Thursday 25 June 2015

Hot Nuts?

We knew 'Tim' was sick, but did they need to drop him
outside the funeral parlour?
It was only  2 months ago (20 posts) that I was singing the praises of our ever trusty and reliable little Fiat Panda. How quickly things can change. 'Tim' seems to have taken exception to our plaudits and decided to stack up in very short order, a rake of problems which are starting to test our faith in 'him'. That's the contract, aul' fella. Stay reliable, good, cheap to run and free from faults and you are a 'keeper'; start turning all cantankerous on us and you get pensioned off.

It was a lovely (if hot) day so we decided to do a small job
in the front drive.... this turned into a couple of hours of
sweaty blackthorn-bashing.
The problems Tim decided to try our patience with were, in quick succession.....

The pale blue hatching shows the bit of 'view' which was
obscured by the blackthorn thicket. 

  1. Drinking fair amounts of radiator water, leading us to suspect a head gasket leak but we could manage that (we thought) as 2 litres every month or so was do-able. If you read the last post you'll know we came unstuck on a mission to Roscommon and had to be recovered back to Lough Glynn.
  2. First turn of the key in the morning, you expect the healthy "whinny" of a starter motor spinning the engine over, followed by the 'vroom' of a successful fire-up. We had a sudden change to the 'thunk' of a servo cutting in, followed by silence. It became a lottery whether you'd get the whinny or the 'thunk'. That problem seems to have gone away by itself. 
  3. With the possible water leak fixed by the addition of the modern version of 'Radweld' - it is called 'Blue Devil' and costs an arm and a leg per bottle, so we assume it is not just Radweld re-badged. Touch wood, it seems to be working - we were off on a test drive - an hour or two round Charlestown, Knock and Ballyhaunis. It seemed fine but then in Ballyhaunis we became aware of a worrying metal-on-metal grinding from the front left corner. This seemed to be at wheel-speed rather than anything engine related, so I guessed brake pads (worn down?), discs, wheel bearings, drive shafts etc. We stopped to inspect but then drove home carefully and every time we picked up speed it went away. I took the car down to local tyres/exhausts/brakes place, Keith Revin in Castlerea and they, today have confirmed my brakes thing, so we are into new discs and pads on both front corners. 
  4. My 'Hot Nuts' title I will explain later.
It was St John's Eve, so we were allowed
 to burn the blackthorn branches. 
As a result of all this we have, as I said, started to distrust young 'Tim' and are quietly looking for a possible replacement. That is not easy in Ireland at the moment because, with the economy being banjaxed, everyone is hanging onto their old cars and not replacing them, so there are few good used cars on the market. We want to come up to a few years newer but with basically the same size and style of car; not necessarily a Panda. We are on 04 reg and worth about €1500 and we are looking for maybe an 09 or a 10 reg. We have a couple of local dealers looking on our behalf, both of whom sucked the ends of their pencils and muttered stuff about having to tap up their Dublin contacts. Dublin seems to be the place to go at present, if you are looking for a used car. Out here in the sticks it is a used-car desert. Obviously we could have done without this spend just now, but hey, cars do not last for ever and the Fiat has done 11 years and 7 of those were very good ones for us.

Meanwhile, the weather has been kind and 2 days back we found ourselves hungry for some heavy duty gardening. We decided to tackle a thicket of blackthorn growing just inside the gate on the left which was growing out from the hedge and obscuring our view from the front gate up under the larch trees. It was sweaty work but, being St John's Eve it was the only day it is legal in the Republic to have a bonfire, so we could look forward to a nice relax in the evening burning all that while cradling a cool beer or wine. We used the trailer as a big wheel barrow to move it all round to the East Field. A very pleasant afternoon's 'serious' gardening.

A chamomile lawn? Well, maybe not.
We are always amazed and delighted by the way that bits of ground, paddled to a brown, bare muddy oblivion during the 'wet season' manage to recover in spring, greening over and turning us back to respectable 'lawn'. This is generally good old grass but this year, for no reason we can see, the brown mess inside the goose orchard gate has come back as (I think) 'stinking chamomile' (Anthema cotula), the feathery leaved 'daisy' which we called "Stinking Mayweed" in Sussex. Now, I know this is not the real 'lawn chamomile' of Mary Wesley fame. That is a sport of this plant found and developed in the 30's called 'Treneague' which never goes above 6 inches and does not flower. These guys, if I did not mow them off, would easily top 24 inches and flower like mad, but I am enjoying the fact that I have a 'Chamomile Lawn' of sorts.

Male turkey, 'Tom' caught NOT displaying. Liz
jokes that it is like catching your Dad in his
In the birds dept we are not holding out much hope for the broody geese who are now through the likely times for the known-start-date eggs but with no apparent result. The Elderberry Buff too, seems to want to come off the eggs for an hour or more at a time, sometimes twice a day, for a dust bath and a wander about scratching. feeding, drinking. She is always back on them sitting tight by evening, so we can lock her up, but that seems a lot of not sitting to us for a successful incubation. The turkey eggs in the incubator, we don't know after the long power cut where we tried blankets and mugs of boiling water but we are not sure we kept them warm. Tom, our turkey cock has now relaxed here and does not spend all his waking hours in full display mode

Lovely mugs from our craft-genius neighbour, Carolyn. 
But those 'hot nuts', I hear you ask. Just an amusing ribald comment by a garage guy. The 'metal on metal' grinding noise at the front of the Fiat today turned out to be badly worn (maybe 'bare' would be a better word) brake pads which, even if you use the brakes a bare minimum will still get a lot hotter through friction than brake-pad on metal, on the short run to Castlerea. The keen young lad who stepped up to do the investigation rattled them off the wheel studs with his air-gun and then dropped the first one out of the socket into the palm of his hand.

New tyres for the trailer (which has 2CV
wheels) have to come from my old chums,
2CV specialists ECAS in the UK. 
The shout of "OWWWW! They're flippin' ROASTing!" echoed round the garage and soon attracted all his colleagues over to try them out and join in the fun and banter. The lads were all impressed by the heat off them and, being the kind of place it is, they were all happily riffing on me having 'very hot nuts'. Ah well, maybe you had to be there. Anyway, the good news on that one is that they can get the replacement discs and pads by Monday and if I show up at 08:30-ish that will give the nuts a chance to cool down by the time they open (at 09:00) and they will sort me out as a first job for €125 all up. There's handy.

1 comment:

Matt Care said...

I stand corrected. My "stinking chamomile" has now flowered and has no white petals, so it is actually Pineapple (May)weed, (Matricaria matricarioides)and does, indeed, smell of pineapple. This double-check triggered by a post on Mentor Anne's blog which noted a carpet of the latter species. Ah well. No 'chamomile lawn' then but it is at least related.