Car loaded up, ready to go

Car loaded up, ready to go

I have had a car on SORN (Statutary Off Road Notification) for a few months. Although on a shared driveway, it didn’t block it. But I couldn’t do work on the car without moving it to block the driveway, potentially for a week, which was not acceptible.

But the neighbour is about to have major building works done. I agreed to move the car. Another neighbour offered, but then withdrew his offer on a flimsy excuse. Then came the Ultimatum. Move the car, and it mustn’t return. So clearly some bullying had been going on. I’m looking forward to the revenge, of sticking the car back there, but taxed and MOT’ed (it’s always been insured), but this time due to lack of roadside space. Who is he to tell me to scrap a car (or anything else)?

Apart from removing neighbour from my christmas card list, I had to act. Fortunately through a network, I found an understanding car fanatic (who I already knew in a friendly way) who had spare concrete space and willing to let me use it. He apologised it wasn’t under cover (as if mine were!). Only I had to get the car there, with no MOT or tax, and it was 25 miles. Only one solution, a car transporter.

There are websites where you can plug in details, and see if any “passing trade” will offer. I did get a couple of offers at price x, but none responded when I tried to contact them to take it up. The other option was to hire. And I found a place that would hire. Price 1.6x. But it was the only viable option, so I walked to the depot (I didn’t know where I would park my car had I driven). I rather think he didn’t expect me to take him up on the offer. As I arrived, some kid came storming into the office shouting, all sorts of things. It seems he was so late in returning a car, he still hadn’t. And there was a lost key. So he was going on the attack as his defence. After half an hour, the owner was able to come back to me. I pointed out I had not heard one apology in the whole guy’s rant.

The deal signed, the owner showed me, and let me run the slide/tilt mechanism of these car transporters. As my car runs, there was no need to use the hoist. Then a quick trip just to help me get used to it, and it was mine for a few hours. A Mercedes-Benz Actio 7.5ton lorry with modified bodywork.

The first trip was interesting through the centre of Tescoville, with roadworks and narrow lanes because of road works. This being the largest thing I have ever driven, including a 16 seat mini-bus while at Uni.

So I got close to base, but found a level road with suitable space for the transporter to park (I was told makes loading so much easier on the level). Then I fetched the car (I was prepared to drive half a mile, but not 25 miles on main roads etc), and doing as I had been taught, loaded her up. It was quite fun. And I put the restraints around the two opposing wheels. (Photo). Then off we went.

I had to choose the route carefully, both for my unfamiliarity with the lorry, and speedbumps. I found that first gear was unnecessary (it was also difficult to select), just like a Ford, in fact. I drove on A roads to my friend’s place, partly as it would be slower (but I realised, many more potholes!). But I soon realised I was rather enjoying the whole adventure.

I mean, I had been in these trucks before, when a car had broken down, and I had to be rescued, but this time I was doing it all for and by myself. Having offloaded the car at my friend’s place, and a few minutes chat, it was return to base. For they may need it for the Friday night rescue service.

Because the current Tescoville roadworks closes the main A road through town every night, I decided to take the motorway, and then back down to the A road the far side of the roadworks. With no car on the back, I was able to take the old girl to her speed restricted limit of 56mph. I was having fun!

Just before I returned, I added fuel, at a rate I calculated plus a little bit more (and I was about right, it was just a little more), and dropped the lorry off at the depot, whose gates had been left open for me. So I phoned the owner, to say lorry returned, keys through the door, and if it wasn’t so expensive I’d do it again!

Mind you, 1.9x (with fuel etc) the poorer.

Note added later.

I didn’t mention, but the last time I had driven a manual gearbox vehicle was three years ago. So I was pleased how easy I found the gearbox (other than 1st gear, which I soon found wasn’t needed on the level) and clutch control was still pretty good. The one stall I made wasn’t clutch, it was the operation of the handbrake, being slower to come off than the level suggested.

A few quick ones.

July 14, 2015

I’ve often started writing an entry, but never completed it, or it was too short. But then I came across a blog where the author had the same issue, but he just tagged two or three random ones together to make an entry. So why not? And the blog title – taken from a Wodehouse book of short stories.

Holiday Jam. (A timely entry)

This was a specific brew, made from fruits from the garden of my childhood (and present) home, before we went on holiday to SE Devon. Principally it was made of Loganberries, but would include, from over the years, Rhubarb, Gooseberries, Redcurrants, Strawberries, possibly an Apple (Discovery) and maybe others. Sour cherries (Morello) probably were not included, as I think it would have been too early for them. But the vital point was that it was made in mid July, too early for most fruit, and I stress, just from the garden – well, not the sugar.

Usually we managed to make 3 or 4 pots of the jam, a couple of days before we set off.

In the early years, brother and I would be in blankets at 05:00 in the back seats of Mini (the original 1959 type), our “toys” in the side pockets and meals in bags/boxes between us, everything from 06:30 coffee in flasks to mid afternoon tea. Without motorways, that is how long it took, especially trying to avoid traffic black-spots.

The Holiday Jam would be first opened on the Sunday morning, the first morning in whatever caravan we were in, served with toast. From Monday onwards, there was the possibility of cooked Mackeral with toast, caught from a village improbably called Beer, where traders hired out inboard motor boats for tourists to go line fishing.

It was my experience of making this jam that meant that when I had a chance to make some raspberry jam a few years ago (as recorded in this blog), I was able to do it successfully without the paraphernalia apparently needed for modern jam making.

Yet another musical physicist
These days, I’m essentially an engineer in my day-to-day life, but I have a background and some training – sadly ill-used – in music. It has lead to some odd situations, as if odd situations don’t hunt me down.

This time I was invited back to a friend’s place in the Uni Hall of Residence after an evening at the bar. I don’t recall quite how we got to this situation, but the coffee and brandy were flowing, and he must have known my background to some extent. So he put on a record, and challenged me to name the composer. It wasn’t easy, I didn’t know the work, but eventually I decided it was essentially Handel, but with a more recent spin, to use the current terminology. Arranged Elgar, I suggested?

As it turned out, I was absolutely correct. “I’m impressed” my friend said, clearly was. He didn’t realise that the science departments were able to raise string quartets, bands, and in one case a science facilty small orchestra. Though things are bad if I end up in the first Violins.

There have been few musicians interested in science, but on one occasion I took a couple through a tour of my department, which impressed them. Especially the X-ray diffraction, which I had painfully learnt how to orientate metal crystals by reading the X-ray photos – so was able to bore on with impressive bluffing.

Imperial 66
I have it on good authority that people now blog from their mobile phones. I struggle to imagine how they manage on such a tiny keyboard. I grew up on real type-writers, such as the Imperial 66. Indeed, while at Uni, there were plus points for type-written reports as opposed to hand-written.

I well remember the night I put aside to type my first (typed) report. The Imperial 66 I purchased for £45 (how expensive!), was set up, me thinking it would take me literally all-night. Despite the mistakes, with tipp-ex paper to hide some of them, it was 03:00 by the time I finished, and gladly sank into bed.

I still have it, and although the usage has decreased, it is still in weekly use. Perhaps 15 years ago one woman, seeing my typed airwaybill said “that’s an old-fashioned type-face”. I was surprised as she was quite young. Only last month did typing waybills finally fall off its rota, serial numbers on thin metalised labels are the last remaining redoubt.