I don't pretend to know about cars, but...

>> Sunday, 6 January 2008

It's the day after Boxing Day.

We are visiting my parents in Somerset for the second of our two family Christmases, and Husband has persuaded me that it's a good idea for the two of us to drive down to Honiton and take a look at some antique shops. He has sneakily persuaded my parents to babysit before mentioning this to me, knowing that my dislike of shopping (unless, of course, it involves jewellery or designer labels) extends to dragging up and down Honiton High Street peering through grimy windows assessing whether the levels of twee inside them are outweighed by the potential for buying yet more furniture to take home with us. (Yes, we have been down this road - literally - before). Husband is smart. If he hadn't covered off his bases by sorting childcare first I would have had a cast-iron excuse not to go, but as it is, there is no escape.

Before we leave, he gives our extremely non-cool, non-South Kensington car a wash and a thorough clean. This clean includes washing down the sills on the inside of the bonnet. Out in the garden with the Boys, kicking the ball around and pretending that I am god's gift to soccer (I'm not - but you probably guessed that already), I look up to see him apparantly pouring a bucket of water inside the engine of the car.

Are you supposed to be doing that?

Yes, it's fine. I know what I'm doing. (subtext: I - Man. You - Woman. Do not question me on matters of Car)

But what if you get the sparkplugs wet? Or - something...

Don't be silly. Car engines get wet all the time. (Subtext: You do say the silliest things)

But isn't that why they have bonnets? To stop that happening?

My comment is disregarded as too stupid to countenance, and we leave. 40 minutes into our journey, it starts to absolutely tip down. Just after this, the car starts to shake and shudder. Just a bit. After 5 minutes of resolutely ignoring it and hoping it will go away, we start to acknowledge the problem. He checks I have paid our AA membership. I suggest that maybe we should turn round. This is not an option, apparantly, due to the fact we are only 10 miles from Honiton so we might as well go and take a look - it will just be a few minutes.

Half an hour later, we arrive. Apparantly the A-whatever is not dual carriageway all the way. Who would have thought it?

The car has continued to lurch periodically. We get our priorities straight, and have lunch (at The Boston Tea Party, if you're ever in Honiton. I can recommend their tuna melts...) before looking in a few antique shops.

Husband enters each with a spring in his step and a positive attitude, open to possibilities for chinese side-boards and yet more mahogony occassional tables. I am determined not to allow yet more clutter into our home if I can help it. We clearly have very different viewpoints, so we settle our differences by purchasing a couple of foot-high wooden birds which we can put on top of the chests of drawers in our bedroom. Once we move all the crap off the top of them, that is. Husband is happy to have made a purchase (role reversal 'r' us), and frankly I'm just relieved to have got away without taking home anything that requires floor-space.

The car judders back to my parents, and we discuss stopping at a local garage to get it checked out, but decide that on balance we would much rather wait until it gives out on the journey home to London with the Boys in the back. We are adrenaline junkies of the first order.

1 week on, back in London, space still hasn't been cleared on the drawers for the birds, and I have yet to take the car into our local garage to get it checked out. This is because there have been no more problems. Yesterday, following various hospital trips and an hour drive up to North London to visit yet more family, we decide that actually it seems OK.

Perhaps it was that the spark plugs got wet.

How could that have happened, I wonder?

I say nothing else. I don't have to...


ped crossing 7 January 2008 at 06:01  

We girls do know a thing or two, even about cars. Hope your little chicken pox guy is doing better.

Glad the shopping adventure turned out reasonably well. I have say that I agree with you though. :)

Potty Mummy 7 January 2008 at 10:40  

Hi there PC, and thanks for the visit. Boy #2 is doing much better thanks; still keeping an eye on the complication, but that seems to improving too (or at the very least, not getting any worse). Now, if only I could persuade his nursery he's not contagious any more....

Frog in the Field 7 January 2008 at 15:22  

Water on the engine?
Oh Potty, of course it wasn't!
It's just that men know better than we do.
My husband gets furious about the amount of tyres we get through, I occasionally mention that perhaps he could put a little bit of air in them for me...no, no, they are low profile and meant to look like that! But, ho ho! last time I had a new tyre I asked 'Matey' whether the lack of air contributed to our thousand pound a year on tyres...why yes, he said, Darling Husband disagrees?!~?#!
Pah! Don't get me started! I'm getting serious cabin fever, we have first degree tonsilitis in the house today.....I have to get out....

aims 7 January 2008 at 16:17  

He sounds like 'The Man' - he loves to shop too! Luckily - or unluckily - 'The Man's' favorite place to shop is the grocery store.

Now - what is 'tip down' and 'twee' please?

Potty Mummy 7 January 2008 at 20:02  

Frog, a thousand pounds a year? On TYRES? Think of all the vital stuff that money could be used for; clothes, make-up, jewellery, mini-breaks in a Bridget Jones styley... I'm breaking out in a sweat just thinking about the wanton waste of funds. Definitely time to come up with some kind of incentive scheme to reward your beloved for pumping up the tyres, don't you think?

Although, with first degree tonsilitus in the house (you have my sympathy), I doubt you'll have the energy... Perhaps we should support some kind of support group for mums who have to stay at home tending sick kids. Yesterday the furthest I got from the flat was the bread shop. Hold me back - not sure I can stand the excitement...

Aims, that's definitely luckily, I think. Can't remember the last time Husband actually offered to go grocery shopping... Apologies for any confusion caused on those words:

If it's 'tipping down' that means it's raining cats and dogs (am assuming you have that phrase?)

Twee = kitsch - but not so cool. Think nasty looking ruffled trimmings on furniture, tassles on cushions, miniature brass versions of kitchen equipment, tiny spinning wheels, and pictures of kittens on plates (I like kittens, but only the reality, not some sickly sweet representation). Hope I haven't offended you by inadvertantly mentioning anything in your home - but I doubt it.

aims 7 January 2008 at 23:38  

Nope - can't find that stuff in my house...

aims 7 January 2008 at 23:38  

Drats - I couldn't remember this a minute ago - since we're on the subject of weird words...

What's 'tat'?

The Rotten Correspondent 8 January 2008 at 03:51  

I was wondering about Boy #2 also, and am glad he's doing better.

Men and cars. Oh, my god, could we all write a book or what? They crack me up - and not in a good way, either.

Potty Mummy 8 January 2008 at 09:52  

Hi Aims, 'tat' is the sort of stuff that is left unsold in your local charity shop or jumble sale (I think you call them goodwill sales). Dusty stuff that nobody needs or can find a use for. I.e., miniature brass versions of kitchen equipment, tiny spinning wheels, and pictures of kittens on plates (sound familiar?)

Thanks RC. He's not completely better - see my next post - but we're getting there. As for the car thing, well there's a whole new chapter coming there as we are about to update ours. I have refused a 4x4 since the humiliation at eating my new hat in public will be too great (we live in one of the most built-up areas in the world for heaven sake; chances for going off-road are somewhat limited), and am now fighting valiantly against an automatic. (I know they are the norm in the US, but in the UK, I'm afraid to say, automatics are seen as somewhat middle-aged. I may be 40 but my car doesn't have to shout it out...). Watch this space...

Anonymous,  8 January 2008 at 11:04  


We drove through Chelsea (I think it was when we got lost) on our way back from Somerset*. Did you see me wave?
You don't want a 4x4 or an automatic - an Aston Martin is really the only car to have in Chelsea. Instant street cred. Or are they automatic?

Hope the chicken pox is subsiding.


*New Year in Camberwell, in case you think we got really lost.

Frog in the Field 8 January 2008 at 11:31  

You'll never get a refund if it has teeth marks in it!
What's a Kensington car then?
Presumably not a mud-covered Volvo?

Jonny's Mommy 9 January 2008 at 15:50  

Yeah, men..they think they know every thing... luckily my hubby admits to having no knowledge of vehicles. Glad you two got out for a little shopping together and only got two birds out of the deal!

Potty Mummy 9 January 2008 at 16:47  

Hi GPM, I did wonder why you might be in this area if you were heading home, but just assumed the sat nav wanted to do a spot of shopping on the Kings Road...

Aston Martins probably do come in automatic versions, but aside from the small problem of forking out £60k (at least for the one my beloved would want!), have you seen how little space they have in the back? And as for bootspace for accumulated child-related debris, forget it....

Frog, let's see; a Kensington car is usually big enough to fit around 5 children in (but the maximum you will ever see in them is two); almost always black, although occassionally silver; high enough to be able to see over the top of lesser being's vehicles (although not high enough to allow you to see road markings at traffic lights and thus stop to allow people to join the main road when the light changes in their favour); expensive enough to feed entire villages in the 3rd world for around 10 years; petrol-guzzling enough for 1 month's requirement to supply energy to the same villages for the same time; and invariably driven by a blond who has a thrice-weekly appointment with her personal trainer, runs 5 miles 3 other days of the week, and hasn't had a spot or a split end since her early teens (around 25 years ago).

We drive a skoda. 'nuff said?

Hi JM! And guess what? They're STILL in their packaging...

Frog in the Field 9 January 2008 at 19:22  

Sorry, but...a SKODA??
...have a tissue.
No wonder your husband was pouring water over the engine - nice try!
Sorry - ahem!
We have blondes with huge 4x4's out here. They can't reverse and don't have any mud on their vehicle - shocking!
My car (sob) gets driven even across fields sometimes! Even when I had a Jaguar my husband drove it across the fields (grrr!)

Potty Mummy 9 January 2008 at 20:11  

You know Frog, you're absolutely right. And coincidentally I was just mulling over a post on that very subject today, so stay tuned and you'll find out just how we ended up driving such a ridiculous brand (although if Husband were here he would of course tell you that it's essentially a VW, just without the badge. Yeah, right...)

And as for driving a Jag across fields - well, I guess it has a rather shabby chic. A bit like driving a skoda in K&C, really... (No, actually not at all like driving a skoda in K&C, dammit).

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