Wow what a week it’s been.
Dodgy sales man, gallops in England, English pubs, catching up with Aussie friends and representing Australia.
Last Saturday was spent driving around looking at used cars. Its sounds fun but it was not. I live in a beautiful town in Marlborough, Wiltshire and I went car shopping in Swindon. Swindon is no less than 12 miles from Marlborough and sounds like a lovely name and you are in England so of course it has to be another beautiful town. Oh, how wrong was I. Think of car shopping in Blacktown. Luckily I had moral support in former Aussie resident and client Sarah Martin. Sarah lived and worked in Sydney and changed hobbies from polo to eventing and was a regular at the Bates Ultimate Training Clinic and comp days and moved back to the UK about 18 months ago with her pocket rocket polo pony turned eventer Nero.
You know your in trouble when even google maps is getting lost. It was a sign that I probably shouldn’t bother with this car and dealer. Next stop really wasn’t any better, more dodgy cars and rust buckets and some cars had such bad smells there are no words to describe the stench. I was amazed how they are quite happy for you to jump in the car a and take it for a test drive knowing that you are a foreigner. After a couple more no goes, it was time for a pub lunch, re group and find some more cars to look at. Sarah and I scoured google and we found another car yard and this one actually looked more promising. Less sleazy sales man, better quality cars and more to choose from. The guy actually seemed genuine. I found a golf that I liked took it for a spin, negotiated a few things that I wanted fixed and left a deposit. Happy days or so I thought.
Things that I have learned, trust no one especially car sales men. When buying a car, like I am, for short term use you need to make sure the car has a long MOT (green slip), you make sure you pay for a HPI check (not stolen, under finance etc), V5 log book (UK car registration) and then you need to look at getting insurance. Insurance is especially expensive if you are a foreigner as you have no record of NCD (no claims discount). So, I’m all excited and enter my golf’s license plate number into the HPI check, good it recognises that, secondly enter vin number (I had taken a photo of the plate on the engine before my test drive, all good so far everything is matching like it should. Next, I entered the date of first registration from the V5 paper work (had taken photo’s of this document). Red flag not matched. Oh that’s weird. I check the vin number from the photo I’d taken against the vin number on the V5 registration papers, this doesn’t match either. Quick call to the sales man and he’s like totally not understanding me at all. So an angry Christine calls HPI and asks what I should do, I lodge a complaint with the DVLA and ask them to investigate. So I email the sales man explaining everything and he assures me it must be a typo and they have never had this happen in 8 years of selling cars. Needless to say I said no to this car.
I’ve since found another car and it will be getting vet checked by the AA in the next day or two. But it’s off to a better start than the last one as it was all clear on the HPI report. I’ve negotiated with the car yard to fix a few things so hopefully this one passes the vet check. I will then need to tackle the task of insurance. This is not a cheap exercise as many of the insurance companies in the UK will not consider your driving record or no claims bonus from Australia.
Since my arrival in the UK I’ve discovered online shopping with Amazon. My little apartment needed a few household items and not knowing my way around it was much easier just to shop online with home delivery. My first item arrived- an electric fry pan. I was so excited and cooked an omelette, I heated up the fry pan and chucked it all in and off I started cooking away but not for long as the element blew up. I have since returned the fry pan, luckily all my other purchases have not failed so far.
Adelaide has now had two gallops in the UK. I’m very fortunate to be able to gallop near Barbury on an all weather gallop track up the most amazing hill. As we drive to the gallops you can see that the preparations for the Barbury event are well under way with the stables already being put up some three weeks ago. The closest thing I’ve seen in Australia would be the new gallop track at Wallaby Hill. Adelaide is certainly appreciating being off the hard ground and I’m looking forward to Barbury this weekend. Adelaide is only competing in the CIC** as he’s not had a start since Sydney 3DE at the end of April. There’s some 298 entries in the CIC**. Barbury is only about a 25 minute drive from Andrew’s yard so we will come home each day.
Last week I managed a night out with fellow Aussie riders Rob Palm and Lissa Green. We had dinner at a lovely pub called Silkes On The Down. Rob and Woody have settled in well at Samantha Birch’s and like me Rob has been on the hunt for a car. It was great to catch up with Lissa as it had been sometime, she has certainly grown up and she was very good at keeping Rob and I entertained for the evening.
Last Saturday I had a great lunch date at The Outside Chance in Marlborough (lunch may have gone for 4 hours with several Gin and Tonics) with an old friend Sophie Allison. Sophie and I first met some 29 years ago while I was over here competing as a junior rider. I was extremely lucky at the time I won Sophie’s pony in the pool horses. We have stayed in contact with Sophie and her family over the years. An interesting side note is back in 1996 when I returned from Sydney to Perth I met a boy named Matthew Bates. Matthew and I were talking at a party about the UK. He asked me who I knew in the UK and I answered with, I really only know one person her name is Sophie Allison. I can still remember the look on Matthew’s face as he also knew Sophie as his best mate at that time had actually dated Sophie, his name was Blair Richardson. So as they say the rest is history.
Last week saw the announcement of the Eventing Riders who will be representing Australia at Aachen in a couple of weeks time. I’m so thrilled to be named as one of the 5 riders going to Aachen. No matter who you talk to about Aachen everyone always says it’s a must do event, the best show in the world. So to be picked to compete and represent my country at Aachen is beyond my expectations and I feel like a kid in a candy store.
So its really hard to imagine that the UK is as bad as everyone says it is regarding the weather. I have now been here for 3 weeks and it has been amazingly good. Tops of about 28 degrees during the day and down to about 14 degrees at night – perfect, my kind of summer really. I’ve been told by several UK residents that this is about the best summer they have had since 1976. Feeling very lucky.
Off I go now to go and get ready for Barbury.
Till next time.