October Send-Off Bash

From time to time one of us will take a little breather from the self-induced chaos that is our day-to-day life and realise that time is in fact ticking on, and we are off on really rather a big and involved trip in the not-too-distant (in fact frighteningly all-too-soon) future. I’m writing this in just such a gulp of air that involves an evening off with a stubbornly uncreative brain, a handful of peppermint tea and an internet dongle that has far too much autonomy.

My task for the evening: inform you all of a wondrous event that we are heralding in October. Bass, Dan, Guy and I have been lucky enough to live together in Perranporth for the last year, which in its self has been an amazing experience. One of the best things about our year has been the warm friendship and membership of the local Cornish choir, The Perraners. We’ve shared many a great evening of laughter and song in Perranporth with these great people.

The Perraners sing at sunset on Perranporth Beach. (RWH)

We’ve organised this evening as an excuse to get old friends back together, sing our favourite songs, eat some good food, and raise as much money for charity as we can! Having set our departure date for the next day, we thought it would be an ideal send-off bash. Luckily we don’t have too far to go on Day 1 – a bleary-eyed drive to Somerset and Bass’ family home!

Allow me to furnish you with The Headlines:

–          A hearty sit-down meal with wonderful home-made food, courtesy of Seiners

–          A charity auction/raffle

–          Cornish songs with the Perraners

–          Other guests TBC

–          October 7th, probably 7pm!

–          Tickets £10 (meal included)

Please get in touch if you’re interested; cornwalltocapetown@gmail.com

Much love,

R, B & D

The Making of Mechanics?

So, we had proven that we could drive long distances, under the pressures of time and inclement weather. But that would only get us so far…

We found out exactly how far two days later.

The village of Perranporth can be quite a honey pot when the weather is beneficent, with the center being a hub of activity. So it was that in the height of the midday pasty rush, and with a mechanical clatter worthy of a Tom & Jerry cartoon, our car suddenly lost power. After a few sheepish minutes of tyre-kicking and bonnet-lifting, we found that the rear prop-shaft had shorn through, leaving the longer half flailing against the cars underbelly.

I would like to take a brief interlude at this point to discuss mechanical vocabulary. As we hope some Landrover enthusiasts will read this, we will not shirk on technical talk. However we cannot continue without reference to the enormous capacity that mechanics  holds for innuendo. We have no intention in following the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, nor do we want to write the script for ‘Carry on Africa’. We can only assume that the discipline needed to discuss sockets, rods, grub-nuts and grease nipples without a ribald smirk or bawdy nudge comes to a professional mechanic with years of training. We simply don’t have the time or the maturity.

So We were stranded in a beachside lay-by with little chance of recovery.

We were quick to analyse the situation:

Pros: this could have happened in the Scottish Borders when we had no breakdown cover.

Cons: We were causing what was a significant hold-up by Cornish standards with no hope of a quick fix.

It was at this point that we were to find that in a Land Rover, help is often near at hand. A few minutes later a friendly man in an old 90 drove by and offered assistance. He was able not only to tow us to safety but provide the part from one of his several Land Rovers.

We had our first repair job. We tackled the problem the only way men of our generation know how: a key-word search of Google. It seemed like a simple matter of unbolting the broken bit and bolting the new bit on. However we hadn’t realised that these parts had been bolted on with thick steel when we had been about six and left to rust fast in the Scottish highland. Dan spent the best part of a week on his back, locked in a duel with each stubborn and accustomed bolt. He eventually emerged, oily, eyes raw with rust, the mad grin of a man who has tunneled to freedom with a teaspoon on his sooty face, brandishing the broken part. Rusty nuts would be a problem that would continue to trouble us.

Rich chanced upon a chap called Dave, an ex-sapper who lived up near Exmoor and ran a casual bush mechanics course. Well-schooled in Land Rovers from a young age, he was a keen expert and seemed excited to have new vehicle, complete with new problems to solve. Over two weekends, we visited his eccentric converted church and work-barn arrangement and set about getting to grips with our machine.

A modern car is a magical automaton synapsed  with wires and computers that know better than you do. If angered in some way it will devise a fault only fixable with a laptop and part so specialist that there needs to be a company to make the tools, for a company to make the tools to make it (at a price necessarily high to keep all these companies afloat). At first this is how our Land Rover seemed. However after two rainy weekends and quite a lot of studying before and after, it all started to make sense. The whole process of how the timed cycles of a piston generate force, this force being handed from gear to gear to shaft to wheel began to lock together. We saw first hand as we removed each part, how the forces of explosions in quick unison are harnessed by a clever arrangement of oiled metal moving parts. We learned about breaking, cooling, suspension and exhaust; tools, jacks, oils, wheels and lubricants.

Dave’s style of teaching certainly nurtured the initiative essential for a bush mechanic (these days defined as a mechanic without Google). He would happily watch us discuss how best to gain access to the transmission or lever the tyre off a wheel. This cemented the procedure into our memory. As well as teaching the correct approach to repair and maintenance procedures, he encouraged the improvisation needed to fix a problem with limited resources. One crowning moment was fixing our recently busted differential lock. We stripped away the casing and used a parts manual to narrow down which part was broken. We meticulously removed each fitted lever and cog and found the culprit (a sheared grub screw if you must know). Of course taking things apart is easy; it is the putting back together that is the challenge. Our Landy is simple enough that, by and large, as long as long as you put it back as you found it, you haven’t made things worse. This of course is a simple theory with a frustratingly complex practice. On attempt number three, the Diff-lock lever slid firmly and smoothly in, to engage the engines full power, with manly roars of satisfaction all round.

We were on our way to becoming bush mechanics.

Wonderful Charitable Fun!

So distracted have we been by the last few weeks that only now have we managed to tot up our collection from the charity fundraiser held on the 27th July! We raised a fabulous £229.33, which is a great step in the right direction, and had a great evening doing it, so our thanks to everyone that attended and made it what it was. Special thanks go out to our donors, who were remarkably generous in their prises for the charity raffle, which included coasteering, surfing lessons, romantic restaurant meals and cream teas. Thanks also to the Treliske Doctor’s Mess which endorsed our social as an official hospital ‘PayDay’. We hope to do it all again soon before our departure!