Time for another mini-adventure, this time to Bristol to visit a very good friend that we haven’t seen for a while. We spent a gorgeous afternoon in Easton Farm Nature Reserve, watching the river Avon flow, the dragonflies dart around, and ducklings waddling amongst waterlilies; beautiful:

And another day was spent wandering around Blaise Castle Estate. We adore this place, with its multiple sights dotted around – the wooden cottage, the old mill, the ‘castle’, ‘giants footprints’, rhododendron walk, canyon views – even the cafe and playground were enjoyable. This was definitely our favourite day here:

But this isn’t the full story…

Previously we had noticed some intermittent warning lights coming on for brakes, oil, and battery. We know the oil levels and brakes are fine, and we did the tests described here for the battery and alternator; all of which were within limits. So, we didn’t think much of it (we’ve had cars before with random warning lights that came on and off for no reason so were probably a little over-relaxed about it).

On the way to Bristol the warning lights started up again and we resolved to get them checked, but too late, we ended up losing power just coming into Bristol. The AA came out and gave us a jump start, again checking the alternator was charging the battery and all seemed to be working as it should, strange. They recommended to visit a garage before doing the return drive to London, and sent us on our way.

The next day we found the nearest garage and took Neo in for a check, who again couldn’t find a problem. They recommended getting a cigarette lighter socket voltage meter and just keeping an eye when we drive. We figured this was at least a solution that would save us losing complete power on the motorway and spent the rest of the day at Easton Farm Nature Reserve, and the following day in town, neither of which needed driving to.

In the meantime, we researched more possibilities for the cut-out. Ideas such as the voltage regulator not sensing when the alternator needed to supply more power were thought over (we realised the warning lights had only flickered when using consumers such as heater and radio, lights, etc.). The next day we thought we’d do a little test, we did a short drive to visit Blaise Castle Estate, ensuring no consumers were used. All seemed fine until till just before arriving back when the battery light flashed once more.

The next day was when we were due to drive back to London. When we started the van, within a minute the battery light flashed again, we tested the alternator again and this time nothing. This was not a situation we were happy to risk driving on the motorway with, and we were now convinced that the alternator was slowly dying. Luckily, one of the housemates told us of a ‘couple lads down the lane who fix cars’. These ‘lads’ (in reality a small garage) were very helpful and they said they could have it fixed by the end of the day. Great.

So we’ve got a new alternator and the drive back to London passed without any warning lights. It’s always a little disappointing to have to start repairing things so soon after getting a vehicle, but at least it’s resolved and we feel more confident for a longer trip with little one later in the summer.

Alternators aside, we enjoyed our visit very much, Bristol is a lovely town, the green spaces were gorgeous, and catching up with our friend was a complete pleasure!


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