scribbles tagged ‘tanking Thomas’

female. car owner. Dr.

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014 | tags: , ,  |

ParkedWhen I bought Thomas I completed all the documentation with my actual title, Dr. Wendy.

Wendy: I’d like to book my car in for a service

Service Engineer: What’s the registration number?

Wendy: (cited registration)

Service Engineer: Mr. House…

Wendy: I’ve not had a sex reassignment, to my knowledge

Service Engineer: It says here the owner is Mr. House

Wendy: When I bought the car from your dealership 5 years ago I was a Female and I still am

Service Engineer: Can I check the registration again?

Wendy: (recites the registration which like my sex, hasn’t changed)

Service Engineer: I’m sorry, I’ll get that changed

I wonder whether he’ll do the mundanely common thing of deciding to marry me off to someone when he changes the gender without having first asked what title to use. Applying another common stereotype in a prejudicial way.

female. car owner. Dr.
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Saturday, June 15th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

Foxglove drivewayI sprinkled foxglove seeds along the border of my gravel drive 2 years ago. They’ve taken the hint and I’m liking the new foliage that softens the border between the gravel and the wall.

Through the garden gateI’ve also sprinkled Poppy, Campanula and Forget-me-nots here. A couple of each have taken root and I’m hoping they’ll self-re-seed and spread to make a green foliage and blue summer border. A winter Jasmine is also beginning to settle on this border, to add some winter colour. I may try to train a Ceanothus up the wall to add spring colour and winter foliage.

From the drive you open my garden gate to see some more Foxgloves, Ferns, logs, a thriving Ceanothus and a white Wisteria that will eventually cover the woodshed and fencing.



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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

OrigamiI was 6yrs when they started dating. I’ve no memory of the widow without him next to her. He would tell an engaging story, fold some paper, do some magic. She enthusiastically edited and annotate his stories. They talked, behaved so smoothly, as if they were one.

8-AlbertMagicThe front door opens as I walk up the garden path. With a smile and short wave of her hand she beckons me in, while she puts on her coat. Piles of papers and boxes of things are neatly arranged around the edges of the very clean lounge. I’ve been wondering what to say to her. What do you say to recently bereaved people? She places a photograph album on my lap. Her step-children made the album for her from photographs they printed to the wall at the wake. Her coat is nowhere to be seen as she talks me through the photographs, boxes and piles of paper. The photographs are all of her husband, she’s in almost everyone, his smiling shadow.

Her conversation flows easily and is fascinating. It’s easy to listen to her, asking a few questions. She seems to be pouring out all the stories that have built up in the new found silences of living alone. Her conversation is mostly on topics that have arisen because of his death, practical things like dealing with finances, probate, the single-person supplements charged when you’re planning a cruise holiday for one, and learning how to cooking for one. She says ‘as you know’ whenever she talks of being single, talking to me rather than at me. She comments in passing on the difficult emotions;  not being ready to box or clear-out his things, trying to help with her step-daughter’s persistent crying, depression.

The days are alright. The sun is out and I’ve plenty to do. He would be on the computer all day, so we didn’t spend them together anyway. It’s the evenings that are difficult, when it’s dark. We spent our evenings together.

I pretend that he’s at a (Masons) lodge meeting, he often went out for them, so that helps.

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mobile ecosystems

Sunday, May 12th, 2013 | tags: , , ,  |

ParkedBros 57 laughed. Thomas rocked.

wendy: wassup bro?

Bros 57: you’ve got cobwebs, in your CAR. Spiders living in your car!  (LOUD LAUGHTER)

wendy: oh yes, and I wind the windows down to attract flies so the spiders don’t starve to death.

I love that Bros 57 is amused, rather than squeemished, by cobwebs in my car. I think they give Thomas a really homey feeling.

mobile ecosystems
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blob of the road

Thursday, November 15th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Dartmoor - Thomas goes offroad!The Dartmoor ‘blob’ is akin to the Bermuda triangle with extra dollops of fuzzy boundaries.

In the photograph on the right we see how Florence, the SatNav, has decided that Thomas, the car, in not actually on a road and has to turn left, not on a road, in 0.4 miles. Such are the ways of the Dartmoor.

this is actually a roadFlorence is often suprised that we manage to stay on the Road when we’re out in Devon.

In  the photograph on the left we see how Florence proudly announces that Thomas is actually ‘Driving on Road’.


blob of the road
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fence post inspections

Friday, April 20th, 2012 | tags: , ,  |

Thomas conducts his perfunctory fence post inspecition duties without so much as an hurumpfff
Didcot power station

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computerisation increases paperwork

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

car on life supportAs I wait to pay for Thomas’s annual MOT I watch the Halford‘s service man sort through at least 10 pages of A4 documents, sorting them into piles, stapling them together. The queue of 6 people behind me is getting ancy. They’re leaning against the counter, the wall, adjusting their positions and loudly sighing.

Wendy: Wow! Thats a lot of paperwork

Halford’s Engineer: Tell me about it! You wouldn’t believe this company. All you need is a Tablet and one document, but not here. When they computerised the process it quadrupled the paperwork!

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devour and dodge

Friday, June 3rd, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Last night I succumbed to a hedonistic Roquefort cheese devouring session, accompanied by a cheeky little Fitou ….mmmMMMmmmm…….

This helped produce a lovely dream, a relaxed family outing.

The dream turned lucid when I realised that my parents had driven my car without permission, into several walls, dodgem bumper car style. They blamed the car for poor usability.

Lucidity enabled me to fix the car promptly.

My parents are still the same.

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Diesel Particle Filter Malfunction (part 3)

Thursday, April 14th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

Thomas alone in the Carparkwendy:  when I bring Thomas in for his new tyres I’d like you to upgrade the software aswell – but I don’t think I should pay for the software update

Service engineer: (disarming giggles) Good luck! You’re booked in

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Diesel Particle Filter Malfunction (part 2)

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 | tags: , , , , , ,  |

ParkedDuring Thomas’ annual service the battery was disconnected forcing his onboard computer to reboot. After reboot the Diesel Particle Filter malfunction warning still showed.

The mechanic said the filter looked ok. The nice chap at the Mini Dealership explained that the software might be malfunctioning and would cost me £90 to upgrade.

£90 for a software update!

What?! Software malfunctioning? Software not doing what it was designed to do? That sounds like a programming bug to me, a design fault. Software doesn’t suffer from ‘wear and tear’ like mechanical components. It sounds like Mini manufacturers, BMW, are passing on the cost of fixing their poor original workmanship to their customers! Atrocious. Most software providers release free fixes for software bugs. Hmmmmm…..

An internet search suggested that driving above 40 mph consistently for 10 minutes on a regular basis should burn-off the diesel particles and remove any mechanical problem – if one actually exists. There were lots of discussion forums talking about the warning light showing when there was no malfuntion on BMW cars. Consistent with an actual software design fault.

I changed my driving pattern to include regular periods of driving over 40mph for 10 minutes. Bye Bye to beautiful back-road Oxfordshire. The warning sign still showed. Sigh.

Time to re-visit those lovely chaps at MiniCooper Reading…

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Diesel Particle Filter Malfunction (part 1)

Saturday, April 2nd, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

I love it when my car talks sexy to me like this. Really Thomas is saying, phone those nice boys at the Mini Service centre, you know you want to. And he’s right, I do want to and I do call them. On the phone I slowly, precisely say to the service centre chappy

I’ve got a Diesel Particle Filter Malfunction, Yeah, really, I have

He giggles

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Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

Laughter, giggles and general tripping-up on the walk from the car to the game park. Inside we solved clues to an adventure orienteering course. Pairs of other players were running around the park, swinging on ropes, swimming in mud, opening combination safes. Some teams were taking the game seriously, looking at their watches, calling out military paces and shouting at dawdlers. With your penguine walk and healthy disregard for any rules that destroy fun, I am in the best company.

The car wasn’t where I’d left it. The parking attendant explained it was parked illegally because that spot was reserved for the owner’s grandmother. A grandmother that didn’t have a car, drive, or ever visit the game park. Reassuringly he told me the car was still nearby. Pointing towards an ancient Hawthorn hedgerow

We dismantled it, bagged it, and put it out of the way in the hedge

Dismantled? Surely I hadn’t heard that right. A huge canvas black bag in the hedgerow contained a jumble of car parts. Clunking and clinking. Luckily, I realised I was dreaming. The shock of seeing Thomas’s lovely alloys unceremoniously chucked, jolted me to half-consciousness. Lucid dreaming, keeping me in fantasy land, heading off nightmares. A confident young lady appeared beside me

Your car?

Well, it was

Thomas V2Just saying the words welled tears

Don’t worry, the parking attendant does this a lot, I know someone who’ll put it right

With cheerful banter, in the sort of instant that only happens in dreams and movies, Thomas was reconstructed and shinier than ever.

Lucid dreaming and the generosity of strangers, saves the night before the dawn wakes me!

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Finnish flag

Saturday, February 26th, 2011 | tags: , , , ,  |

Wendy: I’d like a Finnish Flag decal for the roof of my Mini

Mini Salesboy: Sure, a checkered flag

Wendy: No, the country Finland, the country’s flag, a blue cross on a white background

We laughed and he gave me the name and phone number of the company the local Mini outlet uses for all their custom work. The staff at the local Mini outlet in Reading town always manage to make me feel good, even on the rare occassions they actually take some of my cash

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beware low flying cars

Saturday, December 4th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

car wreckThe commute to work down the icy back roads of Oxfordshire has been spiced up by the occassional snow flurry and the black ice. Clearly there is some form of adult bumper car game going on. Some drivers drive slowly so as not to take part, others get frustrated at travelling slowly and indulge in risky overtaking. Others just head for the treed hedgerow…


….then wait to be flown-out, like this little black number. Thomas just pootles along at a reasonable speed trying not to harrass the cautious or impatient drivers, its a thin line.

Thin black ice

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designed to disable

Saturday, October 23rd, 2010 | tags: ,  |

Mini Cooper door handleSometimes the price of classic style is an embarressing loss in ease of use. Thomas’s door handles are a nice example. Classic car door handle design from the 60’s. But. There is a reason why this design fell from common use. It’s difficult for a substantial proportion of the population to use.

The dip you can see in the left is a key-entry for unlocking manually with a key. The dip is a pleasing and an enticing place to put your thumb when you grab the handle with one hand. Inside the sturdy chrome handle is a graduated black plastic bar hinged and thinner on the right hand side. To open the door you pull the black plastic bar against the chrome handle. Put your hand around the handle and gently squeeze. Sounds good, looks good.

I expected it to feel good.

I expected a firm gentle squeeze would open the door. It didn’t.  I had to try several times and actually ended up using my body-weight to get enough pressure to open the door. I had trouble every time I tried to open the door. Was the spring action poorly adjusted? Am I a wimp? It was annoying, I expected better from a modern car.

Mini Cooper door handleHow would you grab this handle?

Can you see how the designers had failed to design well for my behavior?

My thumb is on the wrong side. My little finger is grabbing the black plastic bar at its widest point. The widest point is where it’s easiest to get the most leverage to pull to open the door. Alas my pinky wasn’t up to it and I was applying most force with my first finger, near the hinge, where more force is needed. Sigh.

The door handles on the modern Mini are designed for right handed people. That’s a prejudice I could do without.

Mini Cooper door handleThis is how I’ve solved my problem. I place my hand in the gap ‘upside down’ its a less pleasing experience but it opens the door first time. My brothers and many friends are also left handed. If, when I give them a lift, I don’t warn them about this design flaw they often tell me that I’ve left the passenger door locked because they too cannot open the door with their most natural of movements.  I don’t like having to tell my friends and family how to open the passenger door. It’s embarressing for me and for them. How bad is a design when you have to tell people how to open a door, A DOOR! There are lots of different ways BMW could have maintained the look and feel of the original Mini without introducing designs that disabled a substantial proportion of the population.

BMW designed to disable

designed to disable
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time for creative driving

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 | tags: , , , ,  |

Continue to West Street? Where is West Street?

Follow the pink line? What do I do when I get to the junction of High Street and Back lane?

Or should I go the other direction, the way Thomas is facing, away from Back lane?

Time for creative driving

which way?

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to and from the jungle house

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

plants breaking out of a houseI knocked on about 10 different doors asking if anyone in the house drove a small red Vaxhall Corsa. No-one did, but everyone gave me very helpful advice, telling me which houses I didn’t need to ask and which houses were strong contenders. One house was high on everyone’s list, the house with the jungle growing out of the window. The one hidden behind a sizeable hedge. The one with a sign advertsing a room vacant for a student.

I knocked, I asked. No, no-one in the house drove a red Vauxhall Corsa. I moved on.

The tiny Corsa was parked in a position that effectively blocked 2 driveways, which is illegal.  The car was also parked over one foot away from the curb and across a road parking space. These were not signs of a skilled driver, a careful or consderate person.  A baby seat was strapped in the back, a St. Georges flag decorated the rear window.

Poor Tanking thomas couldn’t get into the Wendy House drive and I don’t have a street parking permit.  One of my neighbours kindly offered to let me use her drive.   I didn’t have to find a place miles away, outside of the restricted parking zone and catch a bus home.  My favourite Fiesty neighbour started ranting on my behalf about how inconsiderate and ignorant the Corsa owner was. Fiesty neighbour offered me her spare street parking permit.

I photographed the Corsa, its parking permit, and got into Thomas to move him into my neighbours drive. As I started Thomas, a large blond lady come out of the jungle house, briskly walked up to the Corsa and got in.  I jumped out of Thomas and ran up to the Corsa before she pulled away, tapped on her window. She said nothing, just nodded as I explained that she had blocked my access, that I couldn’t park on the road and asked her not to park there again. She nodded, pulled away and drove the wrong way up a one way street. Both my neighbours watched.

small car bocking 2 driveways at onceFiesty nieghbour: you were much more polite than I would have been

wendy: she knows where I live and could make life really difficult for me if she wanted – I told her all she needed to know and have photographic evidence

Fiesty neighbour: you should report her for driving the wrong way up a one way street

wendy: I think she would guess it was me, wouldn’t you guess it was me, and she might want to take revenge.

Fiesty neighbour: yes I’d guess it was you if it was me, you’re right, but she broke the law and is a pest

wendy: she’ll suffer for it because of who and how she is, I dont need to be the instrument or a focus of her suffering

Parking permit

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Sunday, August 15th, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

Thomas’s turning was accompanied by a squeak. Not a mousy squeak but an evil squeal. It’s possible he may be unsafe to drive. We trundled off to the garage where I left him with the mechanics for diagnostic tests.

Both Gordon Ramsay and my niece are well known for the liberal use of anglo saxon swear words and tantrums. In an attempt to be safe and not gay I’ve made several excursions into emultating their trendy linguistic, emotive, style.  For example

wendy: when can I have my mini back?

mechanic: are you missing your mini? (wry smile)

wendy: Fuċk, am I?! (stamps foot)

The mechanic understood, but 

I went on to fuċking fail

to maintain a modern fuċking focus

on using one fuċking word

Fuċking fuċk. Fuċked (fuċk)

Meanwhile,  Thomas pootled out onto the garage forecourt with the stone that caused all the squeaking surgically removed from his disc brakes. Phew!

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chasing sheep

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 | tags: , , , , , , , , ,  |

is best left to the shepherds

The roads in Devon and Cornwall are a wee bit thin to pass a sheep, or three.

Thomas and I waited while these bleety little chaps found a passing place with sufficient grass to keep them happy.

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drivers for change

Friday, July 2nd, 2010 | tags: , , ,  |

To celebrate a year of togetherness with Thomas, Excel has reviewed the financial side of our relationship.  This is what Excel says:. 

  • £350.00 (approx) Fully comp insurance with lots of nice stuff
  • £35.00 (approx) annual MOT
  • £33.00 (approx) annual road tax
  • £350.00 (approx) Service costs for a car with over 80K milage
  • £830.53 (exact) Diesel costs

This is less than the annual financial cost of commuting to and from work using public transport and on foot.  At a non financial level Thomas cuts 2 hours a day from that commute time, an uncomfortable journey, no seats, 2 changes that involve standing outside and jostling to get a place on the next stage of the journey. 

Changing my commute will be a core driver for changing my job…

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Friday, June 18th, 2010 | tags: ,  |

As I hand Thomas’s key over to the MOT testing centre receptionist ….

receptionist: do you have a key for the car?

wendy: that’s the key

receptionist: a metal key

wendy: a metal key slides out, but I’ve no idea where you can use it

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sourcing logs

Saturday, March 6th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |


Or rather, for £15, Thomas gathered 0.4 cubic metres of mixed wood types from Nettlebed Sawmill and shuttled them to the Wendy House woodshed. It was like stepping into the Waltons, the nearby saw operator smirked charmingly as I loaded Thomas…

wood load full load! Near-full woodshed

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a little rash last night

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

walking from the bus stop to workLast night I decided to go into work today.

A week after Thomas got snowed into the drive,   finally I planned on taking him out for a spin and some slip sliding…

This morning 3 inches of new snow fall, still coming, quickly scuppered that rash  little plan.

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battle for the buns

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Buried alivePerhaps I was a bit premature with the melting snow post.

Thomas has been buried alive.

I’ve cunningly avoided yet another Gym subscription nightmare by resorting to digging out the Wendy House garden path.

After 24 hours of snow, 30cm in my back garden, the local shops are suffering from depleted stocks.      People who when stranded at home must have a steady supply of toast, ideally spread with marmite, are buying thier bread.  No new deliveries.   You do the maths…


Will I have to compromise the purity of my toast by taking my marmite on toasted teacakes? Tonight I’m planning to pop around my perky, yet elderly, neighbour’s house to…

food supplies start to run out…share some seasonal bubbly – more toastie!

…and snow stories in front of a glowing fireplace – even more  toastie!

then I’ll take their food order round to the corner shop where I’ll

battle for some buns.

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black and white

Monday, May 18th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

I’m not so environmentally friendly since I paired up with Thomas.   On the otherhand, I’m not using a jet to get around. With the exception of a classic cathode ray tube,   few things are actually back and white.  

The Monochrome set sang jet set junta

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Friday, May 15th, 2009 | tags: ,  |

Sunday LunchThomas and I will be going places without relying on Flat Eric’s inspired if not route-bound navigational advice.   Florence has joined us,   Florence is a satelitte navigation thingy that was pleasantly easy to turn on and use straight out of the box.

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Monday, May 4th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

Whilst concentrating on driving home through the outstanding Oxfordshire countryside I am everywhere-aware and nowhere.   The journey lasts as long as a daydream,   a CD,    15 Johnny Cash songs, 20 miles.   Suprisingly, Thomas didn’t warm to Johnny Cash,   on the other handbrake,   Dusty definitely pumps  his petrol Diesel.  

Dusty Springfield bounced us to In the middle of nowhere

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blue bonnet

Thursday, April 30th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |

blue sonnet reflected rapeseedThomas swirls  along roads built to bounce him and give me lots of   steering opportunities, through violently yellow  rapeseed fields, between hedges who’s vaulting arms meet above us.  

Thomas purrs and whirrs

Wendy  curls and twirls

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Friday, April 24th, 2009 | tags: , ,  |

Thomas FlirtingThomones are like pheromones,   you can’t see, hear or smell them but they affect the behaviour of  those around them.   In Thomas’s case he clearly affects the behaviour of Mini’s that come within car parking distance.   Either these Mini’s are stalking him or they find impact of his Thomones too much to resist.   Maybe  the Mini’s natural habitattery is in a  herd, or convoy,   maybe that’s why they were used for the Italian job.

Mini herding behaviour demonstrated:

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gotta feel for my automobile

Monday, April 20th, 2009 | tags: , , , ,  |


Emotional attatchments to animate, vibrating, warm, supportive, stylised objects.   It happens.   You may have noticed my recent focus on my new comrade, Thomas.   I’ll try to keep my enthusiasm away from the too-tedious-for-700-yawns range.   Try.

This week I’ve been humming an appropriate  Queen song from their debut album A night at the Opera.

Queen sang  I’m in love with my car

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