Tag Archives: car

A Treat from the Back of the Cupboard

Yesterday, as part of my efforts at self-improvement, I researched ways of improving my writing. I will, as a result, not be using the phrase “doom and gloom” but will say that the morning is gloomy, and so is my mood.

Still no car. Still no news of the car. No news of my prescription either. This is a worry as I have run out of some things. The new system means that I don’t have a clue if my prescription has been processed. The screen says it is in progress but it is a day late already and that is not a good sign. Fortunately I am not short of anything essential. Apart from good humour, I am running short of good humour because the system takes several days longer and seems to produce more errors.

It seems to be a common feature of these “new and improved” systems that they are actually just “new”. The “improved” part involves cost-cutting and is no improvement to me at all. I am worried that this may be the case with my writing too – it may produce a crisper and more concise style, but is that going to be an improvement. I am a poet and raconteur rather than a business consultant or a copywriter.

Things will get better, as I always tell myself. I told myself that when boundary and building issues threatened to bury me six months ago. They didn’t really get better, they just faded. The main one was sorted out but we are waiting for a second planning application from the neighbours on the right and the builder still hasn’t come to repair the chimney stack. problems do that – what seems the end of the world at one point is almost forgotten six months later.

I just looked up and noticed that the drizzle has increased in intensity and has lumps in it. It is now a wintry shower.

I just checked that up.

Wintry is the preferred form and is used approximately 20 times to every one use of wintery. However, as the article points out, many people pronounce wintry as wintery. I do, and I feel wintery is a more logical development from the word winter. On the other hand, this is English, so logic has little to do with it.

Time for Late Breakfast now, one of my favourites among my recent new words. I like stewp too, but it excludes bacon sandwiches, which late Breakfast does not. I will be having chilli jam with my bacon. I found it in the back of a cupboard recently. We bought it when we went to The Lakes for our 25th wedding anniversary (yes, six years ago) and the Best Before Date is in 2016, but it was unopened and it still tastes good.

That is the problem with Best Before dates – people mistake them for Use By dates.  Best Before dates can safely be ignored (according to me, though not to Julia). Use By dates indicate that the product can kill you if you leave it too long.

The picture is a Late Breakfast from happier days.

 

Car, Garage, Disappointment

Eventually, the phone call came. I have a valve which is sticking open when it should be closed. Phew, that was a relief. Sounds like a simple enough job. What a stupid thought…

The valve, as far as I can tell, exists to release pressure somewhere so that the car can’t do more than 30 mph and accelerates slightly more slowly than me on my way to the salad aisle. It’s part of the system that is there to guard against engine malfunctions. Thirty years ago we didn’t have such things as far as I know. I have certainly never experienced this after many years of driving diesels. This is slightly annoying.

There is, it seem,s no underlying fault. just a sticking valve.

Yes, the safety system has activated itself in the absence of a fault, and is itself the fault. Are you with me so far? The VW Passat I previously owned did 247,000 miles without an engine fault. This one has done a third of that and developed a major fault in the system designed to protect my engine from major faults. This is one step along from programmed obsolescence and one step on from sanity.

They will need to put it up on a special lift, which is currently in use for the next three days, and dismantle the front sub-frame. You can only get to the valve after some major work. So much for German engineering. Who thought it was a good idea to put the valve there?

A part I don’t need, jammed open when it shouldn’t be, and concealed behind many hours of spanner work. This is looking like a triumph for stupidity and a very large bill for labour. Cancel the cautious optimism of the last post.

It’s tempting to let go with a good old moan and a session of “Why me?” but I have better things to do, including eating the last of the Christmas cake.

Let then historical record show that in the day before our third lockdown became law (I believe they will pass it tonight, I passed the time by moaning about garages and cars (an eternal subject for conversation if ever there was one) and eating cake (ditto).

 

 

Car, Garage, Senior Moment

They day has started in mixed fashion. The garage thinks that the fault on the car is probably a simple blockage which should be reasonably easy to fix, and inexpensive. Fingers crossed. I called a taxi (they have moved and it is now too far to walk) and this was a little more complex than usual.

Of course, in  my day, when cars were simple and lights were fewer, this wouldn’t have been a problem at all, and if it had a tap from a hammer or a quick twist of a spanner would have put it all to rights. faults these days tend to be in parts we never actually had in the 1970s.

It’s the first taxi I’ve taken in nearly 12 months and the system has changed. You have to ride in the back now. For a man who is over six feet tall, overweight (to say the least) and has a bad leg, this is not easy, even in a generously proportioned vehicle. With one of the small Japanese cars that taxi firms seem to favour it was  a cross between playing Twister and packing a holiday suitcase.

Eventually I got in and we set off. They have barriers now, rather like black cabs, but made out of flexible plastic and fixed with cable ties.

Five minutes later I remembered that I’d left my phone charging in the car.

Could I communicate through a mask and plastic barrier and then unravel myself to get the phone before doing it all again in reverse? No. I really couldn’t be bothered. I’m at home now. I’ve rung the garage from the land line to give them that number ( I really should have remembered the phone when I gave them  my mobile number). Now I’m going to email Julia to tell her I don’t have my phone with me. It would be easier to ring, but I don’t know her number.

All the numbers are stored in my mobile these days. Oh, what a to-do. I can feel myself turning into that elderly parent who seems constantly bemused by modern life and is a worry to the children…

Cold, Wet and Miserable

Yesterday morning when we left the house the day was beautiful – just the right temperature with a bright blue sky and a goldfinch perched incongruously on a TV aerial singing its heart out.

I wasted the rest of the day labouring on a computer in a windowless back room thinking of freedom and foolproof ways to kill my co-workers. This isn’t time wasted as it will eventually become the plot for one of my planned series of crime novels. The motive still needs work – nobody is going to believe that someone is murdered because he keeps moving the scissors – but I am being pushed to the edge. The only thing that prevents a fatal stabbing at the moment is the fact I can never find the bloody scissors.

What a contrast with today.

I stuck my head out of the door into a gloomy world with a low grey sky and only the chatter of a magpie to serve as a soundtrack. Even that stopped before I reached the car. No doubt it had found something small and defenceless to eat.

Wednesday is my day off but today was not to be filled with fun because it is MOT day. Actually, yesterday was MOT day, but because I’m a poor organiser it didn’t get done. Yesterday it had a new windscreen to replace the one that was cracked in Stoke on Trent as that sort of damage means a fail in the test.

Have I really being procrastinating for six months? That’s world class procrastination.

Fortunately the law allows you to drive without a valid MOT certificate as long as you are driving directly to a test station to keep a previously booked appointment.

They rang me just before lunch to tell me it had failed despite the new screen. It seems that one of the tyres I didn’t replace after the holiday had failed because of damage to the inner side-wall. It’s now cost me £325 for 3 tyres, the excess for the windscreen insurance and the MOT. Car ownership is starting to look like an expensive hobby.

They rang just after lunch to tell me it was ready, but when I stuck my head out of the door it was pouring down. I’d been typing in the dining room and hadn’t noticed. It was heavy, blustery and constant.

Half an hour later it was still blustery and constant, but it was heavier. And my coat was in the car. I have another coat. Unfortunately that was also in the car. My habit is to wear a coat while I am outside, walk back to the car, put it in the car and then walk into the house without the coat. This means I always have a coat with me when we go out.

It also means that, having failed to take the hint offered by the morning’s grey sky, I had walked home without a coat. It’s only quarter of a mile. Who needs a coat for that distance?

Fortunately I do have a third coat. Unfortunately, I’ve had it a while and I can no longer fasten it. I’ve noticed this with clothes. As they get older they seem to get smaller.

So, to summarise. Heavy rain, gusting wind. Coat that won’t fasten. Nothing for it but to grit my teeth and walk. At least my back will stay dry, I thought.

That’s where my new haircut came into play. With a newly shaved head there is nothing to impede rain as it runs off your shiny scalp and down your neck.

Later that day we went shopping. I checked my lottery tickets and found I had won £2.70.

Some days you think fate is laughing at you.

Other days you are certain it is.

 

 

The Mood Begins to Lift

The day started badly when Julia went out to the car this morning, and found that the windows  were all down. It’s happened once before – and with other cars. I always think it’s something to do with the automatic locking, though I never quite work out how it happens. Fortunately it was a dry night and nothing was taken.

This is one of the reasons I don’t like electric windows. I didn’t want them, I didn’t ask for them, I just bought a Volkswagen about 20 years ago and found that I had no window winders, just buttons. Over the years I spent several hundred pounds on repairs and ended up with three windows held shut with blocks of wood as the car eventually ended up being worth less than the cost of repairing a window motor.

Fortunately, the rest of the day was better and I was even able to look at novelty sporrans on-line. Even better, I was able to marvel at the irony that it’s a vegan taxidermist who is hollowing out many of the animals for the new wave of sporrans. If I’d merely seen the words I’d have assumed she was mounting prize vegetables for proud owners.

Julia found a bag of watches today as we continued tidying. It’s a mystery why I placed my two everyday watches in a bag with two broken watches (gardening is hard on watches). It’s even more of a mystery how they ended up in a box in the dining room.

I suspect that Julia’s definition of “tidying” has had a hand in this. She thinks that simply moving my stuff round and hiding things has some sort of benefit. I don’t.

It’s been a stressful few days.

We’ve discovered four boxes of VHS tapes which I thought had all gone years ago, eight bags of books (frankly, I’d rather give the kids away), a box of continuous computer paper (for a type of printer I haven’t used for 20 years) and the thick end of a hundred rounds of shotgun ammunition which I’d forgotten about.

That’s a long story, revolving around moving to town, giving up shooting, then giving up re-enacting, then having children. And, above all, being disorganised, with a bad memory.

I hadn’t realised that most local police stations no longer have a counter service. It took three attempts to find one that was open, but it went smoothly enough after that.

Finally there was the £30 in copper I had managed to accumulate. It cost me ten percent, using the machine in the supermarket, but the remaining £27 paid for the groceries, and it was a lot easier than counting it all out into bags for the bank and making a special journey.

And that’s about it for today.

 

A Few Loose Ends

We went to the garage this morning – Julia had a ride on the ramp and I watched as the car cost me another £65.

Julia bought breakfast at McDonalds – yes, I’m ashamed of myself – and I dropped her off at work before going to work myself.

We only had two questions to answer and three parcels to post so I’d finished by the time everryone else turned up.

We sold one of these today – less than 24 hours after putting it on. Judging from the poertraits it commemorates the marriage of a monkey to an unsuccessful professional pugilist.

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Royal Wedding medallion

Work went, as work does – a few customers, sorting some halfpennies, answering the phone, more things to put on eBay, then, as we were getting ready to go, two people bought things and we had two more parcels to do.

Back at home, I picked up my post, which informed me that I’d passed my blood test and have three weeks before the next one.

Eating tea and relaxing, I was distirbed by a text asking for a lift. Number Two son is on the way back from Manchester airport after returning from his German holiday.

And that, I think, is everything up to date.

Well, not quite. Just had a phone call to say No2 son is waiting in Sheffield after the Nottingham train was cancelled.

And while I think of it – I had an email from the farm (the venue for the original Quercus group). The ariel photo shows many changes, but the song remains the same. They have another community group running and are once again asking for cash. two years after getting rid of us they don’t seem much further forward. Maybe there will be a different outcome this time. Maybe…

I’ve blocked them from sending more emails.

 

M32 – a longer journey than I intended

I’ve just added some extra information to the Bolton post, as Derrick Knight provided some insight into his Bolton Marathon experiences. I knew, from reading his posts, that he’d done a lot of running, but hadn’t realised it took him so far north.

I’m now moving on to M32, KT18, BR6 and ME8. I’m going to have to get a move on as we’ve had a busy few days and am accumulating postcodes faster than I’m finding facts.

M32 is part of the Manchester postcode area, one of the few that have a single letter.

A lazy search for M32 brings up Messier 32, also known as M32 or NGC 221. It is a dwarf “early-type” galaxy and is around 2.65 million light-years from Earth. It’s in the constellation Andromeda and was discovered in 1749 by Guillaume Le Gentil.

He has an amazing life story and, to be honest, knew more about astronomy than I will ever know, despite me having 269 extra years to learn it.

However, as he didn’t do any of this in Manchester, it isn’t relevant.

The next reference is to a motorway near Bristol – 4.4 miles long, and one of our shortest. It’s also a catamaran and some sort of audio equipment.

M32 Manchester works better as a search. It’s Stretford, a town that has many things to recommend it – a record-breaking art exhibition, a successful football team, a Jacobite skirmish and the first planned industrial estate in the world. My favourite fact isn’t even that it was nicknamed “Porkhampton” in the 19th Century due to it’s production of pork (up to a thousand pigs a week) and black pudding. I’m fond of pork…

Actually, that probably is my favourite fact, though it is run close by the fact that it used to be such a centre of rhubarb production that rhubarb was known locally as “Stretford Beef”. I like rhubarb too.

KT18 is easier. It’s Epsom in the Kingston on Thames postcode area. If you aren’t into horse racing there’s not much of interest round here. We stayed at a hotel on the racecourse a couple of years back. The breakfast was excellent and we saw parakeets over Leatherhead Crematorium.

BR6 is Bromley postcode, and just a couple of areas east of KT. BR6 covers Orpington, which is famous as the town where the Buff Orpington chicken was bred, along with the lesser known Black Orpington and Buff Orpington Ducks. Despite strong opposition from the poultry I’m going to have to nominate the Orpington Car as the interesting fact.

It was built between 1920 and 1925 and nobody has seen one since a, possibly unreliable, sighting in Crossroads during the 1970s. Somewhere in a dusty barn the last of the line may be lurking.

ME8 will be dealt with in due course…

Like a Stork, I have a Big Bill

No parcels today, no coins, no postcards of dubious taste.

The car is in for its annual MOT test, plus a service and an examination of a coolant problem. Or a “no coolant” problem, to be precise: it’s using nearly as much water as diesel. Fortunately it seems to be ending up under the car so should be easy enough to fix.

On top of that, one of the tyres looked a bit flat on Sunday, and triggered the tyre pressure warning light. The sidelight warning light has been going on and off for months, though the sidelight is still working, and I suppose under the new rules this will cost me money too.

I can’t help thinking that my last VW did a quarter of a million miles without leaking and had no warning lights to go wrong.

To fill my carless day I am performing a study of daytime TV. I started with Quincy ME and have now moved on to Storage Hunters – UK. The have brought couple of the American regulars across because we don’t seem to have enough homegrown idiots.

I’m currently watching Combat Dealers. It’s an antiques programme, but with some unusual stock.

After that I may need a cup of tea, as TV watching can be quite onerous.

Later…

I had the tea. Then, just before lunch, the garage rang.

The water leak is likely to require a new water pump, which is not going to be cheap. The tyre has a screw through it and needs repair. The warning light, of course, needs attention. Warning lights, it seems to me, are always going wrong and needing expensive attention. It’s almost as if they have been there to cost motorists money.

Imagine a big sigh here.

Apart from the money, they will need to have the car for another day, though I’m hoping that will be next week.

At least it gives me a chance for a postcard and a pun about a big bill.

It’s 12.16 now and I feel like I’ve done enough. Blog, TV research, pun. This afternoon I may try a limerick and a nap before the quiz programmes start.

For now, lunch calls.

This is a picture of tomatoes in the Mencap garden, I feel in need of a peaceful picture.

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The Best of Times… etc

Yesterday was, as I said yesterday, a good day.

It was also, which I didn’t say, a bad day at times. I generally try not to mention the bad times unless I can see humour in them, as I don’t want to depress readers or transfer my real life reputation for moaning to my blogging life.

That’s why I didn’t mention the Gregg’s breakfast at the M18 Services. It featured an idiot, filthy tables and ketchup. I could have dealt with the idiot and the filthy tables, but I asked for brown sauce. If I’d wanted ketchup I would have asked for it. And the day I ask for ketchup in a bacon sandwich will be the day we see Satan wearing ice skates.

In the afternoon I hit a wooden post in a car park.

It wasn’t easy. First I had to reverse past it without either seeing it or hitting it, then I had to pull forwards and damage the door and wing in one easy motion. Two months ago someone scraped the car while it was parked and three weeks ago a bus clipped my mirror and took the cover off it. I’m hoping that bad things really do, as my mother used to say, come in threes.

As I took the final photos at Bempton my camera card filled up. I cleaned a few off and managed to get all the photos I wanted. After fitting the other card I took some shots in Whitby, including a Cormorant, a Redshank and eight Pied Wagtails at the side of the harbour. I also had a go with some of the camera settings taking shots of the Abbey and churchyard.  You could almost see Dracula. Some of them were really good shots, as were some of the shots of fishing gear. I was quite pleased with them.

Unfortunately you’ll have to take my word for it. After viewing that card I put the other one in the computer to load shots for the blog.

Twenty four hours later I still can’t find it or remember where I put it. Nor can I think of anything else to write about.

So, as I say, borrowing heavily from Dickens, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Tomorrow I may find the missing card, but if I don’t I hope to find some inspiration.

Flintham Ploughing Match – as good as it gets

IMG_5897 IMG_5899 IMG_5888 IMG_5833I’ve just had an unexpected day off, due to the return of an intermittent fault in the car. Thanks to the AA I had a quick check, a diagnosis and an escort to my local garage. They are currently up to their eyes in it so it’s a case of keeping my fingers crossed that they can get me back on the road tomorrow.

This has just highlighted a deficiency in the English language. There don’t seem to be any degrees of intermittency. Mittent does appear in the dictionary but it’s listed as an obsolete term to do with emitting. Ideally I’d be here telling you that I had an intermittent fault of increasing mittency that eventually became almost mittent.

Instead I’ll just have to say that I had an intermittent fault that reappeared this morning, becoming so frequent that at one time we could only limp along 25 yards at a time.

There was a time that I’d have made the most of it, but I now find myself content to avoid the housework and nod off in front of daytime TV. Seems like I’m going to have to face facts – this is “the most of it” these days.

As I was being escorted back to the garage by the AA we left Julia by the side of the road with a pile of bags. She, it seems, is irreplaceable, so they sent a car down from the show to pick her up. They were content to let me have the day off, but I’m trying not to read too much into that.

She had a good day, supported by most of the Quercus group, who always turn out to support us at Flintham and Open Farm Sunday. She was visited all day by schoolkids who remembered their visits to the farm, so we must be doing something right. She also had a number of enquiries from schools wanting to visit next year. All in all it seems to have been a good day.