My days off were swapped again this week — this time because a friend is considering a job in Argyll and wisely wanted a look around before the interview. Yesterday, as we returned from Lochgilphead by the Tarbet ferry and saw the view unfold over the hill near Kames, I remarked what an odd life this is, commuting endlessly on road most people think of as holiday fare. It is often lovely. But one is rather dependent on the good will of the car.
So, this evening’s journey was just a bit scary. All was well on the way to Bute, all around the island, and back to Colintraive. Then suddenly, as we climbed the hill (little car and I) she gave a shudder, and refused to accelerate. I thought it was a blip — a misapplied pedal, a bit of leaf in the petrol tank. Nothing serious. But when I pulled over, and she shuddered even in ‘park’ (little car is a — usually — clever automatic) I knew we were in trouble.
I imagined her suddenly stalling out with a lorry lumbering behind us. I imagined the engine bursting into flames. I imagined the soggy wet walk to the nearest place my phone would work — and decided to keep going. With much prayer and coaxing, we found little car could cope at 40, with the revs at ‘2 x many zeros‘. Thirty was grumpy. Sixty was impossible. Zero was worst of all. So slowly and prayerfully, we made our way over the hills, in and out of passing points (15 miles of single track road, remember) and survived the journey home. The scariest bit was trying to hover close enough to the 30 mile an hour speed limit not to get stopped, while near enough to 40 to keep going smoothly (‘Sorry officer. Just trying to get home…’)
We made it all the way up to the rectory, and parked strategically to allow us either to roll down the drive to the Garage, or to be towed away easily in the morning.
Having felt very much out of control all the way home, I decided to embrace the feeling and leave the book group to their own devices.
Now, do you suppose little car’s clever friends at Stewart’s Garage will have her working again for the weekend? … for the service in Tighnabruaich on Sunday? … for the conference in St Andrews Sunday night?
I suspect Molly will be the beneficiary of a very dead car, and my conference fees will have to be considered a contribution to my old alma mater.