After I finished my blog updates last Easter Monday, we popped into Newport for a quick trip to spend my M&S vouchers from my M&S credit card, and to pick up a stair-gate that Barbara had bought us. We weren’t intending on being there for very long, as Hannah had a student coming in the afternoon. Halfway through the trip, when we were reparking the car (which was my old Audi A4) to go and get the stair-gate, we noticed nasty smoke coming out the engine . It has been making a whining noise for the past couple of weeks, which we took to be a re-occurance of a power steering fluid leak that the garage had previously fixed. Obviously this had progressed a little. Panic didn’t ensue, but we weren’t immediately clear on a course of action. This led to a rather confused wander around Mothercare while I worked out the phone number of our recovery through the insurers and Hannah rang her student to delay her lesson. Thankfully the recovery option on the insurance was active (and indeed they used the RAC), but apparently there was a high number of calls and it could be 90mins to 3 hours before anyone got to us.

So the van didn’t take quite that long to come, but it did give Ella long enough to pee through her nappy onto Hannah’s leg while we waited in McDonalds. This was just before the van turned up, and I did a rather rushed change of Ella. Hannah braved the wet patch on her trousers. The recovery geezer located the problem as being a hydraulic leak, and we reckoned that was dripping onto something hot, which caused the smoke. He didn’t have the right fluid, a trip to Halfords didn’t find the right fluid, and the RAC technical hotline couldn’t find anything recommended for my car other than Volkswagen-Audi supplied stuff. This meant the car needed to be towed and another wait. Hannah was now in Next having a good browse, so she wasn’t wasting her afternoon.

Hannah got the bus home with Ella, while I waited for the tow truck, which couldn’t come into the multi-storey car park I was in, so we had to drive the car out, which was long enough for the smoke to start again. I got home at about 5:30, which was 3 and a half hours longer than planned. There are worse places to breakdown than a town centre car park, admittedly, but the experience is never pleasant.

The car was dumped at the garage we use, and they have subsequently concluded that the steering rack needs replaced, for an estimated £550. The has led to Hannah drawing the line, and saying we need to get a new car. We’ve started the search, and I’ll update on that later.

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