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Archive for May 25th, 2007

A Few Pictures from The Trip:

RW services in North London. It looks quite tidy in this picture, but I can promise you it is not. It is situated in this large, sprawling backyard area with cars and bits of cars everywhere. The cars are parked so close together they generally have to be moved with the careful use of tin openers and obscenely thin children who have to crawl naked in through the side windows after careful greasing. Dickensian conditions of the worst kind!

Peter test driving Cleo shortly before the bonnet incident where (according to Peter) the bonnet suddenly, and without prior warning, flew open and wrapped itself across the windscreen nearly giving Peter a heart attack. The bonnet could not be saved and a ‘new’ bonnet was taken from another car and re-sprayed for her. I can report that both Peter and Cleo are well.

I had been so worried about the whole London-to-pick-up-Cleo thing that the last few months before going were dominated by panic attacks, bad sleep, total lack of concentration and some, at best, interesting English lessons. My students know all about Cleo and also why vehicles are referred to as ‘she’.

I had great ideas about working on Cleo, but of course I have no friggin idea what to do once faced with an engine, so my one and only contribution while there was to open the boxes with the new seats and the boxes with all the other bits I had decided were urgently needed in a fit of guilt at having left her in London without my loving care for so long. The rest of the work was left to Sean the Silent Genious Mechanic and his helpers, the Ogling Teenagers. While they worked, I cuddled Peter’s new dog Sasha and read a book about near death experiences. Perhaps not my best choice to date concidering my general state of mind and that I still had the more difficult part of the journey to go.

The week was also spent catching up on junk TV I could understand (i.e., not in Austrian-German) about things like skinny American models and other classy and mind-numbingly idiotic things. Oh, how I have missed Truly Awful TV. I also found out just how much crap Kevin and I had left with Leonard for some reason long buried in the logic of a year ago, so by the time the car was loaded with all the stuff I just had to take along with a small library of books from Leonard’s expansive collection, I could only just see above the pile of stuff behind the driver’s seat. Oh, and I had of course also been to the nearest supermarket and stocked up with 480 teabags (what you get here has NO TASTE! I need tea which can grow hair and develop its own language with only a minimum of prompting and a splash of milk). I also stocked up on replacement scourers for my mum and Fairy Liquid because it is thicker than the washing up liquids you get in Norway and my mum swears by it for the washing up brushes with the hollow handles for washing up liquid that I got her some years ago. The ones that also take the replacement heads you can only get in the UK. Gosh, there are so many things one cannot live without once one cannot get it. Things were a lot easier when I knew I didn’t have to get all the things I could get as I had no need for them. Now, the need is immense and acute.

I left early on Tuesday morning for Newcastle. According to the Michelin guide the trip is supposed to take around 5 1/2 hours, so I calculated with about 10 to be on the safe side. Just as well. I stuck with the small back-roads to get out of London as I know my way around there, but once I tried to re-join the A1 heading north I got stuck in a traffic jam and had to pull to the side while waiting for Cleo to cool off and be able to go on. Good thing I had brought a library after all. The irony is that once I moved on there were signs every few yards stating that ‘Queues are likely’ – you don’t say? I hadn’t noticed.

Once past the worst of the queueing (one word where I wish we would adopt American spelling) things ran along quite smoothly and I spent the next few hours singing loudly and falsely along to Maroon 5 in an effort to drown out the engine noise and the howling wind – MGs are always windy and even the best of seals only give a minimum of protection. I call it natural air conditioning. It never fails and the only maintenance required is – none. Somewhere north-east of Nottingham I had a deserved rest at one of those soulless Little Chef places and gorged myself on an insanely sweet pancake with maple syrup and icecream – and a cup of tea one could hold a complicated and life-enhancing conversation with – while observing just how much attention Cleo was getting in the car park. She really is gorgeous.

I arrived in Newcastle and the ferry terminal with about 2 hours to go and once more was reminded how proud Norwegians are of their flag. There were a couple of other classic cars there, with Norwegian owners sporting stickers saying punchy things such as ‘Drive British’ and with Norwegian flags tied to their aerials.
The original plan was for my dad to meet me in Stavanger, and then we were going to drive leisurely to Ski together, giving it plenty of time and possibly arrive at 5 in the morning. No such thing. My otherwise delightful brother-in-law had elbowed his way in with the argument that as he was already in Stavanger on business and as he would get his travel expenses covered through work it would make just sooo much more sense for him to be my passenger and then my ageing father would not have to be levered in and out of the car at the risk of having to be buried in her when finding that getting him out again prove an impossibility yet to be solved by modern technology. So the drive from Stavanger to Ski via Kristiansand and Horten and ferry to Moss, was like two bats driving out of hell. Just so we could catch that last ferry from Horten. But more so he could tell his friends that he was in an MG with the STEERING WHEEL ON THE WRONG SIDE when he talked to them on his mobile.

And no pictures were taken of that amazing landscape on the west coast of Norway as I thought of Johannes, one of my students who’d said ‘think of me while you’re driving through the mountains’ – and I did, but really fast.
Anyway; I got a couple of through-a-mountain images for Johannes. I counted well over 20 tunnels in 15 minutes.

The best thing was to arrive ‘home’ – that is, at my parents’ house where I was fed and watered and pampered like the prodigal daughter that I am before collapsing in a small heap in the guest bedroom upstairs. Never has ‘sleeping like a log’ been such an apt description and I nearly missed out on the entire 17th May celebration and the wearing of my national dress in an effort to catch up on the sleep I’d missed over the past few months. And no, Steinar, the plan is not to sell Cleo, or to let her rot in a garage in Norway. Or sell her to Stig’s boss who’s been looking for an MG BGT for ever so long. She’s mine. All mine! And Kevin’s. A little.

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