage to get a new drain plug and we shouldn’t touch the plug ourselves, as all of the oil would drain out (his hand signals for this part were especially pleasing). The Peugeot garage didn’t want to know and they fobbed us off on the Renault garage next door. Here we had a lovely welcome and once again, although they didn’t speak any English, we managed to communicate pretty well. Del Boy would have been proud of my French language skills. We were to come back in the morning, when they would do a “vidange” and re-seal the plug… for just over 100 Euros.

As we arrived back at the aire, we were greeted by Jeff; a very friendly Brit in his late 70s. We explained our predicament and he made it his personal mission to help us avoid spending that much money to get the problem fixed. After a good hour of trying with various tools and bodges, we couldn’t get the current drain plug off (we’d even modified a water container to catch the oil), so conceded defeat. At this, Jeff gave us a bottle of wine, despite our protestations that we should be the ones giving wine to him in thanks!

The following morning came and we dropped Bertha off at the Renault garage and went into the nearby town to have a pain au chocolat (we understand that’s part of the protocol in France when your vehicle is being fixed!). At 12 we returned to be reunited with Bertha, who had a new washer on her drain plug and lashings of sealant too. No danger of further leaks there, and the work done for 20 Euros fewer than quoted. Bargain.


From there it was a short drive into Belgium. Unfortunately I’ve not been too well for the last few days, so we’re having a couple of days of rest on another free aire before we explore Bruges. We’re loving the slower pace of travelling this time though and feel no pressure to rush… I’ve managed to read a whole novel already. This is the life!

All posts about Belgium,france

Europe – a new chapter

Bertha vs. Bertha

Another breakdown (in communication?)

Bertha in Binche

A Ghent Gent and an Antwerp… Twerp?

In Bruges

Oil’s well that ends well

KIST 2EU… this time it’s personal


Revelation on the Riviera

Climbing every mountain

To toll or not to toll…

B-right side of the road

2 Responses

We like “slow”. Hope you are feeling better now Steve.Much love and Easter blessings!
Mum and dad

So do we! Am much better after resting, thanks. Happy Easter to you

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