Craving and no I am not pregnant

It was Friday evening and I had a sudden craving for sausage and chips from the chip shop. Now we very very rarely go to the chip shop. I think we have probably only done this about four times in the two and half years since we moved to this house. I decided to combine my taxi service of picking up Skater from the station with a trip to one of the chip shops in the area. There is one in one of the housing estates between the station and home, we would go there.

As I was driving towards the shop I could see that there were no available parking spaces, I figured that I would drive a bit further along the road and turn around to find somewhere to park. The couple of cars driving right behind me meant that instead I continued driving and ended up leaving the estate altogether. Never mind I would go to the one that I pass on my way to and from work. This is the one we have used before.

‘Oh no!’ there is nowhere to park here either, Ok, we can go to the parade of shops at the end of this long road. There is a decent car park there. ‘What! I don’t believe it. I have never seen this car park so full.’

I managed to park half on the curb at the far end of the car park. Leaving Skater in the car I walk to the small chip shop in the parade. I have never seen such a small chippy, barely room for a single line on people. I couldn’t tell which end of the shop the queue started. I stood in the doorway looking up at the meagre menu on the wall. I might be craving chips but I didn’t fancy getting anything from this establishment.

I decided to continue my search. There is another chippy on one of the main roads not far from where I now was. So a few minutes later I pulled up outside the popular chippy we had gone to once before when the lads and their girlfriends were with us. I remember that service had taken an absolute age on that occasion last spring. Here I see that the only place to stop is in the bus lay by. I know I shouldn’t park here and Skater is not happy with me for doing so. As I pull out from behind the camper bvan taking up the majority of the bus stop I see a car pulling out of a space a few yards ahead.

Damn, before I can get there another vehicle slides into the space from the other direction. Why oh why does everyone else want chips on the one occasion I have this craving. I could give up and go home, we do have food I could cook, but no I must satisfy this craving. On we go, where to next? Maybe I shall have to go into the town centre there is sure to be somewhere there in the parades near to the station. An area I have only visited a few times. We are nearing the town’s college where both Statto and Pug studied for their A’levels. If I go along the road that passes the college entrance I know there is a small parade of shops up there, I wonder would there be a chippy there?

Oh great, I have finally found a chippy with parking spaces outside. Going into the shop I place my order, hand the girl who is serving, my debit card. They only take cash, I have no cash on me! I tell the girl I will be back. The nearest place to get cash is back where I had earlier stopped in the packed car park. This time there are a couple of spaces. I have to struggle to get out of my door as there is not enough room. There is a convenience shop in the corner which has a cash machine. I wait impatiently for the guy who is composing a whole album on the buttons of the machine. Finally he is finished and I can pay £1.75 for the privilege of taking out my own money. This done we drive back to collect our dinner. By now I am beginning to think that after all this running around in my quest to satisfy my craving, I will find that I don’t actually enjoy it once I get to eat it. I needn’t have worried though.

I actually did enjoy my food and felt that driving around for almost an hour had been worth it in the end.




On the road again

On Tuesday morning I was resigned to using public transport to get around. Walking up the road I saw the bus that I had failed to catch the previous day. I didn’t mind as I would be going in the opposite direction on this day. Arriving at the bus stop on this cold damp windy morning I checked the bus schedule. Good there should be one at 7.52 and another at 8.02 which would be cutting it fine for me to get to the medical centre for 8.35. Only 12 minutes to wait shivering for my bus, I could do that. I wasn’t looking forward to my fast walk once I got off the bus in the town centre.

By 8.00 I was getting concerned, by 8.05 I gave up and headed back home. I had just reached our gate when I saw my bus floating past the stop where I had been waiting. Well it was too late now. Once inside I phoned for a taxi which arrived just a few minutes later. No sooner was I inside the comfort of the warm taxi, I noticed that the rain had begun.

I was at my appointment at 8.28 so there is no way I would have made it if I had caught the bus. After my appointment I rang for another taxi but had to wait until 9.00. I was at my desk by 9.15, much earlier than if I had caught a bus.

During the day I was wondering how Owl was getting on with charging up the car battery. It was just getting dark when he called and told me that he had not been able to do anything. He believed that the ancient charger he had was not doing the job. With a flash of inspiration I left my office in search of my hero. One of the guys in an office in the same building had charged my car up for me a week or so before. When I found him I asked if I could borrow a charger over night. Which he was happy to do, but suggested I should get a lift home rather than going on the bus with it. When I discovered how heavy it was I knew he was right. One of my colleagues gave me and my charger a lift home in the pouring rain.

Owl put the battery on charge overnight again. The plan being to put it back under the bonnet in the morning. This he did, I had already decided that if it didn’t work I would call a taxi again as I was not enamoured of the idea of carrying that heavy lump of metal and wires to and from the bus. Whilst I was getting myself ready for the day Owl was outside returning the battery to it’s housing. How we cheered when the engine not only turned over but continued to run well. There is no battery light and the dial is showing that the battery is charging as it should.

All is well that ends well and we didn’t have to pay £300+ for a new alternator plus labour to get it fitted. Ok so it took longer but it only cost us £150 with Owl doing it himself.

I had got Owl added to the insurance again last week so now I don’t have to do all the driving any more. I just hope he doesn’t do anything stupid and lose his licence again.

So it goes

We or should I say Owl has made progress, he has decided that he should have listened to his wife days ago. It has been a bright sunny day although cold. After yesterday’s constant rain we awoke today to find a thick crust of white on the car, sheds and nearby roofs. The word on the radio was that we might find a light frost, I would hate to see what they call a heavy frost, never mind today we wouldn’t need to scrape the car as I was catching the bus to work. There lies another tale.

Owl had decided to forget about the missing bolt that had kept him searching in vain for days. Among his many treasures within “Grumpy’s shed”, he had a box of spare bolts, guess what, the very first one he picked up fitted the alternator. The new plan was that he would have an early start to the day, a quick trip into town on the bus then back to fit the new alternator. As we all know the best plans can go awry.

Owl got distracted, meaning that he was then late going into town so that by the time he began working on the car he didn’t have much time before sunset and darkness. By the time I returned home on the bus, the alternator was fitted and the battery was in place. Once the battery had been hooked up I eagerly stood waiting for him to start the engine. The key fob worked to unlock the door so obviously the battery was working.

Owl climbed into the drivers seat inserted the key and turned … I have never heard an engine make the noise this did before it just died. Now the battery is back indoors attached to the charger that Owl inherited from his late father. We are hoping that this will remedy the problem.

If it doesn’t work I shall be on the bus again tomorrow. I am hoping that this won’t be the case as I have an 8.30 am appointment for a blood test at our Medical Centre  which is the other side of the town. I shall have to catch a bus from here to the bus station from which I will have to walk (probably around 20 mins for my short legs). After my appointment which will probably take approximately 5 minutes, I need to get to work as quickly as I can. I shall probably order a taxi as I have no idea how to get to my work by bus from the town. It will probably mean catching one of the buses that go past our house. The buses do go all around the houses to get anywhere.

Which reminds me, I rushed out of our house this morning to catch hopefully the first of two buses which follow a route along roads on three sides of our house. I was almost at the bus stop when the bus pulled up. I tried to run those last few meters but no sooner was I crossing the road behind the bus, when it pulled away again. I was so close that had I put my hand out I could have touched it. So I stood and watched my bus disappear. Luckily at that time in the morning I didn’t have to wait long for the next bus. Much to my surprise I found myself to be the only passenger on this bus until I was three quarters of the way there. From then on more passengers boarded at each and every stop. I arrived at work just in the nick of time.

It looks like I shall be catching the bus again for a while longer.

The Bolt

As I reported a few days ago my poorly Chevrolet Blazer had to hitch a ride home on the back of a recovery vehicle. Since then Owl has taken out the battery which he has charged up. He has also taken out the faulty alternator. We have the new alternator sat on our dinning table waiting to be installed in its place. I have watched a video on how do this. Owl has watched the videos many times to make sure he is confident in what he has to do. There is one small thing stopping him from putting the new part into it’s place.

The Bolt!

When he was taking out the old alternator there were three bolts holding it in place. the two front ones came out easily. However the one at the back, whilst not difficult to extract, has become a problem of the mountainous kind. It pinged out of his grip and now rests somewhere unseen within the engine space. It has not reached the ground, that would be easy. It has been three days now, the gravel under the truck has been searched time and time again. Owl has peered into every conceivable crevice that he can see with the help of various torches. I have stood on the step stool so that I could look down into the engine armed with feather duster in the hopes that I might be able to dislodge the bolt from it’s hiding place. We even tried rocking the car from side to side.

Owl has used the garden hose in an attempt to wash it out. So far nothing has worked. I have phoned the garage which has looked after Owl’s car for years. If we can give them the exact dimensions of the bolt they could find us something to use in it’s place. Even if he can find the dimensions we would have the problem of getting to the garage.

I have suggested that perhaps he could put the new part into it’s position, securing it with the remaining two bolts then carefully drive to the garage, which is probably only about 3 miles away. Owl doesn’t want to do this as he doesn’t want the missing bolt to rattle around in the engine space causing damage.

We are still searching for our second car but in the meantime we have no drivable car. Now if by magic the missing bolt comes to light then it will be all systems go.

I never realised how much one simple bolt could affect my life. Just when Owl has got his new driving licence back too.

Hitching a ride

About ten days ago we woke to a thick frost, the first this autumn/winter. Now that we have sold our lovely comfortable warm Vauxhall Monaro and have not yet replaced it with the more economical car we are currently looking for. I had no choice but to drive the Chevrolet blazer to work. The problem with this is the lack of a working heater. We do though have a plug in heater/blower. So on that cold frosty morning I used the plug in heater to clear the windscreen. It did just what was needed of it.

However when I left the office nine hours later, I knew before I reached my vehicle that there was a problem. Pressing the key fob failed to unlock the door. Ok, I managed to open the door the old fashioned way, inserting the key into the lock. Very good, I am now sat in my car in the dark, with a flat battery, guess who forgot to unplug the heater when parking up in the morning.

Luckily the unit closest to our building is a garage. I took a walk over to their door where I made the cry of ‘help’.

With the aid of their portable charger they got my engine started but as soon as they unclipped the charger the engine died. After several attempts the mechanic drove my car (in the dark with the bonnet up and the charger still connected) over to the door of their garage. Once under the light from their workshop they ran a few tests which led to the conclusion. It’s the alternator that is not working properly. I left the Blazer in their capable hands so that they could charge the battery over night. They ordered a taxi to get me home, In the morning I returned to work by bus.

Late afternoon I retrieved my car with it’s now fully recharged battery, driving it home that afternoon I was just glad that it wasn’t yet dark so I could get home without using the lights. With the battery light on constantly I was aware that I didn’t want to use up more energy than I could help. Over the next few days I only used the car when I really had to and prayed that the engine would keep going.

On Tuesday  I managed to drive to work in the morning but knew that it wouldn’t last so persuaded a friend from a neighbouring company to charge it up for me again, which he kindly did. Luckily I have been off work ill for a couple of days which helped. This weekend I knew I needed to go shopping but I was worried I might not get there. As it happens I did, but only just, as I made my way around the car park, the engine began juddering. I just managed to limp her into a space before she died on me.

I immediately phoned home to let Owl know what had happened. My next call was to our insurance company who arranged for a recovery vehicle to be sent out in an hour, giving me time to do my shopping. I received a text message telling me that recovery would be with me at approximately 15.33. As it happens he was early arriving at 15.32.

Here you can see my car being loaded onto the back of the recovery truck. leaving Asda

I won’t be going anywhere in it for the next few days until the new alternator sitting on our table has been fitted. I hadn’t been home very long before I received a text from our friend who is looking out for a car for us, he will be at an auction tomorrow. Here is hoping he finds us something suitable soon.

Day tripping

Yesterday I took Skater on a day trip to Hertfordshire. Not your usual destination for a day trip, I know. We had an important reason for going. This was to be the start of Skater’s new future. We were visiting The University of Hertfordshire which happens to be in the small town of Hatfield. This was my second visit there as I was also there three years ago with Pug.  We set off at 6.45am (on a Saturday! criminally early) in the rain. Luckily the National Car Park that is M25 was the clearest I have ever seen it. We made good time and were parked and registered by 9am.

We listened to 3 different talks during the morning, explored some of the campus including the all important Student Forum where the live music shows are held. We were filling in time until the subject talks began but my son was getting bored, we managed to have a look at the TV and Film studio which was what he really wanted to see. Skater satisfied by what he had seen was ready to hit the road back home. We came across congestion between junctions 13 and 11 on M25 but otherwise the journey was good.

Today was a different type of day trip even though my companion was Skater again. This time we were travelling by train, I sent a text to Statto to let him know which train we were on. We had no idea whether he would be meeting us at the station or did he expect us to find our own way to his flat? An hour and 42 minutes later we arrived and there he was waiting at the barrier. He led us across the concourse towards a well known book/stationery store where he had left Miss  Effervecence.

Setting off on foot we walked past The National Theatre National Theatre From there we walked along the river bank towards the OXO Tower. Oxo Tower We were almost there. Turning down a walk way we were soon greeting the concierge of the block of flats where Statto now lives. Once in the flat we were given the grand tour and a much needed cup of tea. We were given a delicious roast chicken dinner. It was amusing to see my son carving up the meat but I am sure practice will make a difference.

After our meal we went out for a walk. Back on the south bank we continued east. Among the sights we saw were The Tate Modern The Tate Modern and who could miss the sight of Shakespear’s Globe Theatre. The Globe Theatre   Southwark bridgeUsing the Southwark bridge we crossed to the north of the river. Soon we were into almost familiar territory for me. A lot has changed since I worked in The City in the early 1980s. If we had turned east we would have been going towards the area I had known all those years ago. Instead we turned west towards St Paul’s Cathedral. St Paul's   St Paul's steps Heading back towards the South Bank I stopped to take a few photos from the north bank. London Eye  CIT tower You can’t see it but the flat is in a block right behind the SEA Containers building, right next to the cranes you can see. We had almost reached the safety of the flat when it began to rain. By the time Skater and I left Statto and Miss Effervecence the heavens had opened and we had to dash to the station, splashing through the many puddles.

By the time we reached home a little after 9pm my legs were beginning to feel the effects of so much unaccustomed walking.

I really enjoyed my day out as did Skater, tomorrow I shall pay for the punishment I have put my little legs through, but as I have a day off from work I am not too worried. aka fraud

Late last spring Owl bought our beautiful Vauxhall (Holden) Monaro.monaro 1 I had never driven a car with a V8 engine before so I was quite apprehensive. However as soon as I started to drive her I fell in love with her. I love the smooth lines of her shape. I adore the comfort of her immaculate soft black leather upholstery (even when the backs of my legs stick to the leather). The way she holds the road even on bends, is a delight to this woman who had always thought yada yada whenever petrol heads talk about cars in this way.

It wasn’t long before I was claiming her as my daily drive to work car. The comfort, the sound, the feel, she is just the perfect drive. A little heavy on the juice but you can’t have everything.

Fast forward to this spring, our circumstances have changed, Owl was on the way to getting his licence back after losing it last autumn for drinking two pints then driving. We realised that we are never going to be able to afford the insurance for him to drive this car again. We decided to sell her, although we will both be sorry to lose her.

First we had to get her through her MOT, which was not too much of a problem, apart from replacing the tyre that had blistered following my encounter with a pothole. We did need to replace one other part, which led to an extensive search to find the right part. My car might be badged as a Vauxhall but it needed a genuine Holden part. This was located and collected by one of my colleagues who lives in the same city as the garage where the part was.

MOT passed, the next thing was to get a minor scratch repaired, an unknown hooligan in charge of another car had at some point (car parked it). It did take a while to find someone who was willing to undergo this work. By this time another month had passed. I took some photos of our beloved vehicle, composed a couple of ads to go on different websites.

The first website we used was gumtree, a number of people had advocated this site as the best place to advertise. Within a day or so I had a message from a prospective buyer. I replied, but when I received their next message it became clear from what they said that this was not genuine.


Hankeen Gabriel (
I really appreciate your response to my text message, i am presently working on the sea as a marine engineer  which enable me not make a call that is the reason  i try to send a text message to you via the sms web.i am satisfied with  your ad as it was listed on the site  and am ready to buy for my Dad,i will not be able to come take a look due to my work. I will have the shipper to come pick it up from you and delivered to my dad after i have made the payment to your account.i will make the payment to you via paypal and i hope you have a paypal account  so that you can be able to received the payment, If you are not a paypal user you can set up a paypal  with your bank account you will just go on and attached your bank account  to your email using paypal so that you can be able to get the money on your bank account .After the payment has been cleared and you have your cash in hand i will have my shipper to  come shake hand with you and pick it up to deliver to my Dad.I will be waiting to have the necessary details to make the payment to you.
Your paypal email..
Price Amount…
You Phone number..
Hope to have a reply back from you
Did you notice that not once did he mention what car I was selling, indeed he didn’t even mention that it was a car.
A few days later we had another enquiry.

Re: car

Nice Hearing back from you..I’m quite satisfied with the condition and price..I want you to get back to me with your PayPal email so i can start with the Payment now….mind you, you won’t release your ad until PayPal credit your account before you will release it so it can be pick and my shipping company will be coming for  pick up so you don’t need to worry about pick up okay. I will need your home address for it to be Picked Up by the Shipping Company.
Both these enquiries appear to have been written with the English that you get when translated directly from another language. Needless to say we didn’t respond to either of these.
By this time we also had our ad on Autotrader. (over the three weeks our ad was live we had over 4000 views). This was surprising when considering the rarity of our car in UK. We did have a few enquiries, one man even came to see the car but his 6’10” frame made things a little difficult for him to get comfortable.
Our good friend (L0rd) came round to take some better photos and make suggestions on selling our car. He buys and sells second hand cars frequently. I replaced some of my photos with his and adapted some of the wording. A new ad went on a more specialist website (Pistonheads).
We had another enquiry from a local man but unfortunately he was about to go abroad with work.
Just 2 days after our ad with Autotrader had lapsed I received a call from them pleading with me to renew our ad, this time with the premium package for 6 weeks. I managed to get them to reduce the price slightly before agreeing to go ahead.
This weekend I had an email through Auto trader from a local man interested in our car. Several emails later we agreed to drive over to his house on Sunday morning so he could see what we had. We decided that it would be a good opportunity to have one last drive out in her before we sell her. Anyway, after a discussion about the cars he and Owl have owned over the years, we left, with him saying he would let us know. Even though I got the impression during our short test drive (OK, he actually said that he liked the sound and feel of her) , I had this feeling that he wouldn’t be buying her. I was right.
So here we are on Monday back to square one. During recent weeks I have received a number of messages from dealers wanting to buy our car, their offers have been just over 50% of the asking price. Today I received an offer which was 95% of our asking price. This would be great if it is genuine, we are open to offers and this is not far short of our price. My instinct though was to check out the website first. I found the website within a couple of clicks. What I couldn’t find were any reviews on the Company. I tried to click on the facebook icon nothing, I tried the same with the Autotrader icon, again nothing.
I decided to call Autotrader as the website claim to be working with them. I had just missed their opening hours by ten minutes. Next I went onto the website for AutoTrader and clicked on the heading Staying safe on AutoTrader. The first thing I saw was this warning.
Beware of Fraudulent Website
Monday 15 September 2014We have received reports of customers receiving a text message asking them to visit to sell their cars quickly for cash. Customers are asked to pay a deposit in order to secure the sale of their vehicle. This website is not genuine and in no way affiliated with AutoTrader. We are currently working to have this website shut down. For more information please contact our Customer Security team on 0330 303 9001.
I am so glad that I followed my instinct to check them out.

I am sure that eventually we will find a genuine buyer for our gorgeous electric blue charriot.
Please if you find yourself wanting/needing to sell or buy a second hand car privately, be aware of the fraudsters out there.
We have since had the same text from a another Company using the web address looking them up they appear to have the exact same website as, I don’t think I will bother looking into it.