15 May 2011

Good morning on another splendidly gorgeous morning. Let’s hope that it either stays splendidly gorgeous or, if it degenerates as it has done for most of the week, that it actually delivers a significant rainfall – the garden needs it!

This is the time of year when the early morning sun shines through one of our windows directly into, first of all, Penelope’s eyes and then, a few moments later, into mine. It’s a pretty rude awakening at 4.30 in the morning, rather like having a theatre spotlight switched on three inches from your face. For the past week the sunshine at that time of the day has been full-on, the skies have been clear and, when I take Molly for her morning constitutional, it’s glorious. By about 10.00, however, it has started clouding over, the wind picks up and we are teased with the prospect of rain all day. But it never comes, apart from the odd droplet or three. The farmers need it and my broad beans need it, so bring it on!

You know how things are – just when you think everything is trundling along on a nice, even keel, something untoward occurs, usually followed in quick succession by something else going wrong.

On my last day in the States I had received an e-mail from Ms Playchute with the cryptic message: “Had a bit of a time last night and this morning but all’s well. The car is in the garage with Michael and Isis Rescue were involved, but I’ll save that one for tomorrow – nothing to worry about.”

It seems that Penny’s car had decided that it was time to retire and had decided to stop running when she tried to return home following a visit to the gym. The recovery lorry arrived and Penny had the car towed to Hartwell’s Ford in Banbury where her nephew Michael is a mechanic. He could not resolve the issue (to be fair, it’s not a Ford so his diagnostics weren’t able to read the cryptic code the computer was putting out) so he managed to push it into an adjacent car park where Penny was able to telephone the recovery people once again and have it towed to the Vauxhall dealership in town. They plugged it into their system and came up with the diagnosis that it was a bad fuel pump, the price for repair of which was almost precisely equal to the value of the car with a fully functioning fuel pump.

Now, we know that the car also has a significant oil leak and, when Michael had it up on his lift he discovered where it was leaking from. Not good, he said, and very expensive to repair. So, we now have one dead car and need to find a replacement. The Vauxhall dealership offered us the very generous sum of £100 in part-exchange if we were to purchase a car from them. However, since Michael is a Ford mechanic, we were keen to get a Ford rather than a Vauxhall so that he could look after it for us, as he does with my car. So, off to the Ford dealership to talk with them and eventually, after the usual torturous negotiations we came to a provisional understanding. In the meantime, however, Michael had scoured the ‘net for similar cars in Banbury and came up with something which was (a) considerably less expensive with (b) fewer miles than the one the Ford dealership was offering, (c) at a dealership a mere couple of hundred metres from the Ford establishment. Off there to negotiate and finally, we conclude the transaction, much to the disappointment of the young Ford salesman who, not surprisingly, was a bit miffed that Michael had helped spike his sale.

So, Ms Playchute is now the proud owner of a Tango Red Ford C-Max with suitably simple entry and access for Miss Miggins (a vitally important consideration) which she collected yesterday.

As we all know, one unexpected disaster is generally followed almost immediately with another one (or two – don’t these generally come in threes?). The second calamity was the development of an erratically dysfunctional wireless router on Thursday which decided to stop working, then work again, then stop, then work, then stop and stop and stop, then work, then stop, etc. The new router is on order – I’m just hoping that this one continues to provide access until the new one arrives.

We’ll let you know when the third misfortune occurs.

We’ve enjoyed watching the swallows swoop in and out of the garage as they build/repair the nests and proceed to produce their first brood of the season. We think there are two pair nesting in there as there seem to be an awful lot of them flying in and out. We’ll keep an eye on things and let you know.

I wrote a few weeks ago (briefly) about this year’s bluebells which I enjoyed with Nick and Lucy on the Sunday before I went to the States. Nick took the following and although I think the one of Molly is fantastic, the second one of that old geezer is fairly horrific.

Molly in the Bluebells

Greg in the Bluebells

Speaking, as we were, of Nick and Lucy, they dropped by yesterday evening so, on a whim, we decided to take Penelope’s new car on a little spin and get some dinner at the Star Inn in Sulgrave. The car was splendid and the dinner was lovely – a nice treat. We hadn’t been to the Star in quite some time – the last time we were there was on the day when Greg’s Flat Stanley arrived in the post and that was his first outing.

And finally, I’m not sure if this will work but, if it does, it’s pretty cool. It is a Google Earth “fly by” of one of my local bicycle routes. You need to have Google Earth installed (I think). Enjoy.

And finally, finally, I ran across an article in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago providing what it feels could be the most stupid quiz answer ever. Where do they find these people?

Love to you all,


One thought on “15 May 2011”

  1. Should have taken my dramamine before flying with Google Earth! Very cool. XOX

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