Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Car Saga 

OK, so. What I didn't tell you because I didn't want to hear any horror stories, is that back in April we decided that our superannuated Ford Galaxy Freddy would probably not survive our projected holiday down to the Pyrenees and back this summer, given his alarming tendency to over-rev at traffic lights, roundabouts and whilst merely parking. Using the power steering, having recently driven him at more than 50 miles per hour, and any other exertion seemed to force him into a frenzy of zeal for which our trusted garage had been unable to find any cause, and thus was not possible to remedy. We felt that sudden engine death syndrome was the only logical conclusion; have you heard that theory about hearts only having a certain number of beats in them, and that if your heart beats faster, you shuffle off sooner?

Well, anyway, we cast about for a suitable replacement for poor Freddy, whom we had owned, sometimes washed, and faithfully serviced for 10 years. The wrench we felt (well, me anyway) was dreadful. I felt like such a heel, plotting the replacement for our trusted steed. I was certain he knew, with all the ingrained wisdom of inanimate objects, that he was for the knackers' yard. Every one of his misbehaviours seemed fair cop.

We decided on the new model Ford Galaxy. Sadly this model is so new that no second-hand ones were available, which meant that for the first time we would own a NEW car. From brand new. Not scratched or dented. No previous owners. New.

Having explored our online options, we decided that buying from an online car store, saving as it would around £3000 on the list price, and taking into account the generous part exchange they offered us (very generous, in the circumstances, as it turned out...), the deal was done. There would be a wait. We placed the order in early May, with a £500 deposit, and a scheduled delivery date of 7th July that was well before our projected holiday in early August (you can see where I'm going with this, can't you?)

So, we signed on the proverbial and virtual dotted, and sat back and waited, treating Freddy with the kindness one deserves in one's old age when one has led a mostly blameless and hard-working life, and we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

And all this time, I was hoping against hopes that we had not given our £500 to a sophisticated gang of online crooks, and The Boff maintained a jaunty line of communication with Lyndsay, the perky employee of this supposed online car store.

The 7th of July came and flew by. As did the 14th, the 27th, and we eventually ended up with a scheduled delivery deadline of Friday the 3rd of August. Since we were going on holiday on Tuesday the 7th,, this seemed fair and not unreasonable despite the unforeseen delay. The Boff remained cheerily confident. On the Tuesday before the Friday of the delivery, he instructed our bank to make a 5 figure payment to the car company, in its stated 2-3 day execution delay. This would have had the payment arrive on the Friday, and the car company needed only confirmation fro their bank that the payment would be made the following day.

Which obviously it wasn't.

Nor was it made for the Monday, or Tuesday. Last ditch option was payment on Wednesday, with delivery/ pickup of Freddy to happen first thing on Wednesday morning at Sister Persephone's house near London (did I mention that we had Trumpkin and Dwarflet to return to their mother?), before we headed off for a lunchtime ferry.

The Boff argued with banks online. He rang our bank at 4:32 on Monday evening, only to be kept on hold or talking to a call centre bint until...oops, I'm sorry sir, it's after 5 and the electronic payments department have all shut up shop for the day. Our bank was not showing itself in its best light on this one. I rarely see the Boff exasperated enough to raise his voice, but let's just say that the air turned turquoise at this point.

Obviously, the payment was not made on Wednesday either. We spent the hours until departure rearranging breakdown cover and insurance, and took Freddy to France.

He made it all the way down to Northern Spain, all the way over the Pyrenees, and back again. Delivery was rearranged for the 27th of August,, the day after the bank holiday.

To Basingstoke (150 miles from home) at least, where on Sunday afternoon, he lay down his bonnet and declared himself too old and tired to continue. Breakdown guy tested all available parts and found nothing wrong with the individual components. Freddy was simply suffering from heat exhaustion. The M25 had done for him.

Thumb's parent drove from Wiltshire to pick him up, and ended up taking all the children home with them for the night. The dog was also in Wiltshire, at his loving grandparents'.

We were towed home, the cheerful breakdown guy advising us to say nothing of this little incident to the car company. In the circumstances (see above), we did not even feel guilty about passing on a car with heat stroke to them. I felt sorry only for the delivery guy who would have to deal with him.

We finally got home after a four-hour adventure on two tow trucks (EU legislation preventing our Basingstoke guy from driving all the way to Devon) at 9:30pm, discovering that breakdown garages exist in the middle of nowhere, and that the roadsides were littered with cars with similar problems (ie water leaking from underneath somewhere).

On Monday, The Boff and I got up, preened and pampered our darling Freddy, and made him look like a lovingly cared-for vehicle. Then we drove to Wiltshire in the little car to pick up children and dog.

On Tuesday morning, bright and early, the new car arrived, and our beloved Freddy departed our lives.

He is probably 1 metre cube by now and on a boat to China.

RIP Freddy February 1995-August 2007

So, anyone want to hear The Saga of the Car?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


It's just as well we didn't realise that Thumb was playing host to rather more beings than we'd bought tickets on the ferry for, and that we were thus able to cross the channel with a clear conscience.

It is a pity that the realisation that we were not in fact merely 6 on our jolly hols, but 6 + a few dozen and their progeny, and that this realisation did not happen until after we had shared a 7x7 tent for a fortnight.

Fine tooth comb it is for all of us then. Just as well it is still raining here* and there's not much else to do.

*We're still in France

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Jolly hols, hohoho 


We are in France.

All children dropped off and picked up appropriately, bar one. We fetch Sim on Saturday from his current abode on the south west coast with a delightful mixed South American-French family.

I shall be out of blog contact for the next two-ish weeks, so toodle-oo.

Should I tell you about the demented ranting email including the word b**ch that I received from my delightful father a few minutes ago? Probably not, for this is a holiday and I am almost past caring. Pip-pip.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

You know what?

I'm bleddy exhausted, after 6 weeks of being the old woman who lived in a shoe, and nigh on three months of work barely interrupted by weekends.* Got nephew and niece Trumpkin and Dwarflet here until next week**, and then we once again leave the animals to the tender mercies of our most townie friends*** (they of fish-tank slaughter fame) before vamoosing off to southern France/ Northern Spain for just over two weeks. At some point during those two weeks, we simply must remember to pick up Sim from the family he's staying with in France. Maybe having his friend Thumb with us will jog our memory that he must be there for a reason, or maybe we'll just go on numbers and forget all about him. Three? That's enough, let's go! Maternal, me.

Anyway, it's way past witching for me, so zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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