David’s Hat’s Inaugural Tour

This is David’s Hat’s first tour!

There’s a rough itinerary but as people know I change my mind like my socks and I could be 1,000 miles from where I said I was going. I’m a Libran so I can’t make my mind up. Here we are at Dover, and as everyone knows the excitement starts right here. 
I was actually at the port for 2 days as I had other business in Folkestone and Dover, so sleeping each night at this spot with the view in the photo was exciting. I was literally counting the hours down.


Bray-Dunes in Dunkirk, northern France. This is David’s hat’s first trip and stop off point. 

David's hat looks out over the beach of Bray-Dunes.
David’s hat looks out over the beach of Bray-Dunes.

David’s hat looks out over the beach of Bray-Dunes, where for over a week starting on 26th May 1940, British, French and Belgian soldiers were rescued from the beaches by one of the most amazing collections of craft ever seen. Even small, private fishing boats crossed the channel to help rescue the stranded soldiers. 198,000 British, 123,000 French and 16,000 Belgians escaped by sea while a small number of soldiers sacrificed their lives trying to halt the German advance and protect the rescue.

The Wreck of the Devonia
The Wreck of the Devonia

The beach is enormous and you can feel the sense of history as you walk along and spot the wrecks still lying on the shore, mostly visible only at low tide. This photo shows the Devonia, a paddle steamer which was deliberately beached after taking heavy damage and used as a boarding stage for soldiers onto other vessels. In the background you can see the yellow buoys which mark the spot where the Crested Eagle, also a paddle steamer was sunk by German air-planes with the loss of 300 lives. 

David’s hat had to be fixed to a memorial plaque as it was quite windy, but I think this is the best shot I got. You can’t tell but it was really windy that day so I had to fasten it to the notice board using the dogs lead lol I think I’ll fix some velcro straps on the inside for the future to make securing it more easy. 


Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

The first glance of the Dutch canals in Amsterdam.
The first glance of the Dutch canals in Amsterdam.

Onwards to beautiful Amsterdam. My first trip here. There are so many beautiful views to see in Amsterdam but this was one of my favourites. Luckily there was no wind so the hat remained secure while I moved away to take the photo.

The next shot might be familiar to some people. In 2014 there was a film called The Fault in our Stars which follows a couple named Hazel and Gus through their illness and Gus’s eventual death. An iconic scene from the film was when the couple went to visit an author in Amsterdam and Gus gave Hazel some bad news while sitting on a bench by the canal. 

This scene has become iconic especially for lovers and those touched by tragedy, the scene can be found here. There are many padlocks, flowers etc by the bench now, some with moving tributes written to lost loves. 

The 2014 movie The Fault in our Stars was about a couple named Hazel and Gus who are both cancer sufferers. A scene from the movie has them sitting on this exact bench in Amsterdam which has since become a shrine for lovers from all over the world.
The 2014 film The Fault in our Stars was about a couple named Hazel and Gus who are both cancer sufferers. A scene from the film has them sitting on this exact bench in Amsterdam which has since become a shrine for lovers from all over the world.

I thought it fitting that I visited the spot but after 3 attempts it was difficult to show the hat on the bench. A young man kindly agreed to hold the hat for me as I crossed the canal to get the shot I wanted. 

I explained who Dave was and what I was doing for Jan and one of the young ladies checked this page on her phone and was visibly touched by the mission. Give my love to Jan she said, and the other two echoed her comments. 


‘In the countryside’ in Germany

We’re not anywhere in particular at the moment. We’ve been staying out of the way in forests and fields enjoying exploring and walking for miles. Jack’s totally in his element and to add to his list of ‘catches’ he got a bird’s nest this morning. Yeah…I was baffled too. He want into this bush on his hind legs and pulled the branches and when they came down he sort of leant on them to bring them lower. Then he came out with a bird’s nest in his teeth! I was so surprised. 

Luckily, but sadly, it had already been found by either a rat or a snake or something as the eggs had been eaten and there was just bits of shell left. As usual he went in the huff for a while when I took it off him because Heading through Leipzig, Germanyof course it was his catch not mine lol but we soon found a rabbit warren and he cheered up as I let him dig for a half hour. He’s a fearsome digger and he was right in to his bum by the time I stopped him. 

We set off again on our way east but after a few hours we stopped in a rest area to have a cuppa and enjoy the sunshine. Can you guess where we are…


Auschwitz and Birkenau death camps in Poland

Since Leipzig we’ve toured the Polish countryside extensively, they have the most massive forests! We set off along a firebreak in one of them, and a few hours later I turned to go back and realised we could not see a human structure of any sort at all for as far as we could see: which was a long way!

Jack was of course loving it apart from when I had to get a thorn out of his foot. Luckily it hadn’t hurt him so once it was out he carried on as before. 

A sign in German warns of danger as the fence was electrified

We arrived in Oswiecim which is the village where Auschwitz museum is about 2am Saturday morning. I found a car park but it was slightly confusing about the prices but eventually I sussed that the museum itself opens at 4am so I could park in there. It was €5 less than the tourist office car park too so as I was not staying for the evening it was better value to park at Auschwitz. 

By the time me and the dog had stretched our legs a bit it was open so we had a chat with a really friendly security guard and parked up, then went for a wander in the grounds. The sun was coming up nicely but it was about 8am before I finally got in. 

There’s a deep sense of foreboding that even the bright, warm sun could not dissipate. You can barely take in the inhuman suffering that went on here: man against man for no better reason than how they lived their lives. 

Block 11 is just indescribably sad. I do hope that by having this museum it helps to prevent anything similar from ever happening again. 

The site at Birkenau was opened when they found they could not cope at Auschwitz, so we got the free bus over there and spent an hour and a half at that camp. 

Most of Birkenau is in ruins but you can still feel the misery of the place. 

On the bus back to the vanThere’s a free bus runs between the 2 sites every 10 minutes or so and I was glad to get back on it and head back to the van. I was so tired.

David would have enjoyed the visit. I think he like me would consider it a fitting tribute to the dead and a living reminder that we must not allow ourselves to be like this again.

Oh…and he would be happy that it is a myth that birds do not fly over Auschwitz. I’m happy to say they are everywhere and were singing their hearts out in the sunshine. 


Krakow, Poland

To be completed


Breza, Slovakia

Panorama of the High Tatras mountains in Slovakia
Panorama of the High Tatras mountains in Slovakia
A roadside shrine in Breza, Slovakia
A roadside shrine in Breza, Slovakia

I’ve left Poland now and moved into Slovakia. After having visited the Czech republic some time ago I was keen to see how Slovakia had managed the split. The first stop across the border was Breza, a tiny village with a post office, a supermarket, a coffee bar and a pub. Oh and a church of course. 62% of Slovakians belong to the Roman Catholic Church. So it’s a common sight to see shrines by the roadsides and beautiful, elaborate churches in tiny villages. 

Spot the hat here…

As you cross the border from Poland you enter the High Tatras mountains. The scenery is stunning no matter where you go and there are forests, lakes and rivers galore. 

Beautiful forests and rivers are a feature of northern Slovakia
Beautiful forests and rivers are a feature of northern Slovakia

I’d only been on a short walk when I spotted this view.

I’ll be moving on tomorrow.


Nova Bystrica, Slovakia

To be completed


Brno, Czech Republic

To be completed


Vienna, Austria

To be completed


Linz, Austria

The hat at Linz
From the north shore we look across the Danube at the city of Linz, capital of Upper Bavaria.

Linz is the 3rd largest city in Austria and the capital of Upper Bavaria. Like many major European cities the Danube runs through it.

Adolf Hitler spent most of his youth here, as did Adolf Eichmann and after the war the city spend decades shedding it’s links to these people.

Most of the touristy bit of Linz is on the south side of the Danube and consists of ancient areas including old Roman ruins, old squares and buildings dating back centuries, and modern buildings with glass and steel. Enormous pleasure boats dock here and testify to the amount of tourists who flock to the city. I actually prefer it to Vienna for several reasons: it’s smaller so easier to get around, it’s less expensive, it’s a more down to earth city where real people live.

Predominantly Roman Catholic there are numerous churches and a cathedral, and religious iconography everywhere. 

There’s art installations and centres around the city, technological centres, museums and some beautifully kept parks. I’m staying here for a little while. Like Rouen and Amiens, it’s just one of those places that you want to stop and relax for a while.

Having meaty meals

Handy meat-less tip

I make lots of quick and easy recipes in the van despite having a 4 ring hob and full oven. But I haven’t had a fridge for years and as I’m not that keen on meat I normally don’t buy it, but I do miss the taste and texture in food. 

A 'hand' of 5 Pepperamis
A ‘hand’ of 5 Pepperamis

So what I do is I carry Pepperamis. They last years without being opened, they’re only about a £ for 5 in tesco, they got tons of flavour, and you can get different flavours.
Chop one up into small pieces and they are perfect for soups and pasta and rice dishes where you might otherwise have used meat. 

A common one I often make is some brown wholegrain rice, a sweet pepper and a small onion finely diced, a pepperami finely diced, salt and papper and maybe some ground ginger. Takes about 10 mins to cook and tastes absolutely gorgeous.

You could easily do without the sweet pepper meaning all your ingredients are easily stored, will last a while and don’t need refrigerating., although sweet peppers if kept cool can last for weeks.

Any sausage of that cured type will do of course I prefer Pepperamis simply cos they’re cheap, well wrapped to last for ages and one does 2 meals.

Winterising your pipes easily and cheaply

Climaflex pipe insulation
Climaflex pipe insulation

So I came across this pipe insulation in B and Q. It’s less than a £ a metre, although if you’re lucky you may get 2 lengths for a £ in Poundland. 
It’s pre cut so splitting it down the length is easily done with a finger, then you simply undo the pip retainers, slip this on and redo the retainers, perhaps using bigger ones. 
For pipes that aren’t easily accessible such as mine behind the sink, I simply slid the insulation over the pips at the tap, then slowly slid it down along the pipe even though it was out of sight.
I’ve never had a frozen pipe since. 

101 things to use baby wipes for

  1. Wiping your face 
  2. Wiping your hands 
  3. Washing other bodily bits 
  4. Cleaning oil off fingers
  5. Cleaning metal bodywork 
  6. Wiping counter tops
  7. Cleaning mirrors
  8. Cleaning dashboards 
  9. Getting the grease off steering wheels
  10. Wiping window rubbers
  11. Squeezing into dashboard air vents to clean 
  12. Getting grease off the outside of ovens
  13. Cooling localised burns
  14. Getting bugs off windscreens
  15. Cleaning shoes
  16. Getting dirt from pets fur
  17. Wiping up small food spills
  18. Cleaning toilets 
  19. Held by rubber bands to back brush for cleaning your back 
  20. Refreshing face wipe in the heat
  21. Cleaning computer screens
  22. Wiping food spills off clothes
  23. Swiftly picking up hairs from a smooth surface
  24. Cleaning mouse mats
  25. Cleaning anything neoprene
  26. Wiping plates etc that don’t need washing
  27. Wiping pans and anything else that doesn’t need proper washing
  28. Cleaning finger grease from keyboards
  29. Wiping the outside of cameras
  30. Wiping wellies down 
  31. Soothing hot feet
  32. Cleaning out ears
  33. Wiping greasy woodwork down
  34. Wiping fly screen mesh
  35. Cleaning blinds
  36. Folded up and used to stop things rattling
  37. Heated, make great wipes for greasy hands
  38. Cooled, make great wipes for sweaty faces
  39. Using as a white surrender flag in case aliens attack 
  40. Cleaning off excess glue from a repair 
  41. Wiping dirty tools 
  42. Cleaning long electric cables 
  43. Wiping dusty wing mirrors 
  44. Cleaning curry from a beard
  45. Cleaning bolognese from a beard
  46. Wiping stubborn coffee rings up
  47. Replacement for toilet paper
  48. Bunging up a sink when the plugs lost
  49. Getting price stickers off things
  50. Wiping the baby’s bum! 
  51. Helping you to grip tight jar lids
  52. Cleaning fly fluids after you splatted on on the wall
  53. Wiping leather seats 
  54. Cleaning washing rope 
  55. Cleaning ponchos 
  56. Cleaning the dog’s anal glands 
  57. Wiping spills off jars
  58. Taking make up off 
  59. Rubbing pet hairs up
  60. Clearing sand off feet and hands
  61. Wiping kids hands after ice cream
  62. Toilet paper when public loos have one
  63. Wiping public loo seats
  64. Cleaning sticky cafe tables
  65. Wiping salty fingers after McD’s
  66. Wrapping round very hot takeaway cups
  67. Wiping dust off solar panels 
  68. Tie round hose ends to control drips
  69. Used in a sink as a disposable flannel 
  70. Wiping CD’s
  71. Rubbing against clothes to get creases out
  72. Cleaning the leaves of house plants
  73. Getting rid of white deodorant marks from clothes 
  74. Cleaning stainless steel sinks
  75. Wiping your nose when you have a cold
  76. A quick clean after al fresco sex 

Chemical toilets

There’s a lot of confusion over chemical toilets. In their simplest form they are nothing more than a fancy plastic bowl that you do your business in and then empty when it’s full. My nanna used to have a big ceramic chamber pot under her bed. She’d empty it down the toilet each night as she went to bed but in essence that’s all a toilet is in a motorhome, but with a few modern modifications. And of course you don’t slide it under the bed. 

Flap opening lever on Thetford chemical toiletFirstly inside, this lever under the seating bowl needs to be pushed firmly to the right. This opens the flap which seals what would in a normal household toilet, be the S bend. It allows your stuff to go into the holding tank below, and afterwards when you slide to the left it seals the tank so that no spillages can occur and no foul smells can come out.

It’s best to leave the lid down when you open this because there’s a build up of gas inside the holding tank and over time this can cause enough pressure so that once you open the flap some of the contents can splash upwards with enough force to actually come clear of the toilet and end up on the floor, or even you. It makes a mess of the lid too. 

It doesn’t happen often but it’s worth thinking about because the earlier you get into good habits the more they will become so routine you’ll do them without thinking. 

Anyway, open the flap, lift the lid and seat, and you should be able to look down into the cassette. Mines a C20 and holds about 15 litres. There are various chemicals you can buy, from older types with formaldehyde in that are harmful to the environment, to newer types which are formaldehyde free but may still be harmful to the environment to a lesser degree. There is an alternative which I’ll discuss later. 

Chemicals

Manual flush on a Thetford chemical toiletThe most popular and well known brands are Elsan which has an organic brand, Thetford’s Aqua Kem and Blue Diamond. In my experience there’s not one better than the other.

Chemicals tend to come in blue or green and pink. Pink is for the flush, blue and green is for the cassette. Follow the instructions on the bottle for how much chemical to use but typically you need to put 1 – 2 litres of fresh water in with it and ensure the water level is always covering the waste inside. In the photo to the right you can see the manual flush handle. Pull up slowly and push down slowly to pump the water for the flush. Many more modern vans have a small blue button and this is an electric flush. When adding water to the chemicals it’s easier and quicker to fill from a jug, and you can measure how much is going in.

In the photo below left you can see a small lockable flap above the cassette cabinet. This is where you fill the toilet flush. It’s about 10 litres capacity and you can add flush chemicals when you fill to make it smell nice. Some modern vans don’t have this, they take their flush from the main onboard water tank.

If you use toilet paper try to buy the cheap, flimsy stuff. It’s flimsier than expensive brands but not by much, but it breaks down much easier in chemical toilets, and less likelihood of it clogging the cassette up. I use a minimal amount as I prefer baby wipes which I buy by the box. Baby wipes are one of the most used and useful things you can keep in your van but if using them for the toilet dispose of them in a bag separately. Here’s a list of things I use them for.

Outside view of Thetford C20 chemical toilet cassetteThe small light at the right tells you when the cassette is full and needs emptying. You’ll be able to tell anyway, don’t let the level of toilet content reach the flap or you risk spillage. I empty mine at the latest when it’s 1 inch from the level of the flap. 

Emptying the cassette is really straightforward. In the photo to left you see two yellow items: the bottom one is a retaining clip, you simply lift it with your hand as you pull the handle above it and pull forward and the cassette will slide free toward you. The cassette automatically seals itself when you slide it out. The yellow cap is on the end of the emptying tube which can swivel and you simply take that cap off and empty the cassette. Bear in mind if your cassette is 15 litres capacity, that’s over 15 kilos in weight!

Note that you must ensure the flap in the toilet is tightly closed or the cassette will not come out. 

Pressure release valve on the Thetford C20Once you get the cassette out, as you empty it you must hold down the small yellow button as shown on the right. This is an air valve and ensures the contents can come out without a problem. It’s best to turn the cassette upside down and give a small shake first as that helps solids and toilet paper to come through the emptying tube more easily. It might sound complicated but after a few times of doing it it will become second nature.  

Alternatives to chemicals

Chemicals can be expensive and for some time now I have used bio washing tablets in my toilet. I prefer Tesco jasmine ones simply because they smell lovely when you’re at your business. They work out much, much cheaper too, I use 1 tablet per fill in winter and 2 in summer and generally speaking I empty my toilet once every 10 days or so. The tablets smell great, they break down waste and they’re less harmful to the environment than some of the chemicals. They’re more easily available too and as I use laundrettes exclusively for my clothes washing I always have some in anyway. 

Many people favour the Aldi brand Almat. I’ve tried them and they work no better or worse than others but sometimes are cheaper. Tablets are of course much easier to store than great bottles of fluid and weigh a lot less. There’s some good advantages to using them.

Cleaning 

The interior area gets very dusty, partly because there’s a vent in all bathrooms and because it’s a road vehicle they’re susceptible to dust, so check under and around often for dust and grime. I use nothing more than a drop of fairy liquid in warm water, rinse and then polish with wax free Mr Sheen. The Mr Sheen discourages dust to stick and keeps it looking shiny and new for longer. Small water splashes are easier to clean too. 

My bathroom is also a shower so it’s designed to be waterproof so if I’m near a hose I often open the window and simply hose everywhere up to waist height to get rid of dust and dog hairs etc. It’s simple to sponge down afterwards then polish the plastic .

It’s best to keep the outside case of the cassette as clean as you can too. Again I use a small amount of Fairy liquid in warm water and rinse but I know some like to use anti-bacterial products. Just make sure what you use is not harmful to types of plastic. Once in a while it’s advisable to fill your cassette with hot water and some cleaner and let it soak to ensure it’s thoroughly cleaned.

Going totally chemical free 

You can go totally chemical free by fitting a SOG system. Put simply it’s a fan that operates when you open the flap and sucks air out of the cassette and through a carbon filter to the outside of the van. In theory there’s no smell escapes at all and you can use your toilet completely chemical free. 

You can find out all about SOG kits here and make your own mind up. 

Emptying your cassette toilets

There are many discussions online in groups and forums regarding the emptying of chemical toilets which usually get quite fraught. Some people think it’s OK to empty them even at a layby on a public road as long as they go into the bushes. It’s not acceptable at all, the stench is putrid and families sometimes stop at laybys with their kids to break up a journey. Can you imagine playing footie with your child and sliding into 15 litres of foul smelling human waste?

Others think emptying them into rivers is OK as the water dissipates the waste. But all you’re doing is adding waste and poisons to fresh water and if some solids and paper have not broken down these are added to the environment. It’s no good saying “Cows do it in fields!” We’re not cows with a plant diet and it’s just not acceptable or legal. Toilet waste is classed as black waste as it is hazardous. Grey waste, or the water from your tank connected to your sink and shower which is collected in a separate tank, is less harmful and can be sensibly drained in areas by thoughtful people.

Emptying into public toilets is also not a great idea. It’s extremely difficult to empty a toilet cassette without having splash and I for one don’t want to go into a public toilet and see stale, foul smelling waste splashed all over. Besides many public toilets, especially rural ones are now composted or use septic tanks and emptying such waste into them prevents them from working properly. 

A lot of campsites now allow you to use their facilities for a short period of time for a few £’s. This includes emptying your waste and it’s advisable to do this. Rinse the cassette several times after emptying to make sure as much waste as possible is gone and leave a litre or 2 of fresh water in there when you’re done. Join some motorhome groups and forums and there are any amount of people who will advise you where to go. If you can’t find a site that allows temporary access consider a cheap site for a night. You can shower, use laundry facilities, charge your batteries on electric, fill up with fresh water and chat with other people as well as emptying your toilet. 

The Caravan and Motorhome Club have small and friendly Certified Locations which may be cheaper. The Camping and Caravanning Club has a similar scheme too. When abroad there are a huge amount of dedicated motorhome areas which allow an overnight stay, emptying of black waste and filling with fresh water. Again, a good group will help you out with endless knowledge. 

Remember human waste is foul smelling and poisonous, dispose of carefully, thoughtfully, properly, and legally.

First World Problems

My pan...over-simmering
My pan…over-simmering

I was sat here thinking about lunch and I decided to make a lentil and rice dish, sort of similar to Jollof but with my own take on it all. 
So i set it all away, got it boiling and then turned it down as low as the gas can go to simmer.
And therein lies my brow-furrowing problem. The simmer on my gas oven is too high! 
I can’t seem to make it simmer less. It bubbles away like mad and the last 10 minutes of anything I simmer are spent stirring it madly in order to ensure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. Also of course there’s an excess of steam released into the van which can only mean more condensation.

I could maybe weld a 1 inch thick plate to the bottom of the pan but…as soon as it reaches max temp surely it’s still going to over simmer?
Maybe if I set up a strong fan so that it blows cold air over the pan as it’s cooking?
I could even cook on a small camp stove although that’s going to be no fun.
Any suggestions gratefully received!

Germany, an update.

Well nothing much has been happening here, but then everything has! 

I spent some time up north with family and friends and it was a wonderful time. I think I value them more as I don’t see them every day and it’s bitter-sweet to leave. Popped in to see my friend in Ulverston as usual so I put the van into the garage there for it’s MOT so it won’t expire while away.
They had to replace the support strut that the radiator rests on due to corrosion and a tyre that had a split in and I’m unhappy about that, as it’s not long since I got new front tyres, and as there was 3 good ones left I asked the fitters to put the 2 best ones on the rear. Grrr. 

Never mind the bill was £350 and the work all done although they now say the rocker cover gasket is not needing replacing so they didn’t do that. Everything else…apparently…is fine. Although it quickly became apparent that the engine was still using oil so clearly everything isn’t fine. *sigh*

It was suggested in a Facebook group that my cylinder head gasket may be to blame. So I’ve checked online numerous times in loads of places and I have not one single, solitary symptom of a blown head gasket. So off I popped across the channel to head for that Norway trip that I’ve long wanted to do. 

A few days later I pulled in to  a layby near Munster. The engine was rough, it was using oil still and when I got out the stench of hot rubber was strong. I checked the brand new rear tyre to find it was really hot. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, I think it’s just cheap rubbish. I wish I’d asked them to put Michelin Agilis on as they are excellent on the front.
Anyway I struggled but finally found a garage to look at the van in Munster. They were called Lowen Centrum.

Greasy streaks left on my door
Greasy streaks left on my door

After several hours their diagnosis was…blown cylinder head gasket. €2000 to replace it please! I was pretty stunned not just at the diagnosis but at the price! I said I’d best head back to the UK to get the work done there and he warned me the van might travel 100 or 100 km’s but then would surely fail and I would be in trouble. When I returned to the van I found it covered in greasy handprints both outside by the door, on the door, on the bumper, and the steering wheel was also filthy with dirty oil.. Yeah Peugeot main dealers charge more because of their higher standards eh? Well even 2 weeks later I can’t get these cleaned off!

I spent the next week trying to find another garage. I contacted 6 in total and only one contacted me back. I took it along and he did not even put it on the ramp. He said it sounds fine and he could see no smoke when I revved it and feel no air or other sign that the cylinder head gasket was gone. He found a perished vacuum tube which he replaced for free but I gave him a few Euros as a thank you and he said the turbo might have a problem which would explain the oil usage, but he wasn’t sure. I left there none the wiser and wondered at this fabled German efficiency which tbh I have seen no indication of whatsoever. 

So, here I sit, near Fussen, wondering what the hell to do now. If I go on I risk catastrophic engine failure. If I come back to UK I risk yet more garages who have no clue what’s wrong or how to fix it, and waste my time on  a fruitless exercise. 
Oh the joys of motorhoming! 

 

 

Update: 

17th September and the other day I was coming down the motorway and realised that plumes of black smoke were coming out the exhaust. I stopped as soon as I could and took the vacuum pipe off the EGR valve which disabled the valve from working. As far as I know if it’s disabled it’s permanently closed and that cured the black smoke almost instantly. A few good revs at 3500 rpm and clouds of black smoke for a few seconds, then it drives nice and clean again. 
Now, black smoke is a sure sign up unburned fuel. The injectors have just been professional refurbished and the fuel return pipes all replaced, those are things that might cause black smoke. I know what the EGR valve is for and what it does and how it works, yet I can’t find a rational explanation as to how disabling it would prevent black smoke, and yet it does. 
So, I’ve given up totally on garages because not only are my brakes sticking, and they’ve now been supposedly overhauled 3 times, but there’s still excessive oil being used and black smoke coming out if I enable the EGR valve and no clarity of why in the year I’ve been visiting different garages including Peugeot dealers and independents. 
I am now going to teach myself diesel mechanics, and try to find the solution myself.