Why are cars such a pain and why am I so little?

I am not a fan of cars these days, I cycle mostly around town or catch a bus if expensive parking is the only option. I really wish we didn’t have to have one for environmental, stress and financial reasons, though I quiet like driving when the roads are clear enough and we do need one to get to obscure preaching or teaching engagements, fairtrade events and having isolated holidays in the countryside. But I have just got back from doing a show in Glasgow where I was demonstrating my fabric origami and bonding technique kits. I’ve done loads of ICHF events before but not there. I accepted this one mainly because I wanted to visit friends in Scotland. This time though, I managed to drag my husband along to help me, originally suggesting we took 2 work-filled suitcases and a personal bag each on a sleeper train, which he wasn’t too keen on doing, having done it twice before and barely slept! & I didn’t fancy coping with the bunk and a strange room mate in such confined quarters, and anyway, I couldn’t take enough luggage on my own

Instead we decided to do a slow trip up there by car, half holiday which we really needed, staying with friends and family each way – with my mother/brother in Derbyshire, eldest son at Newcastle Uni and then we were due to stay with a minister friend in Inverclyde and visit another painter friend in Inverkip. But our car developed yet another fault on the way to my sister in law’s 50th birthday tea, on the Saturday before so we had to abandon the trip, return home and have the rear brakes fixed, which delayed us by a day. Kwikfit did a very speedy job and things seemed ok till we visited our Inverclyde friend one evening instead, after the show was up and then an intermmitent warning light which usually goes off if we stop and reset the engine, but decided to stay on all the way back to the hotel.

Yet more expensive explorations of digital faults after phoning Vauxhall in Hove and then going to the one in Glasgow for tests and, supposedly, it’s something to do with our air input to the engine. (Who knows it’s a different problem every time and still it returns). The choices amounted to getting it fixed in Glasgow for over £1000 and getting delayed by a couple of days with all the extra hotel nights and several meetings we’d have to abandon, or driving home with a dodgy car (praying we’d arrive in one piece) and buying a new car, since the warning light problem has happened far too many times now. So we have now decided to abandon Vauxhalls after three mostly pleasant experiences with a Nova, Zafira and Meriva, but knowing that these modern faults can be a problem to track down properly, now that the cars are so digitally complicated

So we spent an interesting but depressing afternoon today trying to locate a car that I can actually drive, at a price we can half find, before I have to do the Birmingham show next week. I have been getting a sort of sciatica pain due to the Meriva brake being so high off the floor and my poor little heel not being able to rest on the floor, so that my foot ends up in midair and my leg muscles in a very uncomfortable position which is affecting my lower back, such that sometimes, I can barely walk after a longish journey!

Anyway we found a really comfortable Honda Jazz in a lovely red (not so keen on the shape but it’s so nice inside and brilliant storage options), about a year old and ex showroom with hardly any mileage, but way beyond our achievable dreams, then a funky red and cream MG3 (reminds us of our jive shoes), which might be a bit too small and less reliable, but for a smaller budget though still out of reach, but on exceptionally good terms.

There was a beautiful mustardy green sparkly Ford Sierra but with such a long leg space that my legs just aren’t long enough to put the accelerator down properly, even with the seat adjusted to optimum height and closeness to the wheel. I have been shocked at how I just can’t reach the pedals of many of the vehicles I tried. We have bought through a Christian charity before who source the model you want and we haven’t even test driven them before, but we can’t wait that long to find the right car this time and it seems to me the car dimensions must have changed a lot in the 25 years we have been married if I can’t find many which ‘fit’ me!

Well tomorrow we just have to look a bit more, test drive the Jazz even though it’s unaffordable to compare with the MG3 on Thursday and heck whether we can get my quilting stand poles into any of them. Oh to be able to fly on wings to your destination like the Flower fairies, teleport like Spock and co in Startrek or to just own a horse and cart! Wish us success in finding something and quickly – there’s so much else we should be working on right now!

Maybe I’ll update when we’ve found something or maybe I’ll never write about stupid cars again!

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About Louise Mabbs

Textile artist living in the UK & voluntary Fairtrade rep
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