Today has been A Very Good Day. A Very Good Day indeed.
Why? Because it began with the disappointing and very complete failure of our faithful and unremarkable servant, the van’s water-pump. This device lurked unseen within our onboard fresh water tank, and its role was to provide a supply of water, on demand, through two taps, an ingenious little loo-flush and – on rare occasions -our onboard shower. (Posh, eh?)
So its demise at this early stage of our 3-week tour was a bit of a disappointment and conjured up rather dry and unpalatable thoughts of the rest of our journey, unless we could get it fixed.
Enter our very good and welcome friend, Serendipity. She arrived as she always does, unannounced and shyly introduced us to page 69 of this year’s ‘France Passion’ guidebook (thank you Hannah!) which featured an advertisement for a nationwide network of motorhome dealerships, primarily spread across eastern France, with just three dots on the tiny map denoting rays of hope on our western seaboard.
Well. As if she hadn’t already done enough for us with this small gesture, Serendipity decided she’d put in a full-time shift on this sunny Saturday, and in doing so, turned what might have become a complete Bad News Potential Time-Consuming Disaster Day into a Tra-la-la-la Dance Amongst the Daisies.
And just to contrast our extreme good fortune (because, if we’re honest with ourselves, nobody really likes a full-blown good news story, do they?) what follows demonstrates (a) what actually occurred with (b) what would normally have happened, OK?
1a: France Passion advertisement.
1b: No book, no advertisement, or at the very least, no advertisement noticed.
2a: Three of the outlets out of a possible twelve were on our side of France.
2b: None of them were anywhere near us.
3a: One of the three was in Quimper, through which we were headed anyway.
3b: The nearest was bloody miles out of our way.
4a: We found it! (No thanks to our Satnav, which still thinks we’re in Finland.) We arrived at 10:30 to find it was open until 12 noon.
4b: Our service department is closed on a Saturday.
5a: The Navigator Without Equal had pre-programmed Google Translate with the problem and translated it into French on her phone, presenting this information to an amused and impressed dealer on arrival.
5b: We’re English. We don’t speak foreign languages and were therefore unable to communicate.
6a: The dealer spoke English.
6b: Gallic shrugs.
7a: A mechanic was available immediately and diligently got stuck in – to a tight and very awkwardly accessed water-tank to examine the problem.
7b: Our service department is closed on a Saturday.
8a: Within 10 minutes, he’d located and stripped out the inaccessible pump.
8b: Worried shaking of heads; conspiratorial muttering; sucking of teeth and sharp intakes of breath. “Who sold you this then?”
9a: The dealer had a suitable replacement pump to hand, seemingly amongst a box of random spare parts.
9b: The part will need to be ordered. It’s Saturday. Therefore part unlikely to arrive before Monday, call it Tuesday just to be on the safe side.
10a: The mechanic fitted the found new pump immediately – with efficiency, knowledge, care and diligence.
10b. Our service department is closed on a Saturday.
11a: The dealer totted up a simple bill for the parts, charged nothing for the labour; the whole episode was completed within 60 minutes of our arrival and cost us just €63.00 euros in total.
11b: We were presented with an extortionate and inflated bill, charging a premium for our unannounced arrival; the problem we presented and the inconsiderate timing of our visit.
12a: We were simply waved off with a smiling “merci” and no heart wrenching pleas to like them on Facebook.
12b: We left with a bad taste, feeling we’d been taken advantage of and with strong demands to be rated on Facebook.
There. That’s why today has been A Very Good Day. And sadly, dear reader, it doesn’t end there, as our unfolding story hasn’t yet got anywhere near our overnight stop at the shellfish farm. Can you stand the suspense if that waits till tomorrow? Think you’re going to have to!