Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for April, 2013

Future-proofing Insurance

Future-proofing insurance

I received a reminder that my insurance is due on one of my cars this week.  I began the task of finding cheap insurance cover not just for myself and Sexy Sporty Dad but this year we have the added complication of a learner driver to consider.   Hopefully, he will pass his test within the year, so we need to consider this as well.

I looked at my already expensive insurance schedule and rang the insurer who had sent the new policy details.

It is Old Faithful that requires renewal in more ways than one.   This car has seen us and particularly the children a lifetime.  It has stayed reliable and economical and has seen so many uses.   We acquired Old Faithful when Middle Son was just born.  We traded in my bachelor girl Renault 5 which had just about squeezed ourselves and No 1 Son with all his paraphernalia in, but when the second baby arrived it meant we needed to take two cars if we went anywhere.

We had already changed Sexy Sporty Dad’s girl pulling Triumph Spitfire for a more sedate family style car that could at least fit more people; now that I had filled any need or want he may have to pull. So now I too needed a family car capable of expansion within the family and the ability to transport the resulting luggage.

Old Faithful is a Peugeot 405 Quasar limited edition Turbo Diesel Estate registered in 1994.  She was sleek exterior, pristine interior and with an engine size of 1.9 had a kick like a rocket when needed!  The boot was half the length of the car and had room for every conceivable baby implement I would ever need to carry.   There was a tow bar for the future, little did we know then, along with the roof bars. And she was aquamarine; a limited colour choice from Peugeot only available on the 1994 Quaser editions. She remains to this day the only car I have ever owned that was new enough for one year at least not to require an MOT.

She is now in her dotage, although still used daily for Sexy Sporty Dad to get to work.  Old Faithful has served us well.  She still manages to run about 75mpg, she has pulled trailers, boats and carried all kinds of camping gear, rugby kit, furniture and animals in her boot.  She has held shopping and baby prams, done tip trips and the school run and for a time she was out on lone to a friend of the family while she was carless and we had three.

Like all old ladies she is a bit wrinkly at the edges, her ceiling cloth no longer held by the roof, drapes tiredly down resting where it can.  Sometimes she staggers in the mornings when you turn her on and has even needed jump starting to shock her back to life.  Bits of rust and discolouration drop off her and she has completed worn away her gear stick handle.  The feeble windows now unable to open smoothly are fixed shut so we have to get out to go through parking barriers or kiosks.   Give her the green light though and she can still do 0-60 before the boy racer next to her has worked out which is first gear.  Her annual MOT check continues to give her the all clear and her once sleek body still elegant but no longer the envy of would be thieves.

This is the car No 1 Son has been learning to drive on.  History repeating itself, I learnt to drive in the prototype for this car; the Peugeot 504.  A few differences, the 504 had a longer wheelbase and 3 rows of seats, but in essence the same car.

About 2 years ago I had traded in my then People Mover which was not performing at all well, down to 13 mpg and struggling with failing electrics regularly affecting the performance and often the whole ignition.  My journeys were short, in and out of town often in the mornings stuck in a traffic jam.  I no longer needed the 7 seats the People Mover afforded me as the older two children no longer had school events requiring lifts or large groups of friends coming out for the day.  I didn’t need to do a school run as we live next to the primary school and a 10 minute walk from the top school.

I studied the form of differing cars, the fuel economy, the all-important tax band, Insurance group and overall performance. I also premeditated future and ongoing requirements of this car.  Finally a runabout that ticked all the boxes was found and I bought my 1.4 Peugeot 206 Urban.  She was neat, speedy and so easy to park; I loved her.  Best of all she was a small economical car the children, two nearing that age, could learn to drive on and then use.

When it came to December and No 1 Son began learning, because of the way the insurances ran out it was better to put him on the 405 initially to learn to drive but now this insurance requires renewal it was time to review all our insurance policies.   The most logical thing was to move him once he passes his test onto the 206 so that he can use the car when Sexy Sporty Dad is at work, for running around in town or running errands for me.

I was quoted:

As a named driver on Old Faithful and still on a provisional licence £470.99.

As a named driver on the 206 and still on a provisional licence £637.00.

As a named driver on Old Faithfull and on a full licence £470.99.  No change!

As a named driver on the 205 and on a full licence £776.00.

These are not the extortionate prices quoted in the press but they do not allow him to build up any no-claims in his own right and as well as the annual rise in costs would not come down next year. If we were to buy him a car of his own then he would have his own policy but initially we are talking thousands of pounds.

My disbelief and argument is;  they would prefer my 17 year-old boy learner/new driver to be let loose in a 1.9 turbo estate car, which I can assure them still has one heck of a boost when you put your foot down, than in a small easily manageable 1.4 saloon.

What amazes me is that they cannot understand what I am getting at.  “That’s what the computer says” was the helpful answer from the girl who obviously had no idea what the difference in 1.4 or 1.9 turbo was let alone length.  I could have been ordering haddock as opposed to cod, both battered and with chips.  To her I was asking for insurance on car a or car b, “the computer say….”

I am back to the drawing board and will investigate further in the meantime he can keep practising on his driving instructor’s car but at £25 an hour that adds up fairly quickly.

An update on the animal situation.   We still have a cat; Princess who has now produced four little cats : Zeus, Sparta, Obama and Nelson,  two black, Zeus is the colour of DSC_0215damp sand and Sparta is grey.  Zeus and Sparta have stripy tales and Nelson a tiny splodge of white hair on his chin.

The kittens have now opened their eyes and are beginning to move around.  I am still of the firm belief that the family will have the cat back and the kittens are going to go to the cats protection league who have homes for them.   My family having named, stroked and loved the kittens are not of the same belief as me.



With the sun still struggling to appear check out the warm comforting Hotpot at  Teatime Treats with Tiggy


Weekend Hot Pot

This came about one still cold weekend when going through the freezer.  I had a bag full of ends of Lamb.   There were a few chops and spare ribs and a few other odd bits; none of which would make a meal for us on their own.

The great thing about this dish was I threw it all in the slow cooker and left it.  It cooked slowly all day and melted in the mouth when we came to eat it but it would work just as well in a casserole dish in a low oven.  


Olive oil
lamb – bones included (This would work well with chops or spare ribs but plenty)
Red Wine – good covering 
Chicken Stock 

Chop the onions and throw them in the warm pot with some oil.   Add the chopped garlic.

Let them warm together for a while before adding the carrots and celery.

Add the meat on top

Chop the mint and rosemary.    I removed the stalks from the rosemary and chopped the leaves with the mint then sprinkled them over the meat which by now was already beginning to brown itself.

Add a generous glug of red wine  over the top then add enough stock to cover everything in the pan including the potatoes which you can add now or wait and add nearer serving time.

I made this first thing in the morning then about lunch time threw some spuds in.  This was also the first and only stir I gave the whole dish.  Add more water or stock if there is not to cover the potatoes.

There is a warm and welcoming aroma as you come back into the house in the evening after this has cooked all day.    On a  cold wet winter’s evening this is so warming and cosy and the meat just melts off the bones.  I would normally just use a bunch of chops for this but the spare ribs worked really well together.

Enjoy and let me know what else you could add to the dish.  The other ingredient I would normally add but had run out of was anchovy fillets which I cut small so no one knows,  they just add a depth to the dish but nobody can taste fish.   


you can also see my other blog  Tiggy Hayes  to see what I get up to when I am not cooking.

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