We woke up early, anxious to make a start on tracking down a new clutch cable. I walked into the town square to buy some freshly baked croissants. I love the french tradition of buying all their bread fresh from the local baker on a daily basis.
Stocked with still warm croissants, I phoned the VW workshop in La Rochelle. I must admit, with the VW festival taking place in Le Mans, I wasn’t expecting an answer to my call, but it seemed the best place to start our search. Imagine my surprise when I was greeted by an actually person, rather than the answer machine. In shock, I just about managed to ask the person on the other end if they spoke english. Apparently they didn’t. But I did not care. It was an actual person. Willow quickly snatched the phone from me and had a better attempt at a conversation. Pretty much convinced that we talked about the right part, we then just had to set off to La Rochelle to collect it.
La Rochelle is a 2 hour walk from Marsilly, or you could catch three buses to get to the shop. To make matters worse, the buses only run every hour. So at that point, we just had to negotiate a potential 4 hour journey for a €12 part.
It didn’t help that dark clouds had once again surrounded us, and it had started belting it down with rain again. Fortunately, after all of the rotten luck we seemed to be having the past couple of days, things were about to change.
We noticed last night, that a couple parked next to us were English and struck up a conversation. Luckily, not long after speaking to the garage, they were getting ready to set southward bounds. Just as they were packing away, I asked them if we could grab a lift. They were more than happy to oblige, which meant we would be at the garage in just under 20 minutes.
Speaking to the couple on the drive to La Rochelle, we were shocked to find that they were from just down the road in Wolverhampton. And that one of them had just retired from teaching. They were over in France to test their new van out, as they were hoping to go travelling in it for a year next summer. Their story sounded vaguely familiar.
Not long after, two extremely excited VW enthusiasts were dropped off at the garage.
We knew that whatever happened inside here would define our next few days. Willow was starting to worry, as she realised that over the phone she said the vehicle was 1970, rather than 76. Something about the french number system needing to add 10 and 6 to 60 to get 76.
Inside we spoke to who we can only presume was the voice on the other end of the telephone conversation. We informed him of the actual date of Ruby’s manufacture and then waited with baited breathe. After digging around in a random box, he returned with what looked like our new cable.
We paid up and made the long journey back to Marsilly. This was the second time we had made this journey back to the van. However, the length of the journey didn’t both us as much this time.
Once back at the van, we went to work putting in the new cable. We quickly came to realise that the cable was slightly the wrong length. Willow was confident that it would be fine. She added some extra bolts to act as washers, and then we adjusted the cable.
Now it was the moment of truth, would we be able to find the gears again with the engine on… No we weren’t. Back underneath the van for more adjusting. The second time we had refound the gears. We adjusted the cable one last time and then said goodbye to the site host and Marsilly.
It was a nice town, but not one either of us had planned on spending the weekend at.
We hit the nearest A road to Bordeaux, with another vineyard ahead of us and Marsilly in our tracks. This trip has definitely helped us think about extra parts we could bring on future excursions.
The vineyard was over a 4 hour drive, but we were keen to catch up on lost ground. The drive definitely kept us entertained on the way.
And so we arrived at our next destination. In my opinion, it’s not quite as cute as the first vineyard we stayed at, however it was a massive improvement on our previous home.
As I write this, I am currently cooking a veggie chilli and drinking a well earned beer.
Cheers to anyone who has taken the time to read this far.
I know reading about a broken down VW is probably more interesting than a fully operational van. However, I hope we have finally seen the last of Ruby’s now way to frequent hissy fits.
Pyrenées here we come.