Wednesday 25 November 2009

Road Tri- oh.

Beate, my lovely German housemate, really wanted to go out to Cape Point before she left. (Cape Point is neither the most southerly part of Africa nor the place where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, but it makes a very good living on the back of tourist assumptions that these two facts are true. It is beautiful though.) She asked me if I was interested in hiring a car to go.

‘We don’t need no steenking hire car,’ said Eithne. ‘I’ll just ask James if I can borrow the uno.’

James’s little green fiat uno is full of personality and I was prepared to defend it against any doubters … until this weekend.

Beate and I picked up two other passengers for our outing and full of glee we headed south on the M3. Norwegian Anne provided a running commentary on the sights we passed and the fiat valiantly chugged along, despite the heat of the day and the fullness of the car.

When we got to the seaside we decided that the only obvious thing to do was stop for ice creams. Ice creams bought, we got back in the car and I pulled away from the car park. Next stop: Cape Point. At least that was the plan.

A few metres down the road, the engine cut out. I restarted the car. It cut out again. We pushed the car into a car park and called James, who suggested waiting for 10 minutes, then trying to start again.

We walked over to the bathing huts,

and watched the pretty people splashing in the waves.

Then we went to stick our toes in the water.

I turned back just before a giant wave broke – and swept Portia off her feet. One moment she was standing there, next moment she was gone. Luckily she was ok, but she was soaked. Pretty dramatic for someone who’d never been to the sea before.

Back to the car, having decided we’d used up all our bad luck and that the car was bound to start. Except it didn’t, even with the best efforts of a crowd of male volunteers, each convinced they knew the best way to start the car again.

Spoke to James again, he called the mechanic and arranged for the uno to be collected. The four of us girls found solace in this café - this signboard says it all, really.

Poor uno got taken away by the tow truck. When I told the mechanic that James would call the next day he said (tellingly) ‘oh, this is James’s car.’ What, I wondered, had James not been telling me.

We went home to Woodstock by train (and how funny is it that we broke down in St James?)

So Beate never did get to Cape Point and has returned to Berlin with a healthy skepticism of Irish girls who assure her, 'no it's fine, honestly - good as new.'

Meanwhile, I am going to put ‘learn to jump start a car’ on my New Years’ Resolutions list.

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