Our fourth trip to Bristol for a football match, but the first on a Bank Holiday. In an unfounded state of fear about the traffic on the roads I chose to ditch the BMW for a day a reinstate the yet to be returned Vauxhall Insigna company car. Chris is insured to drive that!
And a fine job he did too. Including picking up on a tyre warning message. The rear offside was running a bit low. Slow puncture.
Excitement opened up as we pulled up at a service station next to an air machine in the desserted filling station. Problem one, it’s a £1 fee. Change obtained from the lone cashier and away we go.
I’ve never used one of these machines before and the first problem was the timer. My £1 only buys four minutes. Next problem connecting the nozzle to the valve. Chris steps in as I struggle to operate at that low level. I also struggle with highly technical activity like this. Is this machine inflating? Is the noise escaping air?
Is the number on the machine a target number or current measure? I haven’t got a clue! We battle on. Testing. Pressing. Checking the measures on the car’s trip computer. Eventually with a lot of trial and error, frustration and childish laughter we see it all looks good and resume our journey to Bristol.
Rovers win the game. A dull 1-0 meaning they could still get promoted and Oldham could still get relegated. But neither are remotely likely to happen. Back to the car and onto narrow roads enjoying 9,000 people just having left the city’s major sporting event of the day.
The roads are clogged. Police and fire engines head one way. Another beeping noise as the tyre pressure warning light says that gammy tyre has gone again. Instinct is to risk a 200 miles drive on the evil rubbery future AstroTurf pitch. My nineteen year old companion tells me not to be so stupid. There’s a contract with Kwik fit so I google the nearest location.
Google says it’s ten minutes away and shuts at 6pm. Currently 5.30pm. They’re going to hate us! Twenty minutes later we beat the traffic and roll into the forecourt. They close at 4pm on a Bank Holiday. Expletive deletive!
No fear. Lex Autolease have a 24 hour helpline and access to Kwik Fit mobile! Get in! Press 2, press 1, press 3. Bingo. A person! They explain I should go to my nearest Kwik fit. I explain I’m there and it’s shut. He explains Kwik fit mobile only do appointments and not emergencies. And transfers me to the AA. While I’m on hold I suggest to Chris that I might play the cancer card. He counsels against it.
The AA explain that I should go to my nearest Kwik Fit. A brief and obvious discussion follows before they dispatch a patrol saying they’ll tow us the 200 miles back to the north. Wait for an hour. Send Chris to Tesco to buy two meal deals.
AA van turns up without towing capability. The nice man listens to our woes and attempts a repair on the faulty tyre, removing a shard of metal from the rubber. Partially successful, but there’s still a tiny leakage of air.
The AA man says that he’ll follow us to Gloucester Services but to pull over if it deflates. Then onto Strensham when he’ll hand me onto his mate who’ll do the same as we progress up the M5 at 50mph maximum speed for iffy tyre.
No further deflation. Second stop and he says his mate will be there in an hour. Coffee. Wifi. Wait. Five hours since the final whistle blew.
The next AA man turns up with a vehicle carrier expecting to drive us north. His opening gambit is “I’m low on driving hours and can only get you as far as Hilton Park. Then somebody else will take over”.
No doubt with another delay in the middle.
I explain that we’ve been driving quite nicely on the tyre. He trots off to ring his mate who’d left us waiting for this chap. It seems the delay was designed to see if the tyre deflated when still. It didn’t. The AA man says “you don’t need me then – make your own way home and limit speed to 50mph. If it fails give us a call”.
My turn to drive now. Tired. It’s 10.30pm. My back is sore. Chris is tired too. We make it. Some near sleep at the wheel stuff. Relief I’d taken my cancer pull with me – I don’t normally on a day trip. I crawl into my bed at 2.30am. The four hour drive took nearly ten.
Cars with no spare tyre can be a bit of a nuisance!
Five hours sleep and then I’m off to the hospital for an oncologist appointment. I wonder what she’ll say about the yellow colouring on my hand ….