the longest journey

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.

13 thoughts on “the longest journey

  1. I’m glad you didn’t get stranded. You could always call Sumner again as we did when we got stranded outside of Chatham, but it’s a bit further this time. Perhaps it will be easily fixed.

  2. I do hope you get some good fairy to deal with it – surely you will! And there are further adventures to be had on public transport to your conference …

  3. Ah, fond memories.

    In the incident Sarah refers to, my alternator gave out on a long stretch of deserted road in Virginia, next to the one church (neon blue cross and all) which happened to have a late-night vestry meeting going on. Knight in shining armour came to rescue us. Auto-mechanic took a long time to believe that my battery could be so flat that the car-phone wouldn’t work.

    Trips to Wal-mart were always exciting in rural Virginia.

    Remember the time there was ice, and a car skid off the road at the crest of the long slow hill, and all his friends stopped in the lanes below to help him?

    Oh, and then there was the automatic-transmission van that changed into neutral when I flicked my little finger out and tapped the column-gear-shift rather than the windscreen wipers.

    And the time S talked about doughnuts all the way home from North Carolina after the Ash Wednesday (fast day) service, and we declared it eve-of-the-next-day and stopped at the Piggly Wiggly in Danville??

    What fun we had.

  4. p.s. to Chris — If you can figure out how public transportation will take me from Dunoon to Tighnbruaich on a Sunday afternoon, and on to St Andrews in time for a 9am seminar on Monday, you are much better at this game than I am. (Remember I get sick on buses…)

  5. Erm … all I can suggest right now is Dramamine. Except that they don’t seem to sell it any more – must have been too efficacious!

  6. Is it possible to get to St Andrews by train? You could go Sunday night. If you want a lift to Tighnabruaich I can help.

  7. Easy peasy by train. I had a bad day too – oldest dog collapsed, emergency surgery, obstruction to gut, (she’d eaten a J cloth in strips) cloth removed, but dog dies in early hours of the morning. Hope the little car’s surgery proves more straightforward.

  8. You can get over-the-counter travel sickness pills that have Bomine as the active ingredient rather than Dramamine and they work wonders – and are non-drowsy to boot! Mine has kept my stomach calm on many a winding road, choppy sea and bus journeys. Only met its match on the road from Hector to Karamea on the northwest coast of the South Island in New Zealand. Odd that such a hellish road should exist in paradise.

  9. Gourock 19.20 – Glasgow 20.12
    Queen Street 21.00 -Edinburgh 21.51
    Edinburgh 22.25- Leuchars 23.40 (and then taxi)

    It is not elegant, but it is possible if you take a lift to and from Tighnabruiach

  10. Kimberly – As I recall, Sumner wanted Krispy Kreme. Which I still have not tried. Perhaps you should try the equivalent along with Bomine? I’m sure a doughnut, especially if it were chocolate, would improve any difficult trip.

    Rosemary – how awful. That sort of companion is a family member. I’m sorry.

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