Sunday 23 October 2011

Have wheels, will travel (chapter one)

Is that a saying? "Have wheels, will travel" or is it one of them things that exists in Sheps vocabulary and no one elses? As I am often prone to saying.... "I know what I mean"!

Not being a normal shepherd (in fact probably not even being 'normal'), I do have a necessity for wheels - a form of transport, a way of travelling from farm to farm as and when my assistance is required for whatever task is on hand at the time. Wheels are a very important part of my day to day existence.

Tarset is a rural parish and buses tend not to run, I do believe there is a public bus service which does run once a day a few miles further down the valley but where I live there are no buses and even if there were chances are they wouldn't be running to which ever farm I was likely to be working on. Then there is the question of dogs, would a bus permit three dogs on board as well? Questionable. But then not a question I need to consider as the opportunity is not there so why wonder?

So it is, Shep needs a form of transport and indeed for a number of years now I have had my trusty stead, a creature I have become quite fond of, learnt and accepted it's peculiar little quirks and probably taken it very much for granted.

My car has served me well, of that there is no doubt. It has always fit my requirements well, start when asked and stop when requested - never failed on either counts, what more could anyone ask of a motor?

There is no doubt my car has probably had a rough life, it was transformed from a family hatchback to a mobile dog kennel, expected to carry three dogs, clipping machines, shears, dirty wellies, boots, wet coats - you name it anything a normal family hatchback wouldn't be carrying mine would. She never once complained, although I'm sure on the rare occasion I have had a human passenger there may well have been one or two silent comments.

Most cars travel on tarmac roads, get washed on Sundays and valeted frequently. Mine got valeted when due it's annual MOT, washed when it rained and was as accustomed to driving through clarts (mud) and hoggin roads as it was to being on tarmac. She even had a blackfaced ewe standing on the bonnet one day whilst parked in a farm yard. On a positive note she did get serviced twice yearly, oils and filters changed to keep her sweet and in repayment she always started when asked and stopped when told to. We were happy with our arrangement.

Sunday 15th October saw car and I, plus the usual dogs and anything else rattling around in the interior of the motor, take off to work away out bye. A hoggin (stoned) road for a mile or two, plus a fair amount of clarts due to timber being felled and stacked on the roadside, which saw the old car sliding and struggling slightly but on we went and reached our destination in one piece. That particular day was blood donors day. Blood donors take place down in our local middle school and the session runs from 11am - 4pm (or something like that).

Anyhow, the job in hand found itself sorted away out bye and discussions ensued as to whether to try and attend blood donors or not, the shepherd was weary and couldn't really be bothered, I was recovering from a cold and felt sure my offerings would be rejected, but to hell with it, blood is important to someone, we'll go!

Two of us headed down the valley as the shepherd required a lift to collect his vehicle so two birds could be killed with one stone so to speak. Time was getting on and I have to say my poor little motor travelled down through the forestry on pot holey and muddy roads at a rate of knots it would be unaccustomed to. It wasn't until we were further down the valley and on tarmac roads that I asked my passenger what the noise in the back was. "Are the dogs chewing something?"

He looked over his shoulder and replied "Umm......... no....... your... um... the... err... what do you call it? Er... umm... Wheel strut I think."
"Wheel strut what?" I asked
"It's trying to pop through your wheel arch"
"Yes! Sure! What are the dogs chewing?"
"Seriously" came the reply "I'll steer and you have a look"
Now, if he thought I was going to let go of the steering wheel whilst driving and turn around in my seat to look behind me he had another think coming, especially as I didn't believe him and wasn't going to be wound up that easily.
"Sure - stop taking the piss, dogs are chewing something" Just as I hit a pothole in the road the reply came back
"That's done it, it's definitely the wheel strut, I can see it now, it's sticking up in the boot with the dogs"
"Yer, sure!" came my reply.

The next couple of miles saw me driving slightly steadier, on being questioned about road handling and did the car not lean to one side I replied no, everything seemed quite normal really apart from a funny noise and my passenger irritating me coz he couldn't realise that no matter how hard he tried to wind me up he wasn't going to succeed, I've been caught out with his wit before, I'm not that gullible, I was not going to be taken in, my car is fine, everyone mocks my car, she's fine, starts and stops - fine - end of story!

Unfortunately, upon arriving at our destination, parking up and looking into the back of the car I soon realised that it was not a piss take, it was indeed true, the dogs were sharing their area with a rear wheel strut, fortunately still attached to the wheel and obviously the wheel was still going around but there was no doubting the fact that it had pushed its way from the dark gloomy place it had lived in for the last sixteen years and finally found daylight........ Umm!

I was ready for a lie down after that, blood pumped out of my arm quite nicely and as for my passenger, he later informed me he had 'phoned a friend' and requested a lift, not just too happy to travel in my faithful old car anymore.
"What d'y mean? She still goes......."

I gently drove home, musing all the way. I had thought of finding a great big boulder and placing it over the top of the strut, bound to push it back into place you would think, but then the rear springs are getting hard up and might not carry the weight. A request later to the other half to weld something over the top to hold things in place was greeted with a snort and the retort "you can't weld onto rust"

Oh dear. I do like my car, it starts and stops, never been any bother and now it is illegal, tired, rusty, old, worn out, strong of heart but weak in body. If it were a sheep you would get rid of it................. Oh!