MOT Thoughts

Following on from getting the car’s MOT Test done this week, I had a look back on the history of my car’s MOT tests (that’s just a link to the service, not to my specific vehicle)  Something I find interesting on it all is the inconsistency of what’s reported as faults.

I’ve noticed it before – but even when using the same MOT Test Centre, they don’t seem to check the same things every year.

As an example – last year I had advisory warnings about corrosion to the rear doors, and to some suspension components. This year? Neither of those problems was mentioned at all – and I know I haven’t had any work done to sort them out!

It’s not just this test centre, either – the same was true when I was using the Kia dealership down in Milton Keynes, and I know was true with the Saab (an exhaust back box that was blowing one year and not the next, for example) and I thus assume for the Ford as well. (I didn’t really check/track then)

Obviously it’s meant more for looking at current serious faults that would make a vehicle dangerous – although in that case I don’t quite get why misaligned windscreen washers or headlights result in a failure rather than a “needs fixing” – but the lack of consistency on the historical ones just leaves me with a bit of a feeling of “This is all just subjective and/or guesswork, isn’t it?

An Expensive Time

This September-October period is always an expensive one for me.

The main thing is the car – because I got it in October , it means that this six weeks or so includes MoT (and any associated fixes), Service, Tax, and Insurance Renewal. This time it also included a visit to the local dealership to get the handbrake cables replaced (because KwikFit decided they couldn’t/wouldn’t do it, and some other load of old cock that they told me) as it wouldn’t have passed the MoT with them un-fixed.

The handbrake thing is one that’s been going on as long as I’ve had the car – every other MoT gets a warning about “handbrake too high” or “little reserve play/motion”, whoever’s fixing it does something, and it’s OK again – but it got a better-ish fix at KwikFit last year, and then got worse again recently.  So far the newly-replaced cables seem to have sorted everything though.

Anyway, the MoT was yesterday, and it passed fine.  It failed initially (but only for misaligned windscreen washer and misaligned headlights) but was then fine.  Not bad for a car with 220,000 on the clock!

The insurance renewal was mentioned elsewhere, as it was farcical, but is now fine – and I’ve managed to keep it at the same level as what I was paying for the last year, so happy day.

Alongside that (because God Knows, I’m shit at planning) it’s also been time to sort out my tenancy renewal on the new place – which has involved a small-ish raise in rent, although not as much as initially suggested.  And then I also ended up organising for a company to come and deal with the front garden and so on, because it’s a bombsite and needs dealing with (and I am emphatically not a gardener!)

So yeah, it’s all been a bit costly.  Utterly doable though (which is lovely, and still a good thing compared to ten years ago) and at least I know it’s now all organised, so the rest of the year isn’t too bad at all. Thankfully!

Insurance Renewal Fuckery

This being the time I bought the current car, it’s also time for that annual festival of fuckery – Insurance Renewal.

I knew that this year was likely to be a pain in the arse – there’s been plenty of coverage about how insurance premiums have gone up massively as part of “the cost of living” (which in the case of insurance etc. seems to me to be just rabid profiteering – I don’t see how inflation and food costs have a knock-on effect to the car insurance industry!) so I was expecting it to be stupid. I just wasn’t expecting quite how stupid.

So – I got my renewal letter through from my current insurers, and they’d managed to double my insurance. For no changes – the address change happened before last renewal and the car hasn’t changed (other than in losing value for having been driven another 25,000 miles)  But no, somehow they feel they can justify doubling the price.

Well, frankly they can fuck off.

So off I went to that site with the meerkats (because it annoys me less than the one with the opera ‘singer’, or the one with the weirdly confusing existential ads that make no sense) and looked at what was available.

As it turns out, I got a deal with a different insurer for all the things I wanted, and paying the same as I have been this year. Which I reckon is a total win, all told.  So far it’s been painless – I’ve cancelled the renewal on the current one (while laughing on the phone at them, because doubling the quote is just fucking ridiculous) and the new one is in place to start in early October.

But it does make me wonder about what the business model is for so many of these insurance places. I have to assume that there’s a huge number of people who just blindly accept the renewal cost without looking elsewhere (and if that’s the case then they bloody well deserve to be ripped off, in my opinion) but that’s pretty mind-boggling, given the prevalence of these comparison sites and so on now.

Mileage and Food

Another weekend of driving, food, and changed plans.riday was a drive up to Newcastle, primarily for a dinner at Solstice, which was as excellent as ever. It’s a tiny little restaurant nearly under the Tyne Bride, and only serves a maximum of 14 diners per service. It’s always a lovely welcoming place though, with great food, and a place I thoroughly enjoy going to.

Saturday involved a drive halfway back, for a meal at The Angel at Hetton.  The original plan had been a simple two foodie things and then home, but then another friend in Manchester had said that the Sunday was the best day for their availability, so things changed and meant I’d also stay over somewhere in the vague vicinity (and ideally without spending a king’s ransom on a hotel) which meant I ended up driving from Newcastle to Burnley in order to check in, then up to Hetton (about another 45 minutes) for the meal and then back again.

As it was, the drive between Newcastle and Burnley was an absolute pig – although admittedly nowhere near as bad as if I’d reversed the locations. The road from Leeds to Newcastle was pretty much solid slow traffic, and can’t have been any fun for anyone.  In my direction it was just heavy, and then a motorway closure sent me on all kinds of interesting alternative routes.  In the end it meant it was pretty much the same time as if I’d just opted to drive home.

I was, however, deeply underwhelmed by the Angel.  I’d gone on the recommendation of a couple of friends, and for me it just didn’t work. It was generally OK, nothing actually bad, but also nothing great.  And a lot of little niggles combined to make me feel more like an annoyance, like they thought that the table would’ve been better if it had two people on it.  Little things like being on a table shoved into the far corner of the restaurant,; being only table to not be greeted by the restaurant manager; and not being offered a menu for the table (and to keep) once I’d ordered when every other table was given one. It soon adds up to a Not Good Conclusion.

(In fairness, I’ve sent this feedback to them already, and they’ve so far seemed to be quite positive about the entire thing)

Once I was done there, back to the hotel overnight, and then down to Manchester the next morning. Spent the day there with friends, and then got home at about midnight, after a weekend of about 700 miles, all told. Knackered, but worth it.


When I was starting the car in York on Sunday to come home, it took a lot longer to get going than usual.  Never a good sign.

I figured that it had already had 300 miles of motorway driving in the last 36 hours, so was either not charging properly or the battery was fucked. (Which I’ve experienced before)  But then by the time I got home, I’d forgotten about it, and didn’t check things. (I blame the post-drive “stunned monkey” phase)

So yesterday when I was due to go off somewhere (thankfully nothing essential, nor involving anyone else) the sodding thing wouldn’t start. Battery flatter than a very very flat thing. Tits.

As it worked out, I tried some mobile places for battery replacements, and while most were less-than-useful (“Oh no, fully booked today and tomorrow!” and so on, and one that promised a callback within 30 minutes to arrange and then only called back an hour after that, once I’d sorted out the people who did turn up) I did manage to book one, and it all went smoothly. He turned up early (having called to check it was OK to do so) and checked the car’s diagnostics as well to make sure it wasn’t a problem with the alternator or anything.  Then when we opened the bonnet it was obvious that the battery was utterly, utterly fucked. Corrosion on the terminals and so on, definitely knackered.

Anyway, long story short, it’s all been replaced and tested, and everything is happy and smiley once more.

I’m off to be on-site again tomorrow so it’ll get a good run as a test-bed for everything, but so long as it starts and continues to do so, I’ll be happy.
(I checked back on here, and it turns out that battery was installed in October 2017, so it’s had a good run!)

Ticketed – Cancelled

Just under six weeks ago now, I got a parking ticket in Milton Keynes, despite having paid for the necessary parking.  Needless to say, I lodged my appeal about it when I got home, did all the online form-filling, added the receipt from the parking payment, provided a contact email address, job done.

And then silence.

I chased it up by email a couple of weeks ago. And then silence.

Now, I assumed that as I’d heard nothing (and no further bills had come to tell me I needed to pay it) that the appeal had worked, but I’d have expected some form of notification.

So yesterday I decided to make sure it was all sorted, this time by phone.

Only… There’s no phone number.

  • Yes, there’s one on the page about parking tickets, but that turns out to be only for the licensing people.
  • Then there’s the council switchboard, who give you a different number for the parking people.
  • Then that department give you the actual number for the parking ticket people
  • And finally, on the fourth call, I got to the right place, confirmed that the appeal had been processed and the ticket cancelled, and that they’d (allegedly) sent me a letter telling me that.  (And fuck only knows why they pay to send a letter when I’ve given them an email address they could use for free!)

So at least it’s all sorted, and it hasn’t cost me anything. But still,



This weekend was one of my dafter ones in a while.

On Thursday I did my usual ‘site visit’ to the office where my primary client is based – which is about 100 miles drive each way. Makes for about four hours driving as well as most of a working day.  At the same time I’d somehow sort of knackered my foot – slightly swollen, almost like a gout attack but nowhere near toes. Odd, but nothing major.

Then Saturday was a trip down to London – a good lunch with friends first before going to the theatre in the evening and then home.  Again, 100 miles-ish driving each way, plus London transport and walking.  Got home about 1am, but didn’t get to sleep til after 3am.

Then Sunday was a trip up to York to meet another friend for more food and drinks. Entirely my own choices, and I’m blaming no-one, it’s just how it all worked out.  But another 100 miles each way, another 2 hours each way in the car, plus a shitload of walking.

So between Saturday morning and Sunday night I’d driven the entire length of the M1 (London to York).  Twice.  I’d walked just under 23Km over the two days, but it was the driving that took it out of me the most.  I got out of the car here and everything just hurt and pretty much shut down – indeed I ended up with a reaction like shock – shivering, cold and clammy, and not really all that functional.  It eased off, but I wonder if it was that sudden “everything hurts all at once” that dumped the body into a state of surprise and “What the hell’s happened there?”

It’s all been fine by today – aching legs and so on, but nowhere near as bad as last night – and I’ve spent the day doing Not Much, along with rehydrating.

But I think I might just have to admit to myself that I’m getting a bit older – and that eight hours of driving in 48 as well as a load of walking and general alcohol and idiocy is perhaps no longer as easy as I’ve usually found it.