Category: Vehicles

Meet Sheila (by )

Our electric car

We've finally managed it!!!

This is Sheila she is our new car and she is actually NEW! As those of you have known us for a long time will knew we have not had the best luck with cars... vans fine but cars no.

We have been lucky in that friends and family have stepped in with cars and the little Skoda was lovely and reliable but... was a bit small for multiple sets of hips and a car seat in the back and sadly we wore the poor thing out. It did us good service though!

There have been many adventures of getting stuck on motoways with no phone charge and having to walk and walk... well you can read that fiasco here. Also I am sick of trying to fix engines on the go with what ever we have laying around (remember the time I attempted to make a missing pipe out of empty drinks cans?).

Or the time the car set on fire? (OK which time the car set on fire!).

So we've tried saving up and we've tried buying second hand vechiles from not friends/second hand car dealers ships and well yes you guessed it that ended up with the company we taking to court filing for bankruptcy as they do every single time too many people try and take them to court >:(

You can read that one here.

Obviously a lot of this was not having money, having to go for what we could get, we borrowed my mums little car, it red, white and blue and it failed catastrophically. Bear in mind it's not like we don't do maintinance - in general a large chunk of our weekends was often spent faffing around with the cars and vans but this is what happens when you can't afford new cars. It costs more to have little money than it does to have alot!

Anyway long story short - we have a shiny new car with funky lights - I will try and get a better pic!

Pretty car lights

Did I mention it's electric? It's ELECTRIC!!! Not hybrid but full on electric - it is not a Tesla (boo), it is not a funky colour... it isn't even the blue or silver we would have preferred and of course... it is ours but it is not ours. We've leased it.

a) This was basically the only way we were going to get any new vechile ever and b) it is electric and as much as we've always wanted electric it is still an emergent technology and so we really don't want to be investing tens of thousands (even if we could!) into something that is pretty much still prototyping.

I am very excited about it being electric!!! I used to enter all the New Scientists comps to win a hybrid back in the day!

One little note on the old car thing - I was coming from a back ground where my relatives were autocar mechanics and there was always access to tools and maybe even an apprentices to fix the cars. In that environment it's doesn't matter that the car is old and also it means you don't get ripped off because cars that need a little work kind of accumulate and you're sorted. Outside of this environment and there are dangerous crooks who don't care if what they are selling you for all the money you've scraped together is dangerous.

And breath.

We are incredibly lucky to get our car - it is glacial white, it smells of new car. We picked it up this afternoon - it is now getting muddy because... Cranham and Scouting. It comes with polish and high viz. I love the lights... asthetically I really LOVE those lights. I was in fact mooning over those lights on a Zoe (make of car we have) at the services not long ago... it's still not a Tesla. No more road side fixing!!! Remember I can't actually drive and am kind of fed up with stupidly put together engines that are actually designed so that it's hard to fix outside the approved dealership because.... money.

The vans a Ford Transit - we know what we're doing with those 🙂

So yeah its a Zoe 🙂

Our car Sheila

Which is why we've called it Sheila 🙂 (Sheila's are often called Zoe incase you didn't know!).

So yeah... we has new car - we kind of thought this would never happen, we are very nervous about it but it is here now and we have charging cards and a big fat cable!

Of Test Drives and Zines (by )

Surprise Pouches for mini-zines

This is a Surprise Pouch - they contain one mini zine each plus some other bits and pieces like but not always stickers, page corners, charms and so on 🙂

I love them, I am very pleased the idea worked so well. They will be coming to shows and things with me, they are 50p and will first appear at the OK True Believers Comic book Festival in Feb. I'm there as Wiggly Pet Press and there will be cosplaying and things a foot but I'll bore you with all that at some later date 🙂

I've spent the last few years writing and illustrating and constructing zines (little homemade comics and booklets) but have not always had the infrastructure to actually birth them completely into the world. Now I do. Now I am finishing off all those little zines that have been langishing on hard drives and the like (or worse in my head!).

So be prepared to see alot more of these little butes 🙂

Also I am in general mixing the writing up with the arts and crafts side of things, making tie in necklaces and writing stories for the steam punk accessories I'd made and so on.

Yes I'm aware I need to sell it all on line or something... I do have various e-shops I just don't always remember to list new things or tell people when I have!

Mary had Ballet today it was her first time in the new more advanced class, she was shy and with drawn, it is probably because she hadn't really slept but it was also because her two friends are not in this class. We are seeing how the next few weeks are going but if she continues to be distressed then the teacher says she can drop down again.

Then we went to test drive the Zoe - an electric vechile - we've wanted to have an electric car... well since before Al could drive. I used to enter all the comps to try and win a hybrid when they first came out - of course we never won 🙁 But now we are in a position where we might be able to do a lease for three years. Electric cars are still emergent technology so we wouldn't really want to invest as such in owning one (at the moment) but leasing one would cost us less than running our car plus we wouldn't have to do the maintinance and that is driving me insane (haha!).

Yeah I'm sick of spending weekends crawling under cars getting my cloths drity when it's a desperation factor because I need to be somewhere - also bare in mind I can't even drive!

The show room where lovely and we got hot drinks and we all got to go in the car. Jean likes it because it's smooth, I like it because it's quiet, Al likes the way it handles, Mary doesn't like it because a) it is not a red tesla (kind of agree on this one as we don't really have a choice of colour and they are all erm... muted but at least they are not biage!) and b) it was too "jumpy" this was actually Al getting used to the breaking system.

I like the back lights stylistically not too keen on the front ones, am sad that if we get it then I can't really put decals or anything on it and we don't even get funky hub caps because that all costs more or ment we had to wait longer or something.

I was pleased and yet embarrassed that I was asked if I wanted to test drive it.

We were supposed to then go shopping but there had been ceiling fans all rotating at different speeds around the lights and I'd had to think about numbers without the naps I am taking for the head injury during the week - the result was that I completely crashed and we came home, not really sure what we then did until I started folding things for comic book festivals but I know I slept.

Whilst Mary was in ballet I got another origami book from Waterstones because it has the little baskets/boxes I want to fold for Mary's birthday party in. I think it is counting as my birthday present from Al but I already have it because I finished all the projects I can do in the other books and have infact started to improvise weird geometric structures out of multiple sheets of paper and altering simple folds to be other things. Hence the Surprise Pouches which probably do exists elsewhere but for me are an adaption.

Alaric is helping me out with some zine formating as my brain is just not playing ball at the moment. The Christmas decorations are still sitting in piles in the living room but I am taking things at my own pace.

A Mix of Things (by )

Today has been lovely and annoying, destructive and creative in turn.

Mary Elf and the Tinsel Dragon Cat have been up to shinanigans - I wonder which of them decided to poo on the table cloth this morning - the nice white one with shiny white flowers on it that snags easily that my aunt bought us? I assume it was the cat, it smelt like cat - I was not happy but here they are being cute - the sequence will be storyfied never you fear.

The tinsel dragon cat beckons

The Tinsel Dragon Cat was lonely and felt quiet rightly that it did not have enough tinsel so it called to the Mary Elf, a little rainbow of a thing that hopes here and there and everywhere and never EVER stops talking.

Mary Elf attends the Tinsel Dragon Cat

The Mary Elf attended the great Tinsel Dragon who was once again in it's most comfitable of guises as the young cat Lithium. Mary Elf listened with care to the instructions of the Tinsel Dragon Cat.

Mary Elf and Tinsel Dragon Cat plan their mischeif

The instructions where simple... go forth and fetch all the tinsel that abounds across this fair and mighty land and bring it back for a snuggly bed was to be crafted.

So the Mary Elf went and had many adventures over great lakes that others called puddles and scoured vast deserts of "the super market", onward the little rainbow bounce trekked until the was a montain to scale of stairs scattered with toys which she had to tidy.

Until she bought home much tinsel for the Tinsel Dragon Cat to sleep upon. So pleased was the dragon in it's guise as little Lithium the pusskin that with paw and claw Mary Elf was Knighted most valiant in all the land of Front Room. There was much rejoicing.

Tinsel Dragon Cat anoints Sir Elf Mary

The End

But not of our day. Unwanted turd cleaned up Al's cousins turned up and we did presents and things and had tea and headed out for a lovely greek meal in Gloucester Docks.

The Snell Cousins Visit for Christmas Cheer

Except our car wouldn't start - this has increasingly been an issue we need to take the battery out and top it up (or that was our first thought anyway). So we headed out in the van after we'd moved all the tents and greenpeace signs I picked up at the wood recylcing project to turn into something for the garden - if we ever get stopped by the police (happens a lot when you drive a van) then we might have trouble convincing them that we are not militant activists or something!!!

The meal was lovely though Mary did not like the octipus tentical that was served up to one of our number - she loves octipi and talks to them when she sees them. She almost tried a prawn.

I felt guilty that all the presents we handed over where home made and embarassed that the scarf and hat that glow in light where knitted using the looms and not just on needles - I kind of feel it's cheating but I am getting neat results with the looms and still struggling about with needle knitting.

I got a lovely wooden bowl.

I hear there is a computer game and things too and Mary is excited about knitting the little mouse that is her present 🙂

The resturant we were aiming for was actually closed so we ended up the opposite side of town to where we had parks, there was a cunning plan of Al and Maurice getting the car and van and picking us up. It went abit haywire as plans often but all was well with a bit of twoing and throwing.

We said goodbye and headed back home, it was getting dark, the sun set was a beautiful striation across of the city and sea scape of the dock, I failed to take a photo I'm not sure why.

There were swans.

Our car was clicking and clicking and clicking and clicking when we got home, it had been locking and unlocking itself continously whilst we had been out. Roll on car madness involving origami, welding and drinking straws.

The moon was a finger nail sliver and venus (I think) was bright and garish.

The cresant and venus

I used Jean's head as a camera stand. I also had to help her with her homework by taking photos of her in posses from some famous artist. His drawings look like Mary's, no honestly they do!

Back to fixing the car... we needed to take the battery out but a terminal cover was needed and there wasn't one on the battery so origami came to the rescue!!!!

origami terminal cover

I am so proud of this that you are going to see it in action from three different angles!

terminal cover origami

It was to stop accidental contact and sparkage!

Folded paper rescue for battery removal

It is folded from half a page from a very old and battered copy of an Enid Blighton book. It was beyond salvage and has been used in three different craft projects and now fixing a car.

The contacts were all pretty corroded - enough that I am wondering if that is part of the problems we've been having. We have like a spare jump start battery - the car reset itself with that and stopped the damn clicking which must have been driving our poor neighbours made as it was outside their window 🙁

The fault also left the car basically unlocked, there was only really some loom knitting and survival tools and some cuddlies and colouring in books of the girls in the car but still I'm sure we would be grumpy if they got stolen!

Turns out there's a battery bracket/brace with a slightly inaccessible bolt.

I held the torch and after accidently getting Imperial and Metric round the wrong way Al got his long bolt undoing tool firmly in place and turned, all locked home and good seeming there was a crunch and then the thing went round and around.... because the force had broken it :/

The bolt had not moved.

Other tools where got but would not fit or reach etc...

Queue the welding and adapting of a screw driver to make an undoing of the bolt tool. The new belt sander I got Al for Christmas was also used, the go pro failed to record sadly so there will be no funky video 🙁

battery getting out tool

He tried it... it needed further adapting.

A sad a resigned Alaric holding the improvised tool he's just had to make

And again. He was resigned and cold.

battery getting out tool mk2

Back out in the ice he went and... the damn thing broke and the bolt was still firmly in place.

Kids fed and in bed, we ate our Christmas pudding - it's a gluten free one so it fell to pieces but we had some special brandy butter and it was nice and warm and filling.

We decided to add penetrating oil but the reason we had not already done this is that the little tube for getting into narrow spaces was not long enough so a drinking straw had to be used to extend it so that we could actually get the oil down to the bolt. A special tool will have to be got to get the battery out. We used the jumpstart battery to lock the doors and packed up for the night. School run in the van which will be interesting as car share kid has a broken leg so will need help getting in and out 🙁

But it should be possible, other down side is that Al will have to pay for parking as the free carpark for his new job has a height restriction (£8 a day and it obv. ates fuel).

He is now PC minecrafting it to calm down.

I've been doing more origami...

folding paper

This is what I mostly made 🙂

Muse Monster Book Corners or origami bookmarks

Muse Monster Book Corners or origami bookmarks, they are a variant on the hats I used to fold out of newspaper 🙂

I am making them to go with The Monster Blog Zines and Wiggly Pet publications that I make. They will be making a debut at the Ok True Believers Comic Book Festival in Cheltenham this Feb.

And then I wrote this post.

Mods and Rockers (by )

I love motobikes and mopeds and that sort of thing in general - yes I am one of those people that like vintage cars and funky sports cars.

Moped!

So the other week we were in Morrisions in Cheltenham when I spotted these babies out side the window - apologies for the poor quality of the photographs they were taken through glass.

Mopeds at Morrisons

There was a four wheeler there too 🙂 The guys the belonged too were sitting not far from us wearing Mods and Rockers T-shirts much to my dad's amusement. I think one of them may have been his age but the others were all younger.

Turquoise moped

Mods and Rockers as popularised by the film Quadraphenia was a sixties phenomina where those that rode motobikes and those who rode mopeds dressed differently and listened to different types of music. They were seen as gangs and a series of riots were blamed on them.

My dad says it wasn't really like that at least not where he lived. He got teased for riding a moped dressed as a Rocker instead of mod but later on had a motorbike and him and his friends all rode about together with a mash up of vechiles not smashing the place up though they did apparently get chucked out of a pub family room for swearing or something.

This is my favourite track from Quadraphenia.

And this is my second favorite.

The album is deeper than the film in my opinion especially as the film never explains the title. Thought the film leaves me with a lingering sadness, the struggle of disconnected youth trying to find where they fit into society whilst not wanting to end up as nothing but a puppet, a clone and boring person and yet they crave stability.

And of course drugs sort of fluffs it all up but mainly it is a desperation and loneliness that bites the protagonist too the core.

I still prefer just the album.

Adrian Brown and The Cheap Car Trade Centre (by )

Earlier this year, Sarah and I spent my bonus pay on a second-hand car from The Cheap Car Trade Centre in Gloucester.

Sadly, they neglected to buy it a tax disc before I picked it up, so I couldn't drive it (other than the quick trip) home for a couple of weeks while the papers went through to make me the registered keeper. However, even on the trip home, the engine started to overheat, and the engine started to run badly; as the car had been stationary for a while, and had been almost entirely out of fuel, I was suspicious but it might have just been sludge from the fuel tank washing into the engine; I looked into the cooling system and found a syphon tube had become disconnected, so the engine could blow out excess coolant into the reservoir when the pressure was high, but could not suck coolant back in. Sure enough, although the reservoir was full, the cooling system was very low, so I flushed it out and filled it up after replacing the syphon hose.

All was well for a few days, but then it started overheating again. I was dropping Sarah off in Cheltenham at the time, so I stayed in the car park to let it cool down before heading home; however, it quickly overheated again, and again, and started to emit white smoke from the exhaust, and steam from under the bonnet. I pulled in another car park, and rang the RAC, who came and told me the head gasket was leaking badly.

So I rang the warranty company, who said that head gasket failure wasn't covered. So I rang The Cheap Car Trade Centre and explained the problem, but they disavowed any responsibility, so I informed them that the Sale of Goods Act made them responsible for the goods they sell being fit for the advertised purpose, which includes a reasonable life expectancy, even if they are second-hand; and this car was sold to me as "ready to drive". They told me I'd have to take them to court in that case.

So I sent them the required two warning letters, then tried to take them to court. This was hampered somewhat by them refusing to say who owned the business, which is an obligation under the Business Names Act, so I rang Gloucester Trading Standards, who pointed me at:

Office of Fair Trading Investigation into The Cheap Car Trade Centre

Which led to:

Formal Undertaking against Adrian Brown, Sole Director, Adrian Brown Limited

So Adrian Brown was the man behind the business, using his limited company, Adrian Brown Ltd, company number 04831719, which is registered as being at The Cheap Car Trade Centre's premises.

A look on the Companies House web site reveals:

REGISTERED OFFICE CHANGED ON 16/09/09 FROM: SUNNYLEA ASH LANE DOWN HATHERLEY GLOUCESTER GL2 9PS

...that's five days after his "formal undertaking" with the OFT. I suspect he changed it from his home address to his premises to divert unwanted attention at home. However, Companies House remembers all. I wonder if he still lives there. I would discourage my loyal readers from jumping to the conclusion that he does and inundating the address with junk mail or any other forms of harassment, in case he doesn't.

Anyway, knowing who to sue, I proceeded to activate the county court system.

They answered my claim with a defence (stating that it must have been me driving the car while overheating that broke the head gasket), so I was waiting for a date for the hearing when I received my last letter to them returned unopened, with "THE LTD CO THAT TRADED AS 'THE CHEAP CAR TRADE CTR' HAS CEASED TRADING AND IS INSOLVENT WITH NO ASSETS, AND HAS VACATED 333 BRISTOL RD GLOUCESTER".

I got back in touch with the Trading Standards folks, who said that they knew the company was closing, but that this action was suspended as there were county court cases in progress, so my case would probably still proceed, even though I might never be able to extract any money if the company was truly insolvent.

However, I'm still going to try. Limited companies protect their shareholders and directors by limiting their liability; the company is sued, not the people. But there's a limit to the limit. If a director can be shown to have acted fraudulently or incompetently, then they can be personally liable.

It looks like I won't get my money back, which will leave us carless until I get another bonus or something - but I'm hoping that, perhaps, the courts might find Adrian Brown personally liable. Given the involvement of the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards, it would appear that I'm not alone in having suffered from his business practices (the OFT judgement explicitly mentions him attempting to avoid the Sale of Goods and Business Names acts).

After all, I have little choice but to pursue this - I am scraping by with buses (which run once an hour, and don't run at all after about 5pm), being bankrupted by taxis, and begging lifts from people. This is seriously hampering my ability to live my life.

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