Thirteen years is quite a time for a relationship. We met just before a trip to the Yorkshire Dales and parted company under the same circumstances.
Our venerable Volvo V70, midnight blue and wounded by scratches from being parked in our old street, and a decorative swirl in the paintwork thanks to a spot of poor reversing when we first moved to this house, is no more. It still exists but we have parted company. This morning the elderly Swede will be led to auction by the garage who kindly took her off my hands for a sum so inconsiderable that I cannot bring myself to mention how much money was exchanged.
That car did so much ferrying and carting around in its years as the Cole-wagon: offspring were conveyed to and from university many times; a broken-down motor scooter left a smell of petrol; our middle boy’s band left a smiling memory when they all hitched a lift home from rehearsal, instruments and all (minus the drum-kit); cabbage-smelling vegetation often filled the back on the way to the tip; and recently a friend’s piece of hardboard, too big for his Golf, fitted in the back and is now housing his mid-life train set.
Yes, that old car covered many miles and carried many things, but Pete the mechanic said it was on the way out – “I don’t want to see you driving this in six months,” he said. For a moment I imagined plying a trick and turning up in a year for the MoT and service as usual. But Pete knows his cars and after years of keeping the old Volvo rolling, he said we needed something newer.
So now we have a car that measures its age in months (15) rather than years; a smaller and much smarter-looking motor bought under one of those complicated deals people come to nowadays. Not a Golf as I first wanted, but not a huge remove from a Golf.
And the first journey in the new car, driving along dark and twisty roads, was to the Bunk Barn at Halton Gill in Littondale, where we have been regular visitors for years as part of a big group of friends.
The new car is lovely to drive, doesn’t sway and rattle and the brakes – heavens, the brakes. That car stops when you put your foot on the pedal, whereas the Volvo lumbered to a halt like a hippo on an icy pavement.
Sometimes a car just has to go, and that is what has happened here. That new car, lovely though it is, and so easy to drive, will never carry the loads demanded of its predecessor; and we won’t keep it for 13 years. But it should hopefully take us to the Dales a few more times.
We ended the weekend up going up Pen-y-ghent in glorious sunshine. The views stretched to the horizon, and then a bit more. This has not often been the case down the years: snow and ice, rain, fog, more rain – all have been thrown at us at the top of that hill of wind. So sunshine was a treat.