Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It all started on vendredi la treizième

It all started on Friday the 13th as I was heading off to Auch to file papers to exchange my Australian driver’s licence for a French one.  I backed out of the garage, turned towards the driveway and the car stopped. And wouldn’t start. There was also a small black kitten – Griff – running around the car.

I checked a few suggestions on the internet, one of which was to turn the engine over for a minute or two.  When I tried that, it drained the battery somewhere between the “minute” and the “or two”.

The problem – I’m told – was most likely with the fuel filter or the injection hoses, but to access those one needs to remove a cover screwed down with both a regular bolt and some torx. I don’t have any torx wrenches so I went back inside, took off my nice visit-the-prefecture clothes and took a deep breath. No major progress was going to be made today.

Later that day I accompanied Jean on a shopping trip to Eauze and bought a set of wrenches. Back at the farm, Brent removed the engine cover and found lots of corn kernels,  pellets of rat poo and other bits and pieces that said rat had dragged back into the engine to feast on. There was also signs of the rat having chewed on the hood lining and who knows what else.

The battery was recharged overnight, and after cleaning out corn and poo, I reaffixed it to the engine. The car started instantly this time. It now being Saturday there was nowhere to go. We had three brief rain showers – the first in many weeks – but that was it for the weekend’s excitement. Over the weekend I tested the engine start a few more times and let it idle a few minutes to convince myself it was still OK.

Today, Monday morning, I’m back in my nice clothes (ie I have shoes on and a shirt with buttons) and I drive off for Auch a little after 9am. About 10km away from home, the engine starts to cut out and I drift into a relatively safe spot on the side of the road.

A passing car picked me up and took me to the closest garage – we weren’t optimistic as nothing much is open on a Monday around here. That garage, which claimed to service Opel cars on its website showed no interest in helping. I asked my kind rescuers to drop me in the centre of town to make further enquiries. I went to the local gendarmerie and asked for their assistance. They found the details of a (the?) local towing service – also tied to a garage closed on Mondays – and very nicely drove me to that garage.

The car was picked up and taken back to the garage, but I will have to wait until middle of tomorrow when they’re open again and had a chance to look at it.

90 minutes after I set out, I was back at the farm. Nice clothes and folder of paperwork on hold once more.

So I’ve taken the chance to finish all the blog-posts that I was too hayfeverish to complete over recent weeks. They’ve all been poste below. My symptoms are much improved, but I still can’t spend too much time outside without my eyes stinging. At least when I’m indoors  my darling air purifier keeps me in a less aggravated state than I’ve been in for the past six weeks.

I made this heart for you Bunny-eye view of malamute at top of hole


  1. Sorry about the car. What a royal pain.

    I'm having an allergy attack this afternoon... evening. I think we are getting southern air. Eyes are crying and nose is stopped up. Sneezing is violent.

  2. Mike, is your house air-conditioned? I assume the air purifier requires that all windows and doors be closed. Doesn't it get too hot in the house?

  3. No air-conditioning. I generally leave my kitchen door open which is it at one end of the house, and has a bead curtain to cut down the flies.

    Overall the house stays pretty cool inside even with the crazy hot weather. I run the purifier on a 2hour time-limit normally and feel the effects within 15-20 minutes.

    I've had a bit of a sneezing relapse the last few days - some new tree mischief I guess. I'm a very violent sneezer - and when I get a bad jag it leaves me totally depleted energy wise. It's not nearly as bad it was 2-3 weeks ago, and the purifier/ioniser really makes a huge difference.

    Now as for the car... the pain gets worse. Turns out it's the diesel injection pump which is over €2000 new. I can get a salvaged part from the UK for £100-200 but local mechanics don't seem to be willing to install such. There might be a place 45 minutes from here that will do it - which will also mean paying for the car to be trucked there. Joy unbounded.

  4. The wind shifted here in Saint-Aignan overnight. Now we have a light wind from the northwest and I feel a lot better. It's that south wind that does me in.