Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Is there a more dreary and exhausting road to drive on than the awful A80? Stuck in some perpetual loop of repairs, realignment and muddy cones since 1978 it represents some kind of ongoing caustic comment on the status of Scottish roads and the lack of vision and inertia inherent in our system of design and repairs. The saving grace for the current set of repairs is the 40mph limit and average speed cameras which strangely keep the traffic running at all times and allow some sort of roadway democracy to prevail. The problem is of course the soporific effect of the constant drone and non-lane changing boredom staring up the arse of a white van from Carluke or a heaving HGV carrying a dodgy skip of scrap metal. Finally it ends and you can either zoom onto the open freedom of the M876 going east or lurch into the endless mess of traffic lights and the infamous 30mph speed camera that welcomes you to the bleak, road film covered village of Moodiesburn heading west. It's still (point to point) quicker than the train could ever be, so in a way I can rejoice.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Mark Webber

Mark Webber comes a cropper in a compelling piece of TV coverage of the European Grand Prix. Glad that he could walk away unscathed. This weekend I've hardly done any driving with this race, birthdays and the World Cup providing valuable diversions. Apart from the birthdays (successful) not much success in sweeps and predictors. We try.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Cars are...

...washing machines with wheels, appliances, something to transport you from A to B. That's all that cars are, nothing more. Then why the strange attraction? What happens to cause us to connect with these buckets of bolts? What part of ourselves do we give over to them in order to plant a soul into the heart of a dull and primitive machine and fall strangely in love? In a love that stays strong until the next shiny, snorting beast rolls past and catches the attention.

Sunday, 20 June 2010


Two Cougar runs in two days to Aberdeen for the best of all possible reasons: seeing my new, one day old grand daughter, a wonderful sight and I'd happily drive three times the distance to repeat it. Having a prize like that at the end of your journey makes all the difference to the driving and travelling experience and the car was in perfect form for the conveniently empty roads (once past the potholes of Fife and Dundee that is).

Thursday, 17 June 2010


Spent an almost pleasant day yesterday driving a new Ford Fiesta along the M27 and through Southampton. I'm really impressed with this little car, its ultra solid feel, its handling and the easy to drive smoothness of all the controls and the gearbox. Knocks spots off the VW Polo and Renault I've been driving in previous weeks. A nice runabout perhaps when I'm about ready for the bus pass. I have always liked Fiestas, right from the first model I drove in 1979. Despite the fact that I've never owned one I see them as a happy kind of car, that may sound odd but its true, they have a good nature and that isn't something you could readily say about the outworking of many modern car designs.

Monday, 14 June 2010

The art of Noja

Though my head and heart say keep the Cougar (and I will) some other part of my body or perhaps some indistinct esoteric spiritual place is saying dumb things like “Lexus Soarer 4.0” but in English. Of course I will ignore the distraction or itch if you will and like most fanciful electrical brain sparks it must cool itself down in a bucket of water any day now. I just need to avoid Autotrader and a 400 mile radius from EH anything.

So loyalty to the Cougar continues and I’m planning some kind of summer run for me and the kids. Going abroad (even via Dover) is attractive but not really affordable unless some last minute bargain and personal brainstorm comes up. It’s looking like the badly surfaced roads of Argyll, the twists of the Great Glen or the tortuous caravan busting straights on the A9. Then there are the great midge intakes and unintentional swallows, the drizzle, the unexpected sunshine and the bloody tourists. Challenges the currently newly serviced and shod Cougar will relish in it’s currently prone and agile state, not so sure about me.

Thursday, 10 June 2010


Mad dash in traffic today from the airport, across the Forth Bridge and into the black heart of Fife. The mad dash however was at 5 o'clock so it was severely limited in its actual dashing, it was more of a bumper to bumper grind. I'd left Oxford about 1 PM and via Birmingham flown north so it was the climax of a long journey and one that ultimately was more successful than I'd expected. I made it to the parents night just in time for the first interview.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Sum of its parts

The Cougar Continuous Improvement Programme is rolling on albeit at a costly pace. That's Ford genuine parts for you - nobody in the aftermarket business can be bothered to do sumps for Ford Zetecs? The new sump is now in place, sealed and filled nicely and a major service (they all are with this car) is complete. It is driving rather nicely now and the only thing outstanding at the moment is to replace the rather thin set of front tyres that, if checked by the authorities could get me a nasty fine. I'll be round at Farmers first thing Monday morning.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010


The old sump has had its day. It leaks and drips and whilst not worrying the hell out of me I've always wandered at what point it would collapse. In a few days a new (£) sump will be installed, new oil will sit in it and gurgle through it and hopefully the old engine will run sweet as an Indonesian peanut for another few thousand miles. A long awaited service will also take place so the MPG may get some kind of an artificial boost, that doesn't always happen so I'm ready for a disappointment.