New Car

May. 29th, 2017 04:16 pm
luckykaa: (cortina)
So we bought a car.

[personal profile] flickums  suggested buying a rustbucket. It would mean we could get around easily, and she'd be able to practice driving. So we looked around and bought a Ford Mondeo more or less on impulse, for £400.

Flickums has named him Harrison.

In hindsight, we rushed into this a bit. Dealer did replace the battery but it was a dud. Kind of old, and too low ampage. We could have taken it back, and he probably would have swapped the battery back, but that would have meant waiting until Tuesday, he'd probably only pick a battery that was just about adequate if he did fix it, and it seemed way too much hassle, compared with getting the AA to fit a new one.  Also thought that the MOT was until December but it wasn't. Really should have checked the paperwork there. Wondering if I should fight on this one... But I think when a car is that cheap it's a case of caveat emptor.

Also needs a new beam headlight... But those are cheap and I can fit it myself. And the lighter socket didn't work but I managed to tinker enough to get that behaving.

With the car fully armed and operational, it was time to put Flickums behind the wheel. I thought it went okay. Although we do keep losing L-plates. Perhaps we should just gaffer tape them on. Flick seems less certain and didn't like roundabouts. I think we need more practice on quieter roads to get some confidence up.

We drove up to Poynton, where they have a miniature railway. That was fun. Had a look in the model shop and had lunch at the cafeteria in the attached garden centre. I had a fun day out.

luckykaa: (cortina)
I have no real need for a car. I get the tram to work every day, and I am now living walking distance from Flickums (it's a very short walk from my flat to my flat). But occasionally it would be useful. For example, I want to get some dead bed to the dump. I'd like to carry lots of stuff to the dump. It would be nice to be able to visit other people more easily.

So I need to decide what to get. As ever indecisiveness overwhelms me.
luckykaa: (cortina)
Today I say goodbye to my loved but unreliable car, Thunderbird.

It was never a particularly good car. MG-Rover was not renowned for their reliability. It took a while to actually get it because getting it past its MOT cost a lot (I reckon that pretty much clobbered the dealer's profits). And it didn't take long before it needed a head gasket replacement. And then after I'd had it a year, it was back in car hospital for another couple of weeks to sort out remaining issues. And it never really had the performance a sports car should have. Plus a couple of niggling issues like the window randomly winding down when it rained. At 10 years old, poor Thunderbird's age was showing.

Nor was it a particularly practical car, although unlike the MR2 it did actually have a boot, and a large enough boot to squeeze in my suitcase.

But I was fond of it. It was my car! It got me to and from Chez Flickums. It let me take trips to places public transport didn't reach! It allowed me to pose and attract the laides (no it really didn't. [livejournal.com profile] flickums thought it was a silly impractical car and never got the point of convertibles). And I had some good times with it. I loved driving out to nice places around Sheffield and Leicester, with Flickums. It was fun to zip down to other parts of the country to see friends, and to be able to just jump into my car and visit Flickums mid-week. And there was the time - where Thunderbird earned his stripes and his name - flickums was stuck at work, so I could swing by and pick her up. And another time, the train was late, the trams were crap and so I could collect a flickums at the station.

But Thunderbird started to make a tapping. The tapping became a knocking, and the mechanic said that it would cost more to fix than the car was worth. I decided to take the car home, and it died on the way back. The AA pulled it home.

Today the scrap man came to take it away.

Farewell Thunderbird. May you rust in peace.
luckykaa: (cortina)
So, I need a new car.

Actually that's probably overstating things. I don't need a car at all, I just find having one is often useful, and since Thunderbird is no more, I have to buy one.

Am considering buying another impractical 2 seater convertible. I could get a brand new one on hire-purchase, and therefore not dig further into the house deposit fund. Do quite like the MX-5 although that does have the "hairdresser" association which worries me more than it probably should. Of course there's also the Fiat Spider 124, which is essentially the same car and is very pretty.

Other options are a used MX-5. More practical than a MG-TF or an MR-2 (it has a boot that is big enough for more than a small case), and probably more reliable. Or there's the gorgeous BMW Z4

Loking at more practical cars that can still have the roof down, I could get a slighlty less impractical 4 seater convertible. Renault Meganes seem to be going cheap, and there's plenty of Peugeot 207's. I quite like the VW Eos and the Saab 9-3 which are ragtops; which means I'd still have boot space with the roof down.

Final option is the cheapest possible car that has 4 wheels and an engine. Gets me from A to B, and even to C (car dealers).

The real problem I have is that the dealers are not easty to get to without a car. But I have time to mull this over. I think I need to book a test drive or two.
luckykaa: (cortina)

My poor car has breathed his last. Engine started to rattle a couple of weeks ago. Put in oil. Took him for a run. Rattle got worse. Took it to the mechanic. "Not heard a noise like that before".

Verdict was that the engine would need a rebuild. Not sure it's worth it. So I  drove it home assuming it would get me to a used car dealer a couple of times. Sadly it didn't quite manage that trip either.  Conked out with 3 miles to go.

Fortunately I was right by a parking bay, and  managed to guide the car in. Then got out quick because smoke is not a good sign.

Called the AA  Finally got to use Holly the evil Satnav's "Where am I" feature. A very nice man towed me home.

So I need a new car. Not sure what to buy. Really didn't want that expense on top of everything else this month.

luckykaa: (Wolf)
Much as the weekend was frustrating, I seem to be feeling a little more cheerful now. I did enjoy the parties, and catching up with friends at the convention. I had a chance to go into the sea at least briefly, and it wasn't horribly cold. Blackpool does have nice sandy beaches.

Also I got a lot of likes on the photos I uploaded to faceache which is always an ego boost.

Couple of agents have called me about possible contracts. I'm actually quite optimistic about one of them. They seem to want a lot of dispirate skills (is that the right word?) but I have a bunch of them.

And the mechanic seems to have got the bolt he needed at last.

In other news final (I believe) Temraire book comes out in a couple of days.
luckykaa: (cortina)
My car made a "hrum-phumb-brr" noise and completely failed to burst into life. Seems that a week of not being driven drained the battery (which seems odd but maybe I left something on)

So I wandered to the hardware store to see if I could buy a charger. He didn't have one. I wandered to the other hardware store to see if I could buy a charger. She did have one. Then all I needed to do was remove my battery. The cables were easy enough to remove. Sadly, there was a tiny little bolt stuck by the side of the battery holding it on. Not enough room to turn a spanner. The local shops don't sell a good range of tools. Just basic cheapies. Still, I did get a selection of spanners. Some the right size (10mm rather than the nearest imperial equivalent) None of them had enough wiggle room.

Reconnected the battery. Set off the alarm. Ooops.

Gave up called the AA. Don't have home start. Maybe I should change my address back to my parents' place.

Asked some helpful Polish neighbours to give me a push start. It didn't work. I ended up in a worse position because I was stuck in a parking bay that I had to get out of before tomorrow morning.

Eventually managed to get the battery out. Blody hell, those things are heavy! What are they made from? Oh yeah... Lead! Lugged it home and plugged it into my charger.

Got bored waiting after a couple of hours. Lugged it back to my car, wired it up. It's alive!!!

I cackled a mad scientist laugh, as I drove Thunderbird around a little to make sure the battery got a little more of a charge.

Tomorrow, I think I need to buy a socket set.
luckykaa: (cortina)
I must remember not to park round the corner, under that particular tree. The tree seems to house the world's most incontinent birds. They did a real number on my car (the number being 2).

Still, not a problem. There's a jet wash round the corner. High pressure hoses make short work of birdshit. I have a few other things to do but it should be a quick job. So I drove around the block, and found that the last turning has no right turn. Or left turn. I can only go straight. That's the last direction I want to go. That road would take me into town and there's no turning off! And the traffic lights seemed to be taking forever!

One three point turn later, I take a different exit, and find that the garage is being rebuilt or refurbished or whatever. So, I turn round again and hunt a jetwash. I thught perhaps the esso along narborough road would have one. I really wanted to get this small task out of the way so I was a little impatient. For some reason, every other driver decided that they should drive 15mph below the speed limit. As it turned out there was no jetwash there. I headed for the M1. Surely a big motorway service station would have a jetwash. The slow driving virus had affected people here as well. Also, when are those damn roadwarks going to be finished!? So does the motorway service station have a jetwash?

Nope.

I looked it up on my phone. I found an address. According to google, there is one jetwash in the whole of Leicester. I headed down there as fast as possible. This turned out to involve crawling through some roadworks, but evenutally I got there. And they had a jetwash. So I went in to ask for a code or a token. "Nope". Why not? "It's coin operated".

So a 15 minute job took me abpout an hour.

But at least it's done now. And my tyres are pumped up.
luckykaa: (cortina)
So, after the drive to Coventry, my car started spewing out lots of steam and got very very hot. Stopped at a petrol station, refilled the coolant. Got me home. Checked the next day, the water was empty. So I booked it into a garage. I went for the one that answered the phone on a Saturday afternoon.

Perhaps I should have picked the one that had parking. Actually I found myself not quite liking the mechanic. Perhaps it was that he was smoking. I dropped it off anyway because I needed to get to work.

They checked for leaks and didn't find any. Apparently the emissions are way over where they should be. The diagnosis is a head gasket problem. While this is comon in Rover/MGs of my car's vintage, it has had the head gasket replace in the past. And the reasoning seemed very reminiscent of the symptoms that don't on their own indicate failure. Although I do have a few of them.

Now, I did get the used car warranty when I bought the car. Will need to look into that. I have no idea how that works in practice. Was hoping the mechanic would be able to tell me but sadly not.

Thing is, if it is a head gasket problem, and I do need to fork out some of my own cash, I wonder if it's worth it. It's an expensive job. Especially when the engine's in the middle rather than the more traditional and sensible front. It probably means there's a lot of hassle involved getting the thing out.

For now I'm travelling by bus.
luckykaa: (TV)
I was tired of slumming it in 720P land. Also I'd run out of HDMI slots. So I bought myself a new TV.

Went to Richer Sounds. Was delighted that the meter parking ended at 4pm.

Told them what I wanted. Seems the only real option with the number of connectors I want was a smart TV. I don't really need a smart TV. My Fire Stick has all the same functionality, and probably more. So does my PS3. And I don't trust Sony to keep the software updated, or support all the on demand services I might want, especially future ones. On the plus side, Sony Bravias do tend to have decent picture quality, haven't done anythign particularly evil in the past few months, and the 4 HDMI slots is as many as I can hope for.

Also, Richer Sounds were very accommodating. I wanted to see if the box would fit in my car. and the manager helped me. It almost did, so I thought I'd chance it and if not get a taxi back. So I paid, tried manhandling it into my car, and knocked the handbrake off in the process, thus almost rolling into traffic. And the steering wheel was locked. Ooops. Could have been worse. Decided to get a taxi. Asked Richer Sounds manager to call me one, but I ended up hailing one as it went past.

TV set up. I now only have one orphan unconnected device. I also have a huge pile of leftover packaging! And the taxi journey took forever! Was planning to drop TV off and ask drive to turn round but I couldn't be bothered with Leicester City traffic. Decided to set it up. Found that while there are hundreds of apps on it, there's no search facility! Still, it did have enough slots for most of my devices so I don't need them.

Satisfied, I wandered back to pick up my car. Realised I'd misunderstood the parking restrictions and rather than free after 4pm, there's no parking at all after that time. Ooops! I guess I just need to consider the parking ticket part of the price.
luckykaa: (cortina)

Decided to step up my search for a new car. I really love the look of the BMW Z4 in Burgundy. Checked Auto Trader. One had appeared just on the edge of my search radius (which is about 100 road miles). So I rang up and arranged to see it.

Had a look around. Paint was a little damaged. Alloys weren't in excellent nick. But then it is 12 years old. And that's all fixable. The price itself seemed pretty good.

Walked in, expecting an enthusisatic welcome. Salesman handed me the key with a grunt and let me look at it. Was expecting a little more of an attempt to, you know, sell me a car. Okayyyy... So I sat in. It's a very comfortable cosy car compared with the spartan MR2. Very BMW. Was a little disapointed that it was an automatic. Should have checked before but that's not a deal breaker.

Played with it a bit. Roof opened and closed nicely. Even the CD changer still worked, which was a surprise; this is the only time I've seen a 10 year old CD changer that still works! But I don't *want* a CD changer. I want bluetooth and a line-in. And a 12 year old car doesn't have those. Nor does it look like it's easy to change it.

Also the satnav wasn't worth having. Once again the problem with advanced 10-year-old technology. It becomes old fashioned incredibly quickly! No touch screen, rubbish UI. I have my Tomtom so it doesn't matter too much but it rubs me uop the wrong way to have satnav that I'd never use.

Still, was still considering it. Good price and nothing inherently wrong. It might be possible to replace the stereo. I know people do it although it might be model dependent. So I walked in and asked to take it for a test drive. The salesman grunted "£10 deposit", and pointed to a sign on the wall. Apparently they charge a tenner for a test drive that they only refund if I buy the car.

"Okay", I said, then handed the keys back, and decided he can get stuffed.

Is it too entitled to expect a little bit of respect when you're planning to give someone several thousand quid?

So that one's a "no". Which is a shame. But "no" while not very satisfying is still a valuable datum. And I learned a few more things.

  • I need to reduce my search radius. Welwyn is 2 hours drive in reasonably good traffic. I wouldn't have minded if I wanted the car (I drove 70 miles to look at the MR2 I bought last year)
  • I need to check what sort of transmission a car has before going to look at it.
  • I'm not so sure a Z4 is the car for me. Still a contender - Apart from radio and satnav it was a nice car - but I need to compare with others.
  • Ask about test drives before going to see a car.
  • Research aftermarket stereos.

And I got to drive my mum's car with the roof down which is always fun. So it was a fun day out.

luckykaa: (Car)
Last year sometime I bought myself an impractical Toyota MR2. I knew it was impractical and I knew I'd get sick of it after a few week.

Turned out I loved the thing!

So now I want another new car. Something impractial but possibly with a boot this time. Something I can squeeze a medium sized case into. That was literally the *only* problem I had with the MR2.

Quite like the look of the BMW Z4. Especially in Burgundy. Seem few and far between though. Plenty in silver (why is that such a popular colour!?). Saw a gorgeous one going for a good price, but that would involve getting to Southend. Maybe a black one.

There's also the Audi TT Quattro. Don't want a front wheel drive. Feels like it's just a pretender, but the Quattro has 4WD. There was one for sale a few doors from my parents for a whie but it disappeared just as I arrived back.

The MGF and MG-TF I think is one of the most gorgeous cars made in the last couple of decades. Tempting...  Must be green. It's the law!

And an outsider is the Porsche Boxster. I'd have to go for a much older one than the others. But everyone agrees that this is one of the best sports cars there is.

Of course I could look at the same as last time. The boot space is an issue but I did love the car.
luckykaa: (cortina)
So, having taken my car in to be fixed, I get a phone call. Apparently there's yet more wrong with it. Except it's hard to communicate exactly what. I ask a collague to talk to him. Turns out that the part that the connects the brakes to the chassis is also rusted and needs to be replaced. I find out if it will be fixable by Saturday since I've already booked tickets and if there's anything else wrong with it. The answers are no, and yes respectively. I decide it's not worth fixing it. He does say he'll buy it from me.

So I head over to Dusseldorf. Accept whatever he'll offer me. Actually €400 isn't too bad, but then we hit the stumbling block of non-German paperwork. He asks me to come back when his boss is there so we can deal with it. I grudgingly agree. So I need to get to Dusseldorf again in a couple of weeks. And the only reason I agree to is because I don't want the car to be stuck in limbo.

Rather stupidly I booked a 13:00 train back. this meant a long wait.

13:00 comes. Train is cancelled! Another hour wait, as well as anxiety because I'm not 100% sure that that was the problem, and the person in front of me had one of those extremely long queries.

Really I just want this car saga to be over. I can't keep pissing about going to and from Dusseldorf.

Maybe I should hire a car next time. There is a SixT office right outside my office... 
luckykaa: (cortina)
Seems we have a 3 day weekend this weekend.

Might be worth taking advantage of it to take my car back to Britain. Still have to work out how to sell the damn thing from another country though.
luckykaa: (cortina)
I took advantage of the autobahns and the fact that I have a car and drove to Dusseldorf.

Autobahns really are nice at times. Contrary to popular belief, there are large sections that do have speed limits, but there are also sections that are essentially drag strips. My car cruises along at 160km/h (100mph) quite happily, as long as I put the roof up. Decided to push it a little more and see how fast I could go. Decided that 192km/h (120mph) was probably enough. That's actually pretty respectable given that the rated top speed when new was 131mph.

I slowed down for the last few miles. And that's when it started going thud-thud-thud, or thud.....thud....thud when I went very slow.

First thing I checked was the tyres. It's a shame they've made pumps at garages so simple. I find them a lot harder to use. I can understand a dial with a pressure gauge on it and a trigger. It's fairly intuitive. Press buttons to select a pressure seems a little too far removed from the actual pumping tyres process. It did seem that one of my tyres was low but I might have not connected the hose properly. Still tyres fully pumped, it still made that noise. So I called my dad. Brakes were suspect. So on his advice, I compared the temperatures of the brake discs, and one felt considerably hotter than the other. Man at garage confirmed I needed them fixed. Also pointed out my tyres were cracked (they were in a very bad way). There's no way I was driving home on those! So I got the train home and will head back on Saturday to pick it up.

Still wonder what to do with my car. It's not like I need it. It would have been no more difficult to have gone by train or plane to Fedcon. And now I'm in the tricky position that if I want to sell it I need to get it home first. Nobody in Germany is going to want a right hand drive UK registered car. And I can't legally keep it here for too long. Not sure what I can do with it.

If anyone does want a 12 year old MR2, and would want to pick it up from Berlin (or even Dusseldorf or the Netherlands - I'll quite happily deliver it that far) then let me know. You'll get a good deal on it.
luckykaa: (cortina)
Have moved into new apartment. Have also decided I never want to drive through Berlin again. Did it three times from where I'm staying in the east to new apartment in the northwest, back again to collect luggage and back again to deliver luggage. First route had slow taraffic due to roadworks (Also a long tunnel which is not pleasant when relying on satnav). Second route had lots of diversions due to roadworks. Third route had a few diversions due to roadworks and cobbled streets.

Curiously the old East Berlin seems to be a lot easier to drive through, although maybe this is the edge of the city vs. the centre. Lots of wide straight roads. Karl Marx Allee is an example of surprisingly good Soviet planning. As soon as I get closer to the Mitte area, it's all roadworks! Also lots of cycle lanes with fairly unpredictable cyclists.  Also also, almost got hit by a taxi. Not sure if this was because I misunderstood priorities (he was turning left. I assumed I had right of way), or because it was a taxi.

On the plus side, I am now pretty much moved in. Shoved most of my stuff into the car, but realised I forget a few bits and pieces (inlcuding milk, ruinign the cuppa  I planned). Went back by train and thought I cleared out but stopped short of returning the key. Realised I still have a towel there, and my shower gel. Was almost home when I realised I also didn't have any loo paper. Quick u-turn to the nearest shop averted that disaster.

New place is fantastic though! Large, spotless, fitted kitchen (induction hob, diswasher, all the utensils I need). It's not cheap but inlcudes all bills and not a lot more than I was paying in Brighton. No kettle. Landlord assures me induction hob is as fast so there's no need. It is as fast but I am a creature of habit, and it feels wrong. Another oddity is that the lift goes to floors 0, 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5. It meant I had to carry a heavy bag down a flight of steps rather than up.

So the only thing left to do is a housewarming party!!! Anyone want to visit? Floor isn't all that comfortable but will get an airbed or something if I do ever have a promise of visitors.
luckykaa: (cortina)
Autobahns are great! Found out my car can do at least 180km/h (111mph) without trouble. After that I lost my nerve somewhat. I'm not used to driving fast and I don't really want to put too much pressure on the old thing. Was going 130-140km/h (80-90mph) for a lot of the journey though, and, this being the German autobahn, cars were zooming past me as though I was stopped.

Services in Europe seem somewhat unimpressive though. Maybe the ones off the main motorway are a bit better. All we get is a little kiosk and perhaps a cafeteria. Also a distinct shortage of smaller nibbles. I'm sitting down all day. I don't need a high calorie dinner. Especially because I loaded up at breakfast.

My fears of driving on the right were unfounded. My big problem is that I've never been very good with left and right anyway and have to remember when satnav says "turn left" it means I go to the opposite side of the road. Also I do need to think about which side of the road I'm going to end up on. Even that's not a problem on major roads. I know it happens but I have no idea how anyone ever manages to end up going the wrong way.

So, that was a pretty epic drive, but there are perks to being an introvert. Glad I had an audiobook to keep me company. Also glad I decided to do second leg from Amersfoort rather than Brussels - [livejournal.com profile] penguin_worship's advice - thanks for that Lucy :)

*Google translate. May not be accurate
luckykaa: (Exterminate)
Work preparation plans continue. This includes printing off about 20 sheets of paper and initialling them or singing them, scanning them and sending them back to the management company. I don't have access to my scanner or printer right now so this involves a trip up into the loft each time I forget something.

Still have the crazy plan to drive there. Really should stop off in Belgium. The whole thing has been a hassle. Insurance company can't give full coverage to me in Germany so had to find another. Through misunderstanding or miscommunication I seem to have been charged £25 for failing to realise cancelling during cooling off period had a fee. Have complained about that one.

Bought a European travel kit from Halfords. Red triangle, hi-vis, first aid kit. No breathalysers (technically a legal requirement in France but the actual fine for them has been delayed indefinitely).

Still not totally sure driving is a good idea. On the plus side, it does increase my luggage capacity hugely. Main issue is a level of fear over driving in another country. I have no idea about parking, slightly anxious about the emissions permit I need. I think this is my general fear of risk that I need to approach head on.

Have booked somewhere to live for the first month. Berlin is a lot cheaper than Amsterdam or Brussels. Airbnb is useful.

Remaining tasks:

  • Print, sign, scan and return NDA
  • Find out who I should be asking for at Tomtom.
  • Cancel old insurance.
  • Get maps for Germany on satnav.
  • Sort out health insurance
  • Plan when to leave.
  • Arrange goodbye drinks.
Wondering if I've missed anything.
luckykaa: (Wolf)
Because I feel I should post more. The more I post the more I have to talk about, and since I haven't posted for over a week I have next to nothing. Of course a large part of this is because I'm cruising. Of course not having any obligation to get up in the morning means I'm actually enjoying January more than I usually do. Usually get really miserable in the winter. No real movement on the job front. Want to carry on contracting. Stavanger appeals still because I actually sort of know someone there (Friend of a friend) who I seem to get on well with at least over facebook.

Spending my time writing Android apps. Wrote a playlist editor. Currently has 2 installs including me... Not surprising - there are hundreds of the things. I wrote this because it was more interesting to do so than to dig though all the available editors to find one that works the way I want it to.

Still living with my parents. Finding the living with parents a little frustrating for various reasons mainly related to clashing levels of control freakery. Have offered to cook once a week (or more if my parents head away for the day) so at least I have that under my control. Also get to experiment. Today I discovered that wine in my stew works better than beer.

Keep feeling like I just can't be bothered going dancing. I'd probably enjoy it if I went, but it's such a hassle - I have to park if I drive. Bus just takes so long to get there especiallty if I include the wait.

Car has been fully tested. Driven with roof up. Driven with roof down. Almost lost control at one point so am being a little more careful. Still enjoying it and its wonderful impracticality. Now has a new radio with bluetooth, mp3 and line-in, and no tape player or CD changer. Need something to fill the gap. This car is a lot of fun! Nice runner for a 12 year old as well.
luckykaa: (cortina)
Last week I bought a car. It's very nice. A Blue Toyota MR2 - 2002 reg. It is now fully equipped with an adequate sound system rather than the device with a non-working radio and broken CD multichanger. Still haven't really driven it far, except for a brief jaunt to Worthing and the drive from Bracknell. I want to drive it a lot. I also want to drive it in the summer when I can take the roof down.

Today I went to Trapeze. I had a lot of fun. Emma has been replaced by Vicki and it has a very different feel. A lot more freeform. Went there today and had lots of fun and seem to be making friends.

I'm starting to get too settled. This is a little worrying. I don't want to give up either of the above but I do still want to work in other countries. These two points are incompatible. Actually trapeze class is pretty much incompatible with me getting a contract. Very few companies down here want to take on contractors. I could go permie, but I don't think trapeze means quite that much to me, and I'd need to find a job I actually want to do.

I guess I'll be taking things as they come. Kinda need to do something. Been in limbo for too long now.

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