Tuesday, 20 October 2015

On (very nearly NOT) going to Kielder

Something I never mentioned when we bought the caravan was a less than ideal experience in the last ten metres of my journey.

We have an issue between the house and the road:  our driveway slopes quite a bit, the road has a noticeable camber and the pavement at the bottom of our drive has been in a terrible state since before we moved here which all combines to create a horrible dip between the safety of Bag End and the freedom of the open road.  As a result, at the moment when the caravan wheels were on the lowest bit of pavement, a rear corner touched the road and I smashed the plastic foot at the bottom of the corner steady. I'm never going to forget the noise of nasty 'graunching' against tarmac.  It's still a wonder and a huge blessing that I did not do any real damage.
We've been on at Cumbria Highways for some years to get it fixed but with an estimated 40,000 potholes in the county, footpath repairs are not very high on anyone's list.  Thankfully this summer I did manage to have a series of conversations with someone that might just have made a difference (and I am sure pointing out the trip hazard and my 90 year-old neighbour who walks along here to get his daily paper had nothing to do with it?) and recently painted hieroglyphics on the tarmac would indicate that at some point the pavement will be repaired.

But until then, we have a dip, a big horrible-potentially-damage-causing dip, so why the (insert favourite expletive), when the caravan has been here since early August, do I wait until 48 hours before a trip to find out that it is not possible to get it off our drive, either nose-first or tail-first, without risking damage?  

Due to leave on my own Thursday morning (when Management was in London) on Tuesday I thought we'd better have a trial run . . . thank Crunchy for that limited amount of foresight, even though we failed.   Didn’t help that the motor mover was playing up.  Fortunately Management quickly diagnosed the problem as faulty battery connections and fixed it, but by then the caravan was stationery for the night in the middle of the drive and the battery was back on charge.

Wednesday was more successful but HIGHLY stressful and there are no photographs.  A friend I was emailing at the time hoped "we had fun in our endeavours".  It was not fun, unless you have a definition of fun which I have not yet encountered (actually, you may well have a definition of fun which I have not yet encountered, but there is every likelihood that I wouldn’t think it was fun …)  But I digress.     We took a couple of planks from the thankfully still extant supply of 8 x 2 timber and made ramps to bridge the awful dip in the pavement.  Clearly the plan worked (otherwise there would have been no trip to Kielder) but not without my laying on the tarmac in the middle of the road watching the bottom of the van as it inched out of the drive, and not without the 5" wide wheels nearly coming off 8" wide timber . . . as I said, highly stressful.

It was left on the road overnight, hitched up to my car, all the safety anti-theft stuff bolted on and didn't seem to bother the neighbours.

And then the good thing (because, dear Dog, there has to be something good come out of the debacle) is that on Thursday morning “all” I had to do was take Daisy for a decent walk down by the river,  load our bags into the car, have breakfast, lock the house and drive off . . . trying not to think about having to repeat the process in reverse when we got home.

And when we did get home on Sunday the van stayed on the road overnight sandwiched between our cars (are you noticing that I have a little bit of concern about it getting hit or stolen?)

Monday afternoon we cut some timber to appropriate sizes, set to with a bucket of screws and produced ramps which are much sturdier.  Clearance was still marginal but at least car and caravan can now be moved with only minimal messing about . . .

The ramps are already extremely heavy.
I'm seriously considering adding another layer of timber to the top to make them 8" thick instead of the current 6".
As Management is so fond of pointing out:  "shouldn't have joined if you cannot take a joke".


  1. Yes, I can imagine the stress. And that is bad enough.

    1. Thanks Jessica. Our drive is a mere incline compared to the severity of your own driveway but I knew you would understand :-)

  2. Pheww, that was quite an adventure, before you even set off on your adventure.

    1. Thanks Sue, but an adventure I could have done without.

  3. Scary and I know exactly what you mean. When we first bought our van we had to take out the hedge bordering our drive to widen it and David tried to move the caravan off the drive onto the steeply sloping muddy extension (yes I know!!!) Our main drive slopes steeply down from the road and the extension sloped down to the side! Of course the back end of the caravan became lodged in the mud and wouldn't budge. We tried to pull it out using the grab handles and managed to completely pull one off. It wasn't a good day and I was told ,,, if you are going to cry go inside!!! Definitely not fun at all but congratulations for getting it sorted and hopefully the council will make a permanent repair soon.

    1. Yikes, I remember you telling me about that. You had a far worse experience than me - at least I don't appear to have done any damage and we were able to make those ramps very quickly on Monday. Hopefully once the council have repaired the footpath things will be a bit easier.


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