I remember the time we took a trip to Wales. We were in my dad’s old Bedford motorhome, heading for Holyhead in Anglesey with the dinghy in tow. We had taken Bertha out on tidal waters before, at Preston. But to launch her from the slipway at Holyhead, the scene of so many childhood memories, had been an ambition since she was finished three years ago. We knew it would take all our skill and determination to make a success of the trip, but the sun was shining and our spirits were high. Little did we know that Bertha would never even make it as far as the Menai Strait.
The old motorhome pulled into the services at Flint, smoking from the radiator like a steam engine. But we weren’t worried. We bought a sandwich, checked the trailer and sat on the wall with an ice cream to watch the traffic while the engine cooled. After an hour or so, we were ready to hit the road again.
But we didn’t get far. On the slip road leaving the services, we heard a knocking noise from the rear of the motorhome. The noise gradually got louder, until at Colwyn Bay we decided to pull over. The problem was plain to see: the nearside leaf spring had cracked, and the whole vehicle was leaning to the left. A helpful local mechanic made some calls on our behalf. It seemed the nearest available replacement spring was in Newtown, many miles to the south. But there was no point heading home with a broken vehicle, so we turned the motorhome around and enlisted the services of a local workshop to make things as safe as we could before driving south. You’d never get away with doing that these days!
It took us most of the day to reach Newtown and have the part fitted. We would have to stay there overnight. But as the temperature dropped rapidly, we discovered the heater in the motorhome had given up the ghost! The Newtown mechanic recommended the services of The Caravan Centre in Torfaen. He rang ahead for us, and the helpful proprietor offered to wait for us and help to fix our gas fire.
The following morning, we woke weary from the adventures of the previous day. But there was no point in waiting around, so we thanked the Caravan Centre team for their services and pointed our motorhome northward.
It only took twenty minutes for the next disaster to strike. As our motorhome approached Abergavenny, the jockey wheel in the trailer slipped down, hit the road and jammed under the bow of the boat, forcing the hitch up into the air. Once again The Caravan Centre came to the rescue, bringing us a replacement wheel. We had had enough. Without the services of the local businesses like The Caravan Centre of Torfaen, we would have been stuck. We retreated home with our tails between our legs. Bertha was confined to lakes from then on!