I eventually got a quote for the replacement chassis for my caravan. I was somewhat taken aback when told the figure of £5,200+VAT! Double the previous quote that I had in Cornwall before I left there. I telephoned the man in Cornwall. He confirmed that prices had gone up significantly in the last couple of years. I had to think of a different solution.
After some searching, a good solution was acquired. I found a 22’ flatbed trailer. It is pretty ideal. The extra length means that I can create more storage space. (I have ideas that will come to fruition in due course. Watch this space!)
Getting the trailer was a mission. I collected it from Worthing. As soon as I saw it, I spoke to Michael. He then paid for it. I had a cup of tea while I hitched up, then headed back. The truck ran beautifully.
En route, I had a telephone call informing me about the result of a health assessment that I had attended the previous week. The relevant department that deals with state benefits (Department of Work and Pensions) concluded that my capability to work was limited; that my physical health impedes significantly my ability to function. However, though they say I cannot be expected to work, I am not entitled to any financial help.
A little over halfway back, just after climbing a steep hill into a village called Brede, I heard a loud snap. I looked in the mirror and saw the trailer rolling onto the grass verge outside some houses. Alarmed, I pulled over. On investigation, I discovered that the extension/spacer between the towing bracket and the towball had snapped! Metal fatigue is the only thing that I can put it down to. The towball was still attached to the trailer. I released it, then had a nightmare job trying to undo the highly torqued bolts that held the towball onto the extension. It took well over a couple of hours, on the side of the road, in the dark. I then spent a similar length of time undoing the bolts that held the remaining section of the extension from the towing bracket. Finally, I managed to release the bolts. I had figured that I could then simply bolt the towball directly to the bracket, then remove the jockey wheel from the trailer to create more turning room, which would be enough to get me home. But! Oh! Incredibly, the bolt holes don’t line up! After hours of struggling in the cold night air, I had achieved nothing!
I telephoned as many people as I could think of who might somehow be able to help. Michael came to the rescue again. He managed to get hold of Froggy, who fortunately has a towball on his van. He came out to me and towed the trailer the rest of the way home.
I had to wait for about an hour for Froggy to arrive. I tidied up. Just a hundred yards from the incident site is the village pub, called the Red Lion. I popped in. The landlord kindly gave me some soap so that I could wash. Refreshed, I had a bowl of soup and a pint. The bread that came with the soup was homemade, and beautifully so, by the landlord himself. I blagged some more. The pub is lovely and incredibly welcoming. I got chatting to one or two people. One bloke offered to make up whatever I needed to get going again. He has an engineering workshop in the village. He was prepared to open up the workshop right away! I thanked him for his very kind offer, explaining that I had rescue on it’s way.
The next few days were incredibly painful. The exertion and stress of the journey, coupled with the breakdown took it’s toll on my body. My left knee was swollen with rheumatism from the constant clutch use and my back took five days to settle down. Dealing with the breakdown in the cold night on my knees probably caused most of the discomfort. John popped by and was concerned about my health, especially when he witnessed the pain I had to endure just putting on socks.
Once I had recovered, I started asking about for help. I now needed to find a way of lifting my caravan onto the trailer.
One evening, a little older man appeared at my door. He said, “I’m told that you are looking for somewhere to live.”
I said, “I don’t know who’s told you that. I have somewhere to live. What I do need is to find a way of lifting my caravan onto that trailer.”, pointing to the said trailer.
We chatted briefly, during which he introduced himself as Peter Ripley. He obsessed over his claim that he is an antique dealer and “a self-made millionaire.” He also kept repeating the statement that he was “trying to help.” I thanked him a number of times. As it was evening, and very cold, he eventually agreed to pop back the next day to have a look at what needed doing. He did return, albeit at dusk. He said that his cousin has a HIAB that can easily do the job. Before I knew it, he was on the ‘phone to his cousin. I explained that I have no money so I needed to talk to his cousin before anything is arranged. He complained that I should not tell people that I had no money. In fact, he had a very strange way of understanding honesty and conversation in general. His only concern was that he was ‘trying to help’ and is ‘a self-made millionaire’. Everytime I said anything, he obsessed that I was disrespectful! After a few conversations over the next few days, I eventually became so exasperated, that I told him that if he really felt that I was rude and disrespectful, then perhaps he should not help me.
The following day, he turned up with his cousin. I had been worried that he would turn up with the HIAB expecting to do the job there and then. Fortunately, he didn’t. Despite the cousin, Freddy, trying to tell me that I was not allowed to tow it he trailer with my truck, he was at least easier to deal with. Peter still kept on informing me that he is ‘a self-made millionaire’. In the end, I looked at him and said, “Look mate, I really don’t care whether or not you are a millionaire. It makes no difference to me!”
Peter meekly said, “I do, I care.” Then skulked off, leaving me to discuss matters with Freddy.
Freddy said that it would cost me £250 for him to do the job. I said, “That won’t be happening, then. I can’t afford that. I have no money.”
“How much can you afford?” I was asked.
I said that I could perhaps raise £50.
Freddy looked at me in surprise. I thanked him for coming out. He thought for a minute. Then said, “If you can raise £100, I’ll do it.”
I thanked him and said that I would ask my son. I then took his telephone number and said that I would be in touch.
Michael has agreed to cover the cost. I have tried ‘phoning Freddy to arrange a convenient day to do the job. No answer!