Oct 282011

The battery in my car was the one that came with it when I bought it nearly six years ag,o and with a hard winter being forecast I thought I’d replace/upgrade it with a new Bosch Battery which I ordered on-line one evening for fitting the following day.

It turned out to be the most entertaining £4-99 fitting charge I’ve ever paid.

The store involved sHALl remain nameless FOR now Due to legal reaSons.  

  1. Assistant 1: When the customer hands you a copy of the on-line order form. Ask the customer to wait by the till while you take the form to the Parts Desk
  2. Assistant 1: Return to the till and tell the customer to report to the Parts Desk but don’t tell him where it is
  3. Assistant 2: Pick up the socket and wrench specified by the computer system along with the new battery and escort the customer to his vehicle (passing the till he was waiting by in the first instance)
  4. Assistant 2: Ask the customer to open the bonnet
  5. Assistant 2: Try to remove the battery clamp to discover you have the wrong size socket
  6. Assistant 2: Leave the customer and return to the parts desk to change the socket
  7. Assistant 2: When the customer also advises you to bring a flat headed screwdriver to access the other end off the bracket, bring a Phillips
  8. Repeat step 5
  9. Repeat step 6
  10. Repeat step 5
  11. Repeat step 6
  12. Assistant 2: Begin disconnecting the cables from the cable clamp instead of removing the clamp from the battery post until a grown up arrives to help and stops you
  13. Assistant 3: Use original socket from Step 2 to remove cable clamps from battery
  14. Assistant 3: Remove nut holding down rear end of battery clamp
  15. Assistant 3: Allow the retaining rod to fall through and onto the floor beneath the car
  16. Assistant 3: Prise poppers of cover to access other end of battery clamp (breaking one in the process because you have the wrong type of screwdriver)
  17. Assistant 3: Slacken front end of battery clamp until it almost moves out of the way
  18. Assistant 2: Attempt to remove old battery
  19. Repeat step 17
  20. Repeat step 18
  21. Assistant 3: Remove battery clamp
  22. Assistant 2: Remove old battery from tray along with padded cover
  23. Assistant 2: Put new battery on tray
  24. Assistant 2: Take new battery off tray
  25. Assistant 3: Remove cover from old battery and place on tray
  26. Assistant 2: Flatten cover with new battery
  27. Assistant 2&3: Remove new battery and place cover on new battery
  28. Assistant 2: Place new battery and cover on tray
  29. Assistant 3: Replace battery clamp and secure front end
  30. Assistant 3: Place retaining rod under rear end of battery clamp
  31. Repeat step 15
  32. Repeat step 30
  33. Repeat step 15
  34. Assistant 3: Send Assistant 2 to parts desk for torch
  35. Assistant 3: Repeat step 30
  36. Assistant 3: Secure rear end of battery clamp
  37. Assistant 2: Ask customer how the (broken) poppers work and replace cover
  38. Assistant 2: Connect cable clamps to battery posts. (Note: Do not apply any protective grease at this point regardless of what is recommended on the stores own website)
  39. Assistant 2&3: Allow customer to test start car before closing bonnet
  40. Assistant 2&3: Escort customer back to till to pay for battery and retire to parts desk
  41. Assistant 1: Fail to log into computerised till and fetch Assistant 2 back from parts desk to log in instead
  42. Conclude transaction (finally 😉 ).
May 032011

Back in harness today. It doesn’t take long for the daily routine to reclaim your soul and file away the events of the holiday in the memories file, but before I close the file drawer I’ll share some of my thoughts and observations on my week in Northumbria.

When we describe something we generally do so by comparing it to something else we already know well. So where The Lake District is very green, hilly and sparsely populated and the locals speak with a funny accent (mainly Polish). Northumbria is very green, hilly and sparsely populated and the locals speak with a funny accent (mainly Polish). The differences are that Northumbrian roads are straighter. Northumbria has more castles and fewer lakes. The Lake District fills up with tourists, Northumbria doesn’t.

On the roads, it’s very easy to tell the locals from the tourists. The tourists are the one’s belting along the straight country roads at sixty miles an hour. The locals are the ones overtaking them. Northumbria has a spectacular array of wildlife and you get to see most of it in more detail than you would like, splattered in the middle of the road.

Bamburgh Castle

Bamburgh Castle

The number of Castles left in Northumbria is impressive. Whilst many are ruins, some are still maintained and lived in today. Having spent a week in an area with so many of them, I’ve been able to discern that a castle has a sound that resonates across the landscape. It goes something like “cha-ching!” If you have a love of the medieval and deep pockets then Northumbria’s the place to visit. Special mention must go to Bamburgh Castle which is fascinating while not being overpriced thanks to having avoided the clutches of the National Trust or English Heritage.

It’s fair to say that on the whole Northumbria is predominantly unspoilt countryside, ideal for walking and other out-doorsie type pursuits. This also means a lack of big tourist attractions, so those that exist become swamped when the sun shines. Two most noticeable places where this phenomenon is seen are Holy Island (Lindisfarne) which is famous for its Priory and its Castle (cha-ching!) and the Farne Islands, famous for its wildlife, especially Puffins and Seals.

Holy Island Causeway

Holy Island Causeway

Holy Island is accessed by a causeway which can be crossed inside a seven hour window when the tide is out. Wherever you go in Northumbria there are dire warnings of the dangers of crossing outside the published times and huts on stilts are provided as refuges for anyone foolish enough to try. When you arrive at the large tourist car-park on the outskirts of the village you are met by the shuttle bus which, for a small fee, will drop you at various sites providing opportunities for you to further exercise your wallet. Having driven across the causeway I can’t help thinking that it would take relatively little effort to raise the road a little and remove the obstacle to transport. However doing so would make Lindisfarne just another Northumbrian village with a castle and spoil a very efficient tourist cash machine.


Farne Island Puffins

Seahouses consists of a small harbour surrounded by Car Parks, Pubs, Gift shops and Fish and Chip restaurants which are in turn surrounded by Caravan sites. This is the gateway to the Farne Islands where a steady flow of tourists park their cars. Buy a ticket for a small boat to take them on a trip around the islands. On their return they will buy some seaside tat with a Puffin or a Seal on it and have a chippie tea before heading home. The order this happens may vary according the sailing times but otherwise it’s pretty much a production line. That said, having “done” the Farne Islands the wildlife and landscape is spectacular regardless of the process by which you get there and I’d recommend it to anyone.

Northumbria is nice, very nice. If more people were to go to Northumbria, the Lake District would be even better… please do go and see for yourself.