I feel I should start this post with a series of finger exercises as I may be here a while. Anyway…
Let’s start with the move. We picked up the keys on Friday 9th October. Although there’d been some discussion in the days previous about the place not being ready (it was being used as a holiday let and still contained the original furniture) we expected to see some progress having been made to get it habitable. Uh, no, t’was still full of the owner’s stuff.
Arrangements had been made to begin the move with smaller bits on the Friday, with a friend of my mum’s helping on the Saturday. This was a fine theory but didn’t go to plan and we ended up with 95% of our furniture in the new place (alongside the owner’s furniture) by the end of Friday. All that was left at the old place was our bed and the pets… which obviously couldn’t be moved until the landlady/whomever had come to collect the old furniture as we didn’t want to run the risk of the cats getting out. We spent the weekend living between two places, and I ended up having to take an extra day off work (Monday 12th) to try and get things sorted.
The furniture was finally moved out on that Monday, allowing us to start arranging our stuff and getting the bed/pets over. We didn’t finish until near midnight Monday, with me due at work the next morning (36 weeks pregnant, very tired).
I finished work a week earlier than originally planned (due to exhaustion and a very engaged baby’s head making it difficult to sit for long periods of time) on Thursday 15th October.
On Saturday 17th October, as we were leaving my mum’s, the car died. We had basically driven a few yards up the road when suddenly the engine cut out and we coasted to a stop. Karl checked a few things, poked a couple of relays under the bonnet and the car started again so we proceeded home — followed by my mum just in case. The car made it, parked up outside, we saw my mum off home and then Karl went to start it again and it refused to start. Seemed to be an intermittent relay issue, but Karl did some jiggerypokery and diagnosing with his laptop software and, IIRC, we had no more problems that week.
Saturday just gone, the 24th, we were on our way to my mum’s when the car died again. Except this time it wasn’t on a little town back road that is rarely used, but coming off a busy roundabout connected to the M54 (busy motorway) approaching a supermarket retail park at around 5ish. Nothing like the sound of rushing motorway traffic/Saturday shoppers to inspire feelings of despair and frustration. This time the car refused to start and we spent a couple of hours at the roadside with collective family members trying to a) diagnose and b) fix the issue long enough to get us somewhere safe. I’d just like to offer my “fuck you”s to the guy at the Vauxhall dealership in Trench, Telford who was of no use whatsoever, but a big thank you to Churchill’s breakdown cover who had a man out to us within about 30 minutes.
The car was started and recovered to my mum’s down the road where it has been sat most of the week. Final diagnosis is a fucked ECU, which is apparently the computer thingymabob which makes things work. Something to do with that and relays and earthing and switches… or something. If you’re interested in that sort of thing you’ll have to wait for Karl to blog about it because it means sod all to me.
What really fucked me off about that second breakdown was the fact that I was stood at the side of the road, very visibly pregnant at near-38 weeks, and not one person stopped to ask if we were OK or whether we needed a phone to call for help/etc. Hundreds of cars went past in the time we were there. It’s only lucky that a) I had my phone and have been keeping it topped up because I’m not far due, and b) my mum lives so local because otherwise I’d have had to walk half a mile or more to get help, and in my state that’s all but impossible.
Anyway, breathe.. breathe… because of the proximity to my due date, we decided pretty much straight away that we’d need to get another car to act as a temporary run around while our main car is off the road (ECU has been sent away for repair today to a fantastic company called Blue Streak Europe, should hear back tomorrow). Karl is restricted to automatic gearboxes due to his license, and we didn’t want to spend an absolute fortune with sprog so close and this being a temporary measure. After some primitive searching, we settled on an M-reg auto Astra similar to Karl’s old car from a local second hand dealership called Dream Car Sales for £500 plus £60 MOT inc. parts/labour if necessary. (Loving that DW template website based on an AutoTrader special.)
Straight away the guy (whom I assume is the owner) from Dream Car Sales rubbed me up the wrong way (metaphorically speaking) but we were desperate and cheap local autos are few and far between. We gave him £200 deposit on the condition he’d get the car MOTed next day — which he did — while we organised temporary insurance. Got a call back the next day (Tuesday 27th) that it was ready for pick up. It had failed the MOT on exhaust and brake pipes but these had been replaced and a pass cert was issued.
I, even in my absolute ignorance of cars and all things mechanical, have no idea how that car managed to pass an MOT test. For starters, it only goes above 20mph if Karl applies very gentle pressure to the throttle (putting your foot down to pull out of a junction is … well, it’s impossible and suicidal). If you try and go up a hill without a significant run up to build speed the speedometer bottoms out at 10mph. Karl was worried about one of the tyres and, although this is only a temporary solution our safety is paramount, so he took it to a local mechanic and they took the tyre off… it fell apart in the guys hands. There’s a massive hole in some rubber tube-y thingy that shouldn’t be there, no air filter, and one of the battery terminals is VERY badly corroded. Karl came in 30 minutes ago to tell me that the bloody thing won’t even start this afternoon, although I think he’s fixed that now.
Simply put, Dream Car Sales of Oakengates, Telford are useless cowboys and sold us what they called “an excellent runner”, a car one of them said “he wanted for his daughter but we beat them to it”. If we hadn’t already been expecting a bit of a banger, I’d be seeking professional advice and making life difficult for Dream Car Sales right about now. As it is I’ll have to settle for blogging about them.
So… “tl/dr” summary: I’m now 38w2d pregnant, no imminent signs of labour. We are moved, even though there’s plenty of junk still in boxes. We are back on the ‘net, thank you BT and PlusNet for your prompt service. My mum has been an absolute marvel with the move and providing transport post-breakdown. The main car is currently off the road although this is, touch wood, very temporary.. oh, and I’ll be having an Astra bonfire at some point to get rid of the heap of shit banger we’re running around in at the minute. Marshmallows anyone?