On a tour like this, there are, inevitably, events that happen that require attention, away from the normal expected routines. The destruction, somewhere between Latvia and Poland, of the middle rear seat belt clip was one such event. One rear seat belt is never used – Jack’s seat, on the right, is fixed to isofix points and has its own harness. Ben’ seat, on the left, is also fixed to isofix points, but Ben is secured with the vehicle’s seat belt. The middle seat is usually occupied by canine rather than human, so the belt is not used, but occasionally a dog is usurped from its prime location by Clare, or rarely, Tom, usually towards the end of a long drive, when both boys are tired. On the last occasion when this happened, the middle seat seat belt had to be plugged into the clip on the extreme right, the belt going around Clare then behind Jacks child seat. The clip needed replacing.
On arrival in Krakow we went direct to the service centre, ordered the part, and booked the van in for 1pm on Saturday. We hadn’t really considered the logistics of it all: two adults, two boys, two dogs, a van being used as a home required substantially empty at a service centre. The solution worked perfectly for all.
Clare remained at the campsite with the dogs, driveaway awning containing our possessions and a book.
I went with the boys, van, two child seats and the double buggy/bicycle trailer to the service centre.
Back at base, Clare went to the park with the dogs and her book, found a restaurant in the park, and spent the afternoon quaffing wine and reading Jack Reacher’s latest antics.nger
Meanwhile, I was greeted at the service centre parking by Magdaline, who speaks perfect English, while trying to assemble the double buggy/bicycle trailer so I could decant the moaning and groaning boys from their seats, before removing their seats and stowing out of the way in the front passenger footwell and on the front passenger seat so the rear bench would be clear. Magdaline had some important information for me, but it would have to wait.
Once the boys were safely decanted into the double buggy/bicycle trailer I wheeled them into the service centre, and like two coiled springs, the two boys leapt out and charged for the bowl of sweets alongside glossy car brochures on the waiting area’s coffee table.
Knowing that the well-stocked bowl would keep the boys occupied for at least five minutes I was able to speak to Magdaline. On entering our vehicle identification number into their database, a safety recall had come up, and they would need to retain our van until the issue was resolved. They needed to replace the gearbox cover. They had ordered the parts for us and had two mechanics standing by, and the entire process would take at least an hour and I wouldn’t be charged. Thinking quickly, I asked if they could wash my car to make up for the inconvenience, certainly – we will do all we can. The van was covered in 63 days of grime, including half a tonne of dirt from Norway’s roads and a substantial proportion of Finland’s bugs.
What was I to do with two little boys for an hour and a half at VW Krakow? My stomach, which always rules my brain, had a cunning plan. When I revealed this plan to Magdaline, and after I managed to resolve a dispute with the boys over who would eat the final remaining sweet by eating it myself, and after firmly strapping the boys into the double buggy/bicycle trailer, she led us to a secret gate which led directly from VW’s service centre into the KFC next door.
90 minutes later we returned to a gleaming Amarillo, and a bill for 185.10 Zloty (95.10 Zloty parts and 90 Zloty for 30 minutes labour), something under £40, and a recommendation that we make a warranty claim for this when we return to the UK.
We all went for a swim at the crowded lido on our return, and as we have run out of gas, and cannot find Campingaz refill exchange in Poland, went with the dogs to the restaurant in the park for dinner.
The boys doing what they call “mowing the lawn”