Monthly Archives: June 2015

Midnight Motorway Breakdown

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.

Adam’s Rally Car Run

We had some excitement as Dave, who was repairing Thebus, and his son Adam were taking Adam’s rally car over to MIRA for a leg of the Heart of England Championship Rally.  Adam and his dad had rebuilt the rally car and this was their second time out with it, so all of the workings were checked over, new tyres put on and it was loaded up ready for the off.

They had a dash cam set up inside the car, and at the end of the youtube clip there is one of the laps as seen from the front of the car.

On the same weekend one of the old vehicles Lotte the Lorry was being taken down to London for the London to Brighton run.

She had been primped and preened and finally a huge wooden structure prepared for the back so the family could sleep in her over the weekend.  They set off the weekend I was due to visit Sally and Niner at the smallholding to help out with the May Day opening so I only saw them just as they were ready for depart, though I may see them again after Thebus is finished at the spray shop.

The New Scooter

For some time now my scooter has been playing up a bit – but only on an intermittent basis.  It seems that the wiring for the motor, which is of course near to the ground, was not protected from the weather in any sort of effective way so when the weather was rainy and Thebus went through lots of puddles, or I got caught out in a shower the scooter was not one hundred percent reliable and stopped unexpectedly, stranding me in odd places.

My brother Mike had given it all a thorough overhaul and service, but there was nothing which could be done to prevent the wiring getting damp so the upshot was I would need to look for another scooter.  Even though I am travelling the country, very often in a different place every day, I still find myself resistant to change – but now the time had come to bite the bullet.

Lots of internet research kept me coming back to a rather flashy little number in black and chrome.  I was worried about whether the ‘Lovely Lift’ (which was the replacement for Wretched Rack) I had been using would be big enough to take this new scooter.   Or whether a new lift would be necessary – in which case it would need to be shipped over from The States.  Emails and measurements flashed backwards and forwards between the scooter manufacturers, their agents, the lift manufactures and their agents, me and the garage.  With the result that even if the ‘Lovely Lift’ was not man enough to lift this heavier and larger scooter a direct replacement from the same American manufacturers would be.  So suitably reassured I purchased the scooter over the internet – untried and untested – secure in the knowledge that even if the lift was not suitable I could order a new one within a few days

And this was my new purchase

It has a longer range – apparently up to thirty four miles on one battery charge, and even better it has a lovely tight turning circle – the old scooter, with its four wheels, took quite a bit of turning round when on a narrow pavement.  The icing on the cake was that it had a slightly better ground clearance.

Having tried it out (including a scooter race with my brother who had popped buy) and liked it I popped the old one on an internet site as taking two scooters with me was out of the question.  It went online Friday at about 8pm and Saturday morning bright and early someone phoned about buying it.  Her husband called round a couple of hours later, liked it and loaded it on his van – or should I say I loaded it on his van as he ‘got a bit stuck’ much to his embarrassment – and he went off muttering that he never thought he would have had to ask a woman to help load for him.

Then my problems started.

When the new scooter had arrived it looked as though all would be fine and it would fit on my own Lovely Lift which at the time was removed from Thebus whilst he was undergoing repairs. But once the lift was refitted the angle of the lift and the shape of the handles of the new scooter made it next to impossible to drive on, plus the weight of the new scooter seemed all to one side which I didn’t like. Soooooo…. it looked like I would have to make other arrangements.

But before all this was realised I took my new Super Scooter out for an airing.

Up the road from the repair workshops was a lovely old property owned by the National Trust.  The day was bright and sunny so the few miles drive was not likely to be blighted by my getting rained on.  Mind you the trip there was quite exciting when undertaken by mobility scooter rather than car.

Firstly I had to cross four lanes of traffic coming off directly from the motorway roundabout, then round the big roundabout under the M54, up the dual carriageway, over another couple of roundabouts, then down a narrow lane used as a traffic ‘rat run’.  I had to smile though when I arriving at the property I was directed to the motorcycle park by the attendants – perhaps I should look at buying a motorcycle helmet!