I Have Wheels!

Having dealt with the writing off of my car I asked my friend Lindy to help me embark on a tour of the used car dealers who looked to have small inexpensive ones, not the posh ones which I couldn’t afford. We had 2 lovely days out with a picnic on the first day overlooking the estuary at Milford Haven and watching the Irish Ferry leave for Rosslare. We found 3 I could afford and which met my needs but one, the best one of course, was booked for a test drive and the salesman wouldn’t let me even look at it until he knew if that person wanted it. She did – no surprise there! But there were 2 others in another garage and after driving both of them I needed to sleep on the decision overnight.

We parked at the end of this bridge looking at this view!

The next day she drove me back to the garage and I put a deposit on a Suzuki Swift a year younger than my old car. I had to then wait for the garage to service it and do an MOT and for me to transfer the money. So we went on to Tenby, which she visits regularly as it is quite near her house, and lunch in her favourite cafe to celebrate.

Tenby harbour

And now it is mine! She took me to collect it today and followed me to the petrol station and then home. It is amazing what some people will do for coffee and homemade cake! Without her and Laura to help me I would have really struggled but with them it has been almost – almost – enjoyable! Not that I want to do it again soon you understand but the days out in lovely places and the feeling of being cwtched (a welsh term meaning hugged, held, safe, cared for) was brilliant.


Getting by with a little help from my friends

A week last Friday I had an accident in my car. No-one was hurt thankfully though both the other driver and I were shaken up. Neither of us knew quite what to do. What was lovely was that other drivers passing the scene stopped to see if we were both OK and did we need any help? It was certainly not rubbernecking. My car was slewed across the road and if I hadn’t been able to drive it I would have needed help to move it out of the way. Everyone here knows that mobile signals are patchy – I couldn’t get one at that point – and someone with access to another network may be needed to call an ambulance or a recovery service.

Once we had exchanged details and both taken photos of both cars for insurance purposes the other driver rang for someone to come and collect her. I decided I was 1 mile from the garage where my car is serviced and repaired and 3 miles from home. I drove to the garage. Richard who owns and runs it was wonderful. He explained that as an old car the insurers would probably write it off – 2 new body panels fitted by an approved garage would cost more than it was worth. But when I got their response to take time to think and to talk to him for advice.

He then drove me home. Did I have anyone to keep an eye on me in case I had delayed shock? Yes, Laura was working in the garden. He would phone me later anyway to check all was well for his own peace of mind. We had to drive past the site of the accident and he stopped to check on the other driver who, it turned out, he knew because she lives in the village where the garage is. Her partner had arrived but Richard offered to help them move the car later with his trailer. Again it was not a bid for work but just being neighbourly. When he kept his word and phoned me later he told me that both cars were now in his care until the insurers can sort things out – no rush to get them moved.

Laura insisted I had a cup of tea and some chocolate. While the kettle boiled I messaged my son and daughter to tell them what had happened. My son picked up the message first and while I was typing the next part contacted Laura to make sure she was with me. She promised him she was and would check on me during the evening. Then she helped me do the insurance claim form online. I could do most of it without help but knew there might be some unfamiliar tech trick needed and that I wasn’t at my best. I had accidentally brought the car keys home with me so she then took me to the garage to put them through the door. Apparantly while I was walking the dogs (some things just have to be done!) she messaged my son to explain that, having seen my photos of my car she was happy I was very unlikely to have concussion or whiplash and he could stop worrying! Both he and my daughter offered to come and stay for a few days if I needed them.

Laura, Lindy and another friend, Olwyn, all offered to take me shopping or to other places I needed to go, and I know there are others I could ask if none of them is available. So there was no rush to get back on the road.

The previous week Rose, my friend and yoga teacher, had been explaining to us all in class that she had been on a First Aid refresher course and had been reminded that out here in the sticks help from official sources takes a while to arrive, if at all. She was therefore asking us to fill in a form with details of any health conditions and who she should contact if there was an emergency – just in case. We have to look out for each other, take care of each other and not rely on ‘Them’. My accident was a brilliant example of how good people round here are at doing just that.

Since then I have been in the simplistic and surreal world of car insurance. Apparantly I may or may not have been ‘to blame’ for the accident, the insurers really don’t care; I was ‘at fault’ because I crossed the stop line and the other car had right of way. The fact that the road was empty when I pulled out was immaterial. And the car was, indeed, written off. I am glad because when Laura took me to collect the last of my belongings from it I realised that even if it was repaired I would be anxious in it. So now I am looking for a new vehicle which will cost a lot more than the payout and all my plans to replace the worn / shabby / unloved items in the house are on hold. Thankfully my friends are happy to go on ferrying me around for as long as it takes to find the right car at the right price so I am not being rushed into anything.

Every cloud has a silver lining they say and when Laura took me shopping yesterday she also took me to a drumming group she has just joined. I knew from trying to learn ballroom dancing as a teenager that I have 2 left feet but now know I have 2 left hands as well! Combine that with not being able to hear the instructions properly and I kept getting lost! No-one seemed to mind and it was great fun so I will go again. It was a brilliant pick-me-up.

Tomorrow Lindy will hold my hand whilst I accept the insurer’s offer and contact their nominated scrap firm. Then take me shopping to start looking for a new one.

Not a week I ever want to repeat but it could all have been so much worse and a reminder that a loving family, good friends and a community which offers support are beyond price.

Normal cheerful blogging service will be resumed soon.

Plan Z

I had last week all planned out. I was going to do some housework and then start on the re-decorating which I have been promising myself I will do for several months. Part of the delay was in choosing colours. I have studied shade cards and bought tester pots but still not been sure. Each room downstairs is routinely visible from at least one other so it feels important that the colours I choose go well together. My daughter spotted a lovely scarf in a charity shop which had the colours I was thinking of in it and bought it in the hope it would help me. But I could not match the shades to ‘off the shelf’ paint and having it mixed increases the price. Then when I was visiting her to help with her bedroom (read about that here) I found some individual cards with paint shades on and picked a load up. Playing with them I found I could hold one shade against another in a way that is impossible with one of those fold out sheets in a booklet. There were 3 colours amongst them which go well together and would be good for the three downstairs rooms. The bedroom can be tackled later!

the very pale shade should be a pale yellowy green called celery leaf!

But of course what had looked like a quiet week turned out to be anything but.

It all started unravelling on the Monday when I realised that my library books were due back on the Tuesday. No problem thought I – just renew online. But one could not be renewed so that afternoon I went into Cardigan to return it. And since I was there I did a few bits of shopping. As I passed the eco-shop which raises funds for the Community Forest Garden I saw my friend Martin’s van outside so went in and found him doing one of his stints as a volunteer. His partner Jill was there too so we had a lovely long chat catching up with news. By the time I got home and had put my shopping away it was time to feed and walk the dogs. Never mind – plenty of week left!

Cardigan town from across the river

Tuesday I was due to go to ‘Over the Rainbow’ the guest house run by my friends Marie and Rose. Every Autumn they have a weekend where friends go and help with big jobs in their garden and for the last several times I have pruned the blackcurrants. This year I was away so unable to go but Rose asked me to teach her how to prune them and we had fixed on Tuesday as one we could both do. I went to set off and found I had a virtually flat tyre. The local tyre people could come out and deal with it but not at once. So I asked Rob who lives in the cabin and helps me to take me over to Aberporth knowing that Rose would be coming back this way to teach her weekly yoga class in Hermon later. We had a lovely time together, the bushes got pruned and, as usual, we put the bits we cut off into tubs as cuttings.

the garden at Over the Rainbow

The tyre chap came out as promised and sorted out my tyre then it was off to my friend Jeni’s for supper – home produced duck with home grown veg – delicious!

Jeni’s Cottage

Wednesday I had an appointment to have my hair cut in Carmarthen but first had to order some bits of chimney for the new burner in the cabin – lots of looking on the website then going to measure, then having another think…. and eventually sending an email to the company for advice and more information. I got into Carmarthen and then discovered that my appointment was 2:15 not 12:15 – the cats had left muddy paw prints on my diary page and one of the smudges had confused the time! There was no point going home so I treated myself to lunch! When I got home I had to actually order the parts for the chimney then get organised for making a new recipe for the next day’s lunch.

A new friend, a fellow volunteer at Dyfed Permaculture Farm Trust, came to see me on Thursday and we talked for so long that there was no time for her to look through the workshop stuff I am getting rid of to see if anything would be of use to her – she will have to come again!

And to round off the week Chris from C&M Organics down the road came on Friday morning to see how I prune my grape vines. She is, of course, an expert grower but has only recently planted some vines in her huge polytunnels.

One of my grape vines

And then my daughter sent through the draft of her first essay for her Open University course asking for it to be proof read – she had reached that stage where she read what she meant to write which might or might not have been what she actually typed.

I was just about to take a deep breath and look for my paint brushes when the phone rang. It was my neighbour inviting me to lunch yesterday. They were having family and friends over to celebrate their adopted daughter’s second Birthday. I felt so honoured to be included but I wanted to take her a Birthday present. I always try to make rather than buy presents so I looked in my pattern files and found one for a soft toy which I could make using yarn I had in stock. (No picture of it until I do the scrap happy post for December).

Maybe next week I will decorate?

It was a fabulous week. I am so lucky to have so many friends and to be able to spend time with them. I love sharing my skills and learning from others. The walls will still be there next week or the week after and I can live with them as they are. But maybe this is why I have not written many blog posts recently!