Best laid plans of mice....
The last day of the holidays; a little lie in (not too long; they have to get up tomorrow), a leisurely breakfast together, perhaps at Borders with time to look at their favourite topics of conversation at the moment, Nintendo DS games; visit Ma for the last time midweek until October, a little trip to Warrington, picking up something nice for tea, then home for a cuddly bath and hairwash in prep for tomorrow's relaxed school start.
Sounds good, eh?
Did we get any of it done?
Oh, only the hairwash and bath.
The rest of the day was spent;
Wake up, discover that there was no breakfast (no worries, remember, we can go to Borders) and go out to the car.
The car won't start.
No, seriously the car won't start, no chug chug or wobble or anything. No lights, no sign of life.
It's a good job my children can't lipread yet, but I bet they're working on it. A year ago they couldn't spell and me and DH communicated in L-E-T-T-E-R-S, until the top two finally repeated the word (I think itwas a treat of some sort, they did have a vested interest) and that was the end of that. We currently talk french together... but the vocabulary is, by virtue of our ignorance in certain areas, limited.
Yes, the air was slightly blue, the sort of blue that would not disgrace 'No Appropriate Behaviour'.
Cue the AA man. I like the AA, I see a lot of them sometimes. They always come, start my car, tell me to keep it running and then drive off leaving me to hustle three kids into the car for an inpromptu trip. Aha, I think, I'll get ahead of the game (Kids, get dressed, when the car starts we'll be off somewhere nice. Ha.)
Mr Man says........
Your battery is completely knackered. You need a new one. I'm not a local I don't know where you would get one. Try Kwik fit. But you must not turn off the engine, if you do it will die again and you'll never get it started again.
I can do Kwik fit, about three miles away. Ok, they must have batteries, they're a big chain. Keeping the engine going, no probs, I'll get the kids to repeat the mantra 'Do not turn off' when we stop and thus override my automatic impulse.
So, off to Kwik fit. As the song goes, You can't get better than a kwik fit fitter, they're the ones to trust.
But not if you have a 10 year old megane scenic, they're not. They don't carry the battery. I have to go to a Renault dealership. Ok, no probs, I'll go to the one near my Mum and Dad. Kids, we're off again.
Dealerships carry spare parts, don't they?
Well, not for a ten year old Megane Scenic they don't. The battery will have to come from the central stores, it will be here tomorrow and it will cost *gulp* £99.
And fitting it will cost £39.99 because they charge in 1/2 hour increments and it takes less than 1/2 hour to fit.
Imagine telling a mother of three the week after she has had two holidays in a month, in a month when supply work will be thin/ non existent, that she needs to find £140 pounds that she hasn't budgeted for and, moreover, hasn't got. I walked out of there in tears.
I did what any sensible person would do at this point if they could.
I went to my Mum and Dad's.
My Dad is a hero, I love him dearly, always have, always will do. He is Irish (northern irish) and after nearly 50 years in this country still has the accent. He has bushy eyebrows, and a way of talking that makes you wonder sometimes is he serious or not. He is a wind up merchant and a dreadful flirt. He spent long hours, when we were little, working (including overtime in an STD clinic) to pay for private education for 4 children. He used to call me the sweetest thing since sugar, and let me comb his hair. I am and always will be his little girl.
He got on the 'puter, got on the phone and found me a battery for half the price, phoned up his friendly mechanic and arranged fitting, then sent me off with my Ma to collect and deliver. His parting words were, "If I wasn't in court this afternoon... " (He's a JP. I once told someone who rang that he was in court and they wanted to know what he was up for.... probably contempt, I replied) and he meant it. Actually, when the car was ready he gave me a lift to the garage and came in to talk to the nice mechanic. "How much?" he asked, and the mechanic replied, "Ah, come on now, Paddy, you give me enough of your business during the year, it only takes 15 minutes to put in a battery, let's just call it a favour returned, shall we?"
So my day was not the fun filled last day of holiday I planned. It was a real life day. But it was a good lesson for my children. They learnt;
1. Life doesn't always follow your plan.
2. Small can be beautiful. A big chain would have had to charge me if their policy was to charge.
3. Friends can be good. I'm sure that Dad classes the mechanic as a friend; I think he's a very nice man.
4. It pays to shop around and to know where to look.
5. A girl's best friend can often be her Dad, even when she's grown up.