a small victory

I still haven’t related the Thaga of the Thaab. It blew up in an embarrassing fashion when we were on our way to Malton on 19th April with a bunch of Morris Dancers as passengers (we were going to perform at the Malton Folk Festival). The oil light came on just as we came into Wetwang (yes, that’s a real place), and within two minutes, the engine … stopped.

We were in a sort of convoy, and two more Rackacars pulled in very shortly. The Morrisers, myself included, were distributed and squashed into them, and Pete remained behind to await the RAC man. Who pronounced the head gasket gone, and organised a recovery back to Hull. To cut a long story short, the garage said about £850 to fix, plus at least another £200 to get the car through the impending MOT. So we decided to scrap it. The local yard offered us £250, and then one of the mechanics at the garage said he’d give us the scrap value, and fix it for his dad, so we did that, and the last time I called in at the garage (see below) the Thaab had gone. Fixed. Which is really nice. Especially as we’d bought it three new tyres and had the tailgate fixed three weeks before it died [snarl].

Still, such is the way of things if you do what we do – buy old cars, and run them until they’re too expensive to repair. So for its replacement, we asked advice, and everyone said “get a Mondeo”. So we did – a diesel estate, 2002 (first car we’ve ever owned with a new-fangled numberplate), automatic, and Ghia, so bells and whistles. 140k on the clock. And Just In Case, I purchased a six month warranty for £100 from the dealer. For various and complicated reasons, we didn’t pick up this car till mid May, so I thought I might be safe until November.

The last couple of times we’ve been out in it, the speedo and odometer stopped displaying, but pulling in and rebooting <g> fixed it. And we thought “must get that looked at”, and would then forget about it. And the car only goes out about once a fortnight.

On Saturday we went and put some diesel in at the Great Satan, Tesco. We don’t shop at Tesco, but a friend gave us a voucher for 5p a litre off, and it seemed rude not to avail ourselves of the opportunity to cost them a few pennies. As we drove away from there, along Hall Road, the speedo went again, so Pete pulled in to restart it. And … nothing. Silence. Not even a click. He unplugged and replugged the battery. Still nothing. We called the RAC.

They turned up pretty quickly, and diagnosed a dead alternator. So he charged up the battery, and followed us back to the garage to ensure we got there safely. Nice Greg the Garage was there, and quoted us £230 to fix it. Given we’ve just paid a huge vet bill for Lilith, this was not in any way good news. And then I remember The Warranty!

So,, phone call to the insurance company on Monday. Could I please get the garage to phone them with details? I could. They did. Could I please get the dealer who sold it to me to fax proof of service? I could. They did. I rang them again on Tuesday – they’re paying the claim! Which means, for the first time in my almost sixty years, I am making no loss on an insurance claim, and am actually £130 ahead! A small yay!, I think. But I don’t have the money yet …


Apologies for the lack of posts – we’ve had a horrendous ten days, building new servers, getting everything migrated, etc. We did manage a day out for Pete’s birthday on 7th, (although we actually went out on the 8th) – we went to Bakewell, and to Chatsworth; the former was charming, the latter was so ostentatious that we didn’t really like it, but I got a good hat in the gift shop, so not all was wasted! In the evening we went to see Phil Beer playing at a folk club in Rotherham – all in all, a splendid day out.

The weekend of 9/10 of October was just work, and more work. As was the following week, but we’re just about there now.  Last weekend was just lazing – we needed it.

Yesterday, we took the aged Citroen for its MOT, and thought we’d go and look at the kitchen showroom up the road while they examined it. The chap who runs the kitchen showroom was putting the shutters down as we arrived, which wasn’t terribly encouraging, so we walked home through the park and Pete cycled back for the car later, the tow bar bike rack in his backpack.

Bad news. Disastrous news. Almost £500 of garage work on the car, plus a new tyre. And the tax is due. He paid the MOT fee, and brought it home, and we had a Big Think, and took some advice from motory friends, and decided that it had to go. We only paid £650 for the car last October, and once the welding starts, it never ends.

We dithered about whether we could manage without a car at all, but I’d hate not to be able to get out to the coast or the country – we don’t use it much, but it represents some freedom. Pete is away next  week (going to Finland to see lawyers about his late mother’s estate), and  we didn’t expect to find anything quickly on our very limited budget, and I thought I’d have to hire a car to pick him up at Manchester. We looked on Autotrader and on eBay – found a fee possible candidates, and contacted them. One didn’t answer their phone, one didn’t call back when I left a message on their answerphone, one was sold. And one looked a plausible candidate, although it hadn’t reached its reserve on eBay.

We went to see it, and were slightly (well, no, very) alarmed to see a sign in its window saying “For sale: £1150”. Way out of our budget. We had a good look, and it was in lovely nick, full service history, everything working, taxed until Jan, MOT’d until June. He told us where to take the Citroen so we could get a hundred quid for its scrap value, so we included that in the spending pot. And we included the fact that we wouldn’t have to buy car tax for three months, and the fact that it should last us for years, and the fact we don’t need to hire a car for Manchester, or a gig in Sheffield the following week.

And we bargained the chap down to a figure that we can just stretch to, which equated to the cost of getting the Citroen back on the road, plus its scrap value, and all the above, and another little bit on top. It’s a huge weight off my mind, as trying to buy a car when you have no car is very difficult. We shall drive the ZX down to the scrap merchants tomorrow – I feel no fondness for it, but it did exactly what we needed it to – move me and five cats to Hull, and has behaved perfectly well since, apart from quietly rusting and not telling us.

So,could we please now have a quiet life for a bit? We’re exhausted.


Yesterday afternoon, there was a knock on the patio door. I went downstairs, and found a chap there, asking if we’d like to sell the Pajero.

Now the Pajero has been off the road for a few months, as it needs about £500 of work doing, and we a) haven’t been able to afford it (never work for yourself – the cashflow can kill you), and b) we weren’t in a rush anyway. It’s probably worth about £1400, so we’d be looking to clear about £900 when we sold it. We went off and had a chat, and thought, if he’d pay us £750, that’d be acceptable – saves a lot of hassle, and we’re very busy right now.

Then it occurred to us to wonder how he’d found it – our drive is at the back of the house, and the entrance is on a cul de sac. He said he’d been “driving round”. But he wouldn’t have “driven round” here – a cul de sac in a village.

We gave him the figure, and he – predictably – sucked air through his teeth, and went off to “phone his boss”. He came back 5 minutes later, and offered us £200 for parts. We declined, and said we wanted a minimum of £550. He then informed us that “his mate in the business” had told him that it would cost £369 for road tax next year. Every six months.

So a shark and a shyster, certainly – but I’m still wondering whether it had anything to do with the break in next door. And I’m feeling ever so slightly nervous, because we sit here all day with the patio doors open as soon as the spring comes – the house is south facing, and becomes oven like otherwise.

the Xantia is dead, long live the Saab

perlmonger‘s car died. We got the MOT failure report this morning, and it was worse than we thought – suspension, ABS and electrics, just for a start. Simply not worth fixing for an N reg vehicle.

we mulled things over. We consulted Autotrader to see what was about. We didn’t want to buy anything new, and we didn’t have much money (but thankfully 1200 quid came in unexpectedly this morning – we’re busy, but cashflow is vile ATM). But we wanted something that was a bit different.

and there it was. A 1991 Saab 900 Aero. With a proper tow bar bike rack. And leather seats, and aircon. In BLACK. In Bristol.

we phoned. It wasn’t sold. He gave us the Ebay details.

we rang our tame garage to see if it was a good buy – they thought so. Fair price, and easy to maintain. One of their mechanics had just sold one, so they knew them well.

we arranged to go and see it this afternoon. We took it out. It went vroom in a satisfying way. It has class and style. It’s BLACK.

we bought it. We are pleased.