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Monday, March 10, 2014

Birthday, Theatre and Broken-down Car

On Friday it was Carol's birthday. A momentous day: her 50th. I had to give her something special, out-of-the-ordinary. I decided to give her 50 presents, but not large presents, you understand. I planned to buy 50 tiny 'treats' and wrap them up in five seperate parcels, each representing each of her 5 decades. I went to the Central Shopping Centre in Milton Keynes the Friday before last and went first to perhaps her favourite shop, Paperchase, and bought 10 little figures, erasers, pencil sharpeners etc and then went round the shopping centre buying more for the parcels, from W.H.Smith, Hawkin's Bazaar, Blott etc. It was a lot of fun choosing the items, then bringing them home and carefully hiding them until I purchased wrapping paper and carefully wrapped them without her knowledge. I managed to buy a birthday card in Clinton's and a 'Happy Birthday' sign in the form of bunting on a long ribbon from Waitrose and put this up across the window in the lounge on Friday morning when she was at work.

In the evening we went to the theatre. We went with one of the girls she does tutoring for, who is studying 'A' Level English Literature. She has to study several plays and part of the study is on stagecraft so Carol thought that if she saw a 'live' performance it might be to her benefit. The play we went to see was an adaptation of the Charles Dickens' novel "A Tale of Two Cities" and was at the Royal Theatre in Northampton. We have been to see several productions of various shows in the theatre next-door  in the complex, the Derngate Centre, but nothing in the old rep theatre. I have myself seen quite a few productions over the years, and I nearly got a job there when I left school but eventually ended up going to work at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham.

We left in what we hoped would give us plenty of time to drive to Northampton but as soon as we'd got on he M1 outside Milton Keynes we encountered a tail-back of traffic caused by an accident further north and crept along at around 5 m.p.h. We eventually left the motorway near Northampton and found a multi-storey car park but had barely 15 minutes before the curtain rose on the show as it started at 7.45. The play had actually started as we took our seats in the stalls. It turned out to be a very good show which we thoroughly enjoyed. We drove back to Milton Keynes and arrived home at a little before midnight.

The next day it was really bright and sunny.  During the morning there had been a card stuck through the door by the postman, informing us that £1.09p was owing on a letter or some item or other. This was somewhat annoying as the postman never attempted to knock on the door and let us have the item, or let us pay the small amount owing, so we had to drive to the sorting office in Brinklow, which is around two miles from here. It was even more annoying to find, when we got there, that the sorting office was closed. So this item will have to remain there until we can get there to collect it. We had to do some shopping but decided it would be preferable instead  if we went out somewhere as I wanted to take Carol out for a birthday treat and we ended up at the Millennium Country Park at Marston Mortaine, somewhere we've been before with the dogs. The place was extremely busy, it must have been the warm weather which brought the people out. We had something to eat in the cafe and then drove back towards Milton Keynes and went to Tesco's store at Kingston. We did our shopping and then returned to the car and it was at this point that Carol couldn't get the car to start. No amount of attempts would get it to start. Carol had her mobile phone on her but there was very little battery life left in it so she decided to text here friend Pauline, who had worked with her as a teacher at the Academy. Fortunately she texted back saying that she and her husband Paul were on there way to us and would arrive in about 45 minutes. When they eventually arrived we again attempted to get the car to start but still no joy. Paul said that it could be something to do with the petrol, not getting into the engine or something, but that seemed unlikely as I had only  filled the car up a few days previously. But we decided to try filling it with more fuel and purchased a can from Tesco's and then went to the filling station and put £5 in the can and then transferred this to the car. But when we attempted to start the car it still wouldn't play ball.

By now it was clear that the car wasn't going to start so we were taken home with our shopping  by Pauline and her husband. When I got home I telephoned Laverne, who I know from church and who is a motor mechanic. He was as good as his word and came out to pick me up outside our house and took me back to Tesco's carpark, but he could not get the car to start. After a while he asked me whether I had any breakdown cover and remembered that we were insured with Swinton but had no reference number for the policy. As luck or sheer coincidence would Laverne said he was with the same company and said that if he used his mobile he could ring and see whether he could get Swinton to send out a recovery truck to get either the car started or transport the car home. He managed to get through and fortunately they sent someone. It took a further 45 minutes or so for a truck to arrive and the repair man eventually got the car started. It would appear that the starter mechanism where the key goes in to turn to start the car was not functioning properly and preventing the car to start. So, once the car was running the mechanic left and Laverne followed me home just to make sure the car didn't stop running. I will now have to find a garage to repair the car as it's not advisable to drive when it's likely to cut out again. The car it due for it's MoT this month so it can be done at the same time.

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