Thursday, 18 April 2013

Car rage

Me and my car had a contretemps, when my car had a 'paddy' of sorts. Let me explain:

Last week my car went into the garage for its 75,000 mile service. 'It's a big one', they told me at the garage, which in translation of garage-speak means 'it's going to be expensive'. Lucky I know the lingo so I wasn't too shocked at the price, but it certainly was expensive. The day after that I was tootling around Edinburgh and my car started a whistling noise and then suddenly lost power. Not much fun when you put your foot on the accelerator and not much happens. I did a detour and took it back to the garage, very slowly. It turned out that the new petrol filter they'd put in was blocked. They weren't sure if it needed another new one, but they cleaned it out and it seemed ok.

On Monday I went off to do a two day teaching in Perth and was given an invite by friends, Sarah and John, to spend two nights with them in Kinross, and as I was travelling up the road my car just didn't feel right. I decided I would take it back into the garage on my return. As I was arriving in Kinross I noticed the slip road north from Kinross - the one I expected to take the next day to get to Perth - was no entry due to road works.

I had a lovely evening at Sarah and John's and they gave me explicit instructions of how to get onto the M90 at Milnathort and from there a fairly quick route into the back of Perth and straight to the hospital. And this journey would take me a mere 25 minutes in 'John time', which means I left 35 minutes to get there and an extra 10 because I'm neurotic that way. Right, so I was all prepared to leave Sarah and John's at 8.15 to get there for before 9.

The next day, feeling totally in charge, I duly set off at 8.15. I followed the instructions to Milnathort - easy peasy I thought - and then... nooo... that slip road was also having road works done and was no entry too! The diversion took me around and about and back to Kinross and then I had to head down the road South to the next junction and take that and got onto the M90 precisely 28 minutes after I'd left the house. So by now, I'm on the M90, along with all the rest of the rush hour traffic heading for Perth, negotiating the road works of single lane 20 mph. That took another 10 minutes, and then? My car started the whistling noise!

I made it into Perth for just after 9 feeling panic stricken. This is not the way I like to start a course. I also had the problem of phoning the garage while trying to be calm and collected with the participants. I'm not going to go into detail, but I think the phrase, 'I've just paid a fortune to have my car serviced' seemed to do the trick. They sent out a courtesy car for me, which I was extremely grateful for. I did apologise to the guy who picked my car up that there wasn't much diesel in it, but he waved a petrol card at me and told me not to worry.

The course itself was a bit disjointed and I was distracted by all this, but coming out at 5.30 on a cold, rainy, extremely windy evening, I was overjoyed to have a car that I knew would work to drive, so much so I wasn't too distressed that it had the garage name and 'Accident Repair Courtesy Car' writ large all down both sides, nor the fact that it was a Citroen C1, which felt like a teeny tiny tin box, and felt even more so when, battered by gale force winds on the Friarton Bridge, I did struggle to keep it in one lane (I apologise to Citroen C1 owners out there).

As I was going a jaunty 40 mph down the motorway, the C1 suddenly started beeping at me. It was running out of petrol! So much for that bloody petrol card! I managed to make it to Kinross Services and, after just over 5 minutes of trying to work out how to take the petrol cap off, I was feeling less stressed. And £20 lighter and with nearly 3/4 of a tank of fuel I got to Sarah and John's feeling relieved the day was over. They were a bit taken aback when I arrived as they thought I'd had an accident what with the writing on the car, but we went out for a fab dinner locally and it was very jolly with lots of laughter and good spirits and I felt a whole lot better.

The next day I left at 8. I was taking no chances. I arrived at 8.30 with not a care in the world. The day passed with not too much of a problem (apart from a bit of an 'interesting' ending when I left without realising I should have been in a meeting) and in the evening I drove back to Edinburgh rather than The Borders so I could pick up my car this morning.

At the garage they told me they'd cleaned this and that, but it was all working just great and not to worry, but if it did start again to come straight back in. Not particularly reassuring. Neither was the 'And you'll probably need to put some fuel in your car' which of course in garage-speak means it's virtually empty. No surprise there then when I got in my car, switched it on and got a violent complaint as to it's needs. Their driver obviously needs lessons in how to use his petrol card!

A quick fill-up later and me and my car seem to have made it up. I certainly hope so as I've got mileage to do over the next two weeks.

This blog entry has become rather overlong and I don't feel I have time to tell you about how I managed to bypass the meeting at the end of day 2, nor my rather big blooper when I rather dropped one of the other facilitators in it at the end of day 1 ... I'm going to leave all that to your imaginations!

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