…and we hardly knew ye….
Despite Buttercup being a low-slung Fiat, B would drive it along the most incredibly rough, rocky forest trails. On almost every trip, rocks would bang against the underside. B always dismissed my worries – but the inevitable happened on Sunday.
He came home from another forest trip (by himself), with the engine grinding and roaring; he admitted he had bottomed the car just a little too hard. I could see for myself that oil was dripping from somewhere; B checked and found the sump was damaged and the exhaust dented.
But after standing overnight, the oil leak seemed to have stopped, and the engine didn’t sound so bad – we were able to drive to the nearest shop. So, this morning B decided we could risk a shopping trip into town.
He worried about the odd engine noise (which I couldn’t hear), but was confident enough to put his foot down and take it up to 70 for most of the way.
Disaster came on the outskirts of town – the engine suddenly rattled and banged, the Transit van behind us started flashing its light, then smoke poured out from under the bonnet. We pulled over and leapt out. The Transit pulled up with us and the driver leapt out as well; fortunately we didn’t need the fire extinguisher he was holding, as the smoke stopped almost as soon as B switched off the engine. However, the Transit’s windscreen was a cracked mess – something had come off our car and smashed into it.
The driver was sanguine about it (but of course it wasn’t his vehicle, it wasn’t his fault and things could have been a lot worse); he and B exchanged details, then we got onto our breakdown service.
But we still needed to do some shopping. So I walked into town, got as little as possible, and got a bus back. At the village, I found John from next door waiting to pick me up (B having already arrived back with Buttercup and the breakdown truck). I was extremely grateful for that – carrying two bags of shopping to the bus-stop in town on such a hot day was already quite enough for me and my legs, and I hadn’t been looking forward to hauling everything up the hill from the village.

So, poor little Buttercup is for the scrappers. And I shall do whatever I can to persuade B to get a sturdy 4×4 for our next car!

Well, I didn’t get out for a walk today – it was raining on and off. Also, we decided to start some housecleaning in preparation for next weekend, and B started putting carpet tiles on the stairs.
Also, the car seems to have fixed itself – originally, B thought it was the ignition/immobiler system at fault, the repair of which would have meant parting with a fair bit of moolah. But, last night he had an idea and took out some sensor thingy and cleaned it up. And this morning, the car started up and went like a dream. So that’s one worry out of the way (if the damm thing keeps on going, of course….)
And I’ve made a good dent in the web updating as well. So I’m feeling fairly happy.

Well, B got my camera working, more or less. The problem was that the lens wouldn’t come out; he thumped it for a bit and it got unstuck. The lens now won’t go back in again, but at least I can take piccies again.
We’ve not bought a car yet. But we’ve put our old Citroen on Ebay – spent the morning washing it and cleaning it up so that it looks nice in the photos; the sun coming out was a bonus. (If you’re interested, the eBay listing is here.)

For the last few weeks our Citroen has been playing up – when cornering and going over humps, the back ends ‘flips’ a little out of line. I can’t feel this, but it was making B very nervous.
After doing some internet research and poring over the Haynes manual, B decided that it needed specialist repairs from a small firm in Manchester. So, yesterday, orft we went.
Some snapshots from the journey: a group of pied and skewbald ponies in a field, impossible to count because their markings made them so hard to distinguish when they stood together; a line of cows drifting across a ridge; the packed motorway traffic all the way south of Carlisle, so much of it that I started feeling claustrophobic; the motorway service sandwiches that tasted like cardboard spread with cheap margarine and filled with pepper-flavoured sawdust; the horror (I’m not kidding) that I felt when seeing the Trafford Center – hundreds of acres packed with desperately consuming shoppers; in a Manchester street, two teenage boys riding a too-small bike together and hooting with laughter as they wobbled over speed humps…..
Once in Manchester, B did something very unusual – he got lost. Normally, that duty falls to me – I have no sense of direction and the only way I can tell left from right is by silently reciting “Right hand, writing hand” to myself; if you ever want to see the spectacle of a middle-aged woman screwing up her face in concentration and waving her arms madly while she struggles to translate the 3D map in her head into intelligible words along the lines of “go straight on, turn right at the pub, take the third left….”, just ask me for directions to anywhere.
But, we finally found the place; the repairs were done speedily and efficiently. Driving away, B looked a lot happier, commenting that the car’s handling was certainly better and the suspension was softer. “Worth every penny!”
Then we came to the first major bend, and the backend slipped again. Oh dear. “Have to get the local garage to look at it, then” was all he said. And we headed for home.
We seemed to get lucky with the motorway traffic. Coming south, the northbound lanes had been packed and at a standstill in some places. When we headed back north, however, we barely slowed down. And once we passed Carlisle and got onto the A75, the roads were virtually empty.
As we sped along, the sun glowed through translucent clouds and glimmered off the wet tarmac; the hills opened before us and a buzzard hovered overhead. “We’re home” said B “I’m happy again”.