Adventures in misadventures

Yesterday was one of those days where nothing seems to go right. Zack, the eternal optimist says we should be glad our lives are never dull. My idea of an exciting life is not one that involves having your van stuck in reverse gear on the driveway of the people you are house sitting for!

We were at the end of a lovely week house sitting in Oxfordshire, the homeowners were due back mid morning and we were aiming to arrive home for a late lunch. The actual arrival time home was 7.30pm.

As is typical on days when we are busy we both felt like we had not slept too well. This did not give us a good start for packing and cleaning up. We have given ourselves a reputation of leaving peoples houses cleaner than how we found them, this is great of course for getting chosen for sits but a bit problem-some when you feel like you have to live up to the reputation. Thankfully on this occasion we only had the kitchen, lounge and bathroom to worry about and we had mostly cleaned them as we went along. Nevertheless scrubbing a cooker and hoovering in all the nooks and crannies was enough to have us collapsed on the sofa. It was then that Zack realised he had not seen his ‘dyslexia glasses,’ whilst packing. A full on search followed – sofas moved, the van checked from top to bottom, bags unpacked and searched. We even checked the garden as the cat was quite playful and as unlikely as it seemed could have picked them up. The glasses were nowhere to be found. Within five minutes of arriving home one of the homeowners found them on the dining room table – somewhere we did not use once during our stay so I neglected to check. For some unknown reason Zack wondered in there carrying his glasses and deposited them on the table!

Homeowners back and happy with everything meant it was time to get home. Sadly for the subsequent three hours our van continued to sit on their drive. This meant that their sainsburys deliveryman had to park down the road and squeeze past us with four heavy crates, we were probably not his favourite people. The van had got itself stuck in reverse gear. No amount of gear wiggling, clutch pressing or cursing would budge it and a call to breakdown had to be made. According to the operator I had to know what garage I required towing to – so wherever I break down I need to somehow have that knowledge. I tried to argue with her that the premise of me being able to find one, whilst potentially stuck in the middle of nowhere was highly unlikely and surely she being in front of a computer was better placed to do this. Sadly call centre staff seem to turn off their logic when they go to work.


The cat wondering why we have not left.

The van the previous day.

The van the previous day.


Ultimately, due to the breakdown people indicating they wouldn’t be with us for over two hours we started to peer underneath the van and follow wires from the bonnet in the hope of figuring it out. When all that failed I resorted to calling my very practical stepdad who suggested pulling the gearstick very hard whilst pushing the clutch up and down. It worked! The van went into all gears smoothly and showed no signs of anything having been wrong. By then breakdown where due any moment so I thought it best for them to see us out the driveway – getting stuck in gear sprawled across a road is a lot worse than being in a drive. After waiting awhile more Zack was getting frustrated and rightly so; we had been hanging around for three hours. The homeowners said they would help us push it to a safe position on the road if the worst did happen so we had nothing to lose. We got out of the drive with ease and drove back via Bristol at rush hour (never ever do this unless really necessary), finally ending up home for a late dinner opposed to lunch.

Overall although the day was stressful and incredibly tiring it could have been worse – we could have been abroad, the van may have required major work and we would have needed to say with Zack’s sister whist it was fixed. The more you travel the more likely things are to go wrong, for us though it is 100% worth it.


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