The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Jalopy’s annual service and M.O.T.*

Photo: Jalopy

Photo: Jalopy

Jalopy is now sixteen years old. She still goes like a bomb and is my oldest friend. Unlike a human, she hasn’t exhibited the usual teenage moodiness. Rather, as the years progressed, she has become slightly more sedate. The wheel spin starts are just a distant memory.

Now we progress at a steady rate. I’m careful to save her brakes so I coast to a stop. She is not quite as fast from the starting stalls these days so I wait for a clear road at major junctions. This can cause extreme agitation from the slick roadsters waiting behind.

Tomorrow Jalopy will be driven to a new garage for repairs, a service and an M.O.T. Finally we have given up the annual service at the Volvo garage. She has started to rust and there’s the rub. Will she survive for another year or fail her M.O.T. and be towed away to the knackers yard?

The guy at the garage assured me that he could get J through the MOT. He pointed to a bit that had fallen off Jalopy.
“You are in with a chance if you still have that part.”
“Yes, I’m sure that it’s around somewhere. It fell off in the driveway.”
“I’ll need her in for two days.”
“That’s fine. I can walk to work.”

I rang Danny immediately.
“Good news. If we can find the bit that fell off last summer we have some hope. Have you seen it?”
“What does it look like?”
“Black. Plastic. Flattish. Squarish.”
“No I can’t remember anything like that.”

So I drove home to scout around for the part. Zilch.
Ours is not an elegant driveway. It’s a large space with a lot of ‘just in case’ stuff, stored under tarpaulins. Three days later I finally delved into a heavily populated area and discovered the part. Happiness.

This morning I cleared out Jalopy. Discovered a lot of useful tools that have been lost for months along with the usual dried banana skins, colour charts and sun hats. The problem is that I tend to finish a job and have no time to clear out the debris before I’m heading out for the next job. Also no job is straightforward. It’s never just ‘Please paint this room’. There are always repairs. So I tend to carry a skeleton DIY box to cover every opportunity. By the end of the year the box has expanded and the equipment has engulfed the entire car.

Yet when I slip behind the wheel, even if it’s just to sip a cup of tea, she provides an oasis of calm. I have read many books and devoured thousands of packed lunches nestled in her front seat. In the past we toured England and many times I have gripped her steering wheel hard when times are tough. A wheel that is smooth and glossy with sixteen years of hands on contact. With just a few painty fingerprints.

When I drove into Newmarket this afternoon I realised that she still had good suspension and the exhaust didn’t scrape the pavement for the first time in months. I had removed a 25 kilo bag of mortar from the boot. No wonder she was guzzling petrol.

Almost lighter than air, Jalopy is snoozing on our drive tonight. In a couple of days time we will know her fate. I’m hoping that she will be my companion for yet another year. Comfortable and reassuring she has been the perfect chariot. She has never let me down.

* M.O.T. stands for the UK Ministry of Transport and universally refers to the annual check that all vehicles must undergo once they are three years or older.

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  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Lyn

    Jalopy is a 440Si 1.6 – hatchback. Nearly 150,000 miles on the clock! She toured England in middle age and now generally just makes local trips.

    The Lady sounds like a great companion. Love the idea of her namesake running the cake stall!

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