I like driving in my car

but this week I haven’t been able to!!!

We went to Sunderland last weekend to show my gran our wedding photos, marriage certificate (She’s so pleased we’re married now!) etc. I left Sarah and the kids there and set off home about 4:30. I managed to get about 22 miles before the car spluttered to a halt in a layby on the A19.

After an hours wait the RAC turned up, had a bit of a look and got me to drive 5 miles down the road to a diner. he said he thought it was either the thermostat or the water pump and that he didn’t think I should drive any further and arranged recovery for me. As luck would have it we were right outside the recovery firms office but it still took them an hour and a half to come and get me. This was because they had to repair the recovery vehicle first!!!!

It took about 6 hours to get me home driving non stop so when I arrived back at 12:45 I ached all over from sitting in that cab. He dropped me off and I went to bed. The next morning I should have been able to have a bit of a lie in and then head up to town for the conference I was doing except I had two video tapes which needed to go to the office. I looked up train times on the net and every journey involved either a bus or walking between stations. Eventually I settled on a train to Bromley South, then another to Beckenham Junction before finally catching a bus to Elmers End.

When I got on the bus I handed the driver a tenner and he said can’t change that!! I said sorry but if I’d known I was going to breakdown I’d have made sure I had some change. So he drove to the next bus stop where I got off and went into a shop for change while he waited for me!! What a nice bloke!!! 😀 The next time I caught this bus was Thursday and again he was the driver! He looked at me and smiled as I presented him with the correct change. I said I bet you’ve got change of a tenner today as well – he did!!!

I got the same train two days running – the 6:18 from Gillingham. Something happened that hasn’t happened for years (1984 to be precise when I was commuting from Sunderland to Newcastle Poly every day). I got on to the train on the second day, sat in the same seat as the previous day and the same guy was sitting next to me – on both sides!!!!

I had been told in no uncertain terms by the missus that the car was not going back to the garage that had pissed us about last year. I set her the challange of asking around for recommendations and eventually she found one. She rang up and it was arranged for me to drop the car off on my way to work at 6 the following morning!!

So three days, £235 and much commuting by public transport later I finally picked the car back up this morning. It’s much better now that the water pump has been replaced. The car doesn’t overheat anymore. The heater actually works and it seems to have got it’s oomph back again!!

The Giant Arachnid

A few weeks ago we were driving into a school for an open evening and Sarah started leaping around and squeeking in the front seat. She was shouting about there being a spider climbing up her leg. Somehow despite the jumping coming from the passenger seat I managed to steer the car safely through all the parents and children and park it. By which time there was no sign of said arachnid.

A few days later we were driving to another school and there was a scream from the middle seats. This time the spider was crawling across the ceiling. It was HUGE! I certainly didn’t want to pick it up so I flicked it out of the car. At least it was gone…..

…Suddenly on the M20 yesterday sarah started squeeking again. The spider was once again crawling up her leg. I figured that it could be quite dangerous having a leaping twitching partner next to me when travelling at 70mph so I pulled over to the hard shoulder. Sarah lept straight out of the car but dropped my mobile phone as she did. Further investigations revealed a somewhat squashed spider underneath the mobile phone – nice shot!!!

It says Morris on the door, the G.P.O. owned it before

A few weeks ago we went for a day out to Brooklands Museum where they were holding a Morris Minor day. We were talked into going by some friends who have been going for years. In fact there were a number of people heading across from Chatham so it had the makings of a lovely day out. There was of course the weather and the day before we went it was very cold, so much so that I wondered about the wisdom of spending a day outside.

In the end we did go and the weather was nice enough to sit outside and eat our picnic but the high point of the day was the cars. It hadn’t dawned on me what a trip down memory lane the day would be. You see Morris cars were the first cars I ever knew after my dad passed his driving test in the mid sixties.

I don’t remember the order in which he owned them but if I recall correctly there was a Morris Oxford, Morris Minor and several Morris Travellers. These cars took us everywhere in the late 60’s – all round Scotland, to the Orkneys and the Outer Hebrides. He would later swap to Vauxhalls, probably because they stopped making Morris cars but there has always been a soft spot in my heart for the loveable moggie.

19-03-06_1437

The car would be loaded up with camping equipment and my brother and I would be in the back seats sitting on piles of sleeping bags with pillows stuffed in around us. We’d be given the collection of “summer specials” that my mum had been buying in the weeks running up to the holidays. They were to keep us occupied and probably to stop the constant refrain of “Are we there yet”. It probably took us ages to actually get there because the Morris Traveller had a top speed of about 70mph – hardly surprising as it only had at best a 1000cc engine and fully loaded it wouldn’t have been the fastest thing on the road.

It wasn’t just the engine size and top speed that were from another era, the cars still had starting handles! They did have electronic ignition but had a crank handle just in case. The earliest car we had had a split windscreen and pop out indicators. I also remember that if you opened the boot and unbolted the back seat you could get inside the car that way. The style of course was from a bygone age too especially the Travellers which were probably the last in the line of the traditional Shooting Brake.

19-03-06_1030

It’s not as if they were without trouble, the first car we had leaked! If it rained the passenger side footwell would fill up with water!!. Those stick out indicators would never work – they’d either pop out and not go back or more likely stay resolutely stuck inside the car. On the way to the Orkneys the front wheel fell off the car as we turned into a garage meaning we had to get a taxi back to the campsite and stay put for 2 days while a part was delivered from the south. In those days they used to lift the cars onto the ferry and when they did my dad was horrified when he saw the amount of rust underneath the car. On one famous occasion my mum, brother and I had to get out of the car as it wouldn’t make it back up the hill.

Once in Scotland my dad had parked the car on the side of the road while we went walking to St. Mary’s Loch. When we returned to the car my dad went to drive it onto the road and both front wheels fell into a drainage ditch. In the gathering gloom he tried to get the car out again but it didn’t have the traction to do it. We ended up sitting with a blanket wrapped round us while my dad cursed and swore as he jacked up each wheel in turn and stuffed bricks under them. Eventually it was free but not before he threatened to throw a brick through its windscreen and leave it there!!!

DCP_4469

So it was great fun going round looking at the different cars and remembering times gone by. We got to sit in one of the Morris Minors and got a ride in a Morris Minor van after the parade. Even the smell of the car was beautiful – a heady mixture of leather and petrol. Cars might have come a long way since then with all their technological advances but they don’t have a soul like a Morris Minor.Oh Happy days!!

Like cowboys do – in t.v. land

Did you know that in Claridges the toilets are marked neither as toilets or show which is male or female. Now does this mean that posh people don’t like to know that toilets exist, maybe they don’t actually use them or is it that they just know!?

Another day another conference. Sometimes I hear things that actually shock me – like today a representative of a major mobile phone company boasting that their network was the first to be up and running again after Hurricane Katrina. I suppose on some levels this is good as it would aid the rescue teams but what shocked me was that he said that this was achieved by a member of staff who “volunteered” to stay with the equipment during the hurricane. What if he’d been killed would the company have been held accountable – I bet not.

On the way home I was driving through the city and was sitting in a junction waiting to turn right. When the lights changed I went to move off and some idiot on a cycle shot across the junction so fast that he was on me before any of the other cars moved. He started shouting at me and when I gestured that he should go and f*ck himself he did a u-turn and followed me down the street. Apparently he had right of way, apparently I should have stayed in the middle of the junction. When I suggested he go home and read the Highway Code he told me I was a quote stupid, fat, bearded twat unquote. Oh dear he missed out Northern!!

P.S. the title is a complete red herring!!