Kiri and


Saved by a Slovak

June 26th, 2014 (by Steve)

What is it about us and water? Nearly every single issue that Bertha has faced is to do with water… damp problems in the habitation area, leaking water heater, leaks in the roof, missing water tank cap… and once again.

We’d planned to do a short drive from our campsite in Bratislava to Devin Castle, so we did the standard emptying of the loo and filling up with fresh water at the campsite before we left, then set off on our way. We were just lamenting not being able to stock up with food at Lidl on the way (they were charging 2 Euros per hour to park there!), when suddenly there was a big clunk, followed by the sound of something scraping along the road. With hazard lights flashing, we checked mirrors, then slowly drifted into the side of the road to investigate. Kiri was first out of the van, therefore she discovered the culprit first; one of the brackets holding our fresh water tank had snapped, leaving the tank perilously close to the ground (but still intact) and the bracket in intimate contact with the road surface. Now the tank has appeared to have been getting lower for a while, but not really knowing what we could do about it, we’d chosen to ignore it. Probably a bad call. We were now stuck by the side of the road, at a bit of a loss. We got out our warning triangle and hi-viz jackets and decided the best course of action would be to lighten the tank (by draining off water), then use duct tape to hold it off the ground.


We were in the process of draining the water when a police car passed us… and didn’t stop. We were just about to start the duct tape fix when a Landrover stopped in front of Bertha and a guy in a suit got out. Now I’ve never met an angel before, so I’m not sure whether this guy actually was an angel, or just an incredibly selfless, kind and loving person. He asked us what the problem was, so we explained our plan with the duct tape and that we’d try to get back to the campsite to re-assess, as we’d probably need to find someone to fashion a new bracket for us. He was having none of it and, giving us his phone number, he said he lived in the next village and he would get it fixed for us. We’d just finished our temporary fix with the duct tape (great stuff!) and were gingerly heading towards the village, when we received a text message:

“Three miles, village Devin, right turn follow main road, up hill, church, doublepark on right, ring me, wait one minute. Tools and parts ready. Eddie”

Upon arrival, we did as instructed and sure enough, Eddie turned up with wire, ratchet straps and a guy called Mickey who was doing some building work on his house. He then proceeded to instruct Mickey in securing the fresh water tank properly to the sound parts of the frame, ensuring that the sharp edges of the metal frame wouldn’t cause the straps to fray. Half an hour later, Bertha’s water tank was more securely slung under the chassis than it’s ever been in our ownership. As Eddie said, under the Communist regime, you couldn’t just take your car to a mechanic, so you learned to fix things with whatever you had. Refusing payment of any sort (although we did give him a tin of Earl Grey tea), he asked us if there was anything else he could help us with before waving us on our way.


So… that was that then. We were once more on our merry way! We were ravenous by the time we arrived at Devin Castle at about 2:30, so treated ourselves to a meal out before climbing up the hill. The castle offers incredible views from its strategic position where the Danube and Morava rivers meet and there are interesting remains of various fortifications from over the years at the top of the hill. I’m not sure that we appreciated it quite as much as it deserved though, because we were still a little bewildered from the events of the previous few hours.


After a noisy night in the castle car park (we were the victims of the noise, not the perpetrators), we set off up towards the Czech Republic, planning to stop in Malacky overnight en route. Sadly, the overnight stop wasn’t suitable so after stocking up on baked beans and mature cheddar at Lidl (it’s British week there apparently) we moved on to Austria. As you do. We’re getting quite used to having to improvise!

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3 Responses

So glad to see you both doing this… it looks wonderful… especially all the challenges that your facing and improvising your way through. It re-ignites my hope that one day I’ll take the opportunity to go see things for myself. keep blogging it… i’m listening. xxx K

Hi, wouldn’t it be boring driving a new motorhome around with nothing to fix or repairs to carry out. Then you also wouldn’t meet friendly helpful people as well. As a driver of an old motorhome I share you pain and also moments of joy by how helpful others can be. Safe travels Ewout and Jenny

Thanks Kate + Ewout; I think it might be through the challenges that we’re learning and growing the most. We certainly know that Bertha was the correct motorhome for us when tackling this trip as she makes life so much more exciting!

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