Friday, March 28, 2008


It's been a week of waiting. Favourite Man's Discovery II is in dire need of a back brakes system sort-out, so we needed to:

1. Find Brake Pads
2. Have discs skimmed
3. Find the screw that attaches the hub to everything else - which for some very strange reason had fallen out or gone missing on one wheel!

Well we got stuck at point #3. You'd think Land Rover dealers would keep stock of that particular item, as it's relevant to the entire range of Landies and kinda essential to keeping the wheels rolling. Literally.

But no, it had to be ordered in. And that's where the jello hit the fan, spraying liberally around the entire area and turning everything lemon flavoured.

First, they got the part number wrong. Although I gave them the right one, they wrote it down with two letters switched. So they ordered the wrong part! We then gave them a screenshot of what was required and they tried again, assuring me it would be ready for collection at midday yesterday. In good faith I arranged time off work to go get it, then move along to the rest of the requirements. Unfortunately it hadn't arrived when I turned up....

Being somewhat stubborn (just ask Favourite Man! ;-) ) I parked my cool Landy outside their premisis and settled in with a handy book to wait for delivery. Two hours later it still hadn't arrived and I was sent home with the promise that the driver would deliver later that day.

Well we finally got the darn thing this morning. 4 days of struggle for one blerry screw.

Nevertheless, that is all side-show stuff to the point of this particular post. So let me get on with it.

While sitting and waiting in my cool Landy, I was subjected to a Buzzing.

You see, there was a lovely dark grey-green 110 Defender that pulled in to the Land Rover dealership and spent some time doing whatever it was they'd turned up for. Once done, two guys got into the truck and drove off. They happened to glance over to where Olivia was quietly parked across the street in the shade - all unobtrusive-like. And they must have liked what they saw.

They went around the block and drove past her to look again. Then turned and went the opposite way down the street, still looking. In my rear-view mirror I saw them turn again, and yup - come past and ogle. By this time I was starting to giggle. And it turned into full-blown guffaws when they did one MORE drive-by! :-)

That wasn't the end of it. Before I left, I had to duck in to the dealership to talk to the bloke in charge. When I came out, the 110 had returned...! And did one more drive-by.

There's one word for it, a very nice South African word. EISH.

But that's Olivia for you - attracts attention everywhere, and even gets waves from Toyota drivers.

Then this morning I trundled in a bit late to work. My first vehicular challenge is a steep hill leading out of town. And being on the heavy side (2 tons or more - the truck, not me!), getting Olivia up that hill takes some doing. It's a case of pulling over into the yellow line area to let fast folk past, then settling in using 3rd gear and admiring the view as she moseys up the slope.

Today I had to pull back out into the normal lane to pass a BMW SUV-type beast towing a trailer that had stopped to check his load. Being on a slow trundle, I had time to greet the driver with a small smile as I wandered past. Then noticed him staring at Olivia and grinning in the mirror.

A few minutes later he came by in his fast car, nodded and smiled at both me and Olivia at length, and he was off.

I think I just got buzzed again... :-) By a closet Landy Person, perhaps?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Trek 'n Track

Olivia has a new gadget. OK, not terribly new - it's been installed for 2 weeks already, but it's taken some sorting out to get placement etc right.

I work for a company that does fleet management - they develop and sell computerized units that sit in a vehicle and measure anything and everything that can be measured. Of course when new products come out, staff are required to do a bit of testing. Which is why Olivia ended up with an FM Protector unit plumbed into her electrics.

Installation stated "do not place this under metal". Umm... yeah.... the Landy IS metal - all over! But we eventually found a suitable spot where it could detect satellites (it runs on GSM/GPRS & GPS), added the speaker, and could see Olivia online!

So now Favourite Man can track wherever I trek - can see what speed I'm doing, if I suddenly stop (crash detect - we hope not!), can even run and hide evidence that he's eaten all the fudge before I arrive at home! :-) Or simply phone to ask why I'm driving around in circles...

It's a very nifty gadget. It can pour forth all sorts of information - not just on route travelled, but also things like angle of incline and distance covered. It automatically detects a trip start and end. It updates itself over the air with any new firmware etc. It can send an SMS and email for all sorts of events or alerts. Brilliant little black box, this.

So now Olivia's trekking and tracking. What a good excuse for a road trip!

Monday, March 10, 2008


Last Wednesday the price of petrol went up by the steepest jump yet. 61c a litre. We're now paying over R8 for a litre of lead-replacement juice, and on a beast like Olivia that makes travel very very expensive.

Commuting too.

I had decided I'd take my chances and fill up on the way home from work just before the price went up. By the time I got to work Olivia was running low - and in spite of possessing three tanks it doesn't help if all of them are empty! So right after work I toddled off to the petrol station right next door to the office.

To find they were completely out of fuel.

Dilemma. Next fuel stop is 10km or so away. Or I could go in the opposite direction for a km or two, risk running out of fuel getting there, and find they're also out. Meaning I'd be left with even less to go on!

Well I weighed up options and decided to rather head home-wards, slowly. Very slowly. Keeping those revvs way down and coasting downhill where I could (never a good idea in a Landy, especially one with servo-assisted brakes...). Up the last big hill watching the fuel gauge hover up and down by the Empty line. And then down to the first petrol station I could find.

Which was also out of fuel.


It's another 3km or so through town to home - rush-hour, stop-start traffic all the way! And two more possible fuel filling options.

The first had a queue around the block. By the time I got to the front of it, I would either have run out of petrol - or they would have.

The second had a queue out into Main Road. Same story.

So very carefully and slowly I took the last chance of the day and drove home. On the last whiff of petrol I'm sure!

A day later, driving the Fancy Landy (Favourite Man's Disco), I stopped by the petrol station that had had a queue around the block to squirt a few buck's petrol into a jerry can for the LRP-snorting beast. I was greeted by two petrol attendants who had nothing to do - everyone filled up already except me. I got quite possibly the best customer service I'll have all year.

With this horrible price increase one starts to watch the "joy rides" closely - to monitor what is absolutely necessary, and to consider telecommuting. Unfortunately we're assured of another, even bigger increase within the month. Unless you're a high-powered, high-paid executive type commuter with a SmartCar, the daily trek is starting to seem beyond the Common Man's means.... yet the Common Man has to get to work to get paid so they can fill up their tanks. It's a vicious, unaffordable circle.

As is food, electricity, and quite possibly the air we breathe. Where this will end is anyone's guess. But perhaps the days of Expeditions is rapidly coming to an end except for the privileged.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Attention monger

Olivia is developing a very bad habit. As Friday approaches, she starts seeking attention. Things begin to collapse in anticipation of an extra two full days during which she can demand mollycoddling.

Last weekend it was the fuel filter that inexplicably attempted to drop off.

This weekend it was brakes.

Come Thursday, the brakes started to come and go. There was metallic screeching every time you pressed them too hard. And pressing them could go either way - too hard or too soft. Then on Friday night, while picking up our weekly "slap chips" treat, there was an ominous CLONK. It sounded as if something large and metal had snapped off, leaving my son's head hitting the door and my elbow hitting the window. Anxious inspection revealed nothing broken. It may simply have been the angle of the road we hit, or things knocking around in the back. Or so we hope...

Nevertheless, Favourite Man took the beast for quick long-block test drive - and confirmed that the brakes were being silly. So the wheel and hub cap on the worst-sounding one came off, a video of the brake movement was make, and our online experts were consulted. We cleaned off some brake-dust, stuck the wheel back on .. and guess what.

Olivia's back to normal. Generally speaking.

She would be. The weekend's over and she's not going to get a lot of attention for the next few days. So she plays along nicely, and starts to plot her next weekend emergency.

Darn attention monger.