Archive for the 'volvo' Category



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.

 

 

 

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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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