Clare’s Dad arrived at Clermont-Ferrand airport on Thursday. We knew that we wouldn’t be likely to fit four adults plus baggage in the Twingo, so Clare and her mum stayed behind whilst I drove down to pick Mac up. Because of the movements needed, I am currently finding driving 70 kilometres easier than walking 70 metres, although the leg is now slowly improving.
I thought it would be nice to hold up a board so Mac could recognise me when he emerged in the throng through customs. This is what I decided to use – an image from a family wedding last year, suitably modified to suit the purpose.
It worked. He recognised me straight away, among the meléé of meeters and greeters. Looking around and estimating as best I could, there must have been at least three of us! There had been thunderstorms in the area as I was driving down, although I saw nothing of them. It seems there was a short, sharp one at home, which I missed. Looking around, I could see a lot of very heavy rain in the environs of C-F, but only experienced a very few drops and one distant clap of thunder whilst at the airport.
Unlike me, Mac is not a man who takes kindly to doing nothing, and he only agreed to visit on the condition that we would find him something to do. Not a problem, there are always jobs to be done – jobs that we hate but that he enjoys. We shall suggest suitable things for him as much as he wants to do, provided he doesn’t push himself too hard.
One of the first things, as he is an engineer by training, was to look at the starting issue on the camper. He spent an entire day on it. I popped out every so often to ask if I could help; he mostly said not, which I thought was a good answer. He established that the starter motor and its solenoid (a lot of this is just words to me) were OK, so there must have been an issue either in the ignition key barrel or in the wiring. He identified the wire going into the loom, but couldn’t see it coming out again. That meant a trip to see Jan, who still had the workshop manual for the camper. As an aside, if I talk about the camper, the bus or the van, I mean the same thing. Sometimes the name includes a reference to reproductive methods, but only when I am really cross with it.
We returned from Jan’s house with the manual, after a detailed conversation between him and Mac about the problem and possible solutions. When I accidentally eavesdrop on a conversation between two French people, I find that I can pick up the odd word, often enough to have a rough feel for the gist of the conversation, but most of it is lost on me. Mac and Jan were speaking in English, but the effect was much the same. However, an hour later, we were reassembling the steering column shroud and a few minutes after that, Mac and I went on a test drive to Pionsat and back. Result – and a million thanks to Malcolm McInnes, engineer extraordinary. Now if we can only wire in the radio, reversing camera, reversing camera video display, fans and 12v power outlets …
One thing we did whilst Mac was working his magic was to get rid of some of the insects in the cab. At one time there were five horse flies as well as the usual suspects – and look what we found, fortunately dead, against the windscreen:
The fuse is there for scale. I estimate that, straightened out, the hornet would have been 5cm long, with a 10cm wingspan. Estimated because, even in death, I was not about to touch the scary wee beestie with my unprotected flesh!
The Astra is still with Jan. We need now to have a piece of brake pipe modified to fit the new master cylinder. More about than, I hope, next week. With two house guests, we really need the larger car.
Clare and her mum are pushing on with beads and stuff, making all sorts of wonderful things, and I am trying to move forward with my pet projects. I have acquired the makings of an armature which will act as skeleton for a humanoid clay/plasticene/febo/playdough/haven’t_decided_yet figure. I probably need a couple more like that. We’ll see.
We (I and my collaborator/friend Hannice Knight, who has delusions of literary ability) are putting together a back story for a character or three in preparation for storyboarding a short animation. Best advice? Don’t hold you breath.
Meanwhile, I have had another go or two at Wiggle Stereoscopy (I love that name). I promised I would get better, so here is the latest attempt:
If this teaches you anything, it must be this – never, ever trust my promises!