The work on Thebus was progressing, even if it seemed to be at a painfully slow pace. I expect it was just impatience to be out and off. Phoebe and I even spent one day up on the ramps while the chassis was brushed and scoured before being sprayed with wax-oil to make sure there would be no more corrosion to the undersides and Thebus and I could stay together for a good long time.
Eventually the aluminium locker doors were remade and came back to be fitted; two pairs of docking lights were fitted to the sides so that if I get into a ‘Welsh stone bridge situation’ again I might have some hope of seeing what is going on; plus the side cameras were moved from the rear wheel arches, where they were nearly as good as useless, to the front wheel arches where hopefully they should give me better vision of the sides when negotiating narrow parts or reversing. I had hoped to have some better driving lights fitted at the front, but that would have to wait until a another time.
My planned trip to the south coast bit the dust, as did seeing an early May Day morning dance up by the Cerne Abbas Giant, and a Beating of the Bounds somewhere in Northamptonshire. All very disappointing, but what has to be, has to be.
Eventually all was ready and Thebus was booked in for his sojourn in the spray shop. Although we had been able to stay inside him in the workshops while the repairs were carried out there was no possibility of us doing the same in the paint-shop, and as Thebus is striped, all the different colours would have to be sprayed, dried and cured at different times which would involve quite a few days work.
Some time ago I had promised to help Sally and Niner up at their farm for the Farm Open Days so now Thebus was ready for spraying I hoped all the pieces would jigsaw in well together.
The plan was I would drive Thebus to the farm and leave Phoebe there plus unload all the lockers ready for the spray-shop, and also remove the now useless scooter lift. Then Sally or Niner would drive me back complete with a trailer to collect the scooter which of course had to be left over at Cannock as it now wouldn’t fit on the rack.
So packing everything away – all the lockers had needed to be emptied prior to the repairs starting – and putting everything neat and tidy inside Thebus ready for the drive over we took our farewell of everyone and set off, hoping to arrive just after the farm closed at four in the afternoon to allow for an easy and relaxed drive back.
Ahhhh…. the best laid plans of mice and men!!! And women of course!!!
Although I arrived at four just as the farm shut for the day, when I got there Sally was busy shearing some of her sheep. Now I use shearing in the loosest possible sense, though I have to admit that at least one looked completely bald, and another was over half way through having its fleece removed.
Sally’s shearing technique was certainly unusual.
Four from the thirty strong flock of Black Welsh Mountain ewes, and various miscellaneous lambs were milling around in a large pen, while Sally worked away with a small Philips Lady Shave at one ewe which was standing un-haltered in one of the corners.
Having seen the Lady Shave in action I think it would be well worth contacting Philips to commend them on the sterling performance their product had put in. I am not sure how many ladies legs and underarms would count as equivalent to a whole sheep and three-quarters of another, but I would guess their testing department did not give them anything like as rigorous a work-out.
Although it was a hot day Sally was intent on finishing the task and encouraging the sheep to stand still – it was not tied up in any way – she finished the second and started on a third. By now the Lady Shave was feeling the strain and I would guess that certain parts of the fleece had “risen” – as is the technical term – more than others, making the back, neck and belly easier to ‘shave’. Sheep number three decided that it had had enough for the present so scampered away with is poodle cut and number four came into the line of fire with similar results.
Even with frequent breaks for cleaning and oiling of blades the Lady Shave was nearing the end of its tether, and with two sheep shorn and two with a poodle effect trim it finally gave up the ghost. With no more shearing possible Sally decided the sheep had better all stay in the barn overnight, but the continued bleating of a couple of the lambs and the answering baa of an outside sheep meant that some of the wrong lambs had been brought in. But which ones? With a lot of chopping and changing of lambs and another sheep brought into the fold for the night I thought we might have been able to make a start to drop of Thebus and collect the scooter. But no! Sally thought that with the Bank Holiday opening looming next weekend there was time to start constructing some new pens so various of the breed trios could be given new quarters.
I have to say that my sheep herding/shearing and wire fencing days are long gone, so other than offer to make hot drinks as and when required and put some potatoes into bake that was about it.
The fencing went on by car headlight and head-torches, with the occasional break for refreshment until nearly midnight, when suddenly it was decided we had better hitch up the trailer and head off down the motorways to collect the scooter and drop off Thebus. Of course the lift had to be removed first so Sally and Niner did the deed and staggered to the barn with its deadweight. Then Sally’s Mum had to turn out with her 4×4 as that was the only vehicle with a suitable tow bar.
My sat nav showed an hour and a quarter until arrival time but as Sally knew a shorter route she set off pulling the trailer and I followed in Thebus, with the intention of me overtaking at the far end to get us to our final and somewhat concealed destination.
The motorway journey went well until someone overtook me and Thebus, then squeezed in between Sally and us causing slight confusion as we reached the motorway exit, but with some mad last minute overtaking the situation was rectified and we turned up the long driveway to the repair garage around 1.30 am, trying to be as quiet as possible so as not to disturb anyone sleeping onsite.
I quietly raised the roller shutter and parked Thebus inside the huge workshops whilst Sally put down the ramp of the trailer ready for me to ride the scooter on, and with a few adjustments we were off into the night back down the motorways to the farm. Then not long before our motorway exit suddenly the car overheating light came on and simultaneously a gush of smoke burst from the bonnet. Sally slammed on the brakes and headed for the hard shoulder, and taking care of oncoming traffic we leapt out – worrying slightly that the car was about to burst into flames.
Clouds of smoke came from the overheated engine, and we had no option but to phone home for help. By now it was about 2am but Sally’s Mum answered the phone and Sally’s Dad was roused from his slumbers and started out to our rescue. Arriving just before 3am he hitched us up and we set off with him steering the half defunct 4×4 together with the attached trailer complete with scooter. It was an interesting drive up and down the hills, through traffic lights and over roundabouts and considering Alan had been roused from his first sleep and was now driving an automatic with no brakes and steering – I was his passenger and Sally was the tow car – I think Alan kept remarkably cool and calm. Though having gone down a particularly long and steep hill the night air was punctuated by a few more voluble comments and we pulled up at the bottom of the bank to re-organize ourselves
The new running order became tow-car then trailer and scooter then towed car and we continued on into the night arriving at our destination at sometime after 4am to a resounding welcome for me from Phoebe who wondered quite what was going on. Sally and I gratefully settled down onto the settees with Phoebe and Lara, Sally’s Dalmatian, cuddled together in some blankets on the floor by the settees, for a couple of hour’s sleep before Sally’s 6am start.