Tub on the Run


The Curse of the Bank Holiday Weekend

Okay, that might be a little extreme, as I enjoyed chilling out on Monday after a busy weekend, but it definitely turned in to one of those weekends…

Last Friday night, Matt and I travelled up to Silverstone and stayed in the Travelodge ready for the following day’s marshalling.  It was the 750MC meeting, which is always a fantastic day of racing.  The day didn’t start off amazingly well, having forgotten my hair bobble.  For those who have been to Silverstone for racing (motorsport or running), you will know just how windy the track is and how essential a hair bobble is.  Thankfully, one of the ladies who I came across had a spare she could lend me which saved me having to use one of the proffered cable ties…  Then, after much rooting around my belongings, it turned out that I didn’t have a cap to wear.  Groan…  Cue sunburnt parting.  Sadly, I wasn’t on the best post in terms of teams either, so despite some really good racing, I didn’t feel that I had the best day.

We were at Thruxton for the BTCC meeting on Sunday (no television appearances for me this time though!), so off we trundled down the A34 to Winchester where we were staying.  My sister lives in Winchester, so we had planned to go out for tea.  As we were sat in traffic on the M3 waiting to turn off, my car had started making funny noises.  And not funny-ha-ha noises either.  Mind you, it had been warm and we had driven a reasonable distance by that point, so I reasoned that it could just be hot.  We checked in at the hotel a short time later and then hopped back into the car to my sister’s house.  Abandoning ship into her car, we were chauffeured to the pub for tea.

As I munched through my (disappointing) pulled pork burger, I could feel my face getting progressively tighter where my sunscreen had failed me.  My nose had become the glowing red beacon of ineffective sunscreen, casting a soft red hue in the cellar of The Royal Oak.  After some tiramisu and a cup of tea back at my sister’s, I felt a bit chirpier.  Alas the feeling did not last long, for as soon as I got back in the car to drive back to the hotel, an amber light of doom appeared on the dash.  Much gnashing of teeth and grumbling occurred while I flicked through my handbook to identify the malevolent amber glow, which turned out to be the power steering light.

Let me say now, I am a child born into the world of power steering.  The only vehicle that I own and have owned that doesn’t have power steering is my motorbike.  I have never driven a car that hasn’t had power steering.  As I reversed out of the space, it became apparent that yes, the power steering had gone and my car, usually light as feather, was now a full blown tank and had the manoeuvrability of a freightliner.  After cussing my way through the bends and praying for straight bits of road, eventually the light went off and the power steering returned.  Ahh… bliss.  Except for the nagging paranoia of “OH GOD WHAT IF IT FAILS MID-CORNER?!?!”.  From the comfort of the hotel, I called my parents.  Dad is a mechanic, and he would know what to do.  Except unfortunately, he was 120 miles away.  By the time I’d finished regaling my parents with my automotive woes, it had gone midnight and I was already grumping at having to get back in the thing that betrayed me (yes, I take it personally).  I was also internally berating myself for not belonging to the RAC or AA this year (“Oh no… my car never goes wrong, why would I need that!”).

Sunday morning came and I was up without too much issue, checking the car for any leaky patches and trying to work out where the power steering fluid reservoir and pump were*.  Mission failed, we hopped in and made our way to Thruxton where we were helping out on the marshal recruitment stand.  No warning light glowed and the power steering was fine.  A nice warm day followed, and we chatted to some friends and explained the role of a marshal to anyone who was interested.  We beat the crowds and started the journey home.  I could hear a pump thudding, knowing it was something power steering related, but unable to do anything about it.  We made it home okay, and as I parked the car, turning it to full lock obviously irritated it and lo – the power steering stopped and I had to park in a relatively tight space, sans assistance.

On Monday, I drove to my parents’ so Dad could take a look.  It turns out that the power steering fluid had run almost dry, and I need to check back whether this has ever been a service item.  Unfortunately, topping it up has not helped and so my car is left, wounded and sad, on my parents’ drive until next pay day when I can take it in.  Of course, it all comes in threes, and my tax and MOT are due this month too!

That has been quite enough excitement for one week, and I have been left wondering “is this what driving in the olden days was like?” (much to my parents’ dismay!).

* Just in case you too suffer the misfortune of having no power steering in a Volkswagon Fox, the reservoir is under the battery, down on the right hand side, near the headlamp unit.