Mr Ben, you were doing so well….

Hmm,  every time Bruce says the van is  behaving well I shush him, not wishing to tempt fate. We left  our lovely canalside spot in Rekem  yesterday morning on our car boot sale mission, and after the first one, (which incidentally was amazing on the bling and purchase front), Bruce noticed something wrong with the van.  So our plans changed and we decided instead to head for Dusseldorf earlier than planned. We were due here for the show on Tuesday afternoon, but felt we’d have a much better chance of getting the van sorted in a big city rather than a smaller place.
The story so far is that we parked outside a garage last night in the centre of the city,  and this morning at 8.12am I am sat in here, jacked up on one side with 2 German mechanics under the van looking at the alternator. The bizarre thing is they are talking Spanish with Bruce as they don’t speak English, and our German is limited to  very basic basics,  and what’s in the little travel ‘Speak German ‘ is a tad limited to things like “Please help, I have shut my hamster in the tumble dryer”, and “Which is the way back to the nearest bingo hall, I think Granny left her teeth there”.
A lot later on – right, so the story of poorly Mr Ben is like this –
The first two mechanics, although working in a garage that rents out motorhomes, didn’t really know the systems in the vans well enough between the normal engine and the back working habitation part of the van which in our case is quite unusual buggers muddle  of relays, leisure bateries and solar panels.
So, they couldn’t help us solve the issue, however they sent us onto another motorhome dealer that might help. The next dealer didn’t help at all, but did help us find out where the nearest Benimar dealer is – now, Benimar  are a Spanish company,  based near Barcelona, but strangely they don’t have a dealer in Germany, so the nearest is in Holland.
As the problem was still occurring we decided that as we were heading to the Caravan Salon (the biggest  motorhome and caravan show in Europe ) on Wednesday,  that we would chat Benimar who were bound to be there and see if they could help.
So we parked up on the aire in Dusseldorf  centre, hosted by an engineering company, and also asked them for help, as when Mr Ben is poorly nothing stops until  he is fixed, and Bruce won’t rest his mind – so now we’re thinking look for a Fiat garage  and the engineers in the aire help us find the local fiat garage where we drive the following morning. So we arrive about 10.15am, and are 5 foot in the aire by 11am like in an operating theatre with 4 mechanics looking at the problems we’ve been having. By 2.30pm they have found the problem and solved it in a get around way and we are back on the road. amazing service from them, and we need to go back to get a part fitted that we either had to buy at the show or they would try and get couriered from Benimar.
We left trying to pay but they said now, pay when we get the part fitted, so we still owe them about 300€ at the moment,  very trusting, but at least we can go to the show,and the engine works, and batteries are working. The very short version is that our relay had broken – shorting out when overheating due to all the rain we had on the way up and the electrics were damp.
The strangest thing in all with is,  which proves what a small world we live in, is that while I was walking Mutley in the garage car park,2 of the blokes in the garage were laughing at the fact he wouldn’t  pee unless he was undercover of the umbrella  (it was raining again), so I started chatting with them, turned out they were Romanian,  so I used my 4 words of Romanian on them, and impressed them,  then explained the only reason I know any words is because of Bruces gigs and weirdly one guy mentioned Calpe as I’d said we live in Spain,  then really quickly we realised he has seen Bruce play at the Taberna del port restaurant Calpe as he goes each year on holiday! Of all the places we should end up being we bump into someone who has seen a Nomad gig!  He had been working at the garage for almost 20 years, so we were then royally looked after (even more so! ).
We cannot praise Motorvillage Dusseldorf enough for their speed of service, at diagnosing the issue and although there were lots of other cars and  motorhomes and vans around, we were dealt with so quickly, and with such efficiency, and kept informed each step of the way as they worked through the problem.

THE UPDATE – OK,  well we should have left the fiat garage at that, but we made the error of going back to have another relay fitted, which proved a disaster.  We’d been having about 10 days of issues by now with the van,  so this really was the final straw. The long and short of it is that they mucked up, wiring the new box so we were loosing all  power in both engine and habitación batteries,  which is no good at all, so we took it back, they mucked up again on removing it so Bruce had to fix that himself,  and we went to see a guy we met at the show and trusted for further information. Job done, we’re now 580€ worse off,but in that we have a brand new engine battery. We’ve just restarted our holiday now as this has been testing to say the least!!

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Marvellous Maastricht.

We’re now parked up just north of Maastricht, right on the canal at Rekem, where you can use the cycle path to go right into the town centre. This will be our second night and the cycle path is in constant use by the huge stream of cyclists as it seems everyone here has a bike.

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This photo was taken in Maastricht centre, next to the market place. We stumbled upon the Friday market, with the many fried fish stalls selling lightly battered fish with a variety of scummy sauces to dip it into. At 3.50€ it made a great snack.

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Following our way into the old town we discovered  a lovely place, with lots of boutique shops and cobbled streets full of people but not pretentious or too touristy. I loved seeing the many small vehicles that had been transformed into food stalls and bars, and would love a baglet van!!

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We also found the world’s best cookshop, and had free samples of very expensive chocolate so Bruce sang the demo lady a song…

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Then we walked around,  enjoying the scenes round the town, full of cafe culture and flowers and sunshine.

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Through a very huge iron door we found this bookshop inside an old church.

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And this window display made me smile. ..

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So I am now planning our Sunday, which will begin with a move about 19km north a then our Sunday traditional car boot sales start- we hope to get in 4 tomorrow -stocking up on bling for the baglet’s as I have had an increase in the order from my French distributor,  so need to up production as soon as I get home!