Thursday, September 27, 2007

My tea room

That didn't take long! The shop over the road is empty again with a "to let" sign in the window. I bought a lottery ticket last night in the hope of raising some funds to turn it into a tea room but I didn't even get one number. Instead I have spent some time making up an artist's impression of what it could look like!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fish N Chick N

This weekend, whilst sitting in a queue of traffic, we saw a lorry belonging to an amusingly named fish n chicken outlet.

Howard and Hilda

Last weekend I saw Howard and Hilda with their matching yellow fairisle jumpers in a Little Chef outside Kettering.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cornish cars

Since our holiday in Dougal the camper van I have been thinking of our dearly departed Sir Honksalot and wondering what became of him. Simon and I have owned quite a few vehicles between us in the eleven years we have been together and the other night I got out a notebook and tried jotting them down in order of purchase. Not counting the two motorbikes, we have owned 23 vehicles between us in eleven years. So, listed below with photos of the ones that we have photographic evidence for, is the complete list of Cornish cars in order of purchase starting with the earliest. Some stayed with us longer than others, most died but some were sold on ...

1) Blue Austin Metro

Bought by Simon for around £50. Interesting feature was that it had to be started with a screwdriver rather than a key.

2) Blue Austin Metro (Inchpractice)

This was my first car and I learnt to drive in him. He was in a much better condition than Simon's Metro and had a proper key to start him and everything. Named Inchpractice after a character in A Bit of Fry & Laurie, he passed on to my Mum and then my brother. Inchpractice exploded when my brother drove him back from Glastonbury in 2000 with no oil in... or something.

3) Blue 1980 Ford Granada (The Beast)

Simon bought this huge fuel guzzling car on a whim when he thought he was in the Sweeny. The automatic gearbox was a problem and it soon stopped going into reverse causing us problems in narrow cul-de-sacs. Eventually it stopped going forward too. With a little tweaking Simon managed to convince someone to take it off his hands. He sold it to a man who arrived to view it in the train station car park. The car he turned up in was in serious trouble and he unloaded his familiy from it and drove off in The Beast leaving his previous wreck of a car abandoned in the car park.

4) Blue Fiat Uno

This car was a mistake! We bought it from a friend when we moved to London and we didn't really need a car. I couldn't get the hang of driving it and it always seemed to cut out on me. We didn't have it long and sold it to a lady who lived on the same housing estate as us in Peckham. The first time she came to view it it wouldn't start but she was not one to give up easily and bought it a few days later.

5) White Peugeot 106 Graduate

After getting shot of the Fiat Simon managed to talk me into getting another motorbike and we had this as our only form of transport for more than a year. Following a very wet Big Chill where we got soaked on the bike and our cheapo tent leaked we decided to go back to four wheels. We had spent time in a friend's VW camper at the festival and we decided that we would get one too. However, to sell the bike quickly as winter was approaching, we took a Peugeot 106 as part exchange. Luckily we didn't have it for very long before we found someone happy to take it in part exchange for a camper.

6) White 1979 VW Westfalia Camper (Sir Honksalot)

Honky was great fun even though he was left-hand drive and I couldn't park him very easily. We had him about three years which probably makes him our longest serving vehicle along with Mr Green.
We bought Honky from a chap called Miles on Hayling Island and he neglected to tell us that there was no petrol in him. We got about 2 miles down the road in the pouring rain when Sir Honksalot stopped dead. On trying to find a petrol station in a torrential downpour a woman took pity on us and gave us a lift to the petrol station and back again.
We had some very happy times in Honky but he did break down a lot. There was one Christmas when we were living in Farnham when he broke down on Christmas Eve morning as we had just left for Norwich. He conked out going through a puddle on a roundabout but was fine when he dried out. His engine blew up on another occasion and we had to buy a new one. There always seemed to be bits falling off him but we loved him and had festival fun with him on several occasions.
I remember one time when I was very ill and we had planned to go up to Norwich from Surrey. I put my pyjamas on and pulled the bed out and slept the whole way there. We also slept outside people's houses after house parties.
We sold Sir Honksalot for more than we had paid for him (not counting the new engine we had to fork out for) and he was bought by a man who looked like Rob Brydon. I did shed a tear the day he was driven away.

7) Yellow Suzuki SC100 (Gonzo)

Simon bought Gonzo on a whim as he was only £220 and he thought he would be a bit more economical as a run-about car. I had never seen anything so funny in my life when we went to view and we christened him Gonzo because of his unique appearance. Gonzo got stuck in first gear at some traffic lights one day and we could never get him out again so we gave him away free of charge to a man who said he would take him on a race track.

8) White BMW 525E Automatic (Pimpy)

In 2001 Simon and I decided to go to Gretna Green to get married. It was a very long journey and we feared that neither Sir Honksalot nor Gonzo would make the journey so Simon bought Pimpy. We cruised up in style and comfort and when we got back Simon managed to talk his step-dad into buying him from us. He had Pimpy for over a year but then things started to go wrong and eventually Pimpy was scrapped.

9) Silver Suzuki SC100 (Hercules)

Just before the demise of Gonzo we somehow seemed to acquire another SC100. He was in a much better condition than Gonzo, less rust and had a better gearbox. By this time we had moved to Wimbledon but I still had to go down to Surrey to university so had fun nipping down the A3 in Hercy. He lasted a while and I used him when I started at Dogs Today. He was not very good on icy roads and after taking a spin on the ice in Godalming we decided to get rid of him and get a proper car. Hercy also didn't have any heating so it was rather difficult driving him in the snow with the windscreen icing up as you drove.

10) Red Ford Fiesta (Swifty)

We borrowed Swifty from our friend Andrew Swift when we had tickets to go to the Big Chill and Honky broke just before we were due to go. There was no way that we could fit all of our camping equipment into Hercy so Swifty did nicely. Shortly after Andrew moved to the States and we ended up buying the car from him.

11) Red Honda CRX

I don't know if we still had Swifty at the point that Simon bought the CRX but I suspect he traded him in. I remember this car being rather nice and it was the car we took to Battersea when we got Max. It didn't have a proper boot as such but Max laid perfectly still in the back of it all the way home.

12) Maroon Ford Escort

This was my sensible car to commute to work. It had a heater and back seats and seemed terribly boring compared to what I was used to. Still, he served his purpose for a while.

13) Brown Triumph Dolomite

Simon bought the Dolomite when he fancied himself as a bit of a second-hand car dealer and thought he could make a few quid on this car. Needless to say he didn't and we had trouble shifting it. It was around this time that Simon's insurance company telephoned him to say that now he had five vehicles he would qualify for "mini fleet" insurance.

14) Blue Ford Escort

This must have come after the CRX I think. I don't know why we ended up with this car, it wasn't very nice. Simon bought it from the mechanic we used in Godalming.

15) Green Subaru Impreza 1.8 GL (Mr Green)

While I was at Crufts in March 2003, as well as losing his wedding ring, Simon bought Mr Green. I must have had a bit of a skid in the Escort because Simon decided that I needed a four-wheel drive car. Mr Green was complete luxury and the nicest car I had ever driven. He had a CD player and stereo speakers that both worked. He had his indicators on the proper side, plenty of boot space, nice tight gears and power steering. If it had not been for me falling in love with Mr Sparkle I would still have Mr Green. He was a wonderful car and had done so many trouble-free miles.

16) Black VW Corrado

Simon was feeling the need for speed and eventually had to get something a bit sportier. After reading very favourable things about the Corrado Simon found one and bought it. He really wanted a Subaru with a turbo but couldn't afford it.

17) Black Subaru Impreza WRX Import (Mr Black)

Our financial situation hadn't changed but Simon worked out a way to get his hands on an Impreza. His friend Chris was a big influence here I think. Mr Black was very nice but after a couple of disasterous trips to Wales Simon could not really afford the insurance or afford to get caught speeding again. Mr Black was sold to a man who lived with his mum and put ugly gold stickers all over the car when he got it home.

18) White Range Rover (Rangey)

Simon decided that economical was the way to go and so we bought the Rangey as it ran on LGP. We had to go all the way up to Birmingham to get it and it wouldn't start. Eventually it did start and we got it home but Rangey was not the most practical of vehicles. I drove it to work one day and felt a bit of a breeze on the back of my neck. I turned round to see the back window had flown open and Max was hanging out of the back.
The Range Rover was swapped via a swapping website with a man who had a Vauxhall Omega. After about 5 hours of the man fitting his disabled equipment into the Rangey he took it away. It then broke and although we helped him out with a new gearbox he was not happy. Judging from the state of the Omega he liked to thrash his engines and had little respect for the cars he owned.

19) Duck egg blue Nissan Figaro (Mr Sparkle)

With the money from the sale of Mr Black we went down to Brighton and bought Mr Sparkle, my dream car, after he was imported from Japan. With only 20,000 ever made they are quite rare. They have gone up in value since we got him as there are now not many left in Japan but I hope to hang on to him for as long as I am able.

20) Green Vauxhall Omega

Max liked this car because it was a saloon so he had to sit on the nice leather upholstery. He even had the heated seat switched on for him. This was an executive car and, as well as the leather interior, it had sat nav, cruise control, air con, electric everything and a CD changer. It was an old man's car and really didn't suit either of us so it had to go.

21) Black Subaru Impreza WRX Estate (The Chief)

Just before moving back to Norfolk Simon decided, against my better judgement, that it would be a good idea to buy another Subaru. It was a lovely car but not very economical with high insurance so shortly after moving we were on the look out for a more practical commuter car.

22) Blue Suzuki Ignis (Mr Blue Sky)

Mr Blue Sky was the same colour as a Subaru but a lot smaller and a lot slower - perfect - or was he? At first we found his bounciness fun but when Simon rolled him spectacularly last May it was no laughing matter. The car was DOA but luckliy Simon crawled out with only a couple of scratches.

23) Black Seat Ibiza (Vince Noir)

I am not sure how long Vince Noir will be with us. It depends if Simon can work out a plan to get another Subaru. Vince is a lovely car to drive, not very fast but very economical which suits us.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Line dancing

I have a big problem with line dancers. This is something that has been going on a while but I was reminded of it last night while out with my grandparents (who are definitely NOT line dancers)
There is a core of women at the British Legion club who like to line dance. There are certain obvious line dancing tunes that are played but some of them do try to start up a line dance to other songs too. Last night, however, saw the arrival of a new couple who made their feelings towards the dance movement very clear. Both were dressed in bright yellow with tassled jackets and animal print cowboy hats. The man sported quite a grand beard and had what looked like a fox's tail hanging from the back of his hat. They were both wearing cowboy boots.
This couple had come for one thing and one thing only and it certainly wasn't the bingo!
They line danced to everything, including a quickstep and even a waltz which was far too slow. They were hardcore and obviously thought of themselves as good dancers. They did give up eventually and what I witnessed next proved what I have always suspected - line dancers can not actually dance. The line dancers decided to do a bit of "free movement" to something, I forget what it was, and it became apparent that these people had no natural rhythm. They were all over the place. Their arms were swinging and their feet were stomping but not in time with the music. Without the ridgid structure of their line dancing routines they fell apart and revealed that they could no more dance than they could lasso cattle.
Like a military parade these people line up and follow the instructions shouted by their leader giving no thought to what their own interpretation of the music might be. They always look miserable too while they are doing it which I have never worked out if it is because they are really not enjoying it or are concentrating so hard not to fall out of line they forget they are putting on a show.
Dancing should be spontaneous - an expression of how the music is making you feel. Dancing should be fluid, not rigid like a bread stick. It's just wrong!


Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Devon in a camper named Dougal

Last weekend we camped in north Devon in a hired type 2 VW campervan called Dougal. It was lots of fun and, although it took me a little while to get used to driving an old bus again, we were soon nipping through Exmoor and making it up some very steep hills and around some rather tight corners.
We stayed two nights in a campsite in Braunton and visited North Molton, Withypool, Woolacombe, Valley of the Rocks, Lynton and Lynmouth. Max enjoyed himself on the beach and we enjoyed some very nice tea and cake.
The weekend went too quickly and we didn't get to see all we would have liked but we were lucky that Badger was there at the same time to show us around. Badger knows north Devon well and had already sniffed out all the best tea rooms.

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