The long post that I didn’t write last week

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?

affiliate window advert

11 comments so far

  1. Mumblies said:
    On October 29, 2009 at 6:38 pm

    I’ll pass on the marshmallows if you don’t mind Jem (evil things that they are) but if there are a couple of baked potatoes shoved in there under the poor car when you set it alight…call me :)

    Glad you have transport, even if it couldn’t pull the skin off a rice pudding. Makes our postman pat van seem even nicer compared to the Mk3 *giggle* we are now looking forwards to hearing from Karl announcing arrival of baby which will no doubt arrive sometime during the middle of the night, as they do so often.
    :)

  2. Karl said:
    On October 29, 2009 at 6:44 pm

    Now, now..it’s a 14 year old car that’s been abused something cruel. The car itself is in pretty good nick, to be honest! It’s only the engine/gearbox that’s giving this issue. Like I told you, I’ve found 2 gearbox faults and one engine fault stored in the computers, and cleared them out.

    The state of the battery connector though…dear me..a bit actually dropped off!!

  3. Vera said:
    On October 29, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    You know, I’d say shame on them for not asking you about your health… but then when I think about it, I’m probably just as insensitive. It’s something about the "don’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong" policy, that I had to learn in a most painful way.

    Well… at least you have SOME sort of car… as opposed to no car. On a sidenote, I don’t suppose you could take lessons from Amanda getting all worked up over cars? ;)

    So very very glad to have you back.

    By the way, that’s a lot of name and link dropping you made here. You wouldn’t try to make them SSYS 09 candidates, would you? *cue shocked face*

  4. Donna said:
    On October 29, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    You just made me very happy I never learned to drive, despite being in my 20s. One more thing to add to the list of things I don’t have to worry about. :D

  5. Erin said:
    On October 29, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    After you get your old car fixed, I’d definitely enjoy a marshmellow while the junker goes up in smoke. Although you might find beating the shit out of it with a hammer to be more emotionally satisfying. After you’ve had the baby, of course. =) That’d make a hell of a story to tell though, in that you induced sproglet by beating a clunker car to death.

    Still, I’m shocked that NOONE stopped at all. Bastids. What is this world coming to, anyway?

  6. Lee said:
    On October 30, 2009 at 10:30 am

    It comes as no surprise to me that no one stopped to check if everything was okay, it seems most people are just too busy to stop just in case you actually need help and they get stuck helping you out! When you get your main car back you should sell the banger (I’m sure you would not have set fire to it anyway!)

  7. Claire said:
    On October 30, 2009 at 3:02 pm

    As someone who is only just recovering from the stress of a move – I can sympathise, though I can’t imagine doing it so heavily pregnant, you must be utterly exhausted.

    Talking of your pregnancy, where did the time go?! One minute you were announcing the bump, the next – you’re almost due! I can’t believe how quickly it’s gone.

    I hope you, Karl and the animals (and little sprog too, when he/she decides to make an appearance) settle well into your new home.

    Much love,
    Cx

  8. Lilian said:
    On October 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm

    I visualised Erin’s comment and it made me laugh. Honestly, I can imagine a heavily pregnant you stood atop a rust-bucket whilst smacking it with an axe. Which is why I am also going to add the obligatory ‘RELAX’ and suggest you take it easy :P

  9. chris said:
    On January 12, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    hi i am sorry to hear of your car i too got a car from dream car sales whats the word DREAM all about nightmare more like, JUST BEFOR CHRISTMAS it was my wifes first car and she was gutted she could not drive it i am in dispute and dealing with trading standards to get my cash back £500 he sold the car for spares or repair which is illegal to let you drive it away i should have known better buying off indian/pakistanis not racist but i just dont trust them anyway i would love to know did you get your cash back or anything bit of advice for anyone DONT BUY OFF DREAM CAR SALES TELFORD THANX

  10. Karl said:
    On January 12, 2010 at 10:31 pm

    Haha…the M reg from DCS is (to be fair to it) an EPIC sh1theap, but I’ve now got my X reg back, and the M-reg has been sat on ramps in the open since before Isabels birth, waiting on me to get stuck in and find out what’s up with it. I’m going to use it as a project, and a practise vehicle for working on my MK4. If I can get it running well, even better.

    http://sirbendy.co.uk/car-projects/vauxhall-automatics/1995-astra-mk3/

    That’s the M reg’s page, and it’ll be updated as we go.