The epidemic of the wrong-way parker

Were we to highlight the selfish actions of our fellow drivers, the list would soon occupy a considerable amount of space. But I choose today to highlight one in particular: The wrong-way parker.

For as long as I have been driving, I have made efforts to park on the side of the street facing in the direction of travel. Friends have even ridiculed me for this driving pedantry, particularly when, on streets with parking on only one side, I would go so far as to find a place to turn round just so I could park facing the correct way. Perhaps I am an extreme example. But then again, maybe it just appears that way given the growing number of people who don’t even put a modicum of effort into parking properly and considerately.

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Yours truly being the only one parked correctly in this photo.

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2178 miles around Europe in a £1000 E39

Tell someone that you are about to embark on a 2000-mile road trip in a 19-year-old car you paid £1000 for more than two years ago, and they’re likely to question your judgement. Cue Jeremy Clarkson leaning in towards the camera, raising an eyebrow, and uttering those immortal words: ‘What could possibly go wrong?’

Well, in this case, absolutely nothing went wrong. In fact, thanks to the car, this was probably the most comfortable and enjoyable road trip I’ve ever been on.

A wet Monday morning, all packed and ready to go.

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An interpretive guide to the eBay ad

So, you are in the market for a car, and like any reasonable person, the first place you turn is eBay. It is, after all, one of the most popular services for automotive classifieds, and with the auction feature, you might even land yourself quite a bargain.

Renault Laguna estate

After typing the make and model of your desired car into the search bar (which is hopefully not a Renault Laguna Estate), you open the first of the search results and are confronted with a bunch of unfamiliar and slightly suspicious sounding phrases. What do they mean? If you read these phrases and thoughts like ‘This is too good to be true’ begin rolling through your head, you should probably trust that instinct. Because the fact is that they are often used to cover up a less-than-ideal vehicle. Continue reading “An interpretive guide to the eBay ad”

Talking about BMWs on the Both Hand Drive podcast

squarelogo_small-e1495969861356Ian Wright, the man behind the Both Hand Drive podcast, very kindly invited me to join him the other day for a casual chat about all kinds of things, mostly to do with BMWs. He’s a great host, and I had a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I was only using the built-in microphone on my MacBook, so the sound from my end isn’t great, but if you want to have a listen, you can find the podcast on iTunes (and presumably on Google Play, although I can’t seem to find a link for it), or on ShoutEngine. And be sure to subscribe!

I nearly wrote my car off today

Because I spent the first 24 years of my life near Toronto, Canada, I have seen my fair share of winter driving, occasionally in some pretty extreme conditions. So it was to my surprise today to find myself in the middle of the most terrifying winter driving experience I’ve ever had, in the North of England, with only a couple of inches of snow on the ground.

Wandering into the North Yorkshire Moors for a lazy morning of recreational motoring, I found myself on a rather narrow, snow-covered road. The road had a few hills, but was relatively flat, and I was having no trouble with traction in the E39. Following the map, I could see that I was about to rejoin a proper two-lane B-road, so decided to press on. What I wasn’t expecting was for the last half mile of the road to feature a 15-20% downhill grade. Or that it would be covered in a sheet of ice.

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Why learning to maintain your car makes sense

Here I am pouring oil into the engine of my BMW.

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I do this a lot. Well, not oil changes specifically, but maintenance on my cars. If you’re like me and prefer to buy inexpensive cars, learning to do your own maintenance and repairs is key. If you rely on your local garage to do everything, you soon find yourself spending quantities of money that come perilously close to what you paid for the car in the first place. As I’ve written over on Not2Grand: Continue reading “Why learning to maintain your car makes sense”

Life with an old banger, two years on

Two years ago today, I got up before dawn, took a train to the south side of Glasgow, and returned home later that afternoon with this.

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Yes, I’ve now shared two years of my life with a 1999 BMW 528i. I’m starting to think about selling it soon – I’d never planned on keeping it anywhere near this long to begin with, and it’s time for a new adventure – and so I thought the two-year anniversary would be a good chance to reflect on the experience of owning this car. Continue reading “Life with an old banger, two years on”

A perfect evening drive

Someone, somewhere, has probably concocted a recipe for the perfect drive, using some sort of advanced scientific analysis. But as science was never my strong point, I am more inclined to think that there are probably several different recipes that would do the trick, depending on the circumstances.

As a case in point, I went out for a drive on Friday evening. Taking a familiar route, I circled through Northumberland and the southern end of the Scottish Borders, mostly using A-roads. Normally, if I want an enjoyable driving experience, I look for less-travelled B-roads that require more attention and engagement. However, after a long week of work that left me feeling tired and worn out, I wanted something more relaxing.

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I gots to Getz in front!

Why yes, student in the 53-reg Hyundai Getz, I see you coming. It’s hard not to – you’re the only car in the outside lane of a fairly empty motorway. And I see you are approaching at a speed that I can only assume is making your little 1.3L engine cry out in anguish. But even though you’re travelling considerably faster than I am, you are still a ways behind me, and I would like to get around the lorry that is sitting in my lane. So I will speed up a bit and pass, because I will safely be back in the inside lane before you have closed the gap on me.

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