Sunday, June 10, 2012

Car ownership– how can I (will I ever) wean myself away?

Saturday, 2nd June 2012: When I went to bed the night before I seemed to have cricked my neck and when I woke up it was still there, although no worse. The squealing pig (my Discovery 3 Land Rover)   was due in at Marshalls the local Land Rover garage at 8.30am so I had a bit of time to doze.

As I started to really wake up I had a stretch and that made my neck really hurt. I usually pop my bicycle in the back of the car when taking it to the garage and cycle home (and vice versa when I pick up the car).  As I got dressed I did wonder whether I would be able to hold my head up without it hurting. I certainly found looking to the left quite painful.

During the recent hot spell I had noticed that the Air Con, or Climate control as Land Rover grandly title it, was not working. It seems that the Land Rover garage is very busy at the moment and they couldn’t get my car in for several weeks, except they had a slot at 8.30am on the Saturday. When I booked it in they seemed to think it was just a case of pumping the system up and would I like the anti-bacterial treatment. I said yes, but only if you fix the Air Con.

This was before the Outbreak of deadly Legionnaires’ disease in Edinburgh, a place I had driven through not so long ago. However what did influence my thinking is that it would make the car smell nice. News paper headlines amuse me, which is probably why I tend to link to Daily Mail headlines rather than Guardian ones. This is despite the fact that if I buy a paper I would always buy the Guardian ahead of the Daily Mail, the Times wins in terms of news and convenience when on a train though.

The only snag was that I had chores to do so after leaving my car at the garage I cycled out of Cambridge before heading back again. I did make sure that the priority was to fix the Air Conditioning and then clean it rather than clean it. The good news was that my cricked neck didn’t hurt when cycling – in fact it was almost easier to cycle than to sit in the car and  look from side to side.

I popped up to the corner of the Airfield – the May blossom is really quite pink. Now I don’t drive my car too often – I prefer to cycle if I can – but I do take it to heart when it isn’t working. Rationally I know that it is just a machine, but such is the hold it has over me I get quite het up about it not working. Now that might also be to do with the fact that this car has been the second most unreliable car I have owned. My other Discos got to a certain age and then became unreliable, this one has been unreliable from the word go – although sometimes it didn’t

Now I am not looking for sympathy – it is my own fault and if I choose to own a car – then I also accept that I have to pay for it to be repaired. I also accept that, the more bells and whistles it has, the more likely it will break down and the more exorbitant the cost.  But despite my passion for cycling and belief that we need to change our views about transportation I have been hooked on the car ownership drug.

May Blossom on NCN51 – Newmarket Road/ Corner Cambridge Airport

And so I popped up to the tunnel under the A14 and then headed back – neck still not too bad and I hoped that a bit of exercise would loosen it up.  As I made my was down NCN51 I realised that there was the smell of fresh cut grass – the edges of the shared-use path had been cut back. It seemed a shame that I was having to return home and not go for a ride but you can’t win them all.

Freshly trimmed edges NCN 51 – Newmarket Road

I got home, had breakfast and went with my wife to do the weekly shopping – was it just that I don’t like shopping or was my neck really hurting. No my neck was really painful. I resorted to deep heat and a couple of ibuprofen – there was also a message from the garage – although mobile phones are supposed to work almost everywhere – my non-local supermarket doesn’t seem to have much signal strength.

The bad news was that they couldn’t just pump up the air con and hey presto – the good news was that they could fix it – just before the garage closed at 1pm – the bad news – nigh on £500 for a new compressor.

Around 1pm I set off on my bike back to the garage – the Service manager and the mechanic working on it had kindly agreed to get it done however it was not easy. Despite the size of the Disco the engine compartment is pretty cramped with all the gubbins that is installed in a modern car and replacing the compressor was not easy.  They were most apologetic when the car was finished, apologising for not giving it a wash and gave me a voucher for a wash and a voucher for a mornings off-roading experience.

Actually I thought the Land Rover service was excellent – they fitted the work in  on a Saturday, they fixed it and stayed late to get it done. Marshall’s service helps to compensate for what I feel is a pretty unreliable car.

I did of course give the Air Con a blast on the way home – before popping the car into the garage, where it would stay until the weekend. I must be hooked – I drive the car about once a week. It is good for carrying stuff including bikes into interesting parts of the countryside though. I must do a bit more multi-mode exploring, although sorry car the train is the preferred form of bike transport.

The flipping neck really, really hurt when I went to bed though.

No comments:

Post a Comment