Transport 2

X drove me to the airport only to find the place had been closed all night to in and out traffic because of the very high wind. They were on the way to the circus so I waited and eventually our plane was given the OK as the wind dropped quite suddenly but we didn’t get in until three-quarters of an hour late, we settled in and were then asked to return to the waiting room: a small private plane had pancaked on the only runway, it took over an hour to remove it (we’re just a wee bit primitive here!) Anyway then we were off.

I saw the ideal petrol saver the other day. A tricycle with enormous balloon tyres – very safe and comfortable. You could even put a big plastic sheet over you to keep you dry like an umbrella!

There were many pictures to choose from: cameleer posties, policemen on camels, soldiers on camels, women (only one described by profession – governess), couples on camels, camel trains, camel buggies, camel carts, camels hitched to ploughs, hitched with donkeys or horses… Camel riding was obviously a necessary attribute for many of this nation’s forebears.

When I got the Maxi three years ago it used to take $8 of petrol at a time. This week it got a bit low and took $17.96 worth to fill. It is a real pleasure to take my Honda in to be filled for the next 75 miles or so and have 75 cents to pay!

X wants to examine the passenger lists of ships sailing from England to South Africa between 1871 and 1876. Could you ring up the National Maritime Museum in SE10 and ask them whether they still exist (the lines that is) and if not who took them over. It is difficult to believe that the passenger lists won’t have been pulped decades ago, but I suppose there’s a chance that they may exist in some archives somewhere.

It was certainly a great deal easier to manoeuvre the van being almost level with the drive now and a smooth surface. I hope I shall be able to get it out more easily too – up to now I have had to haul it forward with a cunning pulley wheel device I got, on the end of a rope round a tree on the other side of the garden!

The pulley thing

X kindly lent us her Mini which we returned to her yesterday. They are an odd contrast to drive. A Mini seems very ‘tough’ compared to the Fiat: a matter of ‘Esau was an hairy man but Jacob was a smooth man’!

You wouldn’t expect to have a lovely time on a canal in London somehow – though I seem to remember a very leafy glimpse of it once round about Regent Park somewhere. A pity about the collision in the tunnel. Glad it was only paintwork – though paint is bad enough with most boatees!

I must say that the problems of garaging on the street sound reason enough for moving, to me! I’m glad my bike has never fallen over (or been pushed) yet; how the people with the really big ones manage I can’t imagine. I got into conversation with the tyre man at one of our local garages a week or so ago, when he was kindly repairing my back wheel which I discovered to be flat on arrival in the village – he has a Japanese 600 or 750 of some sort. I made some remark about having avoided death so far (since I’ve always heard that about 30% of the people who buy those big bikes kill themselves in the first six months) and was told very firmly that the class of rider who had most accidents on a mileage basis was the 125 and downwards. (Mine is a 125, you remember.)

A string of cars appeared coming north towards us. Suddenly from behind the first one appeared a red car, overtaking. But when he saw us he braked to pull in again. However the road was damp after rain, and he went into a front wheel skid right in our path. All along that straight on our side of the road there is a high bank, with sometimes up to a car’s width of hard shoulder – and sometimes not! There was, at the point our paths were going to cross, so we avoided a head-on crash but did a very hearty side-swipe from just behind our front wheel. The hard shoulder than disappeared, and we went up the bank and ended up with my side of the car on the ground and X hanging in midair above me in her seat-belt. From looking at the place some time later, it appeared that we had travelled about 17 yds between the place where the strip had come off the side of his car to the point where the glass came out of my window as I put my elbow down to take some of my weight, so our deceleration had been comparatively mild compared to a head-on smash, and we were lucky to escape with only very mild bruises – and X with a stiff back for a few days, which was probably from her gymnastics getting out of the car when people arrived very quickly from the other cars, and opened her side door, while I was able to loose off her seat belt once she had some other means of support.

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