It is the morning of our only night at the campsite. We have had our swim and walk around some of the lake. It is mid day and like at a hotel, we need to be leaving. Interestingly, most of the campsite seem to have cleared out. I would have thought people stay for longer. Perhaps most people have been here for several days already.
We are packed and ready to leave when I turn the ignition key and the engine will not start. This is not a problem I have ever encountered nor expected to encounter. It is made worst by the small crowd watching our departure. How could a rugged truck like ours break down? All the white plastic motorhomes sailed out of the campsite whilst we remained grounded like a ship caught on the tide. The friendly handyman offered to call a mechanic. I fiddled with the engine pointlessly.
The battery warning light is supposed to light up, with the oil pressure light, for a few seconds whilst the glow plugs work. This time the light did not come on. Turning the key a full turn should bring the engine to roaring life. Instead nothing happened. Not even a click.
Then inexplicably the battery light came on. I turned the key and the engine roared into life. Hooray and relief – we were off! We meandered through the campsite and pulled out onto the road when in an instant the engine cut out and we came to a halt. We were blocking access in and out of the campsite. We were obstructing the road so that vehicles had to drive onto a field to pass by. In no time at all traffic backlogged up both directions, motorhomes, coaches, delivery trucks, cars. Angry tourists trying to get in or out of the campsite. Bemused truck drivers no longer able to move. The local bus decided to brave the field digging up the farmers grass. The campsite manager, a witch of lady, came out and shrieked at us. I would have expected a bit more sympathy. Its not like we did this on purpose nor was I particularly enjoying being everyone’s nightmare. The friendly handyman told us not to worry. She (the manager) is the recently made ex-wife of the owner and is still bitter. The mechanic was called again – only now he was at lunch. The handyman fetched a tractor and pulled us into the field (I got to use our tow rope for the first time – the irony is that I had imagined using it on someone else broken vehicle first!).
The mechanic arrived and could not solve the problem. The battery is fully charged. It could be the alternator. It could be the ignition barrel. It could be the starter solenoid. His diagnostics cost E50. But he did show me how to short-jump the starter and get the engine running. This vital piece of information was worth E50 just about if only to get us out of there! Then we were off again – fast to Austria!