On our trip back down from Durness to Inverness we found a lovely spot for lunch on the lake at Lairg. We realized it was a Sunday when the restaurant was chockablock. However we were shown to a table immediately and had a big hot lunch. They had a huge display of cakes on the way in which we shamelessly used as bribery so even Angus behaved.
I was chatting to a dog walker in the car park afterwards and she said it was the best place in the area to eat and people come all the way from Inverness to eat there so it was lucky we had a booking because you can’t get in without one. Yes. A booking. We had that… (??)
So I’m not sure if it was our accents, the state of us after 2 days with no heating, or the cuteness of our children that got us a table, but whatever it was. SCORE.
Once getting the boys back in Beryl we continued our journey south stopping at each petrol station on the way, without success. We did find one station with gas but we needed a Uk fitting and they didn’t have one. We only have two different European ones. When we filled up in England the petrol station had the additional fitting so we assumed that was the norm, but we must have gotten lucky.
We arrived in Inverness in the late afternoon and headed straight for a camping store to purchase the Uk fitting we needed, but they didn’t have them. They did suggest we convert Beryl to swappable tanks to make things easier on ourselves so we kept that in mind. They also suggested another camping store that would have the fitting so we headed over there. They didn’t have one either. However they suggested Willam the plumber and gave us his address and said he would definitely have the fitting. He was closed.
By this time it was getting dark so we gave up for the night and decided that tuna on toast would be delightful for dinner.
As mentioned we stayed another night at the caravan park on the canal in Inverness. There must have been something about this park because we met some more people! As we got both boys out of Beryl and bundled up for a quick walk I screeched at Jeremy “Oi! Want your jacket??” from inside. Apparently this, ahem, carried across the camp site and there was a fellow Australian couple whose ears pricked up. They approached us after our walk and we spent hours having a drink and a chat, while Angus raided their camper for biscuits. It was lovely having a slice of home for an evening. Debbie was an Outlander fan too so I passed on the sacred list of filming locations. Because: sisterhood ✊?
After another night of no cooking we resumed our search for gas. I should probably note that we did plan for a event like this and bought a plug-in electric heater back in England just in case. However once we had run out of gas and went to plug it in it had a Uk plug and Beryl is Europe plug. *facepalm* Fortunately we purchased a Uk/Europe adapter for the heater that day at one of the camping stores so our evening was much more comfortable than the night before.
As suggested by the second camping store we headed to William the plumber. He was open! But had no fitting. He suggested a caravan store around the corner. We googled the address and set off. But once we got there we found out it didn’t exist anymore.
With much teeth clenching we googled for more petrol stations with gas to try our luck with them having the correct fitting. The first two we drove to had swappable not refillable. At this point we decided to convert Beryl to swappable and went back to the first camping store that suggested it, for the parts. But it was not as easy as they first insinuated and the guy that suggested it wasn’t working that day.
Back to square one. We googled motorhome stores and found one about 30min out of town. Of course they normally have the fitting. But they were sold out. But they gave us two other potential companies. This was the point we decided to start phoning people otherwise we would be driving all over Scotland.
The first guy was a flat out no. The second (who was supposed to be the gas expert of Scotland) said he didn’t have the fitting but if we wanted to convert to swappable he could do it. However he was another hours drive from where we were. The boys were getting ratty so we decided to keep trying petrol stations. Two petrol stations later and we changed our mind and headed to the Gas Guy.
We got to his company by mid afternoon and I was mentally trying to think what we would do if he had to keep Beryl overnight. Hotel? Maybe I should pack some bags? Then Jeremy came back ready to punch someone in the face as the guy on the front counter brushed him off with “No. Can’t do that. Wrong type of gas. Try William the plumber”.
Fortunately he calmed down and went back in demanding to speak to the guy that we spoke to on the phone that made us drive an hour for nothing. He came out and looked at the gas bottles and agreed he actually couldn’t help us but if we wanted to do it ourselves we could. Because playing with gas when you have 2 babies living and travelling in the van is safe ?
So he sent us on our merry way with two final petrol stations to try. The first one had the gas but no fitting. As we approached the second one it was getting to 5pm and we had been in the van for near on 8 hours. Angus was feral, Archie was crying, and I was close to joining him. The one country I was looking forward to was Scotland and it was looking like we were going to have to cut it short and leave.
The petrol station was a run down old fashioned one with little more than 2 pumps and a shack. Jeremy asked at the counter if they had a Europe fitting for the gas and the old guy ever so casually opened his drawer and said “Aye we have two”.
HALLA-FREAKING-LULLYAH!!!! I will never forget the cross-eyed chubby Scottish man called Michael who saved us that day. He was a bit taken aback by my enthusiasm and shouting from the cabin that I loved him. I almost asked for his photo but didn’t want to scare him too much.
The story doesn’t end there. While still on a high that all was right in the world again both fittings were leaking when attached. With Michael saying “oh well they don’t work sorry” And helpfully added “Try another petrol station”. Jeremy frantically suggested we try the O ring off our fittings on their fittings to see if it helps. He gently removed the precious O ring and attached it to the new fitting and we all held our breath. And it worked like a dream. My man. Gets it DONE.
Jeremy: “So how much did you buy that fitting for?”
Michael: “oh…. um…. about 15 pou-”
Jeremy: “I’ll give you 25 pounds for it”
With a full tank of gas and a new fitting for the future we celebrated with a cheap bottle of wine and a hot meal. We pumped the heater and wild camped near Loch Ness. We were EXHAUSTED!