The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Open Window

"It's a bit stuffy in here. I'll open the window a bit."





"What's wrong?"

"The window won't go back up. The switch is jammed down and I can't pull it up without risking it breaking!"

We're parked overlooking the harbour in the tiny village of Dunure on the Ayrshire coast.

It 's raining.

My car is nearly 11 years old, has about 135,000 miles on the clock, and has reached that point where various bits are wearing out. I'd had to get the brakes overhauled before my recent trip to Devon; I'm getting vibrations at high speeds; and I've become aware of a rumbling-whining noise over the past week or so which I suspect is something to do with the bearings.

Not that I know much about cars, only that the sound is very similar to something I heard last year which turned out to be the bearings in one of the wheels and had to be replaced. I suspect the other wheel must be heading the same way.

I've become very aware of the numerous possible mechanical failures that could happen, but electrical ones hadn't crossed my mind. For a car of this age, the fact I've never had to replace the battery or a light bulb is pretty amazing.

I look through the owner's manual, desperately hoping there might be some kind of override to get the window back up. There is a sequence if the window is stuck halfway, but it doesn't work for this problem.

However the word "fuse" catches my attention. I flick to the index, back to the pages where fuses are gone over in detail, and work out the one I need to check is behind a panel under the glove box.

It's dark under there, wet on the ground outside where I'm kneeling with the door open, and I end up half upside down on my back trying to match up what I see with the diagrams in the manual.

Eventually I succeed in removing the panel, finding the fuses and locating the one I need to check.

Unfortunately I can't seem to get it out of the fuse box.

Another flick through the manual and I discover there's a particular device for removing fuses, located in the fuse box in the main engine compartment under the bonnet (or hood for you lot across the Atlantic).

More checking of diagrams and I locate the fusebox, remove the cover and search frantically for anything resembling the wee line drawing.

Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

I pick up the fusebox cover to replace it and notice the fuse removing device attached to the underside.

Back under the glovebox I finally remove the fuse, inspect it, and it's fine. Not blown at all. Nor is the one next to it.

I put everything back and reassemble the panel, defeated.

It's Sunday - there won't be any garages open. If I call the breakdown service I'm signed up to, they will tow the car the 60 miles home, but we're staying in a Bed and Breakfast in Girvan, about 15 miles down the road. We've been away only one night and will be going home tomorrow anyway, so we should try and get to Girvan before we decide what we're going to do the following day.

But it's raining, and if we drive back like this, the interior of the car will be soaked long before we get there.

I have some plastic sheeting in the boot (or trunk for you lot across the Atlantic), and manage to borrow a roll of masking tape from the cafe across the road. 10 minutes and half a roll of masking tape later, we set off for Girvan. At the top of the road I reach the first t-junction and suddenly realise I can't see anything out the left side of the car because of the plastic sheeting. So I have to angle my car to the left until I can see through the front window whether anything is coming, before turning the car to the right once it's clear.

After 25 hair-raising minutes we reach the B&B, remove anything vaguely valuable or useful from the car and stagger into the hallway. The landlady is just coming out of the kitchen and asks how our day has been.

Upon explaining our window problem, she lights up and shouts for her husband who, apparently, is quite the handyman and knows a bit about cars too.

I start getting my hopes up.

I take the car round to his garage behind the house. As he rummages through his toolbox and grabs a screwdriver he tells me he's fine with the mechanics of most older cars, but electrics and modern cars are not his thing.

I stop getting my hopes up.

He's looking at the inside of the door wondering how to get the panelling off. I start looking around the shelves. Suddenly there's a whirr and click and he says, "Looks like it's working!"

He'd poked the screwdriver into the slot the switch comes out of and dislodged something that had got in there causing it to jam.

Problem solved.

No need to call the breakdown recovery service, no need to cut our break short, no need to drive 60 miles home without being able to see out the left side of the car.

The warmth and hospitality offered by Lynn and Keith of The Merchant House Bed & Breakfast in Girvan was already wonderful: comfy bed, tasty breakfast (including toast from freshly homemade bread), and some homemade shortbread to take away with us. But sorting out my car and saving me huge amounts of stress and hassle takes hospitality to a whole new level. I cannot sing their praises highly enough.

If ever you are thinking about staying on the east side of SW Scotland, then this is the first place you should consider!


Pat said...

That's true Scottish hospitality as I remember it. So glad it's still there.

neena maiya (aka guyana gyal) said...


I can't believe I was holding my breath. I guess it's because I've had so many *adventures* with this old car of ours [one brother bought it in the early 90s].

Scotland sounds like a warm place [despite the rain] :-)

Anonymous said...

Good ending! I can relate to aging car stories particularly well right now.

hope said...

What a pleasant change of pace today: reading a story about someone doing something good simply because they were kindhearted. Thank you!

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - I've come to realise that if we judge the world by what we see on the news, we become convinced that everyone is out for themselves and ready to rip us off, that there's a paedophile on every street corner and a terrorist behind every lamp post. And yet, in reality most people are only to happy to help out someone in need. Of course there are unspeakable horrors in the world, but they are not everywhere all the time :)

Guyana-Gyal - there are 3 things in life that when they go wrong induce in me an immediate (and probably disporportional) panic: the car, my computer, and my teeth...
Hope you make it over to Scotland one day :)

Allen - sometimes I really wish there were evening classes in the area where I could learn about car mechanics...

Hope - allow me to refer you to my answer to Pat :)

Carole Morden said...

My husband was a mechanic long before he was a preacher. He went to work for gas station at 15, and worked as a mechanic until he was 34 or so before he started preaching. Now, you'll find him fixing parishioners' cars as ready as preaching. I really think they like their cars fixed, much better than their souls. :)

Kim Ayres said...

Carole - with all the curses muttered when the car goes wrong, there is a divine feel when it works again... (until I see the bill) :)

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