User-agent: * Allow: /. Would Like To Be A Yummy Mummy: Yesterday My Car Broke Down On M5

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Yesterday My Car Broke Down On M5

Yesterday was a complete nightmare! I narrowly missed causing a huge crash on the M5.

I was driving from Devon to my Parents in Gloucestershire, a trip that usually takes approximately two and a half hours. I had both the girls with me and the plan was that we stayed until Sunday which tied in nicely with them babysitting, so I could go to Blog Camp today (a whole other post coming soon).

At about 3.15pm I noticed a sign saying we were 62 miles from Bristol but I wasn't checking the junctions at this point, as there were still so many to go. All I knew and cared about was that I was on target to be at my Parents by 5pm or just after depending on traffic.

Just before 3.30pm I was driving along at about 60-65mph. The traffic was heavy and slowing down and I felt the need to slow down too.  I tried to drop down a gear but aahhhh nothing happened, I could not shift the car into any gear, I tried 5th , 4th, 3rd and even 2nd but nothing! For a second I panicked but then I remembered a conversation I had had with my Husband in the Summer. He had told me if anything like this was ever to happen, I needed to get over to the left and pull onto the hard shoulder.

I don't know how I managed to do it, but after taking a deep breath in and indicating left, I managed to safely get my car over on to the hard shoulder and stop it in a safe position with my four way flashes on.  In my head I thought we were all going to die, I thought the car would not stop and I thought that others might crash into us. I have no idea how I did it but I am very proud of myself.

At this point Poppy was getting worried and a bit emotional. At first she thought we were lost and then panicked more once I told her we had broken down. I tried to keep calm, reassure her and not cry myself.

I knew we had cover with HSBC so I phoned the number I had on my mobile. Unfortunately it was the personal banking number and getting fed up with the voice offering inappropriate numbers to dial, I called my Dad.  I told him in a very calm voice what had happened and that I thought it was the clutch. I then told him I needed the number to call HSBC breakdown services.  Give him his due, he was brilliant, really calm and called me back in a few minutes with the number. 

 I contacted HSBC then and spoke to a very nice lady but halfway through taking my details I was cut off, maybe signal I am not sure.  I called back and spoke to another lady. She was unable to find out who had been helping me so I had to go through all the details again.  To be fair she was very good and was to call me at several times throughout the afternoon/evening.

Unfortunately it took a long time to pin point my location.  I was no help with the junction I was near, there were no obvious markings or signs, the number of the marker was not recognised and they could not find me via my mobile signal. Not good! I tried very hard not to cry because I knew that would set the girls off but inside I was crying. It was way over an hour before they even contacted recovery services.

At one point they wanted me to walk to find one of those orange telephone boxes. Now I could see something orangey red in colour in the distance but there was no way on earth I was either going to (a) risk walking down a narrow bit of path next to a busy motorway with a 3 year old and a wriggly 15 month old or (b) That I would leave them in the car while I walked it, no way at all so I said no!

I was also told to wait on the grassy bank for 35 minutes. I didn't because there was traffic joining the motorway next to this grass bank. SO it was a thin bank with traffic on both sides aaaahhh!! How would you ensure a 3 year old and 15 month stayed still and safe. I only have one pair of hands.

I was told the highway service patrol would come and sit with us until we were rescued and help me with the girls. They did turn up but not until minutes before the rescue truck got to me and then they were not that helpful or reassuring to be honest. 

So this is two hours after breaking down...yes you read that right. A Mum travelling alone with two young children was left for two hours at the side of a busy Motorway.

We were then picked up by a very nice young man who could only take us a few junctions up the road to some services. I got the impression he did not want to leave us and would have liked to have taken us all the way to my parents house (an hour 15 minutes away)  but he had another job and was being told to drop us off.  We would have to wait another hour for someone to pick us up and take us on the rest of the way.

By this point it was 5.30pm. The girls were hungry and tired as they usually go to bed at 6.30pm and my patience was wearing thin. Having both had a cooked lunch I brought the girls one of those deals each where you pick 4 items and a drink so chose milk, ready for bed. The women behind the counter wasn't pleased telling me I had to have a fruit shoot as healthy options were not part of the deal. Again I wanted to scream and I told her I was not going to give my children fruit shoots under any circumstances  because they make them loopy and that I wanted milk. She was confused by what I had chosen, didn't know what to charge me but could see I was upset so put it through as the deal. 

Finally just before 7pm I had a call telling me the recovery truck was with my car so out we headed in the rain to find him.  Again a very nice man, who could not believe we had been left so long. He helped me move the car seat and took us to my parents house. The trip should have taken an hour 15 minutes but we were in a very old truck that could not do more than 54mph. It was very warm and comfortable but it was very slow.

We arrived at our destination shortly after 9pm a whole five and a half hours after breaking down. A complete and utter nightmare!

I must say that the lady from HSBC was very friendly and supportive, ringing me quite a few times to see how I was and how it was progressing.  The only thing I think she could have done  differently was not wait to call the recovery team. They helped me pinpoint exactly where I was in minutes by talking to me and asking the right questions about what I could see. This could have saved valuable time.

I would also like to say again that the drivers were fantastic.

I know it could have been worse: much, much worse after all I could have caused a huge crash but what a nightmare!

Both drivers said they thought that it was not that the clutch had gone but was a clutch related problem. They thought it might be the connector or something like that. Watch this space for an update coming soon.

Karen x