Two Way Traffic

‘Stay at Home’ became ‘Stay Alert’ – and travel as far as you like to take your daily exercise. 

Given the slightly ambiguous nature of HMG’s recently updated Covid-19 advice, we (assumedly akin to thousands of fellow citizens) – have taken it into our own newly- empowered hands to interpret these directions – and used them to justify retrieving the Knumptywagen.

Avid readers of this blog (you know who you are, thank-you-very-much-indeed) will be aware that our motorhome has enjoyed an overwintering sojourn away from home. At the end of last year’s season, we were able to secure a slot in a rural farm-based storage facility where it has been parked up, forlorn and not-quite forgotten for the past six months.

But – as the sun has begun to shine a little, both meteorologically and metaphorically – we’ve felt a growing need to retrieve and revive the old girl – just in case we can put her to her intended use again, sometime anytime soon.

So, early one sunny evening just this week, we kitted ourselves out with a set of heavy-duty jump-leads and set off (in a recently acquired open-roofed second car) for a refreshingly novel, post lock-down drive into the Staffordshire countryside.

The journey is an agreeable one of about 30 minutes on good old-fashioned A and B roads, taking in well-hedged, sweeping arable countryside as well as a reservoir. The sun shone and traffic was light so our spirits were already lifted by the time we arrived. 

In order to conform to Government guidelines and to justify our journey, we thence took our daily exercise with a brief perambulation of the Knumptywagen’s perimeter and were pleased with the outcome, as we’d both half-expected a far-sorrier state than that in which we found her.  Bodywork was still fairly white (or at least less green and grimy than anticipated); nothing seemed to have fallen off; the interior was dry and she was still standing foursquare and upright on tyres which all seemed to have remained at least semi-inflated.

A first attempt to start her up confirmed our foresight in bringing the jump-leads as the battery was well and truly flat. However, on opening the bonnet of the new ‘donor’ car, our enthusiasm was confounded as we discovered the exposed car-battery boasted only one terminal. One terminal? How can that be? I have two jump leads in my hands here and in all our admittedly-limited knowledge of things automotive, both your esteemed author and the Last Capable Map Reading Navigating Troutess On The Planet were aware that you need two terminals to which to connect jump-leads.

The car battery, our passive and indifferent foe, sat supine and half-concealed beneath an immoveable bulkhead, providing no chance of slipping in even a probing finger, let alone a bulky crocodile clip. A strange and complicated set of braided wires also snaked up from the black depths to grasp a series of bolted terminals atop, this all covered with a red plastic guard which looked like the Devil’s claw, so we took that as a warning and decided not to attach anything to this lethal-looking arrangement either.

Can you therefore picture the furrowed brows; the quizzical facial expressions and the Stan-Laurelesque scratching of heads as we stared disbelievingly into the engine bay of our passive Peugeot? One terminal? Two jump-leads? How can that be?

The car handbook was bloody useless. On a slightly dog-eared page 134, it imperiously assumed that the only circumstance in which you would ever need to access the car battery at all was to connect it to a ‘slave’ battery in order to start the car. Nowhere did it even acknowledge or give consideration to our forlorn and powerless Knumptywagen, now standing passive, impotent yet still anticipative before us. 

Phones out, Google consulted. YouTube awash with over-confident Americans each taking three minutes to promote their ‘channel’. An Asian gentleman provided explicit and hugely complicated electrical instructions to camera seemingly from his driving seat while hurtling along a busy motorway and – the final straw (I kid you not) – a bare seven-second piece where some idiot-git who remained out-of-shot (thereby avoiding receipt of a torrent of live verbal abuse), simply lifted the bonnet and pointed to the battery location within the Peugeot 308CC engine compartment. End-of. Dick.

A glimmer of understanding was at least provided by an Honest John online forum, which suggested attaching the black jump-lead to a bare-metal car-part – but then neglected to define to what the other end might be attached. We thus tried a variety of tentative combinations – vaguely sensitive to the risk of electrocution; sparks of arc-welding magnitude or a Knumptyvan-consuming fire – all of which failed to provide the necessary spark.

And thus, with little else in the way of an inspirational solution, we availed further of HMG’s guidelines and drove all the way home again; swapped ourselves and the jump-leads into the second car (by way of further exercise)  and set off for a repeat trip into the hinterland, content in the knowledge that we did, at the very least, know that this car had two terminals and an accessible battery.

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