Three hours standing in the cold. Seven hours on the road. Two hours wandering the streets. The stuff of nightmares? Well, not exactly. In actual fact that’s just a description of what I’ve been doing with my time the last couple of days. I may not have done a huge amount, but it’s worn me out nonetheless!
Before my epic annual journey from Colchester to Torquay I had to do some fairly urgent repairs to Neddy, to be sure that everything was going to be ship-shape for the 900 mile round trip. I went round to Billy’s on Thursday evening to fit a new set of bushes for the top engine steady – the engine had been moving around quite a lot, and I wanted to get that sorted so as to prevent any damage to the exhaust or the engine itself. But as with pretty much everything on this car, it’s wasn’t as simple and straightforward as we’d hoped. Neddy seems to have a complex whenever the words “just”, “should” or “only” are heard. “That’ll only take half an hour”, we said. “That just unscrews”, we said. “That bit should pop right out”, we said. Neddy was having none of it.
First of all the plugs on the air filter wouldn’t come off, and we had to wrestle with it to remove it so we could get to the rest of the engine. Then we had to reach a nut and bolt which meant jacking the car up on one side so that Billy could lie underneath and undo the nut with a long wrench extension. Then we found that although we’d undone the bolt at the front it wouldn’t come out far enough to release the steady bar unless we removed the oil breather, for which one of the two nuts that held it in place was in such an awkward position that I had to force my little hands into a tight space just to be able to get to it. And then we had to put it all back together again. All in all we spent three hours standing in the cold and the dark before it was all done.
Next came the journey down to visit my parents. I normally do the trip in about five and a half hours, taking the A12 -> M25 -> M3 -> A303 -> A30 -> A380. That was the route I took last night, but it took a lot longer than usual because of the adverse weather conditions. The fog was incredible. Sometimes I could be trundling along quite happily at 60-70 mph, other times I was hard pushed to do more than 30. The road going past Stone Henge was really bad, there was a lot of traffic coming the other way and I just couldn’t see the road. There was also an accident on the A303 earlier in the day, which had caused the road to be closed in both directions, and although it was back open by the time I got to it there was still a lot of traffic to sit in. I thought I was going to run out of petrol at one point too, but thanks to some frantic praying and a petrol station in the middle of nowhere my bacon was saved. I even had to clean the headlights of all the dirt that had collected on them, which had been steadily diminishing my view. All in all I spent seven hours on the road, after which I needed a good cup of tea!
This morning I had a good long lie-in, before heading into Torquay town centre to do some last minute Christmas shopping. Everywhere was heaving, as was to be expected, though perhaps not as much as I was half-expecting – Colchester seems to get more busy, maybe it’s just more crammed in. Thankfully I managed to get it all done in good time, I’ve just got to do some wrapping and then I’ll be all set.
Oh, and I’ve come home to find that my baby brother Peter is the same height as me. Grrr. And he’s got bigger feet too. Grrr. Never mind, I’ve consoled myself with the thought that no matter how big he gets, he will always be my baby brother, and he will always be afraid of me. So there.