Monday, 24 January 2011

Day Out - Blow Out


The day began so well; up early at 5.30am whilst still dark for the 3-hour drive to Ludlow to take the motorhome for servicing; my husband driving with me following behind - for we had been asked to leave the vehicle for a few days for some major 'under warranty' work. Rather than drive straight back in the car, we ventured into town - so historic, so many places we love to visit. For us, Ludlow is the gateway to escape, but on this occasion, we would visit the market, the bookshop, the tourist information centre and find somewhere for lunch, before heading home. It was cold and crisp, but just the sort of day-off that allows me to 'refill the well', buy a sketching pen, collect the latest literature on Marcher Country, and eat a leisurely meal together in our latest find - The Olive Tree (pictured above) whilst I write and sketch. A perfect Friday.

A call from the motorhome people, the warranty work means that the vehicle must go back to the manufacturers and so we need to collect it and take it home for the moment. (Had we known, we need not have taken the car!) Not their fault; and I elect to drive on ahead so that I can visit our computer specialist in Tewkesbury on the way home, and also shop for the weekend. Raymond will follow, and proceed onwards ahead of me. How beautiful is the afternoon light as I drive up and over the Bromyard Downs, woods and hilly fields all bathed in the golden light of afternoon, a blue haze in the distance. On through a part of Herefordshire with small cider orchards, somehow reminiscent of northern Normandy in France.

The M5 south from Worcester is busy, but not overly so; my laptop is fixed in less than 5 minutes, I buy treats for supper and provisions for the weekend. Off now towards the Cotswold hills and home, a route I have driven on many an occasion. I have no premonition of what lies ahead. Dusk gradually falls and I start to climb Fish Hill, winding up the steep escarpment. I have the radio on, a sublime Brahms piano concerto, I am thinking  ....  BANG - the car will not steer around the sharp corner, weaves about from one lane to another; lights behind me in a stream as I regain control, slow down with a clanking noise I cannot diagnose. I switch of the radio, the better to hear what is going on; try to think what I should do as the car still weaves about. The road is now level but narrow and dark with trees on either side; not a safe place to stop. Eventually, three miles further on and emerging from the trees, the road widens; I pull into the side (and what I think is a wheel departs into the hedge). Switch on the emergency flashers, leave on the sidelights; it is -3 degrees C and I am shaking as I step out of the car to discover that the rear offside wheel is still there, but no tyre. The tyre had blown - that must have been what the bang was and the metal sound must have been the wheel trim and wheel grating along the road.

I ring Raymond who luckily has reached home and actually answers the phone. Poor man, he has to set out again in the m'home to rescue me, retracing the miles - 15 at least. A police car draws up and then another, two officers cone off the road yet cannot release the spare wheel. At least they have torches. Our son calls me on my mobile to commission some writing from me ("not a good time to talk!" I tell him). Half an hour later and my beloved husband appears, berating me for doing what he says will be damage of £1.500.00 for driving on a flat tyre. I am more afeared of that than the fact I might have hit some other vehicle, or written off the car; maybe I have, maybe I have twisted the back-axle. There is a tap on my shoulder and an elderly man, more shaky than I am, offers us all hot coffee - he has walked up from his house down in the hollow, in the freezing cold, with a basket of mugs, thermos and biscuits. So kind. The wheel is changed and Raymond instructs me to drive at only 15mph or less. By now, every sound and creak and lurch makes me think our 2007 car will disintegrate! I do not sleep for worrying, and for causing my husband such displeasure. I wish I could convey in images just how my mind is still swirling the colours of dusk and dark trees, blue police lights and the cold, cold roadside and why I made the wrong decision to drive on and not stop instantly on the steep hill on a bend.

That was Friday. One day maybe I will be able to paint what is in my head. But the car is OK, the new tyre cost less than £60.00 and new wheel trim (from a breaker's yard) £10.00 for four - so we have spares for next time. I am now afraid to drive; do not know why the tyre blew. It's like continually re-running a cine-film, as I meditate on how the brain makes decisions, thoughts running through one's head on what one SHOULD do in a given situation, whilst mechanically trying to remember how to drive. In almost fifty years of motoring, nothing like this has ever happened to me, and it was oh, so scary. More scary still that in weighing up a situtation, I opted for the wrong move. And just that little niggle at the back of my mind: was I over-tired (been on the go for 12 hours?) Was I properly concentrating? Was the clang something lying in the road that I did not see? Why was the car - to Raymond - more important than my desire not to stop in a place that would inconvenience others? Well maybe in writing all this down and boring readers to death I have exorcised something; though I won't really know until I next take the wheel, or until I am next driving at speed down a motorway.

(Meanwhile, I apologise that I have not been blog-visiting; so many deadlines and then this - plus the tumbler drying giving up the ghost and the kitchen roof leaking.)

16 comments:

  1. Well sound like an adventure. how quickly a good day turns into... that

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  2. I would say this is well written, the proof being that I got very nervous [reading] after the "bang," then felt the cold and the reaction of stress waiting at the roadside, and dear me----the re-hashing, the scolding from a husband and that endless wondering what I should have known to do!
    There have been dreadful accidents caused by a driver stopping in an unsuitable place--that's a reality. Driving on a flat tire is also an easy way to damage the vehicle. The choices were not easy.
    I'm glad that the repairs were no worse, but surely sympathize with the whole affair. I think its inevitable that you'll have some quams about getting behind the wheel for a time or two, but I trust you will ease back into it.
    It is aggravating and tiresome that household calamities seem to come in bunches--you've only just gotten through the repair of the boiler!
    Surely spring will soon arrive and whatever else is going on, one won't be shivering through.

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  3. Oh, my, you've been having all kinds of bad times. I am so sorry. The good news is YOU WERE NOT INJURED and NEITHER WAS ANYONE ELSE! That is the important thing to hang onto. It was a scary set of circumstances but you came to a place that was safe to stop and even offered coffee; a tender mercy. If you consider that in 50 years of driving this is an isolated incident, you should have another 50 years trouble free. Don't worry! So glad you were protected from injury and able to keep control of the car.

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  4. What a horrible experience for you, Ann. You have my sympathy!

    Something nice, I am sure, will happen soon to take away the memory.

    Laurie

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  5. Oh how scary - I would have been shaking like a leaf too. No way should you have stopped on a bend on a hill for fear of causing an accident. I hope that the axle isn't twisted (though that would not have been MY first concern either!) Grand wee man for bringing out the coffee - I bet he was just dieing of curiosity and like us, probably gets few visitors!

    I hope that Raymond is speaking to you now . . .

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  6. As long as you are SAFE and no one else was hurt! And yes, faced with pulling over on a dark, narrow lane surrounded by trees, or carrying on for a mile or two until it widened - I'd have carried on as well.
    And possibly clipped my husband round the ear for being more concerned about the car. We have those kinds of rows too!

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  7. Thankyou all so much for your kind comments. I guess my dear Raymond was actually concerned for my safety and his displeasure at my 'handling' of the vehicle was just his understated way of showing it. I hope so anyway; at least he says the blow-out was not my fault.

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  8. Oh you poor thing..... I would probably have done more than shook I fear! To echo the other comments, so glad that you're ok and it was only material things that were hurt!

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  9. What a joy that something that had the potential to be even worse turned out with no injuries, no other vehicles involved and not a great outlay of cash to fix everything. That said, it must have been very frightening, especially after the long day you'd already had. How good it must have been to get home to warmth and safety.
    Erin

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  10. You poor dear, I have to say that I drive a lot,almost 3 hours everyday and have had a back tyre blow out and it is nerve racking, like you I was in a precarious place on a tiny narrow bush road full of curves and approaching vehicles would not have seen me until too late so I had to choose to drive on until a safe clearing..yes I did get into trouble from "the master" lol but at the same time he said it was not my fault and that I had done the safe thing...funny people men they react differently to us and always when the cost is smaller than expected they seem to be more forgiving lol.The thing is that do not be afraid, you will know what the pulling feeling is that happens when a blow out occurs,when it happened to me the second time I knew what it was, could gather my thoughts and still had to get to a safe lay by.

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  11. Oh, a blow-out is such scary stuff! I had one on a highway about 16 years ago and I still remember that confusion of what just happened and what was that noise and what is wrong with the car and what the heck do I do now. It scrambles your mind as your body does the adrenelin fear thing... well, I think you showed great sense in pulling over in a wider place where you and the car would not get hit by someone, and the elderly man coming out with coffee - what a dear thing to do. As for the husband, well, you get big points for speaking so kindly about him after his remarks - but then again, men do tend to react poorly when worried and carry on about money or something tangible to say. Mysterious creatures that they are. Take deep breaths and little treks and you will find your courage once again. Be well.

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  12. Thank goodness you are safe, Ann. A horrible experience though. I am sure I would have carried on and not stopped on that dangerous hill. Such a difficult, split-second decision to make.

    Hoping that you will soon be driving once again,

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  13. Oh, posh! You were right not to stop on a steep hill on a bend. How could you have known what the consequences of going a bit further would be? Well, that applies to much of life, doesn't it, and not only to flat tires. (Did the "oh, posh!" sound a bit British? I hope I didn't swear or anything.) I'm sure Raymond will look back and be so glad nothing more serious happened. Good luck with the dryer and the roof. It's always something isn't it? And I will bet the drive back was torturous. Waiting for another shoe to drop or something. What a kind gent to bring coffee and biscuits! I love him.

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  14. you are a very brave lady and did the right thing, you had a split second to decide and erred on the side of safety. good for you.

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  15. I understand Anne,I am still afraid on the motorway after a horrid accident when I was 6 months pregnant...I am so glad you are ok...you will see I am signed in by my second blog name, dont know how to sign on with a time to dance...but its your friend Helen from Leeds..I too have been busy (see the last but one post) but life is exciting at the moment...every blessing to you both...H

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  16. What a dreadful experience,so glad you are OK.

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