Porsche + Police = Points

August 16, 2007

Evening all. I hope you’ll excuse this slightly out of date, un-spellchecked blog (IE7 and WordPress… not best buddies), I meant to tell the story some time ago, but what with one thing (work) and another (sleep), I don’t seem to have had time.

In fact thinking about it, the headline probably tells the story without my needing to.  But just in case…

(I really hope you can see the picture of the sparkly blue little lady on flickr as you’re reading this.) 

 As you know, mailing lists and junk mail are the bain of a home owners (or especially renters) life. All manner of unrequested gubbins is regularly jammed in my letter box. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish actual mail from the free papers, Dear Home Owner letters and Kamran’s take away leaflets. Very occassionally does something, unsolicited, of value come through. You know the items I mean; the free pens from Save the Children, the free bin liners from the Hospice or sometimes the Betterwear catalogue which makes you oooo and ahhhh at the one-footed slipper and velcro romote control pocket.  My personal favourites though are the free washing powder samples or Garnier-waterproof-no-white-marks-SPF-40-for-kids-with-sensitive-skin-suncream sachet with enough lotion to stop one forearm of a three year old from burning.

Anywhooo, in and amongst all this one day did I receive a glossy colour printed, firm card, brochure-ette. (I still have it in the drawer it was so nice). There wasn’t actually much in there to read. Just some rather moody and fabulous pictures of a sexy sports car. I had actually already received two letters from Mr Porsche of Leeds. Both inviting me to test drive the extravantly priced, fat-tyred, dirty-fun-machine – the Porsche Boxter S. Both letters I had duly binned – as is my household policy of “one-touch mail” (pick it up from the mat and read it, file it or bin it). I was leaving the country and so not in the market for a new car. Yeah right. Prying £40k out of my bank would have been a bigger problem than my being in South America. Anyway, along with the glossy, colour printed, shiny little tease of a mailer, was another letter. Inviting me again for a test drive. But this time… a 24 hour, park-me-on-your-drive, swan-around-town-with-your-mates-in-me for a day, test drive.

This required serious consideration. I put the letter and brochure on the mantlepiece for a week. I took it into work and canvassed opinion. Clearly there were criteria to meet in order to be eligable for such a free treat. I rang the freephone number. A very well spoken young lady answered. I put on my phone voice and explained I would like to take her up on the offer of a 40k car for the day… please.

The questions were easy… less than 9 points – check, over 26 years old – check, driving license for 3 years – check. The list went on, until finally, “And what car do you currently drive?” I cleared my throat… “Umm, a Polo”. Just as I’d said it she said “We have you down here as having a TT.” She mentally computed the word Polo as I panicked silently on the end of the line, and thoughtfully said “Was the TT a previous car?” I hate to admit it, but I lied. I said yes. (Well I did test drive one, a couple of years back. Thought it was rubbish.)

And that was that. In the fortnight which followed I recruited friends to meet for lunch, made sure my dad would be in and considered pulling a sickie from work (but didn’t.) I also rang the garage about 3 times to cofirm that it was still on and I was okay to pick up the car. I think the sales man thought I was a little bit mental.

Cutting, what is turning into a rather long story, short; they did give me the car – as the pictures clearly show – and I drove her happily around. Once I’d got the clutch control figured out and the wierd starting with clutch depressed thing going (sorry about stranding us in the middle of the road when I stalled and had to ring the garage to restart the engine Nikki!).

I took various friends for spins in the beautiful growly creature and flexed her soft top under the grey Leeds skies.  I learnt that fast cars don’t need to race from the lights, because with a mere twitch of ones polished toes in red summer wedges the car would completely obliterate anything save an M3. It was soooo much fun and made me smile like a loon. It made my Dad and brother smile when I took it home too. 

It was a long evening and everyone had a go, but as it began to get late and dark and we ran out of enthusiasm for testing the different speeds and revs in different gears, we stopped for fish & chips. At which point I would like to confirm the true purpose of heated leather seats, is not – as you may have thought – to keep your bum toasty as you race around the country roads with the roof down, it is in fact, to keep your fish & chips warm whilst you drive home.

So with wide smile, full belly and sunglasses high on my head I drove home. And past home. And out for one last ‘goodnight’ blast in the car. And that’s when they got me. Zapped at 60 in a 40 on a piece of empty dual carriage way. Squad car, blue lights, ‘is this your car m’am?’, the works. I tottered round to the police car in my wedges and skirt, batted my eyelashes furiously, smiled coquetishly and even mentioned my charitable works with children in South America. Who knows if it worked. 3 points and £60. So not exactly a free test drive afterall.

I would however like to say that it was Worth Every Revving Last Minute, Point and Penny and I’d do the same thing again tomorrow. In fact I’ve already started looking up prices of second hand Porches for when I get back next time. Anyone want to buy a Polo?

Tick, tock…

August 12, 2007

3 weeks today and I’ll be on my way, probably have made it to Schipol by now and be waiting for my longer flight out to Ecuador. I should arrive there about 9 on the Monday morning, to a sunny big blue sky and a couple of snow capped volcanoes in the distance. I’m just HOPING the teensy bit of my brain that speaks Spanish will start to work again. I don’t think Quito and SuperMaxi and the South American Explorers club will have changed. I wonder if it’ll be the same conductors on the bus to Pintag? I’ll really have to learn to drive that old tank of a Land rover this time. I hope it all goes okay. Think I might actually be a bit more nervous going back than I was going out there the first time. Does that sound crazy? 

Wasted the whole day today faffing about shopping for “things”… warm socks for the cold evenings in the flat in Quito, a very expensive North Face windproof fleece, a couple of long sleeve tops and factor 30 cream – to stop the sun burning my white British skin when I get out there. At least this time I know what I’m supposed to pack instead of trying to guess what Equatorial weather at 3,000 meters will be like. Even bought myself a head torch for camping out in the Paramo next month. NEXT MONTH!! OMG, how has it come round so soon? I’ve been back for 8 months, and it seems like hardly any time at all – what have I been doing with myself?!

A few people have coaxingly asked me if there’s a leaving do planned, but there isn’t. I’m scared there’s a limit to how many leaving dos you can have before you’re not allowed to come back. And I do want to come back and as is frequently suggested I’m not planning to meet some Argentinean polo player. (Let’s not stand in the way of fate though…)

Listening to some Spanish Salsa radio station on www.live365.com to try and get me back into the mood for South America (it’s okay right now, about 10 minutes ago it was some far less-good “reggaton”, which I’d kind of washed from my memory but which they do play plenty of down in the bars of Mariscal in Quito). Wonder what else my rosy-tinted specs and selective memory have chosen to ‘forget’… deep fried guinea pig for sale on the street?

I am exceedingly glad however to report that of my friends I’m not the only one doing the travelling thing at the moment; other friends have travelled the world to adventurous locations this year and others have plans to take 3 and 4 months off next year. Even my family are tentatively planning to come out to South America this time.

Although I know it’s not always possible to up-sticks and bugger off somewhere else. And I’m equally proud to report that other friends have some very good reasons for sticking around; a wedding, babies, a christening, …lucky people. Missing those events will be one of the biggest downsides of being away. That, family and Christmas.

Hadn’t really set out to make such a long trip, I began working on a trip just to Argentina first, then Sally said she’d love to have me back in Ecuador too, so the two trips got joined together into one uber trip. Joined together figuratively – the flight from Ecuador to Argentina still isn’t bought yet.

Anyway that’s where we’re at now. Last week at work Netstep next week. Lovely, highly capable, organisation and bunch of people. I believe there’s a rounders match and picnic in the park (which has good, big, swings – suitable for adults) planned for my last day. So that’ll be a laugh and a bit sad I expect. This is their marvellous Dell laptop – which I’ll miss too.