D4D

My god carries a hammer. Your god died nailed to a tree. Any questions?

Archive for the category “Driving”

MOT Passed

After the car hassles last month, it was in for its MoT test today.  I was hoping it would be OK – I wasn’t certain, because the MoT Test rules changed earlier this year, and there were a couple of bits where I wondered if it would fail.

As it turned out, though, it passed fine. One advisory (i.e. “that’ll need fixing sometime before the next test”) and that was it.

I’m glad – it means things are OK ’til next year, and at that point I may (or may not) decide to get something new.  (Or, of course, earlier on – if it fails between now and this time next year)

But at least it’s good for now.

Turbo-charged

It took its time happening, but the car’s now back, the broken turbo‘s been fixed and all seems well.

I actually got it back last Friday, but I’ve been travelling round like a dickhead since – I’ve covered a thousand miles already, and given the new stuff a good bedding-in along the way.

It’s not been cheap – far from it- although it’s still cheaper than getting a new car. But at least it’s now back on the road, and I’ll just have to wait and see how it does from here on.

Along the way, it’s also meant I’ve been considering what to do when it comes to getting a new car, doing some thinking and making some plans for that time. I’ll write about that some other time, though.

For now, I’m just happy to have the car back and working – now it’s just time to get it re-taxed and booked in for its MOT. Fun, fun, fun.

An Unholy Clusterfuck

It seems at the moment like there’s a massive conspiracy going on that makes access from my area to Milton Keynes into an absolute nightmare.

Last month, the Highways Agency started work on the M1 from J13 to 16, installing “smart motorways” stuff, and shoving in a dirty long 50mph speed limit, enforced by average speed cameras. (And there’ll be a post on those some other time)   That work is going on ’til March 2022.

Next month, Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes councils are starting the second phase of their joint project to make the A421 dual-carriageway between J13 of the M1 and Milton Keynes.  That’s going to have a 40mph limit on it, and will be in place ’til the end of 2020.

So for the next 18 months minimum, the two primary routes into Milton Keynes will be speed-limited and being worked on at the same time.

And then just to top things off, one half of the other primary route (on the other side of Milton Keynes) is undergoing resurfacing work for the next couple of months – which means that my only other primary route is going to be handling all the traffic that should be on that one.

Like I said, it’s all just seeming like either a sinister plot, or a massive organisational clusterfuck.  Both of which have the same results, when all’s said and done.

Missing Bits

I think that the worst bit of having one’s car in the garage (except for the bill at the end) is that you never ever remember to take all the useful stuff out of the current car to put in the replacement one.

Usually, it’s not even the stuff you think of as actually being useful, until the time comes that it’s needed, and then you think “Oh. Cock.” (or words to that effect)

In my case this time there’ve been three times this weekend where I’ve thought that.

The first was really simple – shopping bags. I have re-usable “bag for life” things in the boot of the car.  Did I think about needing them when I left the car at the garage? Did I bollocks.

Then the weather changed (it’s a Bank Holiday in the UK, so it’s usually piss-wet, but I didn’t think about  that during the week) and chucked down a load of rain. So where’s my waterproof jacket that I haven’t used all year? In the car. Along with the umbrella. Sod.

And finally, when I was eating a packaged salad thing outside the other office in Chesham, where’s the cutlery I keep in the car? Yep, it’s in the car. Just not the right one.  For fuck’s sake.

It’s nothing world-ending, obviously. It’s just irritating, because it’s also stuff I just hadn’t thought about. Which makes me feel like a bit of a tit. (Not that that’s anything new or unusual, obviously)

Turbo Near-Miss

While driving down to London yesterday (of which more in another post) my car started to make an odd noise. Primarily a whining noise when under acceleration, and generally not all that well.

I called my usual garage, told them what was happening, and got told “Oh, first time we can look at it will be September 3rd”.  (The usual “fob off the customer” approach that they’ve excelled at so many times)  So instead I contacted the other dealership in the area – part of the same group, but run as a separate entity – and the person there made noises of “Oooh, that’s not good”, and asked if I could bring it in the next day (today)

I did so, and as I’d suspected, the turbo is on its way out.  Bollocks.

So the car’s booked in for the work – not cheap, but less than getting a replacement vehicle – and I’ve got a replacement vehicle while they do it.

So far, the new dealership looks really promising – the service department have been great so far, and the deal I’ve got from them has been positive.  It may be that they turn out to be shite – but if not, I’ve got other options.

It’s surprising to see the difference between the two dealerships – the previous/main one (as I’ve mentioned before) consists of a patronising bunch of fuckknuckles. They seem so complacent about everything, and their idea of customer service appears to be to make the customer feel like a fuckwit.

What they’ve never understood – and the new place appears to – is that the service department is just as much of a sales tool as the actual cars in the showroom.  If I’m being treated like crap by the service department with the current vehicle, what on earth would make me buy another car of the same make, and lock myself into further years of being treated like crap?

That’s what the new one seems to understand – that this is the way to keep people coming back. It’s what the Saab garage I used with the previous car understood – and so did the Ford one before that.

We’ll see what happens now, and how things go after the repair. I’m hoping that this time won’t have the same knock-on after-effects that it did when the same thing happened on the Saab.  (Although this time it’ll also help that the turbo was just on the way out, rather than having gone pop when travelling at speed, as the Saab one did!)

Calling 101

Every so often, I decide to play the role of “responsible human being”. Today, it turned out, was one of those days.

When I got in to work, I could see that three cars in the vicinity had been broken into (or at least had their windows smashed) so opted to do the ‘responsible human’ thing, and called 101 – the UK Police’s non-emergency number.  No point in doing an emergency 999, as no-one else was visible, and the damages could’ve happened any time overnight.

So 101 it was.  And while I get that it’s for non-urgent stuff and so on, but man alive, what an absolute faff.

The call goes through, and starts off with “Which police force do you require?”.  (Probably because I called on my mobile – calling from a landline would’ve localised things. I assume)  That’s fine, if you know who you need to speak to.  But if I hadn’t known that Milton Keynes is covered by Thames Valley Police, I’d have been knackered from stage one.

Then we go on to a recorded message from the chief of Thames Valley. Why? No idea.  I assume it’s part of the script of 101 – I’ve heard similar on other calls to different forces – but it seems (to me) to be utterly pointless.

And then we get the voice-response asking what you want to do. If you know the name/number you want to speak to, type it now, or press [whatever] to report a crime.

And then we get some piece of crap recorded message about victim support.

And finally, finally, when all that’s done, I finally spoke to someone – who was helpful, and made sense.  But what a horrific fucking faff in order to do something I didn’t even need to.

All told, it certainly makes it easy to see why people prefer to call 999, even for non-emergency stuff.  At least the response to it is quicker, and gets rid of all that recorded bullshit.

 

Lead Developer 2018

This week I was in London during the week, attending the 2018 Lead Developer conference.  I’ve been before, both in 2016 and 2017 (so I’ve only missed the first one, back in 2015) and this year was as good as the previous ones. It’s gone from size to size, and this year had 1,100 delegates – which also meant that it’s outgrown the QEII centre, so this time we were at the theatre in the Barbican centre instead.

I had decided this year that I couldn’t be arsed with frantic travelling, so instead went down to London on Tuesday afternoon, checked into a hotel in Islington (so I had plenty of opportunity to keep up with walking and so on as well) and stayed for two nights.  On the Tuesday I also darkened the doors of Mac and Wild, where I had a truly ridiculous (and rather excellent) off-menu burger. Following the first day of the conference I also walked to Mere (again – and I hadn’t remembered I’d done much the same thing last year until I re-read the post from then) and back.

On the Thursday, once the conference was done, I walked up to where I’d parked the car, and had dinner in Wahaca up there before driving home.  This had been planned, as it meant I left London just at the time that England started their kickyball match in the World Cup, which meant that the roads were comparatively much quieter than usual, and that the drive home was pretty easy.

Along the way, I’ve also been able to complete a full working week, allbeit crammed into three days rather than five. It’s been pretty tough, but at least it’s all done now.

After this weekend, things calm down a lot – and I honestly can’t wait.

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