Sunday, 26 March 2017

You're grounded...

So this time yesterday I was sitting on the ferry, all smug with beer in hand and my lovely new trailer sitting on the car deck. Should have known better. Nearly every first day at the house here in France proves difficult for one reason and another, and today was no different, as I shall relate.

So, I emptied the car and then decided to tow the trailer to the back garden, where it'll live. There's a small slope up the entrance to the garden, so I took the jockey wheel off the trailer so as not to snag it on the bolt where the gates to the garden meet in the middle. All was fine - trailer parked, time to put the car back round the front of the house.

Only this time as I drove over the gate bolt, there was the most sickening noise of the car's underside scraping over it, and as it turned out, getting stuck. Here's the offending item, post my mangling of it, but still with car on top.

At this point, I'd rushed to the garage, dug out a jack, and lifted the back wheels off the ground to at least relieve the pressure on the underside, chocking all four wheels first of course.

The question was - how to free the car? The moment I let it down off the jack, it was wedged again.

Theory number 1 - try to manoeuvre the concrete bolt and bolt back into position with rope (pictured), so as to re-create enough clearance. Fail; they were was loud and proud, and not going anywhere thanks very much.

Theory number 2 - pump the car tyres up to 45 psi, wedge some planks under the back wheels, and reverse (as it's rear wheel drive and its rear was pointing upwards anyway, thus:

Fail. All I succeeded in doing was burning some rubber and half burying the plank on the right hand side in the ground.

Theory number 3 (I was running out of theories at this point, and there's no-one around to consult on a March Mothering Sunday afternoon in rural France) - dig out the concrete block and bolt by digging a channel sideways, emerging on the left hand side of the car. So that's what I did. For an hour I lay on my belly and dug a 3 feet long, 1 foot deep, 1 foot wide channel in order to wiggle a pretty heavy concrete block out, with a variety of tools. It was more The Great Escape than A Year In Provence. I've had less fun on Sunday afternoons, but I can't remember when.

Anyway, it worked, two hours after the original incident. The car is parked round the front again. The bolt caught on a lateral strut underneath, and I don't think I've damaged exhaust or any other pipes. I'll go for a drive tomorrow to see if the thing now goes forward sideways, if you know what I mean.

Still, it could have been worse - it could still be there awaiting professional recovery. But here's my tip for the day - if you want to sharpen up your problem-solving abilities and self-reliance, just be a prannock in the first place. No, I mean buy a house in the middle of nowhere in a foreign country.

Any suggestions for what would have been a better approach - keep them to yourself thanks.

Tweets by @skinsalive