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Would you buy a shirt off this 'Old Git?

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I would just like to keep you all upto date in our desire to improve our business and service for our customers by various means available to us.

I commented in my last blog on the prospects of travelling to the Business 2012 at the O2 Arena London, 18th-20th March and meeting business ‘icons’

  Sir/Lord Alan Sugar and

  Sir Richard Branson.

My business partner Chrissie and this ‘Old Git’ decided to travel down to London in our beautifully converted BT van/mobile home so as to enjoy the freedom and flexibility of having no restrictions 0n our time in London.

In the past we have encountered so many electrical problems with our Mobi. We thought we had eliminated any previous problems. We bought the Mobi already converted and did not have a diagram of the wiring and what all the switches and taps were for or what ran what?

We bought an ‘invertor’ which as far as I know is meant to convert/transform 12 volts into 240 volts from the battery so the power is evenly distributed to whatever appliance is running, ie TV, kettle, fridge, lights etc. There are 3 ‘brand new’ batteries on the Mobi, including what is known as a ‘leisure’ battery.

We had pre-booked onto a caravan site in the historical hamlet of Battlesbridge, Wickford in Essex.

There are 2 great pubs there at either side of the caravan site.

The Hawk Hotel is  100yds from Battlesbridge Railway station which connects at Wickford for London, and has great staff who are very pleasing in their attitude to serve.

The Barge is a local Village Pub and we found the staff very friendly and willing to serve with a smile.

We arrived at our destination at 6pm after having set off at 12 noon and covered 245 miles from Chorley, Lancashire, having previously made a 1/2 hour pit stop once we had passed Birmingham for coffee and in my case cos I’m a ‘lanky so and so’  a leg and ‘numb bum’ break. We were desperate for a coffee, so used the gas for the kettle. We also had an electric kettle for when we hooked up to the onsite electric box.

This is when our MR BEAN  scenario really kicked in.

We had a 25 metre length of cable with male/female socket fittings for our Mobi and site connections and the plan was to hook up to the onsite system and supposedly all would be ok for our first night.

EUREKA!!! Yeah that’s what we thought also if your reading this as I’m telling it.

We were looking forward, for the first time ever, to having an electrical connection from our mobile home to an onsite electrical facility.

Sowwwww we plugged in from the Mobi powerpoint to the onsite system and ……..NOTHING.

We couldn’t figure out why  there wasn’t any power from the onsite system.

Even our INVERTOR wasn’t working anymore. In fact each time we tried to use it, it kept showing a RED light meaning it had tripped out.

Hindsight, as we all know, is a wonderful thing!

What we didn’t realise was that an Invertor and a live feed do not go well together.

The onsite direct feed had actually blown out and fused the invertor, so it was useless and still is. It was no match for the live feed.

So, “in theory”, there’s always plan ‘B’, right?


Luckily we had a flash of inspiration and decided to unplug the invertor, and as a result, we were then getting elecricity so all was well again and that was plan ‘B’.

We wanted to get some work done on our laptops on our first night and we had been told that there was onsite Wi-Fi…..but…..the signal was very weak.

We mentioned this to the site Manager ‘John Bedford’ (who we have the utmost praise for), and he suggested that we move our mobile a bit closer to where the strongest signal was being sent from, which was a few yards away from where we were sited.

SO, we started to reverse our mobile home a few yards backwards so as to get a stronger signal.

I held and fed the cable so it wouldn’t become fast while Chrissie reversed the Mobi.

UNFORTUNATELY, what happened next seemed to be in slow motion. I saw the cable get stuck under the front wheel and before I could shout out WHOA !!! the cable fitting was RIPPED out of the outside of the Mobi and was in irrepairable pieces. DISASTER ONCE AGAIN!

We were demoralised, to say the least.


We phoned John (for the third time that night) and he came round and lent us a power cable because ours was now unusable or ‘knackered’.

So we were up and running once again.

I did tell you about the ‘MR BEAN script’, wellllllll there’s more yet.

We had turned off a couple of TAPS under the sink and then planned on cooking some food.

We lit the gas cooker and it was aflame for a couple of seconds and then went out. I won’t repeat our ‘vocals’ but we were well ‘P’d’ off.

However, because we had prepared for the journey, we had brought along a new full bottle of gas. We changed the bottle which had a different connection to the replaced one and tried to light the gas. NOTHING AGAIN!!!

We were completely bemused! If this had been a MR BEAN episode we would have probably split our sides with laughter but, our situation was reality and not fiction.

We phoned John the site manager (fourth time since our arrival). All we got was his voice mail because it was his deserved night off.

After all he had already gone out of his way to lend us a fresh input/output mains lead.

We had a flash of inspiration for cooking SOME FOOD. We still had electric and an electric kettle. We also had eggs and a packet of Chow Mein noodles in the fridge.

So Chrissie prepared noodles with boiling water and I suggested that we boil the eggs in the electric kettle so that is what we did, so at least we didn’t go hungry, I think that is called improvisation.

By the time we had eaten, it was 11 pm and too late to go to one of the Pubs ‘cos I could have murdered a pint. Fortunately, and prepared again, I had a bottle of Bacardi and a large bottle of Coke and Chrissie had some Vodka so we had a couple of much needed drinks and then crashed out for the night.

The following morning we headed into London to the O2 Arena only to be informed that Sir Richard Branson and Sir Alan Sugar had both appeared the day before. Major disappointment! Undeterred, we carried on and attended various workshops and seminars including a great one on Social Media for business by ‘front man’ Chieu (not Fu Man Chu) sorry Mr Chieu but couldn’t resist that one. He represented and by the end of the day we were disappearing under a mountain of paperwork including brochures, leaflets and flyers.

A few hours later the security men were ready for throwing us out so we had to leave – by now we were starving so we headed for the London Diner outside North Greenwich Station, where we had some great, reasonably priced food served up by the Chef. His name was Minhaj with whom I had my photo taken for the record. Highly recommended.

Two hours later we were back at Battlesbridge, still without gas but at least we had lights! And booze! (Alchoholics Anonymous we are NOT!). Duh!

After an evening of brainstorming (what else are you supposed to do in the middle of a field??), we hit the pit after deciding to call it a night, wondering what tomorrow would bring apart from a long ride home.

Tuesday morning arrived and the first thing we did was check our battery power on the Mobi – it was not looking good. We rang John (again!), who said he would come round with his car and jump start us. (We did remember to bring our own set of jump leads so were prepared for the eventuality).

5 minutes later he turned up in his old site van with one wing missing but at least it had a good battery!

We connected up to this and….twenty minutes later…..still no power to the engine!

By now John’s “battlewagon” was starting to overheat so he left it to cool down while we considered our options.

Suddenly, one of us had the brilliant idea of trying to charge ourselves up (NO NOT US PERSONALLY) using one of the two batteries under the bonnet ( for the Americans who I know follow my blogs, that’s the hood)  to charge up the other one. Strange idea I know, and we didn’t know if we’d end up blowing ourselves up or not, but frankly, by now, we really didn’t care!

So, we disconnected from John’s battery and connected our two front batteries together with the jump leads. Chrissie tried the ignition and……HALLELUIAH!….IT WORKED! Like a dream! VROOOOM!!!! VROOOOM!!!!

Finally, we had solved the problem that had been challenging us ever since we bought the Mobi – where was our power disappearing to and why? Now we knew….all that was wrong with our Mobi was that there had been a bad connection between the two front batteries which meant that one of them hadn’t been charging up fully and that was why every time we used the 12 volt lights, the batteries were draining.

Shortly after, John returned and was surprised to see that we were up and running! We mentioned to him that we still had no gas and he introduced us to Mr Fixit “a man who can”, Fred, who lives on the site.

Fred came along, armed with hammers and spanners, pliers, adjustables and anything else you can possibly think of from his workshop. He asked Chrissie if there were any cut-off valves or taps inside the Mobi and she said “no”.

Fred, who is about 70 years old, spent approximately two hours, clambouring backwards and forwards over a five barred gate to get to his workshop, and tweaking taps  and adjusting fittings, putting three new jubilee clips on the piping, and tightening up all the loose nuts. We tried the gas again….NOTHING!

Then, SUDDENLY, just as it was beginning to look as if we were being invaded by aliens, or perhaps even another MR BEAN, or something, Chrissie had a flashback. She remembered previously turning the taps under the sink unit when she was trying to improve the water flow. Could it possibly be that these taps had nothing whatsoever to do with WATER????

Sheepishly, she turned the tap back on, and tried to light the gas. HALLELUIAH, once again! WE HAD GAS!!!

It was left to ME to explain to Fred that the gas was now working. He scratched his head a bit trying to work out what he might have done to make it work again, and we didn’t have the heart to explain to him that he had just wasted the best part of two hours servicing our gas pipes!!

Well now Fred, you know the truth! And thank you so much for your time! SO SORRY Fred, you are a diamond! Every camp-site should have a Fred!

Before we did finally set off back to Chorley, we decided to walk around with the laptop to see if we could get a Wi-Fi signal. We did….only to find out that Sir Alan Sugar had NOT been to the O2 on the Sunday as we had been informed. He actually went on the TUESDAY!! So we had still missed him, thanks to our Mobi, electrics and gas problems, and all!

We were back home in the early hours of Wednesday morning 21st March after an ‘adventure’ that could quite easily have been scripted by the writers of ‘MR BEAN’.

As the old saying goes ‘all’s well that ends well.

Take care for now and catch you soon

‘Old Git’ Jimbo