Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Tuesday 10th April - Day Out in Kent and East Sussex

Today we took my red alfa romeo to the garage for its annual service and MOT.

We made a day of it - so, after leaving my car to their tender mercies, we went to investigate Chiddingstone; a pleasant drive through the countryside? Not exactly. The weather was dull, but not actually raining, and to our surprise, there was a thick mist over Ashdown Forest...

Chiddingstone is where the Streatfeild family come from - anyone who has read and enjoyed "Ballet Shoes" and "Wimples Wonders" and a hundred other books by Noel Streatfeild will understand why I was interested. As it happens, I had just finished reading the first book of her fictionlised autobiography, "A Vicarage Family" last night.

The village is supposed to be "the prettiest village in Kent" and a "rare example of a Tudor single-street village", rescued from development by the National Trust in 1939.
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This is just about the entire village, the church is on the opposite site of the road, and the castle (an imposing Victorian Gothic rebuild on the site of the various original houses and manors.)

The picture doesn't do it justice, but then neither did the weather today, so after looking round the church, and buying a packet or sweets in the Post Office (possibly England's oldest shop, in business since 1453) we left, and headed back south to Lewes.

The fog had lifted, fractionally, from the Ashdown Forest, so that I could just catch tantalising glimpse of where the views would be.

Lewes; for lunch at The Needlemakers, and a look-around, and an excellent butterscotch and pecan slice at Waterstones, and then to ring the garage to see how they were getting on.

Ah, not such good news. If your car has done in excess of 110,000 miles, and is over 12 years old, you are rather on borrowed time. It failed the MOT on the condition of the floor panels long before they got onto other bits like the engine.

We came up with various strategies for coping with this unscheduled event as we made out way back to the garage. The garage owner had also had some thoughts...

The upshot is that I have test-driven a black (black? We've never had a black car before! Alfas should be red, if possible) Vauxhall Corsa (Vauxhall Corsa? I thought other people drove those, not me!) and decided that it is too good a buy to miss. One lady owner, full service history done by the garage owner, scant 20,000 miles on the clock, cheaper servicing, cheaper tax, cheaper insurance, cheaper tyres... Driving it was a bit of a white-knuckle ride to begin with, probably because it works so much better than my alfa - the clutch is so light, and bites near the middle instead of almost at the bottom, the gears are precise, the steering is accurate, the ride is taught, and the engine is remarkably quiet, with no familiar rattles...

So, just in time for the beginning of term, I will be the slightly surprised owner of a black Vauxhall Corsa. It will be ready for collection at the end of the week.

The only problem will be finding it in the car park....

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