30 years ago I started a game keeping apprenticeship. The only problem was that it meant a daily 18.5 mile each way cycle ride (yes I measured it). I bought an ancient Honda C90 scooter and what an evil contraption it was. It belched out black smoke and I never got my teenage head around the semi-automatic clutch, too many times I ended up crashing into things as the darn thing just would not stop. Once I bashed into a car rear bumper and was mortified, the guy just shrugged and reassured me that our insurance would sort it out. The very nice man never even bothered claiming for it.
Luckily before the C90 could do me or the environment any more damage it blew up on the A25 in Albury near Guildford and I remember pushing it the three miles up and over the North Downs back home where it was laid to rest. At this point my dear Gran stepped in buying me a proper motorbike and helmet to match; a Honda CB100 costing her the then massive sum of £300. Wonderfully she even paid for the first year’s insurance.
Oh happy days and for a couple of years I rocketed around the winding lanes of Surrey, sometimes reaching the breakneck speed of 76mph. Then one fateful winter morning I hit some black ice on a sharp corner and came a right cropper also killing the bike. Fate smiled at me as a car stopped and a nurse on her way to start her shift got out, performed first aid on my wounds and gave me a lift to hospital.
That put a stop to my biking and I changed careers, for the next 10 years I had no need for 2 or even 4 wheels and instead let the train take the strain! Then in 1993 I moved to London with my then girlfriend, her dad generously (or so we initially thought) gave us his old 1978 automatic 2.6L Toyota Cressida. It was a huge pimp mobile which needed its own fuel refinery. I worked for West Ham FC at the time and travelling to and from Balham ‘Gateway to the South’ each day cost a king’s ransom.
We put so much fuel in the car each week we never could save any money to replace the car. Luckily it decided to die one summer’s day in the midst of a huge police drug raid in Greenwich with 5 of us in the car. Hilariously we sat in the car and watched the cops bash down doors and haul no gooders out bundling them into Black Marias. Luckily they were too busy to check us out but thats another story.
At the time by chance my father’s partner Jess owned a red diesel Peugeot 205 which she was selling. Ideal for the mean streets of London, it was small and nippy enough to get out of any trouble. The only problem was it got broken into so often I ended up leaving the doors unlocked, saving the little sods from breaking the windows each time. Although they loved my car stereos they never appreciated my taste in music and more than once I found my tapes ( remember them?) strewn on the ground with the stereo gone.
This lovely car served me well until 2003 until one fateful early morning I started a new job. Driving though the almost deserted streets a VW Sirocco pulled out from a side street smashing into my car, sending me across oncoming traffic into a lamp post. I got the number plate and had witnesses but when the police traced it – no insurance as the car had been stolen! Luckily it was live-in position so I had no need to commute. The insurance company wrote it off as being uneconomical to repair and sent me a cheque for 450 quid. Lady Luck again appeared via a work colleague who moonlighted as a car dealer. He sold me a red Rover 216 GTI for £600. It was a joy to drive, fast and very reliable. I loved the car so much I drove it here to Spain in 2006.
In 2007 a Trojan horse or rather a Lada Riva 4×4 was given to me. It seemed a more practical car for driving the hills in so I made the fateful decision to sell the Rover ploughing the proceeds into renovating the Lada. 1000€ and six months later the Lada was ready. I was impatient to go up hill and down dale in it and went off exploring, an hour later the big end blew on the evil money pit car. The Lada was dead!
To add insult to injury the chap who’d bought my lovely Rover, returned to the UK and had sold it on to the local teenage boy racer. I enviously saw my old car zoom past me on a regular basis and then one day whilst walking the dogs I discovered the beautiful red car crashed and deaded against a huge boulder in the rambla. The stupid boy had drunkenly tried to go off roading in it!
Before moving from the UK I had bought a 4 year old lhd Fiat Punto JTD to use as a posh client car for Spain. Perfect for driving round town, it was absolutely useless for driving along Spanish tracks. Now the Lada project was dead in the water the only option was the Fiat. It was so low on the road that the smallest bump would tickle the oil sump, in three years 2000€ was spent keeping mechanics in overalls or whatever it is they spend their wages on. Then just 2 weeks after fitting a third new sump and 2 new tyres, the steering failed in Arboleas leaving me dangling upside down from the upended car. Regular readers still mention this to me as we were quite the tourist attraction in Los Carrascos.
Needing a car quick I found a Kia Rio estate and boy did that owner see me coming, for the next 8 weeks everything that could go wrong did. I ended up hiring a car as the bloomin thing was constantly off the road. Over the next 2 years nearly 4000€ was spent repairing a car that had cost 1500€. I should have bought a yacht!
So in 2012 we bought a very boring but reliable Ford Focus estate and what a bargain that has been. The Kia grumpily sat in the drive gathering dust until a visit to Rome when my wife and I fell in love with the new Fiat 500! We daydreamed about buying one until late last year a billboard proclaimed no deposit, interest free credit and 1000€ for trading in any old banger. Bye-bye Kia! Now for the first time in my life I have a brand new car under warranty! We treat it like royalty, parking it only where we deem it safe from harm. Yet twice already it’s been bashed into, the last time by a teenager on his moped breaking the Fiats rear bumper much like I did 30 years ago. What goes around…..