My partner decided we needed some new tiles in the kitchen the other week so, as I have the DIY skills of a chimpanzee, we agreed it would be best to get a professional in to do the job.
As coincidence would have it, the guy turned up at our flat in a Citroën Relay, albeit the older model to the one I have on test, so I took the opportunity to grill him about his own experiences and driving impressions.
He had clocked up 40,000 miles in two years in the van, a long-wheelbase medium high-roof variant, with no reliability problems at all so far.
In fact he told me: “I love driving that van – I prefer it to driving my car!”
I almost began wondering if the lads in the Citroën press office had got wind of his visit and had primed him with a few used fivers.
But the fact of the matter is, he’s dead right.
I prefer driving this van to my car as well. I love the elevated driving position, that firm but oh-so-supportive driver’s seat and the sheer practicality that a panel van brings.
On top of it all, this 3.5-tonner actually returns a better fuel economy figure than my car. It currently stands at 37.5mpg.
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the van’s mileage has increased dramatically since my last report.
This is owing to a disaster in the Gelken household just before Christmas when my son was run over and seriously injured by a drink-driver.
I have spent the past month or so rushing from my home in Southend-on-Sea to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge to be at his bedside aiding his recovery and while the event has proved a nerve-wracking experience, it has at least given me the chance to get to know the van’s finer points intimately.
And there are certainly a lot of finer points to appreciate.
There has never been a back twinge to complain about over all those miles and the several times that there has been a blockage on the M25 or M11 between my home and the hospital, the Trafficmaster sat-nav system that comes free with all Relays and Dispatches automatically guides me round them.
On several occasions, I’ve been told to peel off my route and take a strange back road that I didn’t even know existed. I understand straight away that there is trouble ahead and the little gem of a unit is taking me round it.
The Relay is about to go into the local dealer to have the dent in the rear door fixed after the previously-reported rear end shunt from a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter.
I’ll let you know in the next report if the dealer proves as good as the manufacturer.