Trouble at t’ mill

The main attraction of the Brezno area for us was  its proximity to the Low Tatras mountains, we didn’t plan to climb the mountains but instead climb the hills behind the site and view the mountains. We may as well have gone for the mountain, the climb up was vertical for over 30 minutes, it was a very hot day and possibly our lack of fitness contributed in making it one hell of a hike. One of those fun outings when no conversation takes place, just looks that say “who’s stupid idea was this”. Saving energy by not talking we did make the top – the views to the mountains took away most, but not all, of the pain. On one side the Low Tatras and on the other across the valley to Brezno and beyond.

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Low Tatras mountains

We walked along the ridge following the ‘blue walk’, we had a basic map and there were signs painted on trees and rocks. It was guaranteed these signs would stop – and they did. We continued for a few miles and actually found the route on the map back down through the villages and meadows. The village of Rohanza is another that time forgot, the houses come from picture books, the people takes things slowly and it feels a million miles from civilization. Yet the main town of Brezno is just over 6 km away and there is a train service through the village. There is a lot of building work going on, mainly new houses all in the traditional Slovak style. Three hours and just over 10km later, fairly proud of the effort and totally knackered we retired back to the van for an afternoon.

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Route back via the valley

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Rohanza shabby chic des’ res’

It’s safe to say the nearby town of Brezno is not at all on the tourist trail. We used the local bus service and took the ‘wait till everyone else gets off’ approach and found ourselves in the town square. It could have been the rain, but for the first time we felt it was a little bit black and white, Eastern bloc and in need of some colour. The majority of people wore tracksuits and shell suits, the women wore these with incredibly high stiletto shoes – seriously 4-5 inch sandals with socks and jogging bottoms, the men went for the builders bum look with tracksuit bottoms as low as they dared.

We went to a cafe ordered coffee and then asked for a panini, as advertised on the wall, the woman basically said no you can go to the hotel next door if you want food! There were lots of gypsies around, they lived in shacks on the edge of town, houses without roofs or just a few sheets of corrugated iron bodged together.  It all felt like we thought an Eastern Bloc country would feel, that’s the first time we have come across it. Our day out in Brezno came to an early end as we tried to find the bus stop we neeed to get home, not a hope. We got on and off at least three buses being told it was the wrong one, so we gave up and treated ourselves to a taxi.

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 Martin Razus – politician, writer, priest, all round good Brezno chap

Later on a peaceful afternoon was somewhat spoiled by the latest van problem – water gushing out from under the cooker – no not the sink the cooker! Basically everything was very wet, including Iain (he was actually wet and very annoyed as he had his head in the cupboard under the cooker with water pouring all over him). Iain can best describe all the technical stuff, so here is his contribution to the Blog, written whilst he was wet, cold and way annoyed with everything 🙂

Me thinks the trails and tribulations of travelling across 2 countries (Bulgaria, Romania) and one not much better (Hungary) – with what must be the worst roads in Europe (AND they charge extortionate tolls to use ’em what’s more!!), are now beginning to take their toll on the campervan. The kitchen sink waste has worked loose and dripped copious amounts of waste water over the insulation and cabling to the oven unit, the kitchen sink combo tap is now split and leaking in three places, one of the fresh water feed pipes, again to the kitchen sink, is happily spewing MORE water over the oven unit, which in turn has now shorted out and blown a fuse feeding both the oven and hob units ignition circuits. Fuse replaced, ignition still not working.Pulled everything apart last night to sort out the leaks (as I thought) (over 3 hours of cursing & swearing), only to find out tonight that the ignition circuit has gone off again and there is still a water leak somewhere.

More cursing expected from about 10am tomorrow morning! Add to this the loo door is working loose and merrily jamming frequently.  The loo cassette dismounted itself from its fixing bracket a couple of days ago, and disemboweled itself all over the dedicated cupboard (fortunately the cupboard is sealed from the rest of the van!!!)Interior led light strip has thrown a wobbler and is annoyingly flashing away quite merrily.At least I’m fairly handy with a screwdriver, pliers, mop & bucket, multimeter and, if all else fails, a bloody big hammer! Happy days, happy holidays, happy life. Like the boss keeps telling me, you’re a long time dead. ENJOY THE ALTERNATIVE;-)

I think this adequately demonstrates Iain was just a bit pee’d off with the situation? to the degree of looking for a new van on the internet 🙂 . The scenario was made better by assistance from Dion who owned the campsite, a man after my own heart – if it doesn’t work spray it with WD40 and leave it 10 minutes. That actually worked – for half an hour, worth the try though.

Anyway, not being able to face another day of leaks and sour looks we agreed to go to Poland. It seems the sensible plan to be in the country known for DIY, builders and fixing stuff. Plus, if all else fails, there is a motorhome service and repair shop in the centre of Krakow so we have a fail-safe back up to get the van glued and screwed back to how it should be.

The last few weeks have felt a little bit “if it’s Tuesday this must be Belgium” as we have skipped through the Balkans, Hungary and Slovakia, even though we only drive every third or fourth day the change of country name gives the impression of moving faster than we would like.  We intend to slow even further for the next few weeks as we intend to take at least three weeks to potter through Poland, through choice or just to prevent more bits falling off 🙂

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Bright and breezy this morning we pointed the van North and set coordinates for the polish border. Our original plan had always been Zakopane for a few nights, reading up last night I kept coming across reviews that said it a very busy village, queues for the chair lifts and more tourist shops than Skegness. With that in mind we took the Western route around the High Tatras via Poprad and the E50 motorway. Incredibly good road, and we were on the edge of the Tatras for lunch, as we climbed snow started falling and has done so on and off ever since. Not sticking too much and melting in between showers so we hope no panic, in the last half an hour its got a bit wilder – its not all sunshine and picnics this motorhome lark 😦 .

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We are pitched up on a campsite 50 metres over the border at Niedzica. On the border crossing – not a soul, just a shed and the sign was the smallest country sign to date. There is a castle on a lake, a hydro electric plant and a few cable cars up into the mountains here, our plan is to stay for a few days and see the sights whilst trying to do some repairs on the Explora before she collapses into a total heap.

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13 thoughts on “Trouble at t’ mill

  1. Can ABSOLUTELY relate to Iain’s DIY annoyance. If the first fix attempt doesn’t work I get REALLY down in the dumps. Does it help if I say one day you will look back on all this and laugh? I suspect not….

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    • well it does for me, I was laughing as he was going down with the Titanic 🙂 My theory is we are way too lucky to be doing this to worry about DIY, however I was not the one soaked 🙂

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  2. Hi guy’s as my boy hood hero Roy Rogers would say Happy Travels, or was it Trails. I’m sure a few bumps in the road only makes the trip more fun, you are lucky you have the MAN from MANWEB with you. Talk to you on Sunday. Love you Dad

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    • its all good with us, if it was going to fall off it surely has by now! A visit to the local DIY shop Monday should see a few improvements – we hope!

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  3. Firstly well done for that incredible hike – I’m sure those views must have more than made up for the pain – worked for me, I looked at those great photos of the low Tatras and can’t feel any pain at all!

    Sorry to hear about your waterworks troubles, I could recommend some tablets but I think they may be for a different sort of waterworks problems. Hope you can get it all sorted quickly and inexpensively! x

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    • Temporary fix done on waterworks – turn water off and use bottled! Easy no leaks there then :). To be honest we should just go and get it fixed but not wanting to rush past this area so will live with it for now x

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  4. Well well, really sorry for Iain and you…..good walking but rubbish breaks in the van. It makes our gearing on the roof light issue seem small beer. Even our 12v tripping seems to have fixed itself. Go German – Hymer, Dethleffs or Burstner – but you know that. Keep trucking and keep in touch. Heading SW to Biarritz as described. Love to Iain. R xx

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    • Its not the van nationality – more the awful shaking on horrendous roads – even a tank would suffer where we have been :). Finding water in a container works just fine, until we get taps fixed. We wouldn’t change van – love the layout too much – I am all for comfort over substance haha – oh and the thought of spending travel money on a new van would mean less trips! Have fun in France – starting our way up Poland today x

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    • haha – do not avoid these countries, honestly the repairs are worth it 🙂 And the joy of proper roads now in Poland, we keep saying “listen – can’t hear the roads” 🙂

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  5. My old man would probably have said something along the lines of ‘Character Building’, what on earth is that supposed to mean eh ! Iain, well done mate, 100% for perseverance but you just do what you have to do, stick with it ( no pun intended). Sandra, your first photograph is absolutely stunning, and I mean stunning 👍🏻

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    • Thank you – with the amazing blue skies and incredible scenery here its nearly impossible not to take a good photo. Character building was never more evident than when Iain had to deal with the dislodged loo cassette :).

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