It’s been a funny old week. What with it being only four days at work, but feeling like forty, and all those awkward new year greetings and hand shakes from the folks at work, make it one of my least favourite times of the year.
So last Monday night was the mother of all Sunday nights if you know what I mean. Full of all those horrid back to school feelings suffered at school, with your post bath glow on, in your freshly ironed pajamas. Oh, this is just me then? Sleep was not good, and when Louise greeted me in the morning with those immortal words…
“It’s been bloody snowing again, and the roads look like sh..” well you get the picture, I was not best pleased.
The ritual of checking the school website began, and they seemed very bullish about everyone being able to get there. They obviously don’t live on our hill. Already I could see the main road was bumper to bumper which meant that I was in for a two hour commute and the girls were walking to school, as that would be quicker than the car!
With girls off on their way, I made the very wise choice to work from home, saving myself four hours of driving, well sitting still in a car anyway.
As the snow seemed to have been localised to a mile radius of my house, work colleagues were a little dubious about my plight!! Being stuck at home saw me surrounded in the kitchen by a fridge and cupboards groaning in their own contradictions. Their was plenty of the new year, mandatory healthy stuff, but alongside it was the last of the rich decadent goo that was left over from Christmas. So I compromised and had a wholemeal bread sandwich…of After Eight mints!
So the week started badly. It trundled on as they tend to do, and was punctuated with an evening at school with Rebecca on Thursday night, for her options open evening. This is where all the teachers pitch their subjects to pupils and parents alike, hoping to entice enough pupils on their rostas to avoid having to teach remedial English in their free periods.
Rebecca seems fairly settled in her choices, with the only variable being whether to take History or Child Development!!
Friday then came along at last, and I had a full day of meetings which played havoc with my stomach. Having not been without food for longer than the time it takes to walk from the couch to the kitchen for weeks, the discipline of only eating at mealtimes was a stretch. So after a breakfast at 7.30am on Friday, I next saw food at 2pm, once all these meetings were done. I have no idea what the last half hour of the meetings were about as I was feeling faint and hallucinating that the conference call phone on the desk was a huge sandwich!!
Full again, I attacked the Inbox in the afternoon, only to get a call from Louise who was in a bit of a state.
“(Insert a few swear words here) my bloody wheel has just fallen off my car!!”
Immediately, large recovery and car repair bills appear before my eyes. After understanding that she had managed to get the car off the road, and that everyone was safe, I called our recovery people. Not that I have such people, but I have one of these special bank accounts with all these benefits that you never use. I only ever use the free travel insurance, but thankfully, the free roadside recovery came in very handy, and a man with a Green Flag and a tow truck was with Louise within half an hour.
I had spoken to recovery man whilst he was on his way, and he told me that as the wheel had come off he had set off in his special “when wheels fall off I need this truck” truck, which was significantly different from his “when wheels don’t fall off I need this truck” truck.
Imagine his delight when he arrived to find that there was no axle snapping disaster to greet him, just a flat tyre that had run off the wheel rim!! Oh how we laughed. Anyway, he took the car to the garage, they fitted a new tyre the next day, and relieved me of £77. It could all have been a lot worse!!
As you may have gathered from the above, cars are not my specialist subject. I am the furthest away from a petrol head you can imagine. So when Louise declared (not for the first time in recent months) that she was sick of her bloody car going wrong, and wanted a change, it seemed the little thing had had it’s day.
The Mini has been good fun, and was indeed my best ever Christmas surprise two years ago, when I somehow managed to trade in Louise’s old car and have the mini on the drive on xmas morning, without her suspecting a thing, but we have had a catalogue of errors with it recently, from non working heating, a coolant tank that empties within minutes, and an ugly bump all down the offside where Louise fell out with an Audi in last year’s snow.
So it was time to either bite the bullet and get all these things fixed, or throw it in and see what we could get instead.
So yesterday, we set off on that quest. I HATE buying cars. No matter how well I negotiate, and even if I left a garage with a car, and them giving me money, I would still have the nagging doubt that I had been shafted, and they are all high fiving and laughing at me in the showroom as I pull away in my rusting pile of crap.
So after a drive round and about three garages, we came to one that had something fitting Louise’s exacting technical specifications.
- Looks good
Now with a budget as tight as ours, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see them offer Louise a night out with Linford Christie, (which she may have indeed been happy with) but no, they did tick all those boxes.
It was a car I would never have though of looking for, and I had been trying to steer Louise to some sort of sensible, second car run around, along the lines of a Fiesta, Focus or some such. Louise laughed in my face, and the contenders during yesterday were a Saab convertible (too old, too expensive, and shocking maintenance costs) a black Audi TT (too old, too many miles, the kids would have to walk everywhere) and now, a sporty looking Hyundai Coupe SE.
So we had a test drive, and then the bit that always strikes me as strange kicked in, the negotiations!!
What drives me mad, is that the bloke who has been dealing with you has no power whatsoever in these negotiations. There is some all-seeing power somewhere out back who controls everything like some car related Wizard of Oz. After going through the usual hackneyed sales tactics that were invented in the early 70s, we played the game and said OK, let’s look at some figures.
He wandered off to speak to the all powerful Oz, and returned with a set of figures so silly that I very nearly got up and walked out. So then we go through the painful and slow process of whittling away at the numbers until they are somewhere close to realistic, and with the amount of time he had invested in us, he was by now keen to close a deal.
We talk of nipping next door to look at what they have to offer (it was a car showroom, don’t worry we weren’t telling him we’d be looking at kitchens!), and this resulted in the Wizard lumping some more from the numbers. I thanked them, looked at my watch and said we had to go as our daughter need to be picked up. Not strictly true, but we did have to be home soon to get the kids fed and ready for a party they were off to.
This induced panic in the showroom, and he went away again behind the curtain, and returned with a deal that was “only available today” and if we came back tomorrow would not be on the table. Of course it would, but I had no intention of wasting more petrol to find out.
Did we get a good deal? Who knows. The car may be a rusting tub of problems, but one of the things I insisted on in the price was a two-year warranty, so we should be OK. Did I get them to give me their best deal, who can ever tell, but I do know that the figure we shook hands on was 30% less than the first one put in front of me. So yes, they start high have lots of fat in their figures etc, but we shook hands anyway.
Again, I imagined wild parties and celebrations as the whole showroom celebrate hitting their annual target purely from the massively over egged price I have agreed to, but what can you do? On the plus side they are getting a mini with a running dint all down one side, a heater that doesn’t work and some sort of leak in the radiator which causes the coolant to empty quicker than Michael Barrymore’s swimming pool!
I shall let you know how the car goes once we pick it up!! If you have had one and know they are rubbish, then having put a deposit on it, I’m not sure if I want to know or not…I suppose I do.
The Garage/bedroom rumbles on as ever. It has been stuttering progress for weeks now due to snow, Christmas and builder illness, but at least we are at last water tight now. Next week should see a large surge in progress as they intend to finish boarding out and then plaster everything. This should then lead on to exciting stuff like the en suite stuff going in, and it starting to look and feel like a room at last.
I am off now to make tea for us all, which if you are interested is Chicken Fajitas. The good intentioned diet hasn’t been stuck too as rigidly as my post xmas bulge had incentivised me too, but a return to something like normal eating has seen a couple of pounds fall away all by themselves. So only about another 28 to go!!!
Till the next time….