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Posts Tagged ‘rust’

Solomon’s Temple, Withnell Moor

You catch up with us today at Solomon’s Temple, on Withnell Moor, and it’s lunchtime. First, though, we unlace our boots and let our feet relax. We’ve only walked a couple of miles from Brinscall, but things aren’t looking promising. Suddenly, all this talk of the strangeness of dreams is of little interest when we’re on the moor, and our boots hurt.

The boots are newish, a bit old-school in their construction. I’d thought to get up on the moors with them, see if we could break them in a bit, but they’re proving to be stubborn. They’re British army surplus, made by Iturri. You can get them for a song off Ebay, like new. They’re a solid boot, but they bite.

It’s one of those “follow our nose” sorts of days. There’s no plan, just out enjoying the moor. But since we find ourselves at Solomon’s, it looks like the subconscious has Great Hill in mind. The boots are man enough for that, man enough for a lot of things, I guess. But I’m not sure my feet are up to much more today, at least not in these boots.

Mushroom soup for lunch. For company, we have the larks, a curlew, and fieldfares. There are no people. I left them all thrashing about in Brinscall woods, looking for the Hatch Brook Falls. The falls are not easy to get to, but the guy who asked me for directions tells me it even has its own Tripadvisor rating, now. That worries me. I directed him as best I could, but he’d come a long way, and wasn’t familiar with the names of places. I advised him to be careful. He nodded with enthusiasm, then set off in the opposite direction to what I’d said.

Hatch Brook Falls, Brinscall

The little blue car’s down on Brinscall’s Lodge Bank Terrace. The sills I’d had welded some years ago are coming through again, and I have to make a decision. Expensive one this. MX5s, like mine, can go for five or six thousand, at a dealership, spruced up, so it may be worth the investment. Or they might fetch as little as fifteen hundred, private and spotty, in which case it isn’t. Mine’s probably somewhere in the middle. She has a full service history, and she’s coddled, but the repair is on the edge of sensible for a twenty-year-old car. It depends on how much the car means, I suppose. I find it means a lot. But that’s not rational, and I’m usually rational when it comes to cars.

Ratten Clough, Brinscall

So anyway, we’ve walked up through the woods, location for the creepy bits of that Netflix thing “Stay Close”. Then it was onto the moor via the ruins of Ratten Clough, and we followed our nose to Solomon’s Temple. New Temple is next, then Old Man’s Hill, and a little trodden way that approaches Great Hill, from the north. It’s a warm day, a jostling of jolly cumulus, and some stratospheric streaks toning down the blue. The ground is mostly firm. Yesterday’s full moon seems to have ushered in a change to fair, after a very cold Easter weekend.

The light is dynamic, and full of interest. I complained in an earlier blog, all we’re doing with photography is trying to freeze the moment. But that’s not right. We’re bearing witness to a moment in time, as well as trying to capture an essence of the beauty of the world. It’s like we capture glow-worms in a jar, then hold them up in wonder and say: look at that!

But in the middle of the day, like this, a photograph never comes out as you see it. Even with a decent camera, the scene is flat, the contrasts, the colours lacking vibrancy. Or maybe it’s just my eyes, and I like to see the world through Van Gough’s spectacles. So I spend a while with software filters, teasing out the world the way I see it. My kids say whatever pills I’m taking, they want some.

Okay, lunch done, boots fiddled with, fastened, unfastened, adjusted, refastened, and on we go. Note to self: Hotspots around the ankles and under the right heel. Early signs of blistering to the backs of both left and right heels. I wouldn’t like to be a soldier tabbing far in these. No wonder they were surpluse to requirements. We clip the western approach to the hill, then turn-tail for Drinkwaters, and White Coppice. We’re three miles out now, and it’s far enough. It’s a pity to miss the top, but I reckon our feet only have a couple of miles left, and three to go.

Drinkwaters, Anglezarke

Of course, it’s a risk, fixing up the bodywork of the little blue car, at such great expense – maybe half as much as the car’s worth. It’s asking for a serious mechanical fault to develop soon after. That’s the way with old cars. But you can get a lot of repairs for the price of a fresh car, if keeping the old one going is what you want.

Some schools are still off for Easter this week, so White Coppice looks busy as we descend the moor. We avoid the noise by staying high and turning north along the edge of the Brinscall fault. Pace is slow, both feet on fire.

There’s a roe deer down in the valley, a mature female – not exactly rare now, but still a joy to come across in the wild. It sees me before I see it, and it bolts high, climbs to the moor’s edge and watches from the safety of altitude. We eye each other, I chance a shot on full zoom. It knows the line of my route, even knows, perhaps, my boots are hurting, so then it bounds along the ridge, and crosses back down the path behind me. “I’ll get no trouble from him,” it’s thinking. “Poor guy can barely walk.”

Roe Deer, Goit Valley, Anglezarke

We sit a while beneath the ash at the ruins of Goose Green farm, let the feet relax again. It was also known as the Green Goose, in the days when farms were also permitted to sell ale. I wouldn’t mind a pint of something cold and murky, actually. I’d fill these boots with it and cool my feet down.

It’s easy going now, a decent, level path, along the Goit, all the way back to Mill Bank Terrace. The little blue car is a welcome sight. And it’s heaven to get the trainers on. A run out’s not the same without the little blue car. She’s not perfect, and rather Spartan by today’s touch-screen standards. But I enjoy her imperfections, and her simplicity. And driving her still makes me smile. Okay, we’ll call at the body shop this week and see what the man thinks. When I croak, it would be nice to think of her being discovered in my garage, a mint condition MX5, covered in the dust of memory, and a quarter of a million miles on the clock. Then some boy racer goes and wrecks her in five minutes.

Those boot though? Well, after today, I think we’re done. I’d never trust them to get me down from a big hill. I’m hoping they’re just a pair of duds, because I’d hate to think of the entire British Army marching in boots like those, poor souls. I don’t know, though; it would be a pity. Maybe a bit more breaking in will do the trick. Lunch at Solomon’s’ was good though. We’ll have to do that again sometime.

Thanks for listening.

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mazda night journey HDR

It doesn’t feel like I’ve had the little blue car for long, but it’s getting on for four years now. It’s hard to describe how much pleasure I’ve had from driving it. I’ve discovered the roads have a sway to them not felt since my motorcycle days, the sunshine is brighter and, top down, the air is a dream of freshness, and all this is to say nothing of the places I’ve discovered with it – especially in the Yorkshire Dales, just a short hop from home, and a place for which the car seems to have been especially built.

For years now the remoter dales have echoed to the burble of its exhaust note, as the little blue car wandered with a tenacious grip and a surprising vigour, given its fifteen years. I’d thought it would last for ever. But then I noticed it was suffering from tin-worm in the back wings, and sills. A previous owner had already patched it, and quite neatly, but the sills are bubbling through again, and I’ve had an advisory on the MOT.

The cost for a decent repair is far in excess of what the car is worth. So at the moment it’s tucked up, looking forward to just one last summer on the road before the breaker’s yard. I couldn’t sell it on without pointing out the work that’s needed, which will surely put any casual buyers off. An enthusiast with a knowledge of welding and body repair might take it on, but at most five hundred quid is what I could, in all fairness, get for it.

Sadly this is the way most old MX5’s go. They are like butterflies, built for warmer, drier climes, not the persistently wet brutality of roads in Northern Europe, nor especially its salt caked winters. Rationally, it makes no sense to invest any more in it. I mean, goodness knows where else the rust might be lurking – the body shop talked of common issues with the forward suspension, further advisories on the MOT and costs in excess of five hundred at some point in the future.

It’s a thing to ponder over winter, and quite sad. She runs well, has only 86,000 on the clock, and might in all other respects have another ten years of pleasure ahead of her, but there we are. All good things must come to an end.

“I’d bite the bullet and get it done, mate,” said the guy in the body shop. “These cars are becoming classics. It’ll be worth it in the long run.”

Nice guy, and an infectious enthusiasm, but he would say that, wouldn’t he?

Oh, I know he’s right, but classic cars are holes in the road you pour your money into. They take all your love and patience, and repay it with an ever more temperamental drift into old age and irritability. But for a short while at least, heaven for me has been a little blue car with a roof you can fold down, and a twist of dales country road warming to dust, under a hot summer sun.

 

 

 

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racy lady 2

Mazda MX5 Mk2 – 02 Plate

It’s now a week since I picked up the Mazda. The day before I was worried I’d made a terrible mistake, buying such an old car after no more than a quick look round and a ten minute test drive. What if I’d missed something? Rotten door bottoms, bubbling wings, blue smoke, badly fitting rag-top, leaking oil, duff tyres. The list of things that can go wrong with an older car is long indeed, especially if it’s not been pre-loved, and the dealer turns out to be a rogue.

The car was waiting when I rolled up. The top was down and the guy had washed it off for me. To my immense relief it looked even better than I remembered. A quick card transaction, a handing over of documents, and I was on my way. In real terms it’s probably the cheapest car I’ve ever bought, but easily the one that has impressed me the most.

The drive home was a real pleasure; a hot, sunny afternoon, and the way taking me along the winding country lanes of the West Lancashire coast. The car warmed quickly and ran sweetly.

It has been loved, I think, and the wad of service reports reassures me it’s also been well maintained. I did no more than forty, but it felt like I was flying. I made a quick stop for petrol and the lad in the shop complimented me on the car. It’s a conversation starter, something that’s not happened in 35 years, not since the days of my ancient Mk1 Cortina Super. The Cortina was rotten underneath, but managed good show up top and conversations were frequent when I was out on my travels. Sure, it’s a long time since heads were turned by anything I’ve driven. The Cortina eventually collapsed, literally, its McPherson struts held in place by nothing more than spiders webs.

A long time ago. God bless it!

But now I’m cruising through West Lancs with the top down and girls are looking. Yes, girls! I assured number one son, who accompanied me, they were looking at him, not me. He assured me they were looking at the car, and not at either of us. We are both blessed, it seems with the same lack of self confidence.

I bought polish and spent the evening buffing her up to a deep blue lustre.

Oh, she’s lovely. Very lovely indeed!

I must have done a hundred miles since then, just driving around on short hops, getting a feel for her, identifying any problems areas. She’s not perfect. All but one of the tyres was duff, so I had to get a fresh set right away, and the brake pads will be next. The driver’s side hood clamp doesn’t latch – a common problem on MX 5’s – but hardly a reason for gnashing one’s teeth, and is easily fixed. There’s also a tendency to bounce when taking up drive in first and reverse gears when she’s cold – another common idiosyncrasy of certain Mk 2.5’s, I’m told, but this one’s more a question of how you handle her than spending a fortune on unnecessary ┬árepair. I’m sure there’ll be other things that surface as our acquaintanceship deepens, but my main worry, the bodywork, is fine. This is a 12 year old car, but it’s in better shape than my 7 year old Astra whose door bottoms, to my dismay, are already starting to bubble through.

The attention the car drew on that journey home has continued. A small two seater sport’s car cruises by and people look at it. I do ┬áit all the time, thinking: isn’t that lovely? And I must get one of those before I’m too old to enjoy it! So I don’t mind that others do it to me, but there’s another kind of attention that’s been much less welcome. It’s a kind of maleness I’m uncomfortable with, and it smells of over-ripe testosterone.

My longtime companion, that grey old Astra with his rotten door bottoms, does not inflame egos. We’ve done Seventy thousand miles together over the years, without so much as a second glance and that’s the way we like it. I’m not a sporty driver. I don’t take corners on two wheels. I like the feel of speed on the straight, but I don’t push my luck. But with the Mazda I’ve had cars overtaking me for the fun of it, running dangerously and blind on the wrong side of the road into bends. I’ve had other soft-top saloons suddenly come alive and pull wheel screeching burnouts in a village where the speed limit is a very sedate 20 MPH.

Oh, how I like the feel of this car! I like the sound of it, and I can’t stop driving it, but after a week, I’m growing tired of looking in the rear view mirror to see a fluorescent Ford Focus with go faster stripes and an adolescent-brained driver behind the wheel, sitting on my bumper, weaving about aggressively.

There have been three recent road deaths in my locale, all caused by stupidity and carelessness involving cars – the victims were all pedestrians or cyclists. Makeshift memorials pepper the black-spots, reminders as stern as the GATSO cams, that motoring without due care and attention is dangerous – says me with three points and an SP30 on his license.

I don’t know what kind of life my Mazda has known in the past, but it looks like she’ll be getting a lot of sand kicked in her face with me behind the wheel. If you’re out and about and you should cruise up behind a little blue Mazda with a silver haired driver behind the wheel, tootling along at forty, and you fancy a bit of sport, don’t bother, because he’s not up for it. Back off or pass me safely because the closer you get, the slower I’ll go. Let me enjoy my old Mazda in ways that does not involve you, or endanger other users of the road.

She and I are strictly Zen these days.

She?

Actually, I’m puzzled by that gender thing. The Astra is male, a safe, steady commute-mobile, slab sided and grey – old Grumpy. But the Mazda’s curves definitely suggest something female. A name hasn’t struck me, but I’m sure it will in time. The good lady Graeme fingers the frayed creases of the ragtop and suggests “Leaky”, but we’ve not been out in the rain yet, so we don’t know about that one for sure.

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