Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Auch and about

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My car’s out for the count indefinitely – it’s a diesel fuel pump issue, and short of an expensive replacement can’t be fixed locally. So it’s going to be shipped off to another town 50km away for more specialised treatment. In the meantime I have a guest for the week – Gustav returns from Sweden – and that means a couple of awkwardly timed visits to Toulouse airport.

I looked to get a rental car in Auch – doing it online 2 hours in advance saves 50 euro or so, so I scramble for the computer when Jean suggests a groceries trip and lock one in for the week. Munson’s in full pre-summer moult right now so he won’t be riding anywhere in it, but at least Gustav won’t be tied to the farm for the week.

The car I booked, a little Renault Twingo, wasn’t available due to a late return, so I’ve been upgraded for free to a Renault Scenic, a newer model of the car I drove around Europe in with Bondi. I get a bit of a shock when I’m in the seat: it has a card-key and push-button ignition – all well and good – but the lack of a handbrake freaks me out. There’s an electronic parking-brake and that’s it. Extracting the car from a parallel-parked position on a busy street while learning the subtleties of the car’s brake and transmission is more awkward than I would like.

I looked through the car’s manual: this clearly shows a real hand-brake and has nothing about the electronic system.  Once home I went online to find out how the bloody thing was suppose to work. It’s a fiddly business and the user accounts I read online made me dread parking or being caught at a stop light on a slope.

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