Friday, 10 January 2014

A new set of wheels & petit captiaterraphobia

I'm finally restored to mobility, with a 2003 registered 2.4 litre diesel Volvo V70 estate. In my late teens, before the needs of family and utility saw me restricted to four wheels, I used to ride a bike. Nothing fancy, only a 250cc Yamaha XS, but I loved it, and the liberation I used to feel when I used to ride. I've only ever known that to be surpassed by gliding or sailing.

I seem remember Volvos, and more to the point, Volvo drivers, were the subject of mockary, scorn and ridicule amongst the biker community and press. Post mid-life crisis, middle-aged men, cocooned in their cosy, airbag cushioned tanks, the polar oposite of the freedom of what it meant to be on two wheels. And blind to the vulnerability of other road users around them.

Even away from the biking community, Volvo drivers were most commonly associated with the retired, elderly couple towing their huge caravan slowly down winding A roads, with no room or consideration for the miles of traffic stacking up behind to pass.

My new car even has a towbar setup with the electrics for dragging a caravan.

For my last three vehicles, I've therefore driven Fords, the last two being estates, but perhaps unwisely given the time I spend towing, petrol engines. These two pretty much lasted the same amount of time as each other (about six years of hard use) and met the same untimily, knackered
demise with a valve burning out of the engine.

So this time around, I wanted something a bit bigger, something that could drag both boats or the band's trailer, and something that could fit the dogs, albeit not necessarily all of them at the same time. I did briefly consider a transit van.

The Volvo was available, I liked the guy selling it to me (but then it was his job to be liked) and it was bang on my price range. The image of the brand has also redeemed itself somewhat over the years, and like it or not, the reason for their original reputation and my original absorbed scorn is that they have always made very robust, reliable estates.

I've got to say, driving her is an absolute treat. The vehicle has a certain weight and presence, everything seems well thought out and put together, with all sorts of attention to little details paid, and there is absolutely loads of space inside.

I am now, unashamedly, a Volvo driver.

I suppose as I've always seen cars as a means to an end, a tool to be used as opposed to the definition of a lifestyle, I shouldn't really be surprised. It was probably inevitable.

This coming Saturday, I'm giving Ben (boy_v1) a lift back to Uni for the start of his new term. Nikki has decided that because it's south down the motorway, it's a good excuse to carry on driving down to Bideford to see Linda (the lady that runs the dog rescue we work with). It's an extra two or three hours further south, but a nice chance to see how the car runs, and Linda lives by the sea, so the chance to walk a dog on a beach is quite appealing, even at this time of year.

The challenge for the car will be to fit Ben, my wife, our foster dog Ty and all of Ben's luggage in for the trip.

One of my small ambitions is an overnight trip out Lundy with Dad in Ondine. Lundy is an island that lies in the Bristol Channel, a little way offshore from Bideford, so that would seem the obvious place to launch.

I've just finished reading an article by Webb Chiles called "The Cure", where he concludes with the definition of a disease I think he's long suffered from, captiaterraphobia: fear of being trapped by land. That made me smile.

For my own cure, it would seem there's enough interest in the new idea of the "Icicle" series for about half a dozen sailors at least to have promised to turn up at the lake in Frampton to race this coming Sunday.

My regular crew and trusty side-kick Hels is laid low by a chest infection at the moment, but another friend and fellow club member Patricia has volunteered to crew for me.

I awoke myself this morning to a nasty sore throat and emerging cough. Ironic after I sailed through the bugs and diseases of the Christmas break with friends and family dropping like flies around me but remained untouched by taint or fever myself. I'm going to put it down to a very minor form of petit captiaterraphonia, and fully expect our brief outing on Sunday to cure me.

The Met Office is predicting light rain, a relatively balmy 9c and 13kts SSE with gusts to 25kts. Sounds like it could be good fun, and significantly kinder than the blow that foiled our last outing on New Years Day.

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