Yep, that’s the mileage these last 7 months in the UK, 13,111 miles (21,100 km) to be exact ~ and into London we rattled last night, and safely delivered the car to the garage this morning. Quite a relief to get there in one piece!
Of course there’s cars, and then there’s, well, real cars. And the little red Fiat Punto that I’ve been driving around in the UK this Home Leave is definitely in the real car category. Meaning, it has character, personality, quirkiness and fun!
Ichthus Motor Mission in Forest Hill, London lends cars cheaply to people like me. Most of the cars have been donated to the mission, and many are old. I’ve used their cars many times in the past, and each time is quite, er… well, let’s say it’s always quite an experience!
But this is my first Ichthus car to be such a beautiful red colour. A bright red car cheers you up on a rainy day. Gives you hope that the sun will come out, it’s really great!
I mean, you just have to smile when the door handles don’t close properly, the windows don’t wind up unless you open the door, the seatbelts pop out all day long, and the boot-lid has to be balanced on your head to stay up and open. Quirky indeed. And it’s even got a number plate I can remember. Oh yes, and a soft top, guess it should open out, but given the state of the car and my mechanical skills, unlikely I’ll get it back on again!
So we’ve chugged all round the UK, me in my red car, been everywhere except South Wales and northern Scotland, and still we’re going strong. I admit to a few breakdowns, but now that the car is safely returned to Ichthus, I can tell you that we’ve survived the experience. Ah yes, 3 breakdowns in as many weeks ~ and the AA were fantastic.
On a roundabout just outside Beith, near Glasgow, away went the clutch. Beautiful sunny day. Conveniently near a signpost, as you can see below. Even time to take a photo. Along came a very lovely AA man, Ian from Bishopton near Glasgow – he towed me off to the garage at Glasgow Airport, fixed me up with a free hire car, and 2 days later, hey the clutch was all done, a new one fitted. Great service!
Only 10 days later, Easter weekend in fact, and the car was overheating at Beaconsfield Services on the M40, sadly not for the first time ~ actually the first time was way back in January, and a very kind garage man in Rickmansworth (Bridge Motors, right next to the church) added some coolant and oil and water, unblocked the airlock, and all at no charge. Great service there too!
This time, there I was at Beaconsfield Services with an overheating car, and facing long delays on the M25 ~ and happened to meet AA man Dave from Windsor having his lunch, asked his advice – and hey presto, 5 minutes later, he came along, sent over by the AA – found the leaking coolant pipe, sealed it up, sorted me out and took me on a test drive for 25 miles all round Slough and Ascot to Bagshot, and so avoiding the M25. Went way out of his way to help me. And he’d been in the army in Hong Kong, so lots to talk about – and he even posed for a photo!
6 days later, back at the M40, groan groan! Just left Beaconsfield Services again, this time en route to High Wycombe, and the exhaust fell off on the M40 slip road. Got recovered back to the same ye olde Beaconsfield Services, where AA man Peter from West Wycombe came along to help. Instead of just the usual temporary repair, and as I had 700 miles still to go before going back to Ichthus, he did a really good job with some powerful glue – that actually held strong right up to today. And as he was also a friend of Dave from Windsor, he kindly checked on the coolant levels too.
So I’ve been driving around the country on a wing and a prayer, and er, glue. Powerful stuff is glue, if the smell is anything to go by when the engine gets warm!
Grateful thanks to Ichthus, the AA, and to all you who have offered advice and prayers. And special thanks of course for God’s protection and traveling mercies these last 7 months.
And now? Off back to Taiwan tonight ~ YES!