Sunday, 25 April 2010

hit it with the brolly

St George's Day found us driving north out of Bristol just as fast as we could go, after school, to avoid the worst of the traffic. Which didn't stop us collecting pasties from Joe's Bakery. Or fizzy drinks from the Tesco petrol station. And bickering over sweets.

"You didn't give me chance to choose sweets"
"You had plenty of time while I was putting in the petrol"
"You've got Pringles. It's not fair"
"There, take this and go and get some sweets"
"No, you'll only be angry about it"
"No I won't, go and get some sweets, I will not be angry about it, I want you to get some sweets"
"No, lets's go"

..and so on.

There was a bloke with a beer belly and a state of partial undress (for the sun was shining) sitting outside a bar on the Gloucester Road, drinking his lager and resplendent in his deelyboppers with St George's flags on. Sort of like an oven ready reindeer, but different.

I gawped, and thought, "Ah! St George's Day!"

The motorway verges were bright with patches of cowslips, and dandelions. Today is the traditional day for picking dandelions for making wine. I made a point of doing it on the right day, once, when I rode over Dundry Hill on my motorbike and picked a big bag of dandelion flowers. My fingers were brown with the sap. It was a lovely day then, too, and it was evidently memorable as I am remembering it now.

I love this time of the year, when there is something fresh to admire every day; like on Wednesday when I was driving under an avenue of conker trees and it was like being in a green tunnel, with the light coming through the leaves, and I realised that the leaves had all burst out together. Or Thursday when the beech leaves had just come out too, and were a vivid light green. Every thing is happy-making, as we accelerate towards summer, but are still close enough to winter to be grateful for the quickening of the year.

Anyway. There we are bimbling up the M5, trundle trundle. Somewhere around Worcester, the engine falters. It picks up, falters again.

"The petrol pump needs thumping," I say; "Is there a stick in the back seat?"
"There's your umbrella, that'll do. Where do I hit it?"
"On the bulkhead, next to the immobiliser switch"


The engine picks up again, and we swing back out onto the slow lane from the hard shoulder.

By the time we're on the M42, it needs a thump every few seconds.

"They really ripped you off for this car"


"Yes, but it's a nice car, and there aren't many you can keep going with a brolly"


"There aren't many you need to keep going with a brolly"

At the service station, I clean up the points with a bit of sandpaper, and spray WD40 at the pump. It works.


  1. On the right of the pic at the top there is something sticking up on the horizon, what is it?

    If you go to Evesham on a hot day start at the bell tower and walk through to vine street. There is /was a line of chestnuts there which provide a beautiful tunnel - that's the tunnel I will pass through when I die.

    I see that you have Katie well trained in where to thump. Have you trained to push yet?

  2. I kept an old geology hammer in the car for gentle reprimands, oh and for starting the the thing! The starter inside the car did not work but since they thoughtfully put another under the bonnet, tease our US friends, that is how I had to get it going if I forgot to park it on a hill.

    I wonder why blogger thought the front end of the moggie not worth showing.

    No wonder we have no dandelion wine in Scotland even they are not out much yet, same for my chestnut tree, hardly a leaf.

    Caroline xxx

  3. Now that's certainly the very first piece of footage I have ever seen of someone taking the cylinder head cap off an engine and putting it back on again lol!

    You find beauty everywhere Dru!!

  4. It's Glastonbury Tor, Anji. The pic's a few years old... I shall look out for that avenue; I've just been wandering around Evesham on Street View, and it looks like a good Sunday afternoon detour sometime.

    I used to have to start my old Datsun from under the bonnet, Caroline; short across the solenoid and thump the starter motor to free it up... the dandelions and conkers are only just out here, so you aren't necessarily far behind. Have you seen this? -it shows the spread of first blossomings

    Thank you, Jo!

  5. Ah the joys of old cars! Makes me miss my Spit even more reading things like this.

    And the dandilion wine reallky brings back memories as well - my parents used to make it every year. Always to keep a bottle for with Christmas dinner. I don't think a bottle ever survived that long :)


  6. What a nice old "woody", and it appears to be in great shape too. I don't know why blogger is cutting the right side of the picture off. I noticed that it did the same thing on the video I posted last night.

    Melissa XX

  7. Not having a car there are still days a mower baffles me. Brolly days I can forget about it, but then without your artful blogging I (in Iowa) would not know of brollies and conkers as such. I've been distracted for a while (my loss!) but today after serendipitously reading an Andrew Collins piece about Swan-upping on the Thames I knew the time was ripe to revisit here. Before doing that I went out of my usual way on a showery walk to buy some lager to witness another slice of my village's spring greening. It happened to pass the only two real chestnut trees I've ever seen. Of course with new owners in charge of the place I was happy to see the trees still there and leafing out, though I no longer expect to harvest the nuts.

  8. "Oven ready reindeer" Made us both laugh!

    Last A series car I had - in fact every A series I've had - came with a cam driven fuel pump on the side of the engine. Minor owners can reach theirs with an umbrella from inside the car? Impressive!

  9. As a devout and committed pedestrian and someone who is not at all mechanically apt, I'll maintain a discrete silence on the car business, other than to say I do like those old ones with a wooden frame.
    It is a lovely time of year nature-wise, marred only by those who think that the rest of us want to see their loathsome acres of winter-bleached wobbly blubber. Cover it up, I say.
    Happy spring to you.

  10. It's been ages since I made wine, Stace; I must start up again, if only so that I can sit and watch the demijohns bubbling. The best wine I made was elderflower; it was so good that I made loads the next year, and it was horrid. Funny how it works, sometimes.

    I think, Melissa, that it's something to do with when you copy an image using URLs; when I upload from my drive, it appears properly. But I was in a hurry here, and linked across to Flickr.

    Hello again, Larry! I think I'd pine (as it were)for the conker trees if I lived somewhere that didn't have them. What sort of trees do you get in Iowa? -must Google that...

    It's an SU electric pump, Jenny; there's a blog entry in here somewhere about overhauling the points. And as it's mounted on the bulkhead just forward of the passenger, it's ideally situated for a rap on the bulkhead to startle it back into life if it nods off.

    My cabin window on my last ship looked aft over the top deck where the passengers would disport themselves in fine weather, Graham; it was easy to tell the difference between the British passengers and the Continental ones, either through choice of clothes (if worn) or spottiness/pudginess/pastiness (if not). Quite a sight. Fortunately of course, I had curtains.

  11. Yes, we do tend to stand out, don't we? Or rather 'they' do, they being the reddened/pasty, podgy, wobbly, loud, multi tattooed and extremely embarrassing people who speak the same language as us. Nearly.
    And thank God for curtains.