Much like the crew of a rusty tugboat, once we’re on the road, each of us adopts certain everyday responsibilities.
Iva takes on the tidying, cleaning and most of the route planning. She is also designated expert in irrational outbursts and conspiracy theory. I’m responsible for taking the bikes off and putting them back on the bike rack, choosing the music and keeping Camperissimo alive.
On the bad days it feels like Camperissimo is teetering on the verge of unceremoniously falling apart into its cheerfully rusty component parts, never to be be reawakened.
No sooner have I mended one thing, a second and third problem have made themselves known. The van is more than 20 years old now, and so it would be unreasonable to expect entirely plain sailing. When it comes down to it all we really care about are the basic and obvious functions of moving and sleeping. Keeping bits from falling off on the motorway is a “nice to have”.
Still, these past few weeks have dealt more than their fair share of issues and at times being responsible for the van’s wellbeing can be exhausting.
- One of the four hinges on the back doors has rusted and snapped and now we can’t open the back of the van at all. Practically speaking this isn’t such a big problem, since it’s only really in summer that we would open the back doors to create a breeze, but it’s particularly annoying because our garage claimed to have solved this problem by welding the two bits together.
- Currently the clutch and/or gears are not working as they should. Second gear requires a strong forearm, while first gear is a distant dream; fortunately, given the van’s gear ratios this isn’t too much of an irritation and it doesn’t seem to be getting worse. We’ve checked the oil level in the gearbox which is fine – based on my knowledge of cars I’m guessing this is an issue with the clutch or the synchronisation of the gears.
- The heating itself works fine, but a problem with the ignition is draining new batteries after a day, rather than a year. It’s easy to pull the batteries out to solve this one, but it’s a problem nonetheless.
- Contrary to what I was told in Munich, it’s impossible to replace or refill our gas bottles in France, hence we are now balancing out how much we use – particular with heating the van – to avoid running out before we get back. Not being able to cook in the van would be a major downer.
- After 22 years of proud service, yesterday the double-sided adhesive tape holding the mirror to the wall in the back of the van (a.k.a. the bathroom) handed in its notice. Smash!
And that’s about all for now.
Neither of us regrets buying Camperissimo for a minute – the travelling we’ve done over the last two years has been unforgettable – but opting for an older vehicle brings with it significant ongoing costs, higher fuel consumption and more frequent head-scratching when things go pear-shaped. In just 24 months we’ve replaced the windscreen and the engine; I’ve remounted the solar panel, dealt with rust on the outside and fixed countless smaller items inside the van.
I love repairing things and I’ve learnt a lot in the process, but today is one of those days where the harder I try, the longer the list seems to get. Hence we’re both happy about the prospect of selling up once we’re back in Munich and starting off fresh in a year or two.