Attempting to make it as a writer

Posts tagged ‘towing’

Jump Start

It started with the inevitable call and I knew; if Number 1 son was calling it was not to say he loved me or how was I, and most definitely not to offer to do the shopping in order to cook the tea.   Although technically I was working I was between jobs. I had just finished one and was driving towards the other who also had a crisis.

I answered the phone, on my hands free and was not disappointed.

There was a problem.

His car would not start and they could not get the jump leads to help.  What they expected me to do I did not know but I brought the calm voice of reason and had the lads push me in his car into a parking space.   I discovered on this tiny journey, the extent of his car’s complete lethargy; the power assisted steering was not working and it took all my strength to pull the car into a space.  I touched the brakes and realised as I limped past the painted line that there was no power to the brakes either. Panic as the car continued forward had me jumping on the footbrake and hauling the hand version on at the same time.

Vacating the driver’s seat with the alacrity and speed of someone sitting in a pool of iced water I carefully locked his door.   As if anyone else was going to try and jump start it before stealing it!

With an authoritive and commanding air I walked into the shop and found the manager explaining the situation and I would be sorting it out but may take longer than the allotted 90 minutes I was permitted to park.

Returning to the car I was unsure of the next step;  do I call the AA, do I call the garage direct and get them to collect it or do I just toss the keys into the skip being used in the car park for some building works and walk away.

No 1 Son now seriously delayed in his daily plans was agitated and keen to get off but was stranded and stroppy having not had a good week with the car.    He did agree to drop me at home so I could collect my fun weekend car and then he was gone.

By the time my thoughts returned to the car crisis that evening Sexy Sporty Dad was home and we drove down in his new, as in we had owned for a matter of weeks, executive car.   No 1 Son’s car had not moved, and we set about positioning the new car to start it with the leads.    Bravely digging under a deposit of teenage debris and malodorous discarded gym wear I desperately searched the car for the leads.

The jump leads were not in the car; that at least was as evident, as the fact we were not going to get it to start.

Sexy Sporty Dad offered me the chance to tow or be towed.  Thankfully a jolting reminder and a still stiff arm from having to pull the steering wheel into position assured me that I did not want to be in the towed car.  If anyone was going to drive into the back of his brand new car it was going to be him not me.

Digging deep into the recesses of his mind he tied several remembered sailing knots before settling on the one that would suffice and we hitched the two cars together.

Slowly, slowly, slowly I pulled away, a heart wrenching clunk and tug as the rope tightened and I felt the resistance from the car behind.  It began to pull and through my mirror I could see my husband’s face but more importantly his hand gestures.   Two cars in tandem moved onto the high street and headed for home.

Watching the road, the heavy early evening traffic and aware of the load I was towing it took a while to realise he wanted me to turn off the road.  He was signalling for me to take the next road up a hill to the school.  The no through road!

Bewildered I obeyed, and following his instructions through the mirror I hauled the car up the hill and pulled off into the school where he directed me to stop.  I slowed carefully as he braked in unison.  Glad of the respite but aware of the journey still to go I breathed, possibly for the first time since we had started out.

He had the idea that before we venture down the most precarious part of the trip; down the steep hill to traffic lights, he wanted to have a go at jump starting the engine.  We disconnected and set him at the entrance to the school and waited.

Apart from school times nobody used the road except to reach the leisure centre and it must have been changeover time for the various courses as there was a steady flow of cars coming up the hill followed by a steady flow going down the hill.  I waited to direct him on to the road, he might be lucky enough to get a little push as he passed but I was not running down the road pushing the car; those days are way beyond me now.

The gap arrived and with it my arm gestured wildly to go go go.   The car free wheeled out of the school gates, onto the road and off down the hill.   I ran, or rather strolled back to the waiting car wishing the other to start.   I turned the car round and headed myself back through the school gates.

Once back on the road I could see the car at the bottom of the hill.  He was already out of it and setting the tow rope back in position by the time I reached him.

Knowing the route to come I felt sick with terror;  it was a main road, cars, kids, bikes all rushing around.  We needed to descend the hill down to traffic lights that always switch to red, regardless of anyone wanting to come on to the road or cross.   He had unusable brakes and I was so closely in front driving his precious new car.  Admittedly it was a miracle at all for me to be permitted to drive it.  I focused on that thought for a moment.

That clunk and tug told me we were engaged and I pulled back to the high street, and then to the roundabout onto the main road.  It was still busy, and although he gestured through our mirror communicator, I could see what was coming on to the roundabout he could not.  I needed to be sure I could engage, ease and enter the traffic flow with both cars before I launched.

A clearing in traffic, a deep breath; it may have to last all the way home and I pulled, clunk and tug and we were off again.   With my hazards flashing madly, nobody could read my directional plans so thankfully people kept back, or went wide to nip past.  We reached the brow, not just the hill it was the sudden stop at the lights that would prove to be the challenge.

We were over I kept the speed low, we descended the hill slowly.  I realised I could smell burning through the open window.  Should I stop and how can I indicate that to the car behind.  Realisation it was not my car that was burning it was the brakes of the towed car.   I continued one eye on my mirror expecting guidance.  We reached the lights glowering red at me.  Touching my brakes gently to flash brake lights behind, I touched again and again as we slowed even more.  We had not even stopped when with a wink of wit the lights began their sequence of amber to green. I kept going.

Back onto the flat, the burning smell eased slightly and I could feel the pull behind, one more set of  lights before we turned off; they were on the flat.   It is funny how I had never really thought about the contours of the route to town before.  We reached the lights and came to a stop, now in the home neighbourhood, people came out to wave, children laughing at the car being towed.  A break in oncoming traffic allowed me to pull forward;  the lights changed.  I was already committed and in so doing the car behind was also committed.  A now familiar pull, clunk and tug and we were headed for home, kerplunk over the slow-down humps in the road, and a slowing to turn into our narrow road.   We squeezed past the cars parked on both sides and came to a welcome halt outside the house.

Leaping from the car I succumbed slightly to push the other to the side and then graciouslessly left hubby to park his car while I put the kettle on for a much needed strong tea.   The phone was ringing as I got inside.

No 1 Son replying to my earlier irate message left on his phone about the jump leads.

“I didn’t want to leave them in case they were stolen so I put them in your car”

“and where is my car now?”

“I have it with me, I am about 20 miles away and will be back in the morning”

At least I wasn’t driving the old car,  the brakes albeit worn are still intact, a new battery  will be on the weekend’s shopping list. And a strong cup of tea does wonders for the nerves.






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


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