Saturday, 22 May 2010

We've Been Driving In Our Car!

Last weekend was busy. Julian came to stay, and we had to look after Oscar dog. Fortunately, we considered the fact that Oscar has to travel in the car as a major pre-requisite when selecting our car. On Saturday morning we went for a drive. Photos taken on a Nintendo DSi XL, some of which are the right way around, but those taken with the internal camera are reversed! Oscar is on the passenger side, he has the 40% seat down, which fits flat to the boot so that with a nice duvet he has a comfortable place sit.


Sunday, 9 May 2010


Because we did not start this blog until shortly after buying FTP, some of the early posts are not going to be in chronological order until we catch up.

When we collected FTP he was immaculate. A car is a functional thing, and I view a car as something to do work, and not a status or fashion item. For the first week I was paranoid, parking FTP away from other cars so that he did not get hit by car doors etc. However, after a week I awoke to find that vandals had kicked the passenger side door mirror of, and it was hanging by its electric cable.

I was very irritated, I hate having to waste time, money, and resources having to replace something that was not broken due to fair wear and tear. We dismantled the mirror unit, and sealed of the terminals.

After a few days of reflection I realised that FTP was no longer perfect, but this means that I can now get on and enjoy FTP for the useful tool that he is without having to try and stop the inevitable. FTP, has a job to do, he will get dirty, he will age - perhaps the vandals have done me a favour?

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Our First Day

The big day came and we once more commenced on the three train journey to Hemel. On the last part of the journey we stopped opposite a ruined Motte and Bailey castle at Berkhamsted. The castle was interesting as it was the place that the English surrendered to William the Conqueror. I found it amusing as William would not accept the surrender until he reached London and was given the keys. I suppose it would not have looked good if he had been locked out of his brand new capital city.

We arrived at the car showroom and FTP was ready to go. We patiently let the nice man tick loads of boxes on a bit of paper. Something to do with making sure we could work the car and had agreed it had the right bits on it. After the ticking was finished we got in to drive FTP home.

Just on the outskirts of Hemel we passed a shop with tents on display. So we turned around and went back to show FTP the sort of thing he might be doing this summer. There were some big tents and lots of lovely things to buy. I am glad we do not have a big tent as it would be tempting to buy lots of stuff to put in it.

Having arrived by train we had actually managed to leave the map book at home, so we were left with a vague idea of where we might be heading. Steve pointed us in the direction of Berkhamsted which is, of course, on the way.

Berkhamsted turned out to be a pretty little town. With a sturdy church and an interesting tree growing on the boundary. As you moved past the exposed roots of the tree the light gave you glimpses of faces and animals.

We drove to the castle and parked FTP. We climbed the Motte, admired the well, and enjoyed the view (which included a cute red Myvi in the distance). The castle ruin was busy with tourists and young people enjoying the bright sunny day. As we left we passed the reinforcements for the PC who was confiscating alcohol from young people who had probably not bothered to bring their ID out with them. Obviously a problem in Berkhamsted but I must say playing football, having a picnic, and a can of lager does not seem that awful.

Back in FTP we followed a road away from the castle that appeared to go in the right direction. What luck! The road took us through Ashridge Forest and past the lovely house built on the site of a Priory by the Bridgewater family.

The undergrowth was dormant and the trees were not in leaf. This gave an impression of distance and space which made me optimistic about taking a photograph of deer from the car. I have a nice photo that has a blur in the distance which I am sure was the deer. The house itself was an interesting building that is now used as a business school.

We had a leisurely drive home with our final stop at Yeldon in Bedfordshire where there is a Motte and Bailey ruin next to the road in a lovely green field. The lambs were having a skip around as we climbed our second Motte of the day. Yeilden Castle had two Baileys but little is recorded concerning its usage and habitation. A gnarled tree winked and smiled at us as we passed him on our way back to FTP.

A good first day.

Picking Our Myvi

To me there were two main candidates for our next car, the Fiat Panda, and the Perodua Myvi. The basic Fiat Panda (Eco Active) was on special offer at £5995. Alas, Fiat would not let you buy a split rear seat, a third rear seat belt, and bright yellow paint on the basic car. Thus, we would have to pay £7,127.62 (via the Civil Service Motoring Association) for the next model up + another £500 for the extras. All these things, bar being bright yellow, came as standard on the Myvi for about the same price + I kind of like the idea of buying another Perodua because I liked the Kenari so much.

A New Car

When the old one will not work anymore its the sort of thing you have to make an effort and do. As the perpetual passenger who can not tell one car from another this could lead to stress.

After a few weeks of Steve clicking on car websites and explaining their benefits I was no further on with my understanding of fuel consumption and other technical issues. So I bravely left the decision of which cars do greener things to Steve. Yes a cop out.

Steve came up with several cars for me to look at: Fiat Panda, Chevrolet Spark, Suzuki Alto, Perodua Myvi.

I then had to think of what I expected from our car. We needed enough room for my parents who are not as mobile as we are. We needed to transport Oscar (a rough collie) easily. We should be able to fit a ladder and both of us in. It would be nice if it was distinctive in some way so that I could find it when it was parked with a lot of other cars. We should both like the car for some reason.

In the first car show room we visited I saw the most lovely orange spark. It was most pleasing to look at except it had a lot of crosses on it. We opened the boot and discovered that Oscar would have to leap over the high lip to enter. Not ideal. I did the get into it slowly test and it seemed OK. It had split rear seats to accommodate the ladder and us.

The next car showroom contained the Panda. We have had the original Panda before and loved its versatility. Frankly I was disappointed as it was not cute like the last one. It passed the get into car slowly test but there was not enough room for Oscar with the seat up and when it was down it was uneven with a solid back that would have been slippery for paws. The basic model did not have split rear seats or the option to purchase them so it failed the ladder test. Neither could you buy the basic in bright yellow so it failed the see a car in the car perk test.

What can I say about the Suzuki Alto. Yes it came in pink but the car showroom salesman got on my nerves and I can not really remember much. I think it failed the get Oscar in test. It probably did alright on the get in car slowly test, but I can not remember if you could get a ladder in it. Anyway, I didn't like that man so was not inclined to spend Steve's money and give him commission.

Then we caught the train to Hemel Hempstead to look at the Myvi. It easily passed the get into car slowly test as the rear seats have a curved edge. It has split rear seats and can get three people and a ladder in. Then we folded down the back seat and it did not go flat. We were just saying that that would be no good for Oscar when the salesman showed us that you fiddle with the seat cushion and it all fits nice and flat. It passed. We had a look round at the cars waiting to be sold and it comes in bright red. Steve liked it too.

So we bought the Myvi. A superb bonus was when we were asked which registration we would like from the list. LK10 FTP was the first on the list and we both said file transfer protocol. Imagine a registration we can both remember. So now all I have to do in the car park is look for a cute red car with the right registration. I have never in my life been able to remember a car registration. I am so pleased.

Monday, 3 May 2010

MPG after 1,500 miles

After three weeks, and 1,500 miles I am getting 50 mpg (range 49 to 52). Measured by recording the mileage between fills, and using the amount required to refill the tank as the fuel consumed.

Marginally worse than the 55 mpg the Kenari obtained, but I would say this was reasonable because it is a much larger car.