Sunday, 22 June 2008

By special request

Vincent left a comment on my last post that he likes to read about cars.

So Vincent as I said recently careful what you wish for.

When I first moved to this area and had my first child I was living with my parents for a short time until SF found a job down here (he had been made redundant from his mini skip driving job in Tunbridge Wells). Sometimes my mum allowed me ther use of her blue VW Polo but this meant that I had to drive her to work and pick her up later.

As the months passed and SF had found work we moved into a bungalow in a large village that was later designated Town status not far from The Other City, this was before the county cricket moved to this locality. At this time my dad had left his job in Maidstone that he had been commuting to weekly since my parents had moved down here for my mother's job. My dad was no longer using his yellow VW camper van as he now used the Mitsubishi Lancer (the car I ahd passed my driving test in a couple of years earlier). So my dad let us have his camper van as our family car, this meant that SF could use it for works and any family trips. I however was still stuck living in a strange place with no car no phone and no neighbours. Transport for me was either shanksy's pony or public buses. We had our first holiday as a family in this camper van, me and him sleeping in the awning whilst DC (firstborn was sleeping in the campervan surrounded by all the cushions to prevent him falling) that holiday in Swanage was one of the better ones.

I was a little afraid of driving this camper van, At this point I had only driven a few cars and the thought of this great big van horrified me. I did once drive it around Sevenoaks and Tonbridge though when SF was drunk (just for a change). I think we eventually stopped using the van when it was going to cost too much to get it through its next MOT. Between them SF and my dad had been patching it up as best they could for sone time. By this time though my mum now had a company car so lent me her Polo to use as the family car. She still owned it but I had full use of it unless for some reason hers was not available.

I drove this car for years. It was only a three door car but it served me well for many years. With this car I made friends with many of my neighbours. (We had moved now to an area known in this town as the western wards, quite close to the 'superstores that line the main A road that runs parallel to the motorway). I often found that I had a flat battery and would be knocking on doors for a fit man to help me to bump start this car. Nextdoor was a fit fireman but it depended on his shifts whether he was there. Failing that my friend Katy who I had met when her cat went missing, her hubby was often there (being a financial advisor he didn't go to work as early as others). I had a portable battery charger so became adept at removing the battery, charging it up then replacing it. Another few years went by and we moved to this town. I was still driving my polo which by now my mum had transferred into my name I was now responsible for the insurance etc. Over the years an oil leak developed, there were several times when I had to call out the RAC until one time they wouldn't come out to me as I had gone over my allotted number of call outs for the year. I would have to pay before they would turn up now.

We both used the car a lot which meant that although he is only 5'8" he still had to move the driver seat each time he wanted to use the car. Moving the seat so often eventually wore out the catch under the seat. Instead of taking it to a garage to be fixed the seat was wedged in place with a piece of wood which I was never happy with but it was a darn sight better than driving along suddenly finding the seat moving backwards and having to grip the steering wheel tight to pull myself forward so I could reach the peddals.

Due to the battery and oil filter problems if the car went for more than a few hours without being started it wouldn't start. I am still not sure why. So as he went to work at silly o'clock each morning (being an HGV driver) it was my duty to take the car for a drive around the block at around 11pm. Once, I had already gone to bed and he made me get up to take the car out. It was late, it was winter so I just put my coat on over my night clothes. Stupid me I didn't take my house key, when I got back I couldn't get into the house and I couldn't get him to wake up. I had to get my neighbour to phone the house so I could get in. After that I gave her a spare key to my house, I ahd already had to get her husband to climb in through a window once when I had gone to school without keys.

Eventually about a year or so after we had moved to the house I now live in, the car had become such a joke that I was allowed to get another car. I was talking to a friend one day and said that I was looking for a car she said she was selling her rover 214. There was no way I could afford that. But when she said she was only looking for about £250 for it we decided to buy it.

This was the biggest car I had ever driven but I loved it. We sold the Polo to a friend whose hobby was doing up VW's. but it wasn't long before I discovered that the fuel guage didn't work. I was on my way home from work going to collect the children from school when the car just stopped. I managed to get the car into the central reservation out of the way of the traffic, a passerby gave me a lift to school where I phoned SF who got his mate Biffa to bring me a can of petrol and meet me back at the car. But where I had been trying to get the engine to start I had made the battery flat. Biffa went and collected SF from the pub with a spare battery so we could get my car back on the road. At one point the window on the driver's door wouldn't work. Then there was a problem with the drivers door and I would have to climb in from the passengers side. I had that car for about a year then we bought another identical rover even the same colour but this one was a year older (not even newer) than the one I had just got rid of. SF stored the first Rover in the yard at work so we could use it for spares.

A year later this car too was benig more trouble than it was worth, again there were a lot of calls to RAC. I learnt how to jiggle a pin that regulates the speed the engine turns over. Eventually at the start of 2001 SF took out a loan to buy a decent car. £5000 was not a great sum but it would but something more reliable than I was used to. But then we shouldn't spend it all on a car we should keep some back to pay for repairs etc so we began looking for something around £2000. But then I was diagnosed with Cancer and for a few months didn't drive at all. The loan money was used up on just living during this time.

At around the time I was getting better and my Insurance payout was due, PB who at that time was working for Recruitment Agency was looking after a Vectra 1.8 saloon that had been returned by a Rep who had just lost his job. The company wanted to sell the car for the same amount as my payout so although I had never driven an automatic I did buy it from her.

I very quickly grew to enjoy driving this car, I loved the comfort, space and of course the power. As I spent a lot of time during the next few years driving boys to and from Football, training, matches and tournaments, I needed a car capable of carrying all this lot around. Often I found myself leading a convoy of cars to various matches. But over the next few years there were starting to be things going wrong. There was never anything major just little niggles. Like the trim at the side of the windscreen had some broken clips so wouldnt stay clipped in place. One of the wipers decided that it would flop about during heavy rain no matter how many times it was sorted out. I forget all the other little things that were going wrong with it, but I loved that car. However it was starting to leave dark brown patches where it had been parked. SF would never let me take it in to be seen to.

So when we were going through the divorce I made a decision, I found that the engine was over heating and I had to fill the radiator with water, this worried me I now thought that the car had a leaking radiator so I arranged with my mum that she would lend me some money to but a new car (after all she had bought new cars for both my brothers). I went out and found a car, I wanted a cheaper car, smaller engine, lower insurance and tax, cheaper to run. So I found a garage near to my work in Grotspot, I fell in love with a shiney red Escort. It was still a 1.8 but it was deisel so it would be cheaper to run. I got a friend of a friend who does cars up to come and check it over for me and within a couple of days I had sold my vectra and bought the escort.

I didn't even tell SF that I was changing cars, now that really felt good making a decision without having to ask him. Unfortunately I had been too hasty, what I should have done was to get my vectra repaired, but on second thoughts I did need to find a car that was cheaper to run and the escort was cheaper to insure.
But on the bad side it didn't have power steering. Not a problem afterall I learnt to drive without power steering. It wasn't long though before I found that not having power steering was giving me problems with my shoulder and even causing me some very bad headaches. I never thought I would say that a car was giving me health problems but it was. It also began falling apart. 18 months ago after my mum haf her knee operation I was driving her around in her car and DC was using my car (for around 3 months). He came home one day with blue rope tied to the driver seat holding something under the car in place. My mum had been worring about me driving this car which my mechanic told me I should never have bought. So whenI started working again last summer my lovely mummy bought me the Toyota Corrolla I ahve been driving for the last year. I miss the power and I miss having 5 doors but as it is mostly only me and maybe one other in the car that is fine.


Bollinger Byrd said...

There's not much I can say here except ask the burning question have you met him yet?
I know that's bugger all to do with this post but it's what i want to know!

Vincent said...

Grrr. An almost unbearable story due to the elephant in the room which was obviously missed: that a car needs to be kept maintained.

If a battery does not keep its charge it needs to be replaced by a new one and if it still does not keep its charge it may need a new alternator.

Not a beautiful woman knocking on the front door of a fit fireman every time. Unless the woman was merely looking for the excuse.

OK, I give in. Please go back to the topic of lovers past present future and imaginary.

Lady in red said...

BB hes in Malaysia again!!

Lady in red said...

Vincent I quite agree about cars needing to be maintained which was one of the reasons I divorced SF. It annoyed me like mad that I could never get anything mended when it was a small problem because we could never afford it (all our money went to the pub). It always had to wait until it was too big a problem to get over.

I have promised myself that the slightest problem and I shall have my friendly mechanic deal with it.

oh and I do have another post involving cars coming up in the near future....a very differnt post I just need to get the pictures loaded first.

Mei Del said...

noooo not aother post about cars! please - what's so exciting about malaysia that he's got to go there more times in a year than i've ever been back since i moved here 20+ years ago???

Lady in red said...

mei I don't know why hes there again other than its work. He runs his own global businesses to he has to go where the work is.

Dnt you like posts about cars?

I have just been invited to the festival of speed so maybe I shall go just so I can do another post about cars as well as the one that is brewing

nitebyrd said...

Wow! You certainly have lots of car memories. I only really loved one of my cars, a 1971 VW Bug. I still miss it like a lost lover.

Mei Del said...

how'd you guess? the lil boys always ask me - if you have unlimited money what car would you get? if you have unlimited moeny and the car you already have what other car will you get? and then they give up/ as long as it gets me from A to B and doesn't hurt the planet too much....

Lady in red said...

nitebyrd when I first met SF he was driving around in a VW beetle, it was the noisiest car for miles the heater didn't work so we had to keep the windows open in the winter so we could keep wiping the windscreen to see where we were going oh and it was held together with blue nylon rope.

Lady in red said...

mei I do like cars and often dream about the car I would have if I could afford a new one. Currently it would be a res Audi (there are a couple of models it could be) or an Alpha Romeo (the first car I drove was an Alpha Sud ...straight into the hedge) or maybe a Lexus

aka k said...

oooh, I drive a red Audi (I assume you mean red) and love it. It's an A4 Avant. It's a bit old now though and beginning to suffer those battery problems :(
What model do you have your eye on?

First visit here (I think) and enjoyed your car post.

Yes its F of S time of year, not sure if I'll get there this year (entered Sunday Times contest for Friday tickets but don't hold out much hope).

Lady in red said...

aka K

welcome yes I do think the Audi A4 looks rather lovely. I think apart from being nice cars anyway audi seem to use a red that other makes don't have. I have seen some that look as though the colour is almost 3d. As you may have gathered the colour red is fairly prominent in my life.

It is the friday that I ahve been invited to (ok I could have chosen to go on any of the three days but opted for friday).

aka k said...

If I get there, I'll look out for a lady in red :)

Lady in red said...

sir if you look out for a lady in red you will be at a distinct advantage as you at least have an idea who to look out for whereas I have seen only the back of a head

aka k said...

Methinks my Lady doth protest too much! The back of my head is surely the most appropriate aspect to assist you as most likely I shall be facing the track as you walk by, behind me. :)

hmm...actually, my hair has grown a bit since that pic...

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