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Buckie: 21 February

Bu160222-1-2It’s not hard to find the used car district of Inverness, even without a map: you can tell you’re close by the clusters of garlic hanging in the windows and the way the locals cross themselves at the sight of strangers. Indeed, we stopped in at a Starbucks on the way, and when she learned why we’d come the anxious barista hung a rosary around my neck, saying, “For your mother’s sake.”


The used car salesman awaits

The curious thing was that I’d expected to have to resist the smooth blandishments of the sales staff and was bracing myself for a fight, like someone refusing to be taken in by the illusions of a street magician. But not a bit of it: they seemed completely unprepared (“You mean you want to buy a car?” they said doubtfully, as if they’d been secretly hoping we wanted an aardvark, or a holistic massage.)

None of the cars in the lot had any petrol, so each of our test drives were first to the nearby garage. At one point while we waited we could see mechanics frantically trying to jump-start one car whose battery was dead: I even thought I saw one blowing hopefully into the radiator, as if administering the kiss of life.


The salesman discovers I have a credit card

Another car had such a tiny engine that it was like driving a four-wheeled sewing machine. Part of the test route involved going up a long incline south of Inverness; this car gradually got slower and slower as it struggled up the slope, until elderly dog walkers we’d passed shortly before were waving cheerily as they overtook us and we were in danger of rolling back downhill. (Since between us and Inverness lie the notorious Berriedale Braes, a series of switchbacks that seem as if the road layout was designed by whoever invented the coat hanger, on an incline that begs for a funicular railway, we politely declined.)


Soon be spring

In the end we settled on a three year-old Kia Cee’d, a nice little car that ticked all the right boxes. Before deciding we looked up online reviews: the consensus was that it was reliable and good value for money, but boring. (That’s us! we thought: it’s a perfect match!)

Bu160221-1Meanwhile, I’m enjoying knitting back-and-forth up the back of the gansey. If my calculations are correct (there’s a first time for everything) I have one more diamond to complete; and then it’s just the shoulder straps to do, after which it’s on to the front. I’m almost at the end of my first cone of 500g Frangipani yarn, too, so am just about halfway—always a good sign.

By the way, when I was researching this I got curious about why vampires are afraid of garlic. Turns out it’s such an old belief, dating back to Roman times, and so widespread (even to China), that no one really knows the origins of the myth. Insect repellent? Air freshener for unburied corpses? Your guess is as good as mine. And is it just raw garlic that affects them—what about in tomato sauce or good chilli? Can they be driven away by, say, garlic bread? All I can say is that I had garlic the night before and I wasn’t bitten by a used-car salesman. Draw your own conclusions…

18 comments to Buckie: 21 February

  • =Tamar

    That tiny one spurs memories. Back around 1968 or so, my mother bought a second-hand VW beetle; I think it was a 1957. It was one of the last before they added frills like a gas gauge. If you needed to know how much gas you had, you lowered a yardstick into the fuel tank and measured how many inches there were. We learned to pay close attention to how many miles we’d driven. Sharing fuel was easy – tie a string around an empty bottle and lower it in, then pull it out with some fuel in it. It, too, tended to slow down on a long uphill stretch.
    Reliable Kia, eh? Good to know.

    • Gordon

      Hi Tamar, I suppose it makes sense to keep the cars on the forecourt dry of petrol, as that way any thieves would have to turn up with a lorry to steal them. All the same, you’d think they’d have the odd jerry can of fuel knocking around, wouldn’t you? To test the Kia someone had to drive to the garage in another car with a can to get enough petrol to enable the Kia to drive to the garage…

      The Kia is so far looking like value for money—the 7 year manufacturer’s warranty helps, of course!

  • lorraine

    Gordon- I love the salesman as Vampire. I don’t know why buying a car is such a drama, but it always is.

    And then you’re never sure whether you actually got the lowest price, which is disturbing. Enjoy your new-to-you wheels.

    • Gordon

      Hi Lorraine, it’s a bit unfair, as they were actually very pleasant (as people tend to be when they’re trying to get you to buy things, I find). But it does sum up how i feel about the whole thing. It’s a bit like going to a diamond fair and being expected to bid in an auction—you never know if you’re buying diamonds or paste…

  • Laura Kilner

    Best wishes with your new motor. I looked it up on line to see.
    When I was very young, 17, many moons ago, I left home and made my way into the world. I could type so an office job was my calling. I worked for a very large company who shall remain nameless. Your depiction is not too far off in my opinion. Love it! But let’s not go there shall we.
    Buckie is looking grand and it makes me long to knit. I have been lost in very intense counted cross stitching. 25 ct even weave. 1/1. 625 stitches per square inch.
    We are thatching our lawn here today, North Coast, British Columbia, Canada. Sea Port, Prince Rupert to be exact. I hope that spring moves along for you, as Buckie has.
    Cheers Margaret and Gordon x


    • Gordon

      Hi Laura, cross stitching is a mystery to me, though it does conjure up an image of a sewer in a bad mood… I’m off work with a bad cold today, and as I look out the window i can see sleet and snow coming down out of a grey sky at a 45º angle—spring has been put on hold for now, I fear!

  • Jane Dale

    Glad to hear you had an entertaining and successful car buying trip, it’s no fun being carless! Am liking the deep rib on your Gansey it looks like it’s behaving itself nicely, unlike the garter stitch welt on my husband’s ” Gansey in progress” which flips upwards at every opportunity. Have managed to knit about 10 inches of body now and am looking forward to the start of the yoke pattern in 4 inches time.
    Hope you are bracing yourself for the forecasted -10 temperature tomorrow evening!

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, yes, garter stitch does have a tendency to curl up like a salted snail unless pinned to the thighs with drawing pins, I find. (Of course, that’s not a solution for everybody.) 10 inches is real progress! And the switch to the yoke is always a major milestone.

      Wick has its own microclimate, being in a bay next to the ocean, so we’re hoping for less severe temperatures that some parts of the Highlands—even so, it might be time for a second hot water bottle (one for each foot…)!

      • Judit M/ Finland

        Hello Gordon,
        Once upon a time as I was in Scotland our cat, named Frosty got a hot water bottle every evening to his igloo in the garden. And we had electric blankets in our beds .
        The new gansey looks fine, happy knitting!

        • Gordon

          Hello Judit, you just have to be careful you never get confused and find yourself putting out cat food for the hot water-bottle, or trying to pour water into your cat!

          (Igloo?! You’ll be telling me they had their own husky sled team next!)

  • Lois

    Good for you, and you didn’t even need a Great Dane along!

    The gansey is coming along very nicely, I’m looking forward to seeing how the pattern looks when blocked.

    • Gordon

      H Lois, just as well we didn’t take a Great Dane, if we’d tried to fit one in the back seat of the tiny “sewing machine jalopy” its damp nose would’ve been smearing the windscreen and as for what I might have grabbed by mistake when I went to change gear it’s best not to speculate…

  • Jane

    Oh well done. I occasionally wonder, usually when taking the little car for service, what kind of mind set it takes to be a car salesman! It isn’t easy for either side, loved the vampire! Happy motoring and many miles of carefree travel!

    Lovely, lovely work, beautiful tension control.

    Speaking of garlic, the young fruit and veg lads on the weekly market sold me a string of smoked garlic just before Christmas. It is good stuff, but it don’t half pong, currently residing in the garage! Take care.

    • Gordon

      Hi Jane, well, the salesman’s car was used to give us a lift into town for lunch, and as it was a top of the line Mercedes I could dimly begin to grasp the attraction as a career!

      Look on the bright side—your car should be safe from vampires for the time being…

  • Freyalyn

    If you wave garlic at a vampire, it will just laugh at you and rip your throat out anyway.

    It’s garlic FLOWERS that repel them. A little known fact that could save your life. Next time you’re in Transylvania…

    • Gordon

      Hi Freyalyn—what, you mean all those tubes of Tescos Finest crushed garlic I smeared around the windows and doors were a waste of money after all…?!

  • Colin

    Hello Gordon,
    have you noticed that you generate many more comments by talking about cars than woolies ? I should dump the woolies and join the righteous.

    There might be a good income to be had from visiting car dealerships and commenting upon them and rating them for cash rewards – like these girls with their fashion and cosmetics tips who are now millionaires.

    • Gordon

      Hi Colin, my knowledge of cars is sadly about on a par with my knowledge of fashion and cosmetics! I thought writing about gansey knitting would lead to fame and fortune, but alas both have so far eluded me.

      Now, what colour would you like your nails…?

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