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Trips to Wales

Wedding Bells

I received an invite to a friends wedding in South Wales, I thought 'I can make it', so I made preparations! The wedding was actually in a small village near Swansea, directions were given from Swansea but I had to get my own directions to Swansea from Leeds. I went to the Michelan web site - very good for directions anywhere in Europe - and got two route plans, one using the 'shortest route' there and the other using motorways for the journey back. The shortest route didn't actually use any motorways except for the Manchester ring road - quite an exciting place to drive around if you like big lorries, too many lanes to know what to do with, and loonies in fast cars! I managed to get through it unscathed.

Having had only a couple of stops I arrived in Swansea after about seven hours, then got completely lost! My friends' directions were somewhat lacking and the road signs in Wales rely on you a) being able to understand how the pronunciation is spelt, b) having clairvoyancy as some of the signs were missing, and c) having an extremely good memory for spelling as so many of the place names look very similar. I had no one to navigate either so if I found myself on the wrong road (which was often) I had to wait for a lay by or garage to stop and check. I got there eventually and all was well, no ill effects to the car or myself, which was quite a pleasant surprise, those seats are very comfy!

The wedding was a great success, the reception caused a few problems as it was about ten miles from the church and several people got lost. Easily done, I only missed one turn off though and followed my nose the rest of the way (I ticked off my friend for his bad route guide!) At about six o'clock it was time for me to leave, and I had agreed to take someone back to York so I didn't want to let them down. This time on the motorways I had a navigator so we didn't get lost at all, hurray!

The journey back was long and a little boring, the weather went from misty to rainy to cloudy, back to rainy and then to cold as night fell. We saw too many counties to remember and all those place names on signs you usually only see on a road atlas or TV. The hours passed, and the beetle kept going, and going, and going. By about 12am I was beginning to get drowsy so we agreed it would be a good idea to sacrifice some warmth for my alertness and opened the quaterlights a little. Entering North Yorkshire was quite an event after the seemingly endless motorways, and eventually when we pulled up to my passengers' house in York at 1.30am we gave a half hearted cheer, the journey was over and with no mishaps, hurray!

We managed about 650 miles in approximately 7 hours, and I only had to put about 50 worth of fuel in it. When calculated, this comes to approximately 30 miles to the gallon, not bad for such an old car! I kept the speed down to 55 mph, I believe it gained me an extra 5 mpg. I have no doubt that I saved a lot of money on train fares for myself and my passenger, I'd dread to think how many transfers I might have had to make to get to Swansea and my final destination, if it was possible at all at that time of night. I certainly wouldn't have been able to get a bus in Leeds at that time of night.

Alas there are no photos from this journey, it was a cold and miserable day there and the same on the way back, plus we had a lot of ground to cover so photos of the car were the last thing on my mind.

Oil oil everywhere, as far as the eye can see

Visiting my friends in South Wales for the first time since their wedding more than a year ago was something I'd been looking forward to, nothing was going to stop me going down there. But what's this??? An oil leak?! I still had time to fix it, I was advised that I should replace the rocker cover gasket and seal it with gasket glue, so this I did. It seemed to stop it flowing out so bad, but after only one trip to my local town I discovered that I had lost an alarming amount of oil, and an even bigger slick than before was evident under the car. Hmm! I noticed that it only lost oil when the engine had been running a while and was hot, the hotter it was the more oil it lost.

I decided I could refill it on the way, no time to book it in for repairs just now, so off I went. I travelled across to Leeds (through the rain and rivers across the roads!) and over the top of Manchester, through into North Wales and diagonally down through the valleys, which was a very beautiful drive. It was such a nice day once I got to Wales too, I was most fortunate what with all the bad weather across all of Europe at this time. I arrived slightly later than expected but then again I did stop in Leeds to see a friend on the way.

At Swansea I had to stop, I was concerned about my oil level as I'd been chugging along for several hours without checking. I was right to stop! Pulling into a lay-by off the main road I filled up the oil while my engine dumped a lovely great slick on the concrete! One more short stint and I caught up with my friends in the local town.

After a most enjoyable few days I set off once more, this time travelling up over North Birmingham, I stopped to visit another friend on the way and left another lovely slick in a carpark. Topping up before leaving, I carried on towards The North and York. I had to stop once more for a break and to top up the oil, and eventually arrived back home near Scarborough in good time.

In all I only had to fill up with petrol about three times, and estimates are that I got nearly 40 miles per gallon! It has to be said that I did stick to 55 miles per hour and did long stints on the motorways, there was only a brief delay in heavy traffic around North Birmingham so I was very lucky really. It rained and was cooler on the way back up too so perhaps the engine was at a more agreeable temperature.

I have since been told by a mechanic that it is most likely to be the mayflower oil seal which is leaking, an engine-out job to replace. He also said the clutch was a bit funny, but oil had been leaking onto it so this is hardly surprising. I will have to have it checked/repaired quite soon, hopefully I will not have to pay for a replacement clutch, but since it costs 100 Pounds just to take the engine out it may be worth while having other things done while it is out.