Yesterday's journey home from Devon is one I don't want to repeat. There was a bit of traffic near Chepstow after an accident on the other carriageway, but that wasn't the problem. The problem was some tyre trouble...
We were on the M4 and had just left the Leigh Delamere services, between junctions 17 and 18. I pulled out ok but the car didn't feel right and struggled to get any speed. The man behind flashed me and soon after there was a juddering noise, which wasn't anything on the soundtrack that was playing. Slowing down didn't stop the noise, so there was nothing for it but to pull onto the hard shoulder.
It made sense to pull over as far to the left as I could, put on the hazard lights and it was natural for us both to get out of the passenger side. MOH noticed we had a puncture - in fact the wheel was smoking. My reaction was bizarrely to open the boot, wear the high-vis vest and start moving our things to the back seat. MOH's reaction was to question this as there was "no way" he was changing the tyre. He suggested I call my breakdown people, yeap what breakdown people!
By this point I'd given him the high-vis vest (I know, Love is... Letting your loved one wear the high-vis vest!) as I was wearing a white gilet which had reflective lining. It's supposed to keep the warmth in but turned inside out it doubled as suitable hard shoulder wear! I'd stopped by a motorway marker point so we memorised the number and headed up the motorway to the nearest emergency phone. Two hundred metres away it was, we later discovered - it felt much further!
Reaching the phone I spoke to a very calm Highways Agency man who located us. He wasn't able to recommend breakdown agencies to join but could provide numbers. He also gave us advice on where was safe to stand and what we could expect. So my next call was to the RAC - mainly because their number was easy to remember! Giving the lady my details, she did the necessary to sign me up and contact the chap who came out to us while she was doing this, two officers from the Wiltshire constabulary pulled up to check we were ok, that the Highways Agency knew about us and of course to admire our high-vis clothing!! They gave us the exact marker information and were able to help us answer the tricky question of if we were travelling east or west on the M4. Towards London didn't help the helpful RAC lady much! (It was eastbound for the record).
They pulled off, we finished speaking with the RAC lady and we set off back towards the car. As we were on the motorway they aimed to be with us within 30 minutes, so that didn't seem to be too bad. Even better the weather was dry!
As we got back in sight of the car we could see the RAC man had already arrived and was verifying that there was a actually a spare wheel (my response to this question was "I bl%%dy hope so! - and thankfully there was!!)
He was a very, very nice man:
After getting the spare wheel out of the boot - see it was handy for everything to have been moved - he set about removing the one with the puncture. New wheel on, wheel nuts changed to follow the picture on the spare wheel and we looked at the puncture. The whole of the inside of the tyre was shredded. Even the RAC man was surprised, there was no way that was going to be fixed. I wished I'd got a photo, but I didn't!
Thisj is the wheel we used to get home. It's smaller and a temporary thing - did you know not all new cars come with a spare wheel, some just have inflatable foam to repair the damage, that would have been useless for us. We didn't know that either, but you can buy one as an optional extra!
This temporary wheel has a speed restriction, so although we were still about 100miles from home, we wouldn't be going any faster than 50mph! It's actually more scary driving slow on the motorway, not everyone is good at judging when they are past your car. Lorries were generally ok, cars with trailers or caravans generally weren't!
Anyway, we got home in the end safely and only then did we reflect on how much worse it could have been. We were lucky and were helped by some helpful, friendly and professional people. Now all that's left is to get it fixed properly - let's hope the wheel wasn't damaged too badly...