A Holiday Fail!

I pride myself on being organised for day trips and holidays.

  • Cases packed and loaded into the car – CHECK
  • Technology charged and ready to keep kids entertained – CHECK
  • First Aid Kit – CHECK
  • Emergency Car Kit in-car – CHECK
  • Water / Tyre / Oil checked – CHECK

Yesterday we were heading to Cornwall for a short break with The Olde House and set off just after lunch in my trusty Citroen C4 Grand Picasso. Living in Dorset I was soon frustrated with the narrow country roads and thought to myself the only thing worse than being stuck behind a caravan is being stuck behind a tractor. We saw lots of both.

Thankfully the deeper you get into Dorset there are some passing places and I noticed my car didn’t have quite the oomph it normally has but then we were climbing a steep hill and I had a car full of kids and cases. We got into Devon, passed Exeter and onto the A30, just 45 minutes away from our final destination when things went wrong.

Oil pressure fault; please stop” *Beep Beep*

I had not seen this warning before so slowed down, planning to stop in the next lay by.


My car lost all power and I came to a stop at the side of a busy dual carriageway. Not ideal with three young children in the car. As cars and lorries thundered past the whole car shook so I made the decision to get them out and up high on the bank at the side of the road and phoned my husband as I had no 3G signal and our breakdown service is through our bank account so needed the number.

He text it to me but as soon as I tried to call my phone when to no service. Three scared children and a slightly tearful me later I decided to phone 999 who were super helpful and said they were sending someone out to help me, but where was I? We visit Cornwall a lot but there were no road signs in view, I couldn’t see the number on the SOS phone in the lay by opposite and all I could give them was an approximate location based on when we had joined the A30.

I got off the phone to them and the signal re-appeared on my phone so called my bank to get my recovery sorted and was advised they would be about an hour, after they traced my phone. By now the kids were cold so I spotted a break in the traffic to make a grab for their coats. I have an emergency kit in the car but stupidly it is in the rear passenger seat on the drivers side so impossible to get to when on a busy road, so a lesson learned there.

My phone dipped in and our of having signal and not and I missed a call from the police to say they couldn’t find me and to call them back. Thankfully by now the AA had told me I was just east of Okehampton and I phoned them back to tell them the AA was on its way and where I was. As I was in a dangerous position they sent someone out anyway who arrived minutes after the recovery vehicle. The priority was to get me to a safe place and I was towed to the next lay by – not a pleasant experience.


One look at my engine I was advised that they thought the turbo had gone and I needed recovery – this is where it went wrong and I apologise to the lovely recovery drivers for my tears. I have had my bank account for years, always safe in the knowledge that I was covered for a breakdown with them, so never really checked what cover it entitled me to, it turns out not a lot.

Please, if you do one thing today, check your roadside cover if you have it through a bank. Mine was just for home start and roadside assistance, not recovery. I had to upgrade there and then to be moved from the lay by to the local services. More tears, a panicked phone call to Hubby as I didn’t have the money to cover it and then more bad news – it only covered me for 50 miles and I had to pay a further £2.50 a mile for the extra mileage to get me home 105 miles away. So £260 just to get me home.

I cannot fault the recovery drivers, I had three in the end – one to tow me off the road, one to take me back to Exeter services and another, Justin, to take me all the way home. Apparently they see this issue on almost a daily basis with people assuming they are covered  – I didn’t read the small print, do you?

I managed to squeeze some dinner into the kids at Exeter services where my car was put into “Recovery Corner” as I waited for Justin and the biggest recovery vehicle of the day. The kids were super excited watching my car be loaded on and off and then getting to sit in the cab. I did have a slight car seat problem as Sebby has an isofix seat and neither cab could take it, so he had to sit in Eliza’s seat, Eliza in the booster and Isaac without a car seat which wasn’t ideal.

Car Breakdown

The journey home was quite nice, I got to see Dorset from high up in a cab, bathed in golden sunlight as the sun went down and we spotted deer in fields that we would never has seen from the car. When we got home, Justin let Isaac lower the car down and then left it parked on the side of the road for another recovery truck to pick it up tomorrow to take it to the garage.

Thankfully we took our a 3 year warranty so at least the repair is covered!

Thank you to Lifton Down Garage and Highfield Garage and Recovery for making my holiday nightmare as pain free as possible. The kids are disappointed to be missing a holiday in Cornwall but at least we are all safe and home.


37 thoughts on “A Holiday Fail!”

  1. Well that was an adventure you didn’t expect! So sorry to hear about this, I’d have been in tears too! But if there is one good thing to come out of it is that I am going to check my own bank issued breakdown policy now, thank you for the heads up. x

  2. So sorry to hear about this, when I saw your post yesterday I didn’t realise you were on your own with the kids, even more scary for you. We have our recovery through our bank too so I shall be checking ours today. Lucky you have a warrantee xx

  3. That is just terrible and I too think I need to check the small print. I have been in a similar position when Maxi and Mini were babies and it is really frightening. I am glad you got home, sorry about the expense and the holiday.

  4. Thank goodness you guys were alright. This happened to us too, but luckily we were at a friend’s house. Our car wouldn’t start and it had to be towed away. But my daughter was so impressed when we hitched a ride with the lorry who towed our car back to the garage 😉

  5. Thank goodness you are all okay! We had a horrific experience with our tyre blowing 200 miles from home last summer and no roadside cover. Eventually, after three hours on the hard shoulder with a 1, 2, 3 and 11 year old, we got a tow to the nearest garage (we have the ford s-max which doesn’t have a spare tyre!!) and got it sorted but the first thing we did was sort cover!!!

  6. Thank goodness you all got back home safe, we had the same thing happen to us its was at night on our way home and we were on the motor way with 2 little ones and a light came on the car overheated, head gasket had gone, i was terrified the cars and trucks going past and the shuddering of the car, we couldn’t get out it was 0 degrees. Luckily we were only half hour from home so my m came out to get me and the kids and the motorway patrol came and put cones around us and slowed all the traffic down, then helped move the kids safely to my mums car, good job because hubby was there for 2 hours or more waiting for recovery.

  7. I am so sorry you had missed out on your holiday. At least you got things sorted without too much of a problem especially with the little ones. I am sure they thought it was some adventure.

  8. what a real shame you missed your holiday, and ouch at the recovery costs.
    My daughter found the same when she needed her break down cover, she was only covered for up to 10 miles or the nearest garage if more than 10 miles, it was through her garage when she bought the car, she has since upgraded as well.
    We use Start Rescue and they have an app and you just push the button for needing rescued and they know your location from your GPS on your phone.

  9. Wow, that is a scary experience, but with three kids in two it must have been terrifying. I was stressed just reading it. That lay-by looked like it was a couple of inches deep. Scary!

  10. At the end of the day you are all safe and sound which I am sure was a massive relief to you, but what an amazing service you got despite not being covered x

  11. Oh no what a horrible ordeal. I can’t imagine how upset u must have felt at the time. Sorry to hear u had to miss ur holiday at least u got home safely.

  12. What a nightmare but I am really glad I read this post. I am currently learning to drive and I know my bank covers me for breakdown. I will definitely be reading the small print of the policy now.

  13. What an awful experience. It was bad enough when I broke down with only one child to worry about, let alone 3. You are all safe and that’s the main thing. My OH has always been insistent we have full AA cover, but peace of mind at least. Glad to hear the car is covered under the warranty after what you were saying earlier xx

  14. OMG, what a big nightmare you had! I don’t what would I have done alone on my own with my girls in the middle of nowhere in the motorway!! This is just too scary for me. I’m impressed how well you handle everything. And of course thanks God you got these recovery people ready to help you and you and your kids managed to get back home safe. I’ll check my recovery asap as we have it through the bank too. Thanks for sharing this.

  15. What a nightmare! I would of cried the whole time. We just took out breakdown cover with our bank so I will make sure I check the small print – thank you so much for sharing this story, hopefully it will prevent this happening to anyone who reads your blog! xx

  16. Oh Kara, what an absolute nightmare! And with 3 kids in tow – I would be having a nervous breakdown! I’m glad it all worked out okay in the end (you guys getting home safely), but I’m phoning hubs now to check our breakdown cover.

    I know years ago, in my youth, I had cover for my car, but only after a 3 mile radius of my house… not good when my car broke down in the morning outside my house, as I needed to get to work… lesson learned there!


Leave a Comment