Monthly Archives: September 2014

Wakefield and Speed of the Street was on.

The one month anniversary of obtaining my new car saw me hightail it to Wakefield. I had been looking forward to this day for a while. Also, my car needed to stretch its legs (so to speak), having being stuck in traffic and never exceeding 60 km per hour.

The traffic cleared just past Campbelltown, and I was able to put my foot down and see what my new toy was capable of. It settled into a very nice driving mode. The other drivers behaved and stayed where they belonged, instead of driving in the right-hand lane under the speed limit. I expected the fuel consumption to be hugely different from the E250, but was pleasantly surprised when I reached Sutton Forrest for my overnight pit stop to see that the fuel gauge was sitting just under ¾ full.

The following morning had me set off early, as I had been warned by SMS from Boz that session would start earlier due to trials for the Sunday race. The only worrying sign was a message on the dashboard telling me to check the oil. I will admit to opening the front bonnet in the first couple of days, but could I locate the dipstick? And not knowing where the oil went left me very sheepish. The ribbing from Boz and Sam (the Wakefield marshal) would have been painful. My, how things have changed. I could easily change the oil and clean the spark plugs on my MGB, but the solid engine cover on the Merc left me feeling very inadequate. Being a fully paid-up member of Cowards Anonymous, I called Ben from Macintosh, who assured me that the oil would not be at dangerous levels, and my trip home would be safe. However, I was still at the dealership bright and early on Tuesday, where one of the mechanics showed me (a) where the oil goes, this being very important, and (b) the correct way of measuring the oil levels. I hope never to put this information to use, but the fact that I know will eliminate any further embarrassing moments.

The day at Wakefield was huge fun. I was allocated Len, Boz’s new instructor. Unlike Boz, Len is a man of very few words, despite the fact that a few times I managed to change from 4th to 3rd gear, when I should have been in 5th. My excuse, and I am sticking to it, is that the helmet obstructed my hearing, and looking at the rev count as I should have was just not happening automatically. Poor Mezzie. If it had been Boz with me, the repercussions in the “Speech” I would have been given would have lasted for the rest of the day.

John Connolly 3

I finally met John Connolly. He, of The Weekend Australian- Prestige Motoring fame. We had been emailing for a couple of years, and I think I am in the minority of his readers who does not abuse him. That is his picture gracing this story. He is a much faster driver than I am, but at least I managed to stay on the track. Says she, with her halo seriously tarnished.

John Connolly 1

I am Planning a Mutiny

Long ago, in a land far, far away (well, the early 1980s, if you must know), my mother would pull in to the local service station and the nice man would fill up her car with fuel, check her tyre pressure, check her oil, and try to chat her up. Occasionally, if Streets ice cream had a promotion, she would buy me and my sister paddle pops and we would be on our way. OK, I concede that these days my car has all the gizmos in the world. It knows when it needs oil, and the tyre pressure gauge glows red at me if the pressure has dropped, but this is beside the point.

My mother never spilled VPower on her shoes. I do, regularly. I am tired of it, and it must stop.                                                                                               Fuel Pump

My breaking point came today. When shopping at the local supermarket, I was ushered to the self-scanning counter to scan and bag my own groceries. Of course I am capable of scanning my own groceries, but where is the discount I should be getting for doing this?

People of Australia, we should rise up and say to the likes of Woolworths, Coles, Shell, Westpac, NAB and every other corporation that we are tired of doing everything for ourselves with no show of appreciation.

We were told that by using ATMs we would avoid bank fees. Do not get me started on the fact that banking a cheque takes three day to clear, when I know it does NOT. We were told that pumping our own fuel would save money for the oil companies and that the benefits would be passed on to us. I know for a fact that oil companies buy crude oil months in advance, and hedge their settlements to get the best value out of the US dollar and lowest crude prices. Hence, giving me the pathetic excuse that the Australian dollar has dropped and a litre of petrol must raise to $1.80 is not justifiable.

So next time you are in a grocery store and somebody hands you a mop and a bucket to clean up a mess in isle 5, or stack the shelves with a new batch of Uncle Toby’s oats, consider this just another aspect of so called progress.

We must rise up and shout: “We are not going to take this anymore!” Now if you excuse me, I will do as my mother would have done, and have a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down.

Keep Left Unless Overtaking

Earlier this month, I went on a trip to Goulburn with Jordan and his girlfriend Bianca to pick up Jordan’s “new” car. As with most first cars, it was not really new, but very second-hand and loaded up with all the unnecessary things that are so very important to a young guy. Things like the car being MK2, not MK1, having fully braced aftermarket ECU and upgraded coils. However, no mention was made of brakes, tyre condition and stuff important to adults. Given the fact that the gumby was not even on his P-plates as yet, it would be his girlfriend Bianca driving the car home, so I decided that a little adult supervision would not go astray. Plus, it would stop me from checking my phone every five minutes to see if they were still alive.

The trip there was uneventful, excluding a side trip to Campbelltown to locate McDonalds. Both of them had arrived at my place looking slightly the worse for wear, and obviously had not eaten any breakfast. That I could have addressed this at my place did not occur to either of them. The F5 is in dire need of places that allow you to buy coffee and something to eat until you are almost in Goulburn, and the two of them did not look as though they were going to last that long.

We arrived in Goulburn to a balmy eight degrees. The seller met us in a park, near the Mobil service station. This did not exactly leave me feeling warm and fuzzy. However, I was assured that Jordan’s father had checked all the relevant details before the offer was even made. Bianca, the ever-vigilant loans officer, took photos of everything, and I mean everything. The seller, his mate, his mates’ car, his rego. Not too sure how this would help us, but at least we had evidence of some sort. Deal completed, money paid and receipted, we were on our way home.

I have travelled the road between Sydney/Goulburn/Sydney so often in the last two years I’ve lost count. Occasionally, I encounter an individual who thinks that the right-hand lane is just fine, despite the fact that they are not actually overtaking. However, all these people have been happy to move over to the left-hand lane once it was safe to do so and we could all carry on with no problems. But for the first time ever, I encountered a driver who was beyond erratic and pig-headed . Sitting in the right-hand lane, her speed fluctuated between 90 and 110. As soon as she reached 110, she would brake hard back to 100. This on a road where 110 is the allowed speed. No amount of light flashing and even once sounding my horn would make this individual move to the left. After about 10 km, I and about six other cars behind me did the wrong thing and overtook her on the left. The look of sheer righteousness on the driver’s face beggared belief. I truly hope that she has not since caused a fatality.