Farewell then, my trusty steed.
After 7 years & 364 days and 149,869 miles, last Friday I parted company with our VW Golf Estate. It’s getting increasingly expensive to maintain, the MOT and tax are due, the bodywork needs lots of attention, the rear windscreen wiper has stopped working and the front suspension seems to be making some odd noises.
We’ve traded it in, replacing it with a 3-year-old Ford Focus C-Max, 1 lady owner, full service history, really good condition etc. It was with a weird mixture of relief and regret that I drove away from the Dealership in my ever-so-shiny, smelling-like-brand-new car, with its higher driving position, much quieter petrol engine, firmer seats and 109,000 fewer miles of history.
The Golf and I shared some really important moments and experiences…
- 2nd June 2003: starting work at The Real Adventure. I bought The Golf as in my previous job I had a company car provided. It was a strange old time, as I’d been on gardening leave for a few months, we’d been trying to sell our house in Oxfordshire without much luck in order to move back to Gloucestershire. Rachel was coming through Post-Natal Depression after the birth of Hannah almost a year earlier. And now I was switching from the corporate client-side environment to a marketing agency. For the first five months I commuted from Woodstock to Bath, a 3½ hours and 140 miles round-trip, almost every day.
- Summer 2005: possibly the best Ashes series ever (until last winter!). I recall vividly driving down the A46 towards Bath, being passed by another car just as England took an Australian wicket. Both I and the other driver punched the air, whooping and clapping. We noticed each other and grinned.
A couple of weeks earlier on 7th August 2005, we’d been driving to visit Rachel’s parents in South Wales. The M4 was clogged with traffic, cars full of football fans travelling to see The Community Shield match in Cardiff. The 2nd test at Edgbaston was heading for a tense finale. I was texting my Boss who was overseas at the time with no access to a radio or TV coverage. Every 10 minutes I’d update him “Australia need 37, 1 wicket left”, and he’d reply a few minutes later “this is killing me”. The radio commentary was brilliant, but almost unbearable. Finally it was over, and it seemed like the occupants of every (stationary) car on the M4 simultaneously erupted in joy.
- 16th November 2005: the day Eleanor was born. Rachel was 9 days overdue, and fed up. I went to work with her resigned to another day of waiting. 2 hours later I had a call: “don’t come home yet, I don’t want to jinx this, but…”
15 minutes later: “I’ve called the midwife. Come home now!”
It’s a 40-minute drive home, and within 15 minutes I had another call: ” Don’t come home. The midwife has called the ambulance, we’ll see you at Stroud Hospital…”
Another 10 minutes: “Hello Chris, this is [the midwife]. Don’t go to the hospital. We’re not getting in the ambulance. Everything is OK, but come home!”
I arrived home at 11.55am, Eleanor was born in the playroom(!) at 12.35pm.
- 2nd June 2008: I was very lucky to have a 6-week (paid!) sabbatical in 2008, during which we embarked on a Grand Tour around France for a month. Taking in Reims, Beaune, the Massif Central, The Pyrenées, The Périgord and Loire, we drove 2,400 miles in 4 weeks and The Golf was fantastic. Laden with the four of us and luggage, plus often copious amounts of beer and wine (yes girls, it is OK to sit on that), we saw some amazing places, none more breathtaking than this swooping bend on the A75 autoroute, approaching the Millau Viaduct…
- (From) August 2009: our first camping trips – for which we were grateful for the Estate Boot Space… our first trial run was with some friends’ tent and gear, but we’ve had great times and now have started to acquire our own camping kit, although I have a feeling that you can always have just one more thing. We’re aiming for 3-4 trips this year.
- Seemingly every few months: clearing out the garage / loft / garden… down go the back seats, in goes a sheet of plastic to try to protect the boot space, and I would fill the car with bags of soil, boxes of rubbish or recycling, a Christmas Tree, rubble, or even occasionally the rabbits’ hutch.
- I’ve also managed to get stuck on a motorway twice during these 8 years, which made for interesting afternoons getting to know strangers, pondering to myself about the fragility of existence, and then driving past the supposed incident where people had actually died and thinking “is that it?!”
I’ve spent more time in The Golf than I care to calculate, spent more money on it than I dare to think about, eaten countless sandwiches, chocolate bars and pork pies (!), tossed hundreds of apple cores out of the window, roared with laughter at podcasts, and sung along to karaoke classics galore.
My car is dead, long live my car. Here’s to many more happy adventures…