No apologies for the language, but I’m getting fed up of seemingly every time I set foot outside my door I get another kick in the teeth. Last year was bad enough due to my health problems but this year isn’t shaping up to be much better with my being hit continuously by one setback after another.
I still have plumbing problems in my house. There’s a water pressure reducer behind the kitchen cabinets that I installed some time ago (and have never even got around to finishing for various reasons) that’s leaking. In order to avoid puddles emerging on my floor from under said units I have placed a container under the leak, which I have to periodically empty out, and turn the water off overnight and whenever I go out to avoid its filling up too quickly.
I still fear that the only way that I’ll be able to solve the problem will be by replacing the leaking item and that will I am pretty sure involve ripping the kitchen units out completely. It’s a great thought that, ripping all of the stuff out that I haven’t even finished putting in yet.
I’ve also got a leaky toilet. Some readers will recall that shortly after I moved into my house, I installed a brand new toilet. Like all toilets in France, it soon began to leak water out of its cistern into the toilet bowl which is annoying because as well as wasting water, which is all metered in France, you get a disgusting build up of lime scale in no time at all. Like I say, every toilet in France that I’ve come across is the same and it’s due to the standard design not being effective, unlike in the UK.
But you can live with it, except that pretty soon it got worse and the plastic float valve that controls the level of water in the cistern also began to fail (yes, it also had a standard NF mark on it) and water began to overflow not only into the toilet bowl but also out of the cistern and over the floor. My toilet, which came with a guarantee of course, except the till receipt has faded to pure white (lesson – photocopy all ‘big ticket’ till receipts) so I could and can do nothing about it, is of suspended design concealed behind a wall panel and I had reservations about that when I installed it. However, I had no choice but to rip off the upper part of the panel to obtain (limited) access to the cistern in order to replace the faulty float valve.
But I did it thinking that that would be it. But no. Now it’s happening all over again, but this time much worse, even though the replacement float valve that I fitted had the NF mark on it and was the most expensive one in the store at the time. My conclusion, while the panel in my toilet augments its layer of black mould if I forget to turn off the supply valve whenever I use the toilet, is that French plumbing components are rubbish and there’s no doubt in my mind that when I redo the toilet, as I inevitably will have to, I’ll bring one over from the UK.
But that’s not all, of course, because as well as those problems I still have the damage to my Savannah’s wing slat to deal with that was, admittedly, caused solely by my own bad judgement, not that that makes me feel any better about it. But anyway, I thought of a way to solve it, at least for now, at minimal cost and so it was that last Sunday I was all ready to drive north to pick up a replacement slat that would save me the time, effort and cost of doing the VG conversion that I originally thought might be the only solution.
My plan was to head north, pick up the slat and return home the same day making for a long day but one that should have been quite manageable. However, it wasn’t to be, and this was the sight that greeted me last Monday evening.
That’s the Seine at Nanterre, a suburb of Paris, viewed from the window of the Première Classe Hotel there. So what happened, you might ask?
The day was going well and I’d reached the south-western suburbs of Paris quite comfortably but while driving up a slight incline in traffic at only around 60 kmh or so, all hell suddenly broke loose in my engine. Just before I’d noticed that my fuel warning light was on, which I’d found surprising, and thought that I caught a whiff of diesel, when all of a sudden something let go and my engine began emitting such an enormous cloud of thick smoke that I couldn’t see the car behind. At the same time, the engine began to accelerate uncontrollably at which time I slipped the gear into neutral, turned off the ignition and coasted to a halt.
The engine stopped after a short while not to start again and I was left at the side of the road 7 hours from my home with my hazards flashing. Luckily, I have roadside assistance and eventually a break-down truck arrived and loaded my car on board. The driver’s next job is to find a local garage to take the vehicle to, but despite phoning at least 10 (more I think) he couldn’t find one. So that meant taking my car another hour further north to his firm’s depot in the Paris suburbs.
My assistance contract provides me with a taxi to take me home if the distance involved is less than 100 kilometres and a hire car if it’s greater but the problem was that by then the hour was getting late. This culminated in my missing a call from Enterprise Car Rental at La Défense in Paris due to my phone battery running low and my having to be put up in a hotel for the night.
The two girls in the office of the ‘dépanneur’ (Ets Péripherique Nord) were angels and insisted on staying until I was safely in a taxi heading for the hotel which meant that instead of closing the office and heading for home and their families at 6.30 pm, they were there until well after 8.00 pm, for which I was truly grateful.
The hotel was ‘cheap and cheerful’ but I didn’t need much more than a clean room, a shower and a bed for the night, all of which it provided as the following pic shows.
So now what? I’m back in the Dordogne after being provided the next day by my assistance with a nippy little Ford Fiesta from Enterprise Car Rental. However, my own car is still stuck up in the western suburbs of Paris with a few things in its boot, including my tool box, and the board and part of my ladder that was to take the replacement wing slat, still on its roof.
My assistance said tough, but they couldn’t find a local garage that could even look at my car for at least two weeks, let alone repair it, assuming that it is repairable. I refused to accept this. I’m afraid that like many people in France I suspected that they wanted to get away with putting in the minimum effort to solve the problem and therefore decided to see what I could do myself.
I decided to start with the ‘dépanneur’ and see what local contacts they had, and within 5 minutes they’d not only found a local garage but had also arranged for my car to be moved there the following day (Saturday).
In the meantime my kind friend Victor has once again loaned me his 2CV as it’s impossible to live here without a car. Even more generously, he’s offered me his Citroen SUV to head back north again in, which I’m going to do on Monday, a week exactly after the last time. The garage with my car has said that in the meantime, although they probably won’t have had a chance to assess the damage, my things will be safe and that I’ll be able to pick them up in the afternoon.
I’m also planning to continue my journey and pick up the replacement wing slat but until I get back home again on Tuesday (I’m planning to spend the night in the Première Classe hotel at Orléans Ouest) I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. Then I’ll just be on tenterhooks waiting for news on my car repair 😕