Friday 25 February 2011

Cars: Love 'em or loathe 'em!?!

Cars: Minis - Haltwhistle Carnival 2008
Not sure where I stand on this subject. As long as a car looks reasonably OK and gets you from A to B....then I don’t have a particular issue with it.
Personally I wish there were fewer and less fast cars around. Bring on electric cars say I! The good news is that there are more and more electric car charging points within the nearby Northumberland National Park. There are also some to come in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - the North Pennines. Just look out for those blue topped twinkling stainless steel poles at Walltown Quarry, Once Brewed Information Centre, Housesteads and other places!

Before moving to the countryside I tried to avoid using cars full stop. I have always been lucky enough to be able to live in urban areas where I could rely on reasonable public transport. Better still I lived in places where I could walk or cycle around. This would allow me to stay healthy and indulge my interest in history. Most buildings in London and in Newcastle upon Tyne catch the eye. For example in the latter there is the Quayside, Grey Street, Blackfriars, the University area, Jesmond and so on. I was extremely lucky to have lived, walked, cycled in all those places. I still do when I can.

But cars – petrol and diesel - hmm. My husband and I have two cars. He has a diesel Ford Focus Estate and I have a small red petrol engine Peugeot. We’ve had the Ford since we moved into the area eight years ago and to be honest it is not looking its best.
The right hand wing mirror is hanging off by a piece of gaffer tape. The locks do not work too well (to put it mildly). The right hand driver window no longer functions, the children have put stickers on the back windows plus the dog has proclaimed overall residency in the boot. The Ford is nominally white but proudly wears a camouflage of mud, grime and dust. By ‘eck we love it!

Mine is still in reasonable nick. I do my best to stop the children turning it into a rubbish tip. The one thing that still manages to confound me is the sticky finger bodywork marks. I look and I sigh. Frequently. And so the clean or not so clean motor car is a necessary evil out here in the sticks as is walking on the pavement-free country roads once in a while. I’ve now got used to the constant driving but I do miss my daily walking routine. We have one of the national cycle routes nearby (Route 72 is at the end of the road) and so there is also the option of cycling and walking in the clean, fresh air when time allows.

It’s also quite easy out here not to leave your car locked. Lots of people do it. I like the tradition but tend to lock mine as a matter of course. Sadly countryside crime is on the rise these days whether it be farm equipment, oil in tanks, wood, cars, bicycles...going missing. Touch wood (or rather not touch wood!!) nothing has happened to us as yet.
A friend of mine’s car was broken into whilst she left her car parked at Gatwick Airport the other week. She’d forgotten that she’d left a bag on the back seat. Her car window was smashed and the car stolen. The police eventually recovered the car but she had to drive round with the window boarded up for a week until it was repaired. Chic or what? Luckily she was insured.

My husband, Nigel, used to drive in and out of London to go about his work as he could not rely on the train service. Several times his scuba diving kit was stolen from his car. Again he was insured thankfully. (He had been diving up at the London scuba club. He didn’t leave his gear in the car for the fun of it!)

Back in Jesmond, on the outskirts of Newcastle, about ten years ago we were visiting my parents one weekend. It was a super part of Newcastle (and still is). Nevertheless our car was stolen from outside their door one Friday night due to its proximity to city bar life and the nearest motorway. The police found it some days later, joyridden and burnt out. Our car insurance allowed us to replace it quickly within a couple of days. No harm done ultimately.

Given the choice though would I still have a car? Although I would prefer a life without them I think they are here to stay. We’ve got used to them. I’d like to give an electric car a go. I think it would be tremendous fun.

And finally...Michael Caine has become associated with cars. Think of the “Italian Job” and “Get Carter”. He starred in the latter film as a Geordie gangster. The film was all shot up here (in more ways than one). When I used to go to school in Newcastle we used to drive past the iconic Trinity Centre Multi-storey or “Get Carter” concrete car park which became a star in its own right. It was recently pulled down last year. See the BBC film about it being demolished here. Most people in Gateshead are delighted to see the back of it and the whole area is being redeveloped. Interestingly pieces of the car park have been auctioned off and snapped up. The car park, itself, has become a historical treasure trove. So there you have it: motor car, film star, concrete (the last of which was invented by the Romans) all bound up in an artefact for the enjoyment of the past, the present and the future! How good is that?

This is a sponsored post. Helping me to set up my Latin/History Courses - coming mid March. 

P.S.: Take a look at Heather Athey's blog she was in the thick of the Foot and Mouth crisis ten years ago. Well worth a read!


Sandy's witterings said...

I've been carless for about 6 or 7 years now and look forward to having another soon. Without one a half hour car drive becomes a day long expedition when you try to use public transport from Kirkcudbright. So generally I'm in the love cars group but little cars with small engines - love em for their ability to get you about not for what they are. They double as a hotel too if you're pushed.

Mac n' Janet said...

We have 2 cars, one new and mine 17 years old. I don't drive much, but my husband's car is a 2-seater so we need mine to go shopping.
We live in the country so public transportation is not an option. The only time we've had our car broken into was when we were visiting England and someone broke into the car which had nothing in it.

The bike shed said...

Get carter - great film, with some great lines...

"You're a big man but you're out of shape - for me its a full time occupation...' Ouch!'

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Sandy!

Yes...I had not really appreciated the benefit of cars until I came and lived in the countryside. When we were down to one car for a while it was not great. They are really necessary. Love the hotel comment. That made me smile.

I may keep that in mind if the B&B gets full soon! ;)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Mac n' Janet - Welcome to my blog! Hmm. It is not a great advert for Britain if you get your car broken into. Hope the rest of your stay was OK.

Two seater car. Wow. My husband is now saying that he'll never get a sports car now. Gone are those days. I always say...never say never!

Mark: I like watching the film to see how Newcastle and Tyneside looked. I could watch it a million times for that and there are some great lines in it. I hadn't realised Mr. Caine had a part in the remake until I looked it up just now. I'm not a great fan of remakes. I have to say...

Maggie May said...

Like you, Hadriana, I would love to see electric cars or ones that used some product that could be made out of waste of some kind.
I don't go overboard about cars either.

We live in the city with no off street parking. We are used to hassling & struggling for a place to park on the road near our home. We are also used to having to lock the car securely and not leave anything of value on display. There is a reasonable bus/train service for those that can afford it but they are slow and it might take all day to get from a to b.
However there ares some places just too difficult to get to and that is where having your own car is handy!
I don't think it would be possible to live in the country without one or two or three!
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Heather A said...

We have 2 cars and the accompanying2 car guilt, but we do need them. My husband has a 4WD which he needs to get to work on these unploughed roads and I have a car that is far too big which we bought because my son had a medical condition (now sorted) that meant his legs were in braces and he couldn't bend his knees in the car seat. It's now worthless and swapping it for a little runaround is unlikely to be cost effective.

the fly in the web said...

Mr. Fly used to have an MG which he adored...

Now, out in the sticks on gravel roads which seem to be vertical, we have a gas guzzling four wheel drive...there doesn't seem to be any alternative, but I wish there were.

Still, with the super bus services, all we generally use it for is to get to town to the bus station!

Unknown said...

We have to have two cars as we both need them for work, and one has to be a big one so we can fit all the camping gear, kids and dogs in there.

I have to say I don't like all the big 4x4's hurtling around. I know some say they need them out in the wilderness of Northumberland but my little C3 copes perfectly well with my travels around there.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Maggie,

Yes...I think cars are here to stay although using different energies - especially with the price of oil as it is!

We have become too reliant on them in a way. It's a shame that public transport cannot be made to pay a bit better. The AD122 which runs across Hadrian's Wall country can be hailed at times. That is a lovely service for walkers.

Hi Heather,

Lovely to see you at FunSplatz the other day. Yes - 2 car guilt..I share it. You seem to have a very genuine reason for having a big car...with all children's toys and possessions and shopping - I bet it comes in handy!

Hello Fly,

From what I remember of Central America - they all have big cars as oil is/was so cheap for them. In Caracas they used to operate a system where one car could come in (per owner) and another car (for the same owner) another day. That was ooh 1988 I was out there. I don't think I've ever been so terrified of the driving before or since! You probably need the big car for protection...Mr. Fly's MG sounded lovely.... :)

Hello IO,

We felt we really needed a 4x4 this last Winter...especially when we went up to Kielder in the snow. It made us slightly frazzled to see 4x4 drivers unable to use their 4x4 facilities when dealing with driving in the snow i.e. they didn't know how to drive 'em!!!!

Yes...our cars can generally handle all weathers. Touch wood! ;)

Nota Bene said...

Cars? Motorcycles! = Independence

Well I like them, but then I'm a boy...

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

I would like to carless but my husband looked horrified when I suggested it. Perhaps we should all go back to having a man walking in front of us as we drive - it would put off so many people and solve so many problems in one fell swoop. A x

Hadriana's Treasures said...

NB: Aha! You made me laugh!

SJA: I like the image you've evoked. Aahhh if only like were that simple. Mind you with the way oil/fuel prices are going.....who knows?