Tweets on 2009-08-29

  • Heh, the village stores in the Shropshire village of Knockin is called The Knockin Shop. #
  • Having a nice chat with a journalist about councillors on twitter. #
  • Looking forward to explaining on my blog about how to make coffee with a chip basket and meths :) #

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Tweets on 2009-08-26

  • Intrigued to find supermarket carrier bag stuffed into car fuse box. The problem? Or some mechanic's previous solution? #
  • Meh. More rain. #
  • Me and my injured hand are out leaflet.ng again, now in blazing sunshine. #
  • @Meryl_F blood blister. Could easily be worse. in reply to Meryl_F #
  • Loving Flickr's take on a classic war propaganda poster http://tr.im/x654 #
  • Downloading something from the Lib Dem extranet entitled "Headling Beafing" #
  • Grr. Skype no workie. #
  • @ollybenson Purdah – PS have you seen what happened to your tweet through the @erections account? #
  • RT @DrSamuel JohnsonCalumny as the combin'd Oiks of MILLWALL & WEST HAM meet for a Fight, and a Football-Match breaks out #
  • @dommather well if you have friends on Skype it costs nothing to join and talk to them so you might as well give it a whirl! #
  • @DrSamuelJohnson Enjoy Nottingham! in reply to DrSamuelJohnson #
  • @jonxyz I've seen the name before (via you?) but he was also on the hilarious @erections account which I've been talking about on Skype #
  • Anyone know if there's a "twitter degrees of separation ap" ? #
  • RT @markpack New post: Are Microsoft photoshopping out black faces in Poland? http://bit.ly/1sGzP #
  • @owenblacker Bunnies aren't just cute like everyone supposes #
  • The garage phoned. The plastic bag is puzzling but apparently serves a purpose; the fault can't be traced but It Works Now. #
  • Where can I get a bit more detail about the high speed rail proposals – without the full report? Route? London Terminus? Links to network? #
  • Intrigued to see that it's not just islands where they drive on the left. How do they manage at land borders? http://bit.ly/DB8X6 #
  • Yesterday, I foolishly told a parent that I thought the summer holidays had passed in the blink of an eye. That had not been her experience #
  • @owenblacker rats, you've got me singing it now too. "They got… The mustard… Out!!!" #

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Tweets on 2009-08-25

  • Buying a jump starter gizmo and starting to think seriously about replacing the car. #
  • So, sky, have you really stopped raining or are you just pretending to have stopped? #
  • has been bitten by a gate whilst leaflethog #
  • Yes, leafletHOG. Grrr. Now here comes the rain. #
  • Oof. Feeling tired. One more bundle to do and a punishing schedule to maintain to get Jul/Aug FOCUS out in Jul/Aug. #
  • Someone's left shards of broken mug in a parking space – that would not be good for a tyre! I'll put'em in bin. #
  • Cornershop roulette… I sure fancy a can of Coke right now but will it lead to me getting caught short before I run out of leaflets? #
  • Just leafleted a house where a man was doing singing exercises. #
  • @tonytheaker doesn't everyone? Housework is such hot work! #
  • Goodness, Mad Men gets serious at the end of Season 1. Happy thanksgiving, Don, Peggy. :( #
  • Oh, @kayray, what a sorry tale of gardening! http://bit.ly/1Yw9wW #
  • Tow truck man flummoxed! Car still not starty. Steering locked. He recommends Mercedes. Don't think my budget goes that far. #

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Why I keep driving the lemon

My Renault broke down again on Friday, two days after returning triumphant and repaired from the main dealer.  By some unfortunate happenstance, my warranty hadn’t been renewed last year, and I paid what I now find to be more than the value of the car to have a faulty dashboard part replaced.

The battery is totally dead again.  Last time that happened, I took ages to get it fixed.  This time – who knows?

Maybe I should mention it keeps giving me electric shocks every time I get out – I thought it was just me, since supermarket trolleys and filing cabinets also give me electric shocks.  But since there have been repeated wiring failures on lights, ignition, dashboard, etc etc, maybe there’s another place where the battery is shorting out against the car frame?

Knowing that the repair costs are starting to rack up to more than the value, it’s probably time to look again at buying a car – last time I did that, it was a horrible, confusing time, not to mention expensive, so I am far from looking forward to it.

But given that it breaks down so often, why do I keep driving the Mégane? And why am I still thinking about another Renault?

It’s the cockpit experience.  Although the Mégane was my ahem, 4th ((Rover – shook itself to pieces; Ford Fiesta – crashed; Skoda Favorit estate – mystery radiator problem)) car in a very short driving career, it was the first nice, reasonably new car.

The pedals feel great.  They’re smooth and responsive (except when the hydraulics failed those two times).  The steering wheel is reassuring.  The stick radio controls are really handy, and the CD player works.  The radio gets louder when you accelerate, and quietens down for the slow bits – and best of all, you can almost always hear it over the engine.  The seat adjusts in five dimensions, including time and space. There’s room in the back seat *and* the boot. Although not quite enough after the Skoda estate car.  The handbrake clicks reassuringly, it doesn’t rasp gratingly. I know nothing about what goes on under the bonnet but all the bits I relate to directly feel nice.

I’ve been driving P’s car over the weekend, and it’s, erm, not quite so refined.

If I replace the car, I should go for a smaller one.  Most of my journeys are small hops across town with only me in the car.  (Of course, with a green hat on, I shouldn’t be making those journeys by car.  But I still can’t cycle. And even if I could, a bike would not be ideal for hoiking piles of leaflets across town, a job I do surprisingly frequently.

I initially went for a Mégane over a Clio because I looked in the boot and thought “I can’t go camping in that.” But having seen how some people manage to fit the most amazing amount of kit in the smallest of cars, maybe that’s no longer the best way of thinking?

So is there a small, not eye-wateringly expensive car that has the nice cockpit experience?

Failing to grow my own food

This will be another year in which I’ve failed to grow my own food.

Like many previous years, I’ve not really gotten around to sowing seeds in February and March when I should have done – indeed, I was down for raising seedlings for the Lib Dem stall at the Green Fest this year, and ended up providing something with a much shorter lead-in time.

Anyway, at the Green Fest, I snapped up the stall’s leftover sunflower seedlings, nurtured them in the conservatory for a wee while, then planted them to the huge flowerbed P dug last year that hopefully soon we will be transforming into a cottage country garden border (ps, any tips?).

They got eaten by slugs within days. Completely destroyed. Every vestige of leaf munched by gastropods.

When I went to the garden centre to buy canes for the sunflowers, I also picked up some healthy looking tomato plants, and I put them in the earth in front of the sunflowers.

They looked more promising for a while – they grew big and strong, and had loads of flowers, and when we got back from Durham, there were small runs of healthy, fat-looking green fruit. And then they turned brown. The stems withered and went slimey and the brown consumed the fruit as well. I think I got blight.

Whilst I was on my planting spree, I put a row of sweetcorn seeds in the ground too. It was far too late to sow corn in May, but I figured what the heck? Of about 5 seeds, two came up, and have put on healthy leaves. They too are being munched, but have so far survived. I don’t have high hopes, however, just because they went in so late. They’ve no signs of flowers or cobs, and they need to get on with it at this time of year.

Over the years, I’ve had many attempts. The potatoes I planted and never earthed up that didn’t grow very much.  Other people’s surplus tomato seedlings – including the ones I put so many slug pellets on I didn’t quite dare eat the ensuing tomatoes;  the year I planted beans, but didn’t pinch out the tops, and only really got a plateful; and the other years I planted beans, and nothing came up.

Oh well. There’s always next February / March. What with a general election expected in 2010, I can’t think I’ll be busy around then?