Tuesday, May 05, 2009

busy weekend – and test drives…

Add ImageCurrent work: revisions for Med
Listening to: Melody Gardot, My One and Only Thrill (thanks to lovely Donna Alward for suggesting this one to me)
Reading: various research stuff

Wonderful bank holiday weekend. As DH was off, did a bit of skiving, i.e. spent time with the family rather than working. (Bad me. Lots to catch up on. But it was nice to spend time with them.)

Saturday, moseyed into town as Madam needed new shoes. I finally cracked after much nagging and bought DH’s birthday pressie early, so he’s happy. (Satnav. Sigh. Think kid with new toy.)

And then we looked at cars. Even though I hadn’t intended to change mine until next year, I’ve been muttering since the spark plug issue reared its head again. I’d promised DH that I would look at other cars as well as Clios this time round, so we went to several dealerships. Did NOT like the new Fiesta (feels cramped, and I don’t like the dash – bright red LED). Looked at the Merc A-class (DH’s idea) but it didn’t feel right. Neither did the Polo (and DH said that wouldn't be a good buy anyway as a new version is coming out soon, so the about-to-be-old-shape one would depreciate mega-quickly).

However, I did like the new Corsa: it’s roomy, with a comfortable driving position.

My benchmark car was my Clio (despite more mutters from DH about Renault, because his Megane was a nightmare car). Renault had sent me a leaflet telling me that they’d love me to change my car as they want quality used cars, and they’d give me an extra-good price for it as I’m a valued customer.

Yeah, right. The salesman offered me quite a bit less than the Glass’s guide price and then tried to sell me the next spec up. It was nowhere near as good a deal as the pre-reg Corsa. And even less of a good deal than a 6-month-old Corsa from a dealer we’ve used before – which had low mileage and a much higher spec. And the dealer offered me what I wanted for mine. Said we’d think about it over the weekend.

Sunday, went to Thursford for research trip. Saw the fairground organs playing (this is a Marenghi)

and also rode the ‘scenic railway’ (aka Venetian gondola/switchback - NB this wasn't taken with a fisheye lens: there are valleys and hills). You really do feel as if you're going to fall out as you go up the hill (if you're sitting backwards, as I was - arrgh!).

It was perfect for research purposes, especially as I could see the man feeding the cards into the organ so I understood exactly how it worked. However, that was the only ride working (and it only had three rides scheduled for the whole day) and there was no steam; we had expected to see a little more. Apparently some of the collection had gone off to Strumpshaw for the steam rally – pity we didn’t realise that at the time or we would’ve gone there instead. But at least my book is taking shape. (Hero is Felix. Thanks again to those who helped crystallise my thoughts earlier.)

Next stop, the beach. From the cliffs at Hunstanton, we could see loads of kites – looked very pretty.
When we were right next to the sea, we realised why there were so many – this is what they were doing.
Looked like hard work but great fun, especially when they jumped out of the water and glided through the air.

Monday – typical Bank Holiday weather, cold and cloudy, so we stayed fairly close to home. DH had been reading reviews and said that if we decided on a Corsa, a 1.2 was underpowered – which was one of the problems with his Megane, so he offered to pony up the difference in cost for a 1.4 (bless him). Went back to the dealer’s for a test-drive.

And yes, I did wuss out of driving it myself. As did all the other women there buying a car – and they had the same reason as me, i.e. test-driving feels like doing a driving test and you just know you’re going to crunch gears and make an idiot of yourself over parking it. (All the dealers said the same thing on Saturday: in their experience, women always get their husband to do the test-drive.)
Am sure there are people out there who would lambast me for this; so, to avoid them wasting their time typing (nice hint, hmm?), I'd like to point out that this was MY choice to ask him to do the testing for me. Not because either of us think I'm incapable, but I hate doing test-drives and DH enjoys them. He knows exactly what I want/expect from a car and I trust his judgement. Besides, I can’t hear engine noises (even with sound on), so I need someone with decent hearing to check that side of things for me. And he does drive mine occasionally, so it'd be stupid to get a car that had a really uncomfortable driving position for him. QED. Made sense for him to do it.

Drive was good; kids were happy with the amount of passenger space; there was a choice of colours, and all four of us liked the same colour (Star Silver – it’s the colour of new matte silver jewellery and really suits the car). The dealer is sorting out the registration plate transfer, too, so I don’t have to spend ages sitting in the DVLA office (I am aware of approaching deadlines and could do without the hassle!).
And I pick it up in three weeks’ time, yippee.


Jan Jones said...

Glad you had a good w/e. Also that you have found a car you're happy with.

I'd want to test-drive my own car, though. Not because I necessarily know what's going on Under The Bonnet (I don't!), but because I want to know how I feel while driving it, crunched gears, duff parking and all. Good thing we're all different, isn't it?

Nell Dixon said...

We usually both test drive as we look for different things in a car but I know exactly what you mean. I have a Honda Jazz called Rosie which I adore. I didn't think I would after trading in my beloved and huge Kia Sorrento but now I've adjusted I love it. I'm sure you and your Corsa will have tons of happy miles and you can get those cute figures from the advert lol.

Katie_S said...

New Car - yipee! Congrats! I have a Holden which in NZ do the Vauxhall cars - the Corsa here is called a Barina! I drive an Astra and have had no problems :-)

Diane said...

A lovely new car, how exciting. It doesn't seem like 5 minutes since you got the current one - doesn't time fly?

And I hear you on the test drive, but I do normally do test drives myself. Okay, so I don't have a husband at the moment (although I have a very nice Wii buddy who steps in whenever I need him to), but even when I did, the first one didn't drive and the second one wasn't such a good driver as me (cough, cough).

LOVE the fairground ride.

Diane said...

Now then, Kate. I've been looking at your non fictions and I can see how living in the area all your life has helped with this. But how would you go about the research if you didn't already have the local knowledge? And what additional research do you do (aside from the field trips with the littlies) to subsidise your existing local knowledge? A possible n/f writerly post? Special request? (I don't do it very often, but am interested so maybe others will be too ... :o) )

I'll do the same on my blog once I get into the swing of it, only mine will be as an interloper up here, and as an ex-pat "dahn sahf". (Well, in the Midlands, but they think it's south around here.)

Kate Hardy said...

Jan - thanks :o) And yep, good thing we're all different!

Kate Hardy said...

Nell - we did consider a Jazz but as the dealer is the same as the Renault dealer (who didn't offer us what we wanted), DH wasn't keen to give them a second chance at keeping our custom...

My Clio was called Ozzy (as in Ozymandias, not Osbourne) because of its original numberplate. New one: I am so tempted to call it Pandora because it reminds me of one of the beads on my bracelet. (Well, if I can call the family of a trilogy after my handbag...)

Kate Hardy said...

Katie - Barina is quite a cool name - sounds Italian. Thanks for letting me know you've found a Vauxhall really reliable: that's always good to hear!

Kate Hardy said...

Diane - nearly 3 years. Isn't that scary?

LOL re your test-drives. I think DH and I are level pegging, but he's a bad passenger. (I'm also much better with maps than he is. So if we're hunting obscure locations for books, he's driving. Mind you, I may have been replaced by the Satnav...)

Kate Hardy said...

Diane - yep, I'll do a 'how I research n/f' post later in the week. Thanks for suggesting it :o)

linda margaret said...


Congrats on the new wheels. I hope it is a really good and reliable vehicle for you. We have a leased van that the lease is up on next month. We have to start shooping soon and we still don't know exactly what we want to replace the van. The NA car dealers are having huge price cuts because of all the problems with the economy but we need to balance the price of running the vehicle and fuel with the sticker price of the car. I envy you already having made the decision and not having it hanging over your head.



Kate Hardy said...

Linda - thank you. Hope your decision is easy to make, too.