Tag Archives: car

Productivity

Today was very productive, in the scheme of things (I finally reached a goal that I was originally planning on reaching 2 weeks ago, but had miscalculated how much work it was going to take). So that’s a good feeling, though it was just a stage on the way rather than a big big big milestone. Still, I’ll take what I can get.

In other news, HD put down a deposit today on a new car (new for us, not new new) which we will pick up on Monday. It’s silver, so I can legitimately go “ooh shiny” lots. Next weekend we will be in York and will see the friend who named HD’s previous car. We’ll have to see if she can think of another good name, as Bessie was a very apt name for, well, Bessie.

Honeymoon

I’ve been meaning for ages to put up some pictures from our honeymoon, but have only just got round to putting my pictures on flickr. Hopefully though this will give you a good taste of the beautiful Outer Hebrides, somewhere I’d definitely love to go back to. If you click on any of the pictures you should be able to see them bigger.

We only caught the ferry by the skin of our teeth on New Year’s Eve, but catch it we did, and we were blessed with a really calm crossing (having heard all sorts of tales of doom and woe as to the usual state of choppiness of the Minch, the stretch of sea between Skye and the mainland, and the Outer Hebridean islands. After just over an hour and a half, we were rewarded with a lovely sunset over Harris, our eventual destination:

first view of Harris, from the ferry

We saw in the new year very quietly – just us and Jools Holland on the telly at the cottage. We had a lie in on New Year’s Day, but I wanted to get out and about, so we drove to a remote beach on north-west Harris, and did a (scary) walk up some steep hills to get a view out over the Atlantic (next stop, America) and the small uninhabited island of Scarp. Here are some pics of that, including proof that we were both there!

Scary walkView to Scarp
View to ScarpView to Scarp

Once we’d reached the point where we took those photos of each other, although it wasn’t at the planned end of the walk, we decided that as the light was beginning to fade we’d better head back to the car. It was just as scary on the way back, and I found myself thinking as I clambered over rocks and tried not to look down at the sea that it would be just typical for me to manage this scary climby bit and then fall over on a flat bit at the bottom. And lo it came to pass, that in a field of grass about 200 yards from the car, I slipped on wet grass and rolled over in true comedy fall stylee, felt my knee twist, and that was that. Eventually I did manage to get up, and using both walking poles was able to hobble back to the car, but that evening it really hurt and I was in tears by bedtime. So the next day saw us heading off to A&E in Stornoway on Lewis (which although it is known as the Isle of Lewis, just like Harris is the Isle of Harris, they are actually attached to each other). Before we left though I took a picture of the view out of the kitchen window, something I did every morning so that we could see the various changing weather and colours and whatnot. Anyway, this first picture is our lovely view.

view from the cottage - West Loch Tarbert

Next up is the end result of the A&E trip. It transpired that I had torn my knee ligaments – which would explain the pain anyway! I was very embarrassed thinking about my medical history, which mainly consists of comedy falls and damage to various bits of my left leg (broken foot, torn knee ligaments, torn ankle ligaments, dislocated knee, and torn left shoulder ligaments just for a bit of variety once). If it wasn’t so far past the sell-by date I think I’d take it back and ask for a refund and a new leg, as it is definitely getting beyond a joke! This was just what we needed at the start of honeymoon! (this is the closest you’re ever going to get of a bedroom shot by the way!):

Peglegbedroom shot

The bandage was meant to be on for a week, but after 2 days it was driving me mad (and was also not really compressing the knee like it was supposed to) so I took it off. I’m such a bad patient.

I took some pictures out and about near the cottage. The first is a picture of the cottage (which was gorgeous, 5-star self-catering, all mod-cons (including jacuzzi and dishwasher), and even the ironing board cover was tasteful!), and the second is of some of our neighbours. I think they’re young Highland cattle (aka hairy coos), too young yet to have the trademark scary horns. Then the third one is of the end of the path past our cottage – we were able to walk (or in my case hobble) about a quarter of a mile, and were rewarded with lovely views out towards the island of Taransay, which was used by the BBC in the millennium year for the reality show “Castaway” if anyone remembers that:

our cottageMeet the neighbours
looking towards Taransay

As well as exploring Harris we spent quite a bit of time on Lewis as well. Harris has much more dramatic scenery, it’s quite mountainous and rocky (in fact it has virtually no trees) with amazing sandy beaches on the west coast. Lewis is more bleak and less hilly, with large parts of it covered in peat moors (in fact we had a peat burning fire in the cottage which meant we were always lovely and toasty warm). Probably the most famous historical site on Lewis is the Calanais standing stones, which are older than Stonehenge. Most of these pictures are of the main standing stones, but a mile or so away from this site are two smaller stone circles, so the last two are from Calanais 3 – I’m particularly pleased with the last one:

Calanais standing stonesCalanais standing stones
Calanais standing stonesCalanais standing stones
Calanais 3 standing stonesCalanais 3 standing stones

Another famous historical site on Lewis is the Carloway broch, which is a Bronze (I think, could be Iron) Age dwelling place which has been remarkably well preserved, and which apparently had people living in it as late as the 18th century!

Carloway BrochCarloway Broch

Not far from there is a well-preserved Blackhouse Village, which has small stone and thatched cottages that were until fairly recently inhabited and preserved the old island way of life (one of them is now a youth hostel), and a Norse kiln and mill:

Blackhouse VillageNorse mill and kiln

We travelled up the north-west coast of Lewis to its most northerly point, the Butt of Lewis – here are a couple of pictures of the Butt of Lewis lighthouse and the rocks the lighthouse is warning sailors about. We didn’t stay here long though – it was far too cold!

Butt of LewisButt of Lewis

By this point in the honeymoon it was the weekend again – if I remember correctly the Saturday we didn’t do much as it was raining lots (one of only two days we had to stay indoors due to the weather, mostly it just rained overnight and wasn’t too bad at all during the days). On the Sunday I found a little church on Harris, but I won’t say much because I Mystery Worshipped it – when the report comes out I shall make sure to link to it! Then in the afternoon I got out my pastels, for the first time in about 2 years (yikes!), and sat in the garden of the cottage and drew the view. I’ve included a picture I took before starting the drawing (the weather and colours kept changing even in the hour that I was doing the picture, so the end result is a kind of composite of the various weather and light conditions). By the time I got to the point that I was ready to do the boat, the wind had blown it so that it was facing me head rather than side on (or whatever the correct nautical term is) so I had to make it up and you can see that it isn’t entirely accurate when compared to the photo. But overall I’m quite pleased with it, especially as this is the first drawing I’ve ever done at A4 size (usually I do A5) and so I was pleased that it wasn’t disastrous!

West Loch Tarbert - view from the cottageWest Loch Tarbert - by me

Next up is a view of our cottage from the main road, which gives you a great idea of the location. If you can see a cluster of 3 white cottages to the left of the picture, ours is the furthest right of the three. Then the other picture here is of a view of one of the large, beautiful sandy Harris beaches from a viewpoint a few miles away, which will give you an idea of the type of scenery we were surrounded by:

The cottage and West Loch TarbertHarris beach view

A bit further into that drive I was blinded by the sun whilst in the middle of a rain shower, and my first thought was “where’s the rainbow?” As you can see, we found it (this is again looking over to Taransay, but from further south in Harris):

Rainbow over TaransayRainbow over Taransay

We watched the rainbow fade (whilst eating our cheese sandwiches – very romantic!) and I took some arty shots of us and the beach:

Harris beachHow romantic!

Here’s a final view over towards Taransay, and then a shot of a 16th (I think) century church on the south of Harris, St Clement’s Rodel:

View over to TaransaySt Clement's Church Rodel

The next day we headed back down the coast road towards Scarista Beach, which consistently appears in “Top 10 beaches in the world” lists. Just before we got there, I managed to get a shot of an older hairy coo (and was glad I was a bit of a distance away, I wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of those horns!). Once we got to Scarista we flew HD’s power kite which was fun (once I’d figured out how to not make it crash to the ground at enormous speed). I also included a picture of our trusty car here (more on that later):

Hairy cooScarista beach
Kite-flying on Scarista BeachOur trusty car (RIP)

Towards the end of the honeymoon I got up, opened the blind in the kitchen to take my daily picture of the view, and found a rainbow greeting me. So I rushed out in my dressing gown (much to the bemusement of the workmen at the next cottage – it was *very* cold and windy!) and took some pictures. And then the next picture is from our last day, when we were in Stornoway and visited the Lewis war memorial:

Rainbow over West Loch TarbertLewis War memorial

The final two pictures are of our last morning – we took the walk along the loch path for a final time, and also up to the main road to have a last look over the loch and the cottage:

West Loch TarbertThe cottage and West Loch Tarbert

On the way back we had the treat of being tannoyed on the ferry, arranged by Smudgie whose brother is a CalMac Ferries Captain (he wasn’t the captain on our particular ferry, but he did get a mention – the tannoy message congratulated HD and I, wished us a happy honeymoon, and then gave congragulations from Captain Smudgiebrother). Again the ferry crossing was remarkably smooth and unchoppy (for which I am very grateful, I hate choppy ferry crossings), and we arrived at the ferry port on Skye and prepared to drive home.

Unfortunately, once we were back on the mainland and had been driving for a while, the temperature gauge on the car suddenly lit up. This was not good for lots of reasons, not least among them the fact that although we were on the mainland on a main road, it was a mainland main road in the middle of nowhere and it was very cold and very dark. HD managed to pull us into a layby on the other side of the road, and on lifting the bonnet we found lots of steam and not much water. A very amusing call to the AA later (the guy first asked me if the A87 had a street name to help him find us, and then when he’d found the rough area on the map asked me if I could see a large loch. I had to explain that as it was pitch black I couldn’t see anything at all, and going by visual cues wasn’t going to help us much!) we were eventually found by the AA contractor, but then it transpired that my membership only entitled us to be taken to the nearest AA garage and not home. So HD phoned the RAC (of whom I hadn’t realised he was still a member), and the same AA man turned out to also be an RAC contractor, so in the end it was his garage that took us the remaining 130 miles home, with the car on the back of the lorry. It turned out that it was a serious problem (the head gasket had gone), and as the car was not worth much (I bought it for £350 over 5 years ago, and although I had to get it patched up every so often I think I can say I got my money’s worth from it) we had to get it scrapped, and last week it was finally taken away to the great garage in the sky. So it was a bit of a dramatic end to the honeymoon, and is a bit of a pain as we are now carless which means we can’t reach the storage place very easily and the stuff we need to take to the recycling is building up in the kitchen because we can’t get to the tip.

But – not to end this on a gloomy note – Harris and Lewis were amazing, the honeymoon was great despite comedy falls and car deaths, and I’d go back there again with no hesitation. A very fab start to married life 🙂

We’re back!

And not without some adventure I can tell you.

There’s too too much to do before tomorrow (we’re having a new boiler put in, thank goodness, as it’s bloody freezing here!) so we have to (horrors) tidy up and organise ourselves beforehand, so I’ll blog about the wedding and honeymoon later in the week. Let’s just say for now that we had fun being tannoyed on the ferry (thanks to Smudgie who has friends in high places) and are very glad that we managed to get back onto the mainland before the car died in the middle of (dark, freezing) nowhere and we had to call out the RAC to get us home. It looks like it’s terminal (poor car 🙁 ) so somehow we’re going to have to find some money out of all this thin air that’s knocking around to get another one so that HD can get to work (he has an interview in a week and a half, it’s a second interview for a job that he had an interview for weeks and weeks ago, in a place where public transport is problematic. I’m kind of assuming he’ll get the job, as they’d be mad not to employ him).

Anyway – we’re back, and hopefully normal service will resume shortly, although my workload is so heavy for the next few months that normal service might get cut back a bit for a while while I actually do something productive.

I’m baaaaack!

My “out and about” mobile entry is obviously still floating in the ether and never made it to the blog, so here’s my first chance to say Hello From Glasgow! It rained today.

I’ve had a bit of a bonkers week. I got back to the UK on Saturday, where I was met by HD and we drove back to Wales, having a very romantic wait for the RAC at the services just after the Severn Bridge as Bessie (the car) had overheated. Poor Bessie isn’t very well at the moment, but after a bit of a scare it looks like she’s not finished with us yet and will be gracing our lives for a bit longer. After a lovely weekend in Wales (when we did finally get home), where we (amongst other things) started planning our wedding list*, I spent a couple of days with my parents, generally being fed and watered and catching up with my post (and finding out that I wasn’t (and still haven’t) been paid in September, which is a bit irritating to say the least). Then drove up to Glasgow yesterday, and spent my first night back in the Stately Pile. It’s still there, which was a relief!

Today I was back in uni, and have just popped into the lecture for the new first years, to introduce myself ahead of next week’s tutorials. There don’t seem to be any with two heads, so that’s a relief. There are millions of them though – which means that I probably will have to do an extra tutorial group, and have about 20 more essays than usual to mark. Oh joy.

* that little detail is specially for Alice, who likes to know these things 🙂

Phew

The car passed its MoT today without requiring any work. Which is just as well, as with next month’s credit card bill the last of my savings will have vaporised. And, let’s face it, passing an MoT is pretty good going for an ancient banger with over 167,000 miles on the clock. Hooray!

In other news, I’m away for the weekend in England-shire having hot dates. See you on Monday!

Hangover – how did *that* happen?

I have had a flying visit south of the border to a friend’s wedding yesterday, and am now thoroughly hung over – my head is pounding, I have felt nauseous all day.

All this on just half a glass of wine the entire day, as I was driving. Eh????? My friend, whom I was chauffeuring and sharing the hotel room with, drank for England and bounced awake bright as a button at 7 in the morning (as she always does, it’s the most irritating habit imaginable for someone like me who’s not a morning person!). It’s so not fair!

Anyway, as I was saying … driving.

I’d ordered a hire car to get us to and from the airport/Travelodge/church/reception and various combinations of those particular locations. Of course as usual I had ordered the cheapest, tiniest weeniest car as that’s all I ever need, and as usual (this is the 3rd time I’ve used a hire car in this country) I was upgraded. In fact, the woman at the desk was so polite and British, she asked if I wouldn’t mind being upgraded, as they were a bit short of small cars. And oh my goodness, I was upgraded to this little baby …….

Dave and Sarah's wedding 29 April 2006 015

Oh.My.Goodness. It was gorgeous. Usually I drive an H reg (read: ancient) car which does 0-60 in ooh about 7 months. What with the flight and this car with the 2l engine, I wasn’t very good in the carbon footprint department, but I could have seriously got used to it! I didn’t want to give it back!

Dave and Sarah's wedding 29 April 2006 014 The wedding itself was lovely. It was in this gorgeous countryside parish church, in a lovely riverside setting. The groom was someone I went to church with in London for many years (mad church) and although he left the church before I did, lots of the guests were from that church, and it was just fabulous to see them. It felt really strange – I still have huge issues about the church (regular readers may have noticed!), but outside of the church setting the people there are great. I don’t know what it is about church that is all so bonkers and stressful, when outside of the church we got on really well. At the reception it was all of us “madchurch” lot who were mostly dancing, totally unselfconsciously and having a great time. I figure it was because we were so used to bonkers church services that actually getting up on a dancefloor hardly rates even a tiny blip on the embarass-o-meter. Still, whatever, it was great to have a bop – I must do that more often!

And the wedding itself – beautiful, beautiful. It was just the type of wedding that was perfect for D & S, and it gave me my yearly happy-clappy worship quotient (which I actually really enjoyed – I must be healing up somewhere! Hooray!). And yes, I did shed a little tear 🙂

And now I’m back at the Stately Pile, head thumping and trying not to think about having to finish my assignment for Tuesday. Sigh. I want to suspend reality a bit longer.

Someone to watch over me …

As promised, the saga of the GirlMobile. For the last year and a half (oops, yes you did read that right) my car has been making a strange noise, not unlike fingernails down a blackboard, which I had assumed was the fanbelt. The battery warning light has also been coming on regularly for a similar amount of time. I got the garage in Scotland to take a look at both these things when I had the MoT done in October, and they said that they had sorted them out. Except that both things carried on happening. I decided that rather than use this garage again, when I next went down to London I would get my lovely boys at the garage in the Old Kent Road that I’ve been using for the last squillion years to take a look at it. As the battery light was on for most of my journey down to London, despite having a brand new battery only about a month ago, one of the first things I did when I arrived was to give them a call.

As suspected, the alternator needed replacing (hence the battery wasn’t being charged), and the fanbelt was a bit grotty, so they replaced that too. They phoned me to tell me it was all done … and then they phoned me back 5 minutes later to say they’d found something else. The scratchy fingers noise was still happening, and it turned out that it wasn’t the fanbelt at all, but the cambelt. Which is Very Very Serious indeed. If that had gone I would have had no choice but to scrap the car, as the engine would have been ruined. As it turns out, the guys at the garage reckoned the belt would have gone within the week. So, needless to say, I’m really thankful that it was discovered before the awful moment and not whilst I was bombing up the M1. Somehow I suspect my guardian angels are relieved too.

In other news, my Mystery Worship report from the scary hat church is now up here.

Sarf London (innit)

I’ve been in Brockley for the last week – I’m a bit peopled out, as obviously I’ve been catching up with lots and lots of people I’ve not seen since I left 6 months ago (sorry I didn’t have time to meet up with wibbers/SoFers, it’s all been a bit bonkers), and I’m heading back UpNorth tomorrow via my parents’ place (so I’ll be back in the Stately Pile on Friday). While here, amongst other things I’ve attended a trustees meeting (of the charity I’ve been a trustee of for the last few years), gone to Brighton (it was very wet!), made it through a very low-key Mothers’ Day service at church, finally watched “Wallace & Gromit and the Curse of the Were-Rabbit” (it made me laugh), saw my godson, went to a birthday party, and today I went to a study day on postnatal depression (I still need to do HV/nursing study days for when I reregister) and gave lots of thanks that I’m no longer a London commuter. I’m knackered! I also spent loadsamoney (ouch) getting my car fixed (major guardian angel moment there – will tell you about it when I get back) and popped into my old workplace where it seems everyone is having a baby (so I made sure I was careful which seat I sat on). It’s been great seeing people, but it’s also been really weird being here. It was all so familiar, I could go everywhere pretty much with my eyes shut, but I’m really aware it’s not home any more, and I’m looking forward to getting back to Glasgow.

Oh and I went past my old garden on the train today. I don’t think the new owner has done anything much with it yet so it looked pretty much as I left it, and at least it didn’t look horrifically overgrown or anything. I wish I could take it back with me.

Another Glasgow adventure

This afternoon after church I had decided that I would go for a drive. I needed to work out a route to the airport, as next weekend I am flying somewhere exciting (I’ll let you know where when I come back. But am very excited 🙂 ). Armed with A-Z and directions to IKEA (which rather handily is on the way between me and the airport) from my curate I got into the car and … it wouldn’t start. Undeterred (it never starts, and as I’d not driven it for a couple of weeks and it’s been really cold this was really no surprise) I carried on trying to coax it to start, but after a while I started to worry, as it was making sounds that were not like it’s usual “I don’t want to, I want to carry on sleeping” noises (it’s a lot like its owner in this respect, I make those noises every morning). So I called the AA, planning on joining up and getting them to get me started, and they were just taking my details when the phone cut off. Once I called them back I got put on hold, and while I was waiting I didn’t think it would do any harm to try again, and it started first time. Whoops. I will join the AA, but at least I didn’t have to today.

Got to the airport reasonably unscathed, apart from the fact that there is a real problem with my driver’s door which really didn’t want to shut properly even when I pulled over and slammed it (several times before it worked). I suspect the double-sided sticky tape and washing up liquid bottles may be needed to sort that out (the inside light is already held in place with blu-tack – my car’s so great!). Coming back was a bit more of an adventure, although as this was the first time I’d driven this particular bit of the M8 it could have gone pear-shaped very easily. Fortunately I’d driven enough of other stretches of the M8 to be completely unsurprised that the junction following J24 was J21, but I was so pleased with myself at getting that right that once I came off at J21 I then got distracted and went the wrong way. I’m very proud of myself though that I managed to find my way back with minimal detouring and without resorting to the A-Z. Now all I need to do is work out how to get to next month’s culture before C comes to stay and I’ll be feeling like a right local.

Emotional roller-coaster

So, that flat that I was getting so worked up about this morning – soooo this morning, dahling. I decided in the end not to go for the survey – but I saw the fixed price one this afternoon and will go for that one instead. Feeling surprisingly OK about it, but expect me to be an utter drama queen about it by tomorrow morning 🙂

In other news, the car failed its MOT today. No surprise there. It only failed on a couple of smallish things though, which was a surprise. Last year it failed on so much I spent as much on repairs as I had on buying it in the first place. It’s getting fixed at the end of the week. Hooray!

In other other news, I met my new Romanian teacher today, who is very nice indeed and we start lessons next Monday. I still haven’t got round to arranging Russian lessons – OK I confess, I am procrastinating a little bit about that.

I’ve been to a couple of lectures now of the Level 1 class I’ll be tutoring. So far it doesn’t look too scary, except that there’s an awful lot of them! Eek.