Archive for the 'volvo' Category

Fewer Moving Parts

I found these things lying in the floor of the engine compartment the other week when I was changing the fluid in the radiator (as you do…)

Bizarrely it seems they had anything to do with the Volvo failing its NCT a few weeks later.

It’ll have to go and see someone who knows what they’re doing now.

Spot the difference


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hint – there’s more than one…

 

 

I love my car

For Simy

[via XKCD]

Postcards from far away part 5

Woke to the view of the harbour in Portree and a quality brekkie and a sit on the pier reading Volf.

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Drove to the north west of the island (yesterday was the north east) stopping for photos of the sweeping moors and old churches while listening to page cxvi.

Skye is a pretty big place, geographically anyhow, despite the fact that all the people seem to live in Broadford or Portree.

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The north west seems to be one of the more deserted areas and more than anywhere seems to remind me of NZ – and let’s face it all this is an attempt to get back there.

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We stopped at Dunvegan where the Mcleods had murdered the Macdonalds in huge numbers in 1550. They attacked by surprise while they were all in church. Not that one group were heathen and the other Christian. Both were Christian be they still murdered each other. Maybe there’s a common denominator that’s not religion running through all these. We seem to be able to do horrible things to each other no matter what our creed.

There are memorials to all this on the penninsula. A reminder that whole communities once inhabited this place before it became the dominion of the sheep.

People lived and died here on the western most parts of civilisation. They lived and brought up their kids overlooking the western isles knowing that the clan divisions may bring their downfall at any point.

What would they think of us?

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Me and sparky sat in the ruins of one of their houses and held our own communion service. Here at the end of the world we broke bread and wine (or biscuit and whisky) and had a few readings from the gospels and declared the joy and hope of the resurrection. CHRIST is risen, hallelujah.

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Here at the end of the world I recommit myself to the faith, the hope and the glory. To the great story that I find myself in but yet do no comprehend. I do not often know why I stick with it. I keep thinking of the quote from the disciples that “where else o lord would we go”.

Here at the end of the world I acknowledge my brokenness and struggles, the immense sense of loss that accompanies everything I do these days.

Here at the end of the world I find the tears and the laughter that will take me home.

Anyhow.

By this stage the sun was out and determined to make up for it’s absence over the past few days. The windows were wound down. The sun roof was open, the sunny tunes (unsurprisingly I only have about an hour or so of these on the iPod) were on. I was stopping every 5 mind or so for photos of the rapidly approaching mountains.

The Cuillins are truly spectacular. Huge, ridged, stony mountains that seen to explode from the earth.

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They fill me with me with awe and fear in equal measure.

At the base of the mountains beside a gravelly beach lies Glenbrittle camp-site. Which has jumped to number one in my all time favourite camp site list.

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Huge soaring mountains in the background, a sweeping sun lit bay in the foreground. Camp Volvo was established. We didn’t even need the awning I’d designed for the car. When I planned this trip this type of campsite was what I had in mind.

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I finally got to try the portable BBQ that Morsies had bought me for Christmas. Despite needing 4 firelighters to get it started (the consequence of leaving my charcoal sitting out the back of at john’s all winter) it cooked up a storm accompanied by some coffee, some red and the chorizo sausage I bought in Inverness.

By now it was only 7pm and I hadn’t even started the Sunday times.

The sun sets and leaves us campers surviving by the glow of propane and the shelter of the nylon. This may be British summer time but I am currently wearing a hat and 7 layers on top and 3 pair of trousers. I am exceptionally cosy it must be said. That in itself is kind of satisfying.

The Cuillins raise their intimidating profile in the background. Weather permitting we’ll have a go.

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Killer cars

Natural selection at work.

If you’re not quick enough to avoid a slow moving volvo on a straight road in broad daylight then you can go the way of the dodo. There was also a brief debate as to which bin it should go in. Reuse, recycle etc…

Together we’re heavy

13 in a volvo?

Lame effort I say.

Though, to be fair i didn’t try to drive the volvo with 22 in it.

Swallowed in the sea


Getting from one place to the other in the quickest possible time is not nearly as much fun as going the really roundabout way. I’m shocked that I’ve been living here for 26 years and still there remains parts of this country I’ve never seen. My parents were good and I’ve been dragged over most of it in a touring caravan as a child at one point or another. But still the discoveries are all the more fun when you make them for yourself.

Having Saturday night free (I like Saturday nights free to sit in by myself and read books – another blog in itself) and no obligations till the following night I packed the Volvo with all the essentials (tunes, coffee, book, guitar, mac, camera, series 1 of Spaced) and headed for the north coast on a mini road trip.

Happiness is a car, some tunes, some decent weather and a full tank. Though a full tank in the Volvo will cost you the same as a return flight to NZ, and will only get you as far as Tescos and back once a week but hey who’s counting?. The joy of the Volvo being that when the oil runs out I’ll just park it in a field, put an awning on it and live in it for the rest of my days.

The weather is key. Simple glorious blue skies are nice but beaten hands down by sunny skies with intermittent rain or hail showers and with a gale force wind to drive the clouds like wild horses across the sky. This gives the sky the best cloud formations short of James and the Giant Peach. Time of day makes a difference too, coastal road trips are much more fun (and make for better photos) if you get to squint into the sun at some point, and the shadows it makes are immense.

So I got to Ballymena and turned right for Cushendall (one of these places yo see on Angie‘s map on Newsline 6.30 and makes you wonder who lives there), and end up on a windy wee rising road through such places as Martinstown. (a Kiwi name if ever i heard one. Incidentally for the Kiwi’s reading – both of you – there’s a place in NI called Carnalridge.)

All this of course reminds me of NZ (which reminded me of Ireland in the first place). The Antrim plateau has always been sold to me as somewhere bleak and barren and miserable and somehow I took that in a negative way. The road down to Cushendall and beyond is now one of my new favorite places.

I parked in the car park to get out and take photos of the beach and the cliffs and received sympathetic stares from the locals in the pub overlooking the harbour. The standard ‘blooming tourists’ type look. it of course being inappropriate for Irish people to be amazed by their own scenery.

The Antrim coast road is in no way a closely guarded secret, indeed it’s well renowned as one of our better tourist spots. It’s just that somehow I’ve never made it here.

The Torr head road is sensibly singed that it is unsuitable for coaches and buses. Though having driven it I’m pretty sure it’s unsuitable for cars as well, the lanes apparently having been marked out as a cycle path and certinly not wide enough to take a car. But I’m glad it’s still there all the same. I ended up doing  my usual and stopping the car every 5 minutes to get out and take photos and then realise 2 minutes up the road that there’s a much nicer photo to be had. I have now tested every remote car park along the way and driven down every dead end track.

I was confused for a while in how Rathlin Island looked so big and indeed appeared to have mountains further down the coast, till I realised that it was actually the Mull of Kintyre and Scotland beyond.

Beaches and oceans get me every time. As they say in Chile – winner.


Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box

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Such was the view I woke up to this morning. Well that was the view on my left side. On my right was Gaz:

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He must have got out of the wrong side that morning…

And no I have not flipped out and fled the country back to NZ. Such scenes do exist in NI. I tended to block stuff like this out when I was in NZ, how beautiful a country we actually live in. Autumn rules. Though it is a tad on the chilly side. All I have to do is compare the strand in Newcastle:

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with Napier:

 

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Though perhaps I’m being unfair.

No, in fact I’m only in sunny Castlewellan castle with a crowd of 170 miscreants from CE. This is fast becoming an annual tradition of dragging a crowd of folk up to the castle and abandoning them in the basement with bunk beds to see if they can find all the hidden passages. There is of course the obligatory trip to Newcastle on the Saturday afternoon to see how slow the dodgems really are and but tubs of ice cream in Mauds and keep up the good Norn Irish tradition of eating ice cream while dressed in 4 layers and walking along a windswept beach.

There was a lot of bant, the craic was good, there was a deficiency of sleep. There was a lot of good teaching, there was a lot of singing, a lot of prayer and many a long, meandering chat on the state of our souls. Good times.

There was a lot of me feeling almost intimidated by large groups of people, most of whom I don’t know. I regret my rather backward social skills, my fear of small talk and my inflated sense of self-importance. I spent a lot of time listening to Gilly tell me their stories and finding myself in rather illustrious company. Somehow it still surprises me that GOD does such work in other people’s lives. I still live in a rather Nelly-centric universe.

library-5382.jpgMore importantly there were 22 people in the Volvo (incidentally you can see in the photo that someone stood on the wiper controls). Though this was underplanned and suffered due to a lack of commitment from the participants – I mean what was all that moaning about needing to breathe all about? I despair for the youth of today…

I think the only way is to get them all lying flat in rows in the back, and possibly consider the removal of a limb or two. I mean two hands is just indulgent…

I think we could make 30.

 

 

 

Day 5 – Country Roads

One of the nice things about road-trips is that you’ve no real plans for what to do, and if you’re me nothing really else in your diary to keep you busy. As a result you drive where you please, till you run out of ideas or get sick of your companions, or the Volvo breathes its last.

I’d phoned home to speak to Dad and find out how his first outpatient appointment had gone and I suppose that brought a lot of stuff back to me. Talk of chemo and weight and cancer remembering the past 3 months. And I suppose that was road-trip over for me. In my head anyway. I realized I’d not really thought of Dad for 4 days (which was the kind of the point of road-trip) but that 4 days was long enough and I waned to be at home again (which was kind of the point of me not being in NZ).

I’d been away for a year and now I was getting homesick after 4 days. Weird huh?

But we still had the whole day ahead of us and we decided to switch coasts and take a drive through the Wicklow mountains. If only cause the N6/M50/M1 sequence just wasn’t scenic enough.

Two major highlights:

library-5493.jpg1) Glendalough – I have vague memories of this as a kid. Why my parents were walking me through ancient graveyards at the age of 6 is beyond me, no doubt some educational/cultural value… It is kind of a cool place and it scares the willies out of you thinking about sitting out a bunch of Viking raiders up a stone tower in Medieval Ireland – even if St Patrick had already got rid of the snakes…

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2) The general scenery – Ireland does bleakness very well. The vast open expanse of the peat covered hills, topped with cloud and mist. Nice to see from a car at speed. The other bonus was autumn. If it wasn’t for the rain and cold it would probably go down as my favourite season.

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By the time we reach the south end of the M50 it’s dark and rush hour’s just starting and dual carriageway takes us all the way home (along the new bit of the A1 I’ve never been on before, making me miss my last chance for cheap fuel) in the mighty Volvo 850 which, fittingly has covered just under 850 miles in the last 5 days. Good times.

Long live the road trip.

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Day 1- Road to Nowhere

The boys have jobs and stuff and real lives so we don’t leave till after 5pm on Friday, joining the crowds of half-termers fleeing the family home for a small fiberglass box on wheels or a grim B&B on a cliff top.

The idea of weekends scares me sometimes. That you work all week and then spend two and a half days in celebration of freedom from your chosen occupation and then go straight back to it all on Monday. I have this thing against enforced, corporate happiness. That anybody can tell you how and when to be happy based on market and social demographics.

Maybe that just leaves me a grumpy old git who’s emotionally stunted and unable to relate to the majority of the population.

Maybe it just lets me think I’m better than everyone else.

Goodness such self-analysis and only three paragraphs in. Will endeavor to refrain from such.

The mighty Volvo is packed and loaded for the craic, even brought the guitar in the hope of some inspired sessions on a beach somewhere.

The boys (Jonny– who designs and engineers large green machines for separating rocks;

 

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and Sparks – who endeavors to teach young humanoids how to form words and sentences in a cohesive manner)

 

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seem intent on naming the poor car, as if it was somehow unhappy with its current moniker of car and Volvo 850. I’m all for personification of inanimate objects but I’m not sure they need a stereotypical fiddly-dee Irish name for that to happen. And I was never going to let Victor the Viagra fueled Volvo stick. Without putting up a bit of a fight anyhow.

As the west bound M1 petered out we made it through the wall of mizzle and cloud to see a glorious autumn sky and the sun setting. About as glorious as Ballygawley ever gets anyway.

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We got briefly lost in Sligo, thankfully not eaten by the natives before getting on the N15 (funny how planned and organized the roads sound when you give them a alphanumerical title, making a winding lane between farmhouses sound like a major communications artery) to Bundoran.

We’re staying in Mullaghmore, just north of Sligo in what I imagine would be some pretty spectacular scenery if it wasn’t raining and night time. Given that it nearly always rains, then the scenery is only fantastic for about 3 days a year when Bord Failte comes and takes all the photos for the ads.

By the time we got here the restaurant was near closing and we managed to throw a few steaks and a pint of the black stuff down us before a dander along the harbour and making of plans for the morrow.

Hotel is nice, better than sleeping in the Volvo at least. Though I am sharing a bed with a grown man, which always seems to be the problem of three single blokes looking accommodation together.

At least we got a sea view. Hopefully it’ll look pretty here in the morning. Prettier than Jonny will anyhow…

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On the road (again)

Nelly is off into the wilds of the west coast of Ireland, with a few muppets in the volvo for a few days. With luck we’ll find Father Ted’s house, the only Fjord (no Mondeo jokes…) in Ireland and if we’re really lucky the holy stone of Clontibbert.

It even appears we’ll be blessed with classic Irish weather. Makes me wonder why I got a car with a sun roof.

So expect the return to old form of a ‘blog a day’, Kiwi road trip, except with less surfing and lying in the sun.

Long live the road trip.

Asleep in the back

Since I’ve got back I’ve been driving Dad’s Saab 9-5 estate. Beautiful car, absolute flying machine, all shiny and nice and clean. Lovely to drive but a bit nice for me, I always worried about bumping it or scratching it. Especially when i bumped it and scratched it. And that one time I parked a bit close to the wall… enough confession.

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I’ve been looking for a car to live up to the RVR – my Kiwi wagon. Well it was actually a Japenese import but you know what I mean. I tended to live (quite literally) out of the car during my solo road-trips round NZ, with surf board on the roof, bike on the back, a gas stove and a lot of books. It provided a reasonably comfortable night’s sleep when you put all the seat’s back. As long as you weren’t in any rush to stand up straight come morning. See here for an example.

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I like the idea of living out of my car. I liked the practicality of the RVR, liked the sheer functionality of it. I even liked the weird way it only had a back door one one side and only the driver side electric window worked. I get attached to old broken things.

So when I got home I started looking for something similar and there was really only one choice.

A volvo estate.

If you could buy wood panel station wagons in the UK I’d have one. A nice big car for the kids and the dog I don’t have.

As soon as Dad got home from hospital he set upon the Autotrader website with vigour and 3 days after discharge we were down the M1 looking at an 11 year 850 in Lisburn. Dad knows about cars. Like what makes them good and stuff. I need his approval to get a car. The guy who owned it clearly took care of it, possibly to the point of neurosis – he had receipts for oil filters he’d bought in 1997. When we asked him had the car been in any accidents he became a bit sheepish and admitted that yes, he had put a scratch in the bumper a few years ago.

So yes, I bought it. The Volvo 850 estate. The car that redefined the right angle. In all her glory.

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Be sure to find Nelly asleep in a car park near you soon.


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