A Life in the Slow Lane

Basil’s Take a Turn for the Worse

We spent a very pleasant and totally peaceful evening and night on our remote wildcamping spot in in the Greek mountains. As it turned dark we could see the lights of numerous small villages and individual houses shining in the village below and mountains in the distance.

It rained heavily over night and by the morning first we could see the mountain tops as fog filled the valleys below and then slowly low cloud moved in and obscured our view of everything. We discussed where we should move on to: ruling out further adventures in the mountains and opting to to head towards the coast. It turned out that there was little point in planning.

As I opened Basil’s bonnet in my daily check of his water levels I could see an ominous dark line floating on top of the water in the coolant header tank. The most likely reason for oil to be present in the coolant, as even I know, is a leaking cylinder head gasket – the dreaded almost worst possible outcome from our broken water pump last week.

Our nearest town was Ioannina and with a population of 130,000 we decided it was probably our best bet in terms of getting Basil fixed. Sarah’s Uncle Geoff came up trumps again in providing us with advice and even suggested that it is sometimes possible to fix small head gasket leaks with a liquid that goes into the coolant.

We rolled downhill to Ioannina where we settled into Camping Limnopoula (39.677421, 20.844215). It is a bit of a rip off at €24.50 per night, but we needed to empty our cassettes and beggars can’t be choosers. The one redeeming feature is a beautiful view of the lake, but with the weather as it has been we haven’t seen that much of it.

Soggy and Sad. Despite his view of a lovely lake Basil is a broken man.

I telephoned our breakdown service again who initially suggested their Greek agents would sort a garage out for us in the morning, today being a Sunday. Then they rang back and suggested it would be better if we found a garage ourselves! When I asked what we did about language difficulties they suggested we get the campsite owner to translate! I am beginning to wonder why I bothered to pay for breakdown insurance.

Just to make matters worse its been raining on and off and when Sarah took the dogs out for a walk, while I was downloading a Greek keypad for my Google Translate, she got caught in a deluge and both she and the dogs came back saturated. Luckily, as I may have mentioned previously in the blog, Sarah has made the dogs towelling bags, so we just put them in and zip them up until they are dry. Sarah now wishes she had made one for herself!

Tomorrow I am initially going to try to find some liquid sealant, which I have investigated on the internet, to see if I can avoid a big bill. If that’s not possible it will be a trip to the local Fiat Professional workshop and from what I can gather we could be looking at a bill of €1,500 to €2,500 and another big dent in our piggybank. Replacing a head gasket is also not a quick job so including waiting for necessary parts we could soon be tour guide experts for Ioannina in addition to Spoletto!