Wednesday, 3 February 2010

The Last Ditch Attempt

In which Althea does well in the snow and has a little accident.

Hi folks. It's been an eventful month or so, starting with the brakes taking 3 hours to put back in resulting in a mad dash across Croydon to keep the MOT appointment. This included running out of diesel in the town centre and having to re fuel from a jerry can in the middle of the road.

I got to the test centre just in time and had an extremely stressful 45 minute wait while she was put through her paces. The brakes were still a bit soft having just been replaced but the test guy understood that and much to my relief and delight she passed.

A couple of days later she was doing her bit as tour bus for Ocelot. We drove to a pub in the darkest depths of Watford. While we played and watched the other acts, about 4 inches of snow fell.
A bunch of young punks play some young punk songs

Though very pretty it made the journey home a little tricky. Every time I had to brake I was glad all the brakes were done and there was one less thing to have to worry about. It didn't help that the wipers kept getting stuck and I would have to get out and fix them.

We got back to Watford eventually and just in time to witness the rare and beautiful sight of flocks of lesser spotted Watford birds displaying their multi coloured plumage and bright orange skin. Even in the depths of a freezing winter they still have their summer feathers which cover the tiniest of areas only and exhibit either clumsy mating or aggressive territorial behaviour.

The next day I headed off to Yorkshire with the worst of the weather still to come. Leaving London wasn't too bad but from around Sheffield the roads hadn't been gritted and it was inch thick Ice for most of the rest of the way. As long as we kept moving it was OK but getting going again from a standing start was very tricky.

Once at my mother's place it was great to relax. We made some curtains for Althea.

Note the ancient hand powered sewing machine. We made the curtains green on one side and white on the other so they could be used to reflect the sun in the summer and blend in, in the winter. No more being woken by the first rays of sun in the early hours. Thanks Mum!

I contacted Lisa who I've known for about 25 years and who's half brother was the original owner of the original BMC bread van (see the start of this blog). She now has a delightful family (Grace, Gabriel and husband Dean) and lives on the edge of the moors in Mardsen. I made the mistake of trusting the sat nav to get me there and ended up driving across the moors. Once again I found myself being very glad I could trust the newly refurbished brakes on those steep snow and ice covered hills in the middle of nowhere. I had to park Althea quite a distance from the house and walk the rest of the way because the snow was far too deep.

I woke up on the sofa bed with Nell the Lurcher pup cuddling me which was quite nice. I took the more sensible route back to Mum's through Huddersfield and a few days later was on the same roads to visit my Dad and Maureen. They had been on a bizarre Scottish holiday with a bunch of what sounds like some very colourful old folks. Which started and finished with serious delays again thanks to the snow.

All this cold weather and hard work had taken its toll on Althea. I discovered a leak at the bottom of her radiator which may have been there all along. I replaced the radiator when I got back which cost £30 and took about 30 minutes. The cooling system has been fine since and now that she's not constantly overheating she performs a whole lot better too. I also got some proper windscreen wipers and grafted them onto the existing arms so they wipe properly now too.

After Christmas Althea rested for a while. I fitted the 1960s chrome spotlight I'd bought and installed a switch to divert the solar panel charge to either battery. The control box for which I was about to send back when I discovered a tiny switch which disables the LED display to save energy.

Last weekend I took her to Mersea Island to meet a man Called Jamie about doing something at his Cosmic Puffin event. I'm looking forward to setting up my sound system during the day and doing some groovy video projections in the evening in the dance room.

On the way she ran out of fuel on the motorway end of the slip road onto the A12. Sounds familiar? I filled her up from the jerry can again but this time she wouldn't start and much to my embarrassment I didn't know how to get her going again. In no time two police Range Rovers had me towed to safety using a rolling road block.

On the Saturday night I picked up Mixmaster Morris and we headed off to Bridies Yard in Glastonbury. Thankfully we had a smooth and uneventful journey all the way until the very last few yards. I turned into the wrong driveway and ended up in a farmer's yard. It was pitch dark and the road just narrowed and fizzled out. There was a large hole in the ground where some kind of foundations are being laid and as I struggled to turn round this hole found its way under Althea's rear offside wheel. Poor Morris was hit by the disco ball as it fell but so far that was the only damage done. We tried wedging stones and wood between the tyre and the wall of the hole but to no avail. The problem was that because the tyre wasn't making contact with anything the diff was sending all the torque to it and none to the one still on the road.

Michael and Tanya from Bridies yard arrived in a little Escort van. Though the van wouldn't have had the strength to pull Althea out of the hole it did have enough to pull her to the edge and after almost giving up, Michael gave it one last ditch (see what I did there?) attempt and she pulled herself free. All this was done in almost total darkness and silence so as to not wake the farmer. The four of us sat in the office drinking my home made ginger beer with vodka and eating the oysters I brought from Mersea.

The party was great fun. Quite a lot of herbal tea. Lots of very nice folks, great food and of course I was spoiled with great music too. Not least two exclusive MMM mixes on the way there and back and one at the party. I got up early and shot some clips of the venue to use as raw materials for the projections which went down very well. Althea was very popular with the Glastonbury folks. I would be surprised if she hadn't been there before in a past life.

We slept in Althea with an electric heater making it lovely and cosy inside while it froze outside. At about 3 am a small dog woke us with non stop barking which I eventually got up to try and help by letting him into the building. But of course upon seeing me he ran off. Only to return and start all over again. This time we ignored him and half expected to find him frozen solid mid woof when we got up.

On the way back we stopped off in town to see the abbey but were too mean to pay the entry fee so Morris took a couple of photos over the wall instead. I bought Furry Freak Brothers and Fat Freddy's Cat books. We had a quick trawl through the vinyl and books in a couple of charity shops, which Glastonbury seems to have plenty of.

We also stopped off at Stonehenge and Morris treated me to the entry fee. The sun was low in the sky and the stones looked great.