Sunday, 8 September 2013


It's all been about the tyres these last couple of weeks. 

The story began when I left the Dahon for a couple of hours in the office of a company where I work sometimes.  However, when I came to cycle back to my own office, I noticed that the front tyre was flat as a pancake.  I had a quick look to see if there was anything obvious sticking in it but on discovering nothing untoward, I whipped out the pump and reinflated.  I cycled back to the office without further incident.

I generally use "Slime" in the tyres on my bikes - a self-sealing compound designed to plug small leaks as they happen. 

I have had some very positive experiences of its ability to seal a puncture (especially on a cold, dark night when changing a tube or fitting a patch would have been more of a pain).  However, I am starting to go off the stuff and I'll explain why...

My usual experience of punctures has been that one either notices the offending thorn or piece of glass/wire/roadside detritus sticking out of the tyre or a small quantity of the delightfully green "Slime" goo leaking out before it plugs the hole.  However, in this case, I found neither and have to confess that my first reaction was that someone had played a schoolboy prank and let my tyre down.  I resolved to have a look later on and see what was up but as the tyre inflated well and stayed inflated, I didn't bother and then ultimately, forgot altogether.

Anyway last week, during a bit of routine maintenance, I decided to remove the tyre and take a look.  I found that I did indeed have a puncture, as evidenced by the amount of green stuff wetting the inside of the tyre.  Much more disturbingly, I noticed that the tyre, where it had been in contact with the leaky patch had worn right through one layer of reinforcement.  I didn't get a picture but the damage was a patch anout 5cm by 3cm where the inner layer of fabric had completely worn away.  Clearly this is not a good thing for the structural integrity of the tyre!  I have little idea how it happened, except perhaps by the "Slime" lubricating the surfaces of the tyre and tube allowing them to rub against one another while the tyre rotated. 

As a secondary matter, I also found that I had a smaller hole in the inner tube which I'd never even noticed had happened.  To be honest, it's not the first time that a puncture has gone unnoticed but it is the first time that other, more serious damage has been concealed.

I changed the tyre to an old one I have as a spare (one of the original Dahon Rotolos) and cycled to work the following morning as usual.  However, it did get me thinking about the disadvantages of "Slime":

  1. It's easy to get a puncture and never even notice.  OK this is the point of the stuff but if having a bit of slime sloshing around in the tyre after a leak is going to cause damage, it kind of defeats the object. 
  2. I've also found that when patching the damaged innertube, the "Slime has a tendency to push out of the leak underneath the patch and unstick it from the tyre.  Not a good thing on the move and infuriating when trying to repair a bike late at night before needing it for the commute.
I think that "Slime" has a place and I suppose that if I'd been more organised I'd have removed my tyre the night the puncture occurred and found the problem sooner.  However, on another bike I've found punctures long after the last time I'd ridden the bike because the "Slime" had sealed the small leak before it became noticable.  I don't really want to be removing the tyres every week as part of any routine maintenance either. 

However, every cloud has its silver lining.  As I had to replace the front tyre, I took the opportunity to replace the rear as well with a pair of these:

I've long wanted a pair but have always stopped short of forking out.  However, I have heard and read such good things about their robustness that I spent the extra to find out how good they really are.  My first impression is that they are very sturdily built tyres and the thickness of the tyre crown is impressive indeed.  It would have tobe a long, sharp and tough foreign body in order to make its way through one of them to cause a puncture.

My brother-in-law has done thousands of touring miles on Marathons and trusts them to the point that he no longer carries patches or a tube.  I'm a little less certain and know that the day I don't have a repair option will be the day something makes its way through one of them.  However, I won't be using "Slime" in them.  At the worst I'll get a puncture on the aforementioned cold, wet ride home and have to pull into a garage/shop/mate's house to swap the innertube.  I've carried out this operation so many times now that I'm much more confident of my ability.  The only time in the past when this strategy has failed was when I couldn't actually remove the rear wheel because of the poor quality of spannner I was carrying.  I now carry a good quality adjustable one so that won't be an issue again.

Hopefully I won't have to eat my words but I'll let you know how I get on.

Friday, 23 August 2013

A "microadventure"

The other day, by a happy combination of events and mouse clicks, I came across Alastair Humphreys’ (@Al_Humphreys) blog via Twitter.  Click this link to go and have a look.

If you’ve not read it then you should.  Alistair is an adventurer with an impressive list of achievements under his belt, in his rucksack or wherever adventurers keep achievements.  However, he is also a keen advocate of what he’s termed “microadventures”.  It’s a wonderful encouragement to those of us with a family and a 9-5 that adventures are there for all to experience and needn’t be expensive, long-distance or in a far-flung place for them to be adventures nonetheless. 
There are some fabulous ideas on Alastair’s blog and so on Wednesday, buoyed up by inspiration from the blog and motivated by a) nice weather outside and b) a dull afternoon stuck in the office, I set out for an inaugural microadventure of my own.

I usually cycle to work using a local commuter train to break the journey up.  However on several occasions, where train congestion or cancellation has made it necessary, I’ve cycled all the way home.  Wednesday was the first time I’ve ridden the Dahon door-to-door just for the fun of it.  I also did a small amount of planning, choosing a new route that which I’ve not cycled before.  All I can say is that it was brilliant!  Just doing something you’ve chosen to do is very empowering and refreshing in the fact that it’s beyond the mundane.

My lack of photographic ability (read "laziness") means I didn’t take any pictures but the highlights and things I learned were:
  • Taking new routes to go places you often visit is fun.  Worrying about how you’ll negotiate a busy traffic junction 2 miles ahead is not necessary as things have a way of sorting themselves out.
  • Cycling through places that you know well, albeit by car is very revealing.  You notice so much more from a bike than through the window of a car.
  • Even the fairly mundane can feel adventurous.  As I passed traffic queue after traffic queue on my way across the city, I felt brilliant knowing that my choice was a far better one than being stuck nose to tail in a tin box.  I’ve been there, done that and don’t want to go back.
  • Cycling home is not such a slow choice!  While I try very hard not to get caught up in the numbers and fret about average speed etc. I couldn’t help setting my stopwatch going when I left the office.  Google maps had the journey at 22.5 miles and I cycled it comfortably in 1:27 – an average speed of over 15 mph!  That’s not bad going for anyone so for a bloke on a 3-speed folding bike, I’m happy indeed*.
  • Best of all, when I got home, the kids had filled a large paddling pool in the garden so I stripped down to my shorts and leapt into the cold water.  Bracing indeed but just the tonic after a hot, sweaty commute!

I spend a lot of the time in my head on the Dahon thinking about adventures I could have with it.  They’ve gone from the mild (cycling the length of a local Sustrans route) to the reasonable (coast-to-coast) to the serious (coast to coast – Wales to Norfolk) to the very serious (Land’s End to John O’Groats) to the mega serious (cycling to Istanbul).  While all of those are doable I’m sure, the immediate needs of a family to support and job to do so mean that long periods of time off (for the bigger ones) would need some planning and negotiation.

Thanks to Alastair’s microadventures blog, I’ve shifted my thinking in a whole new direction to adventures that I can have here and now, with the Dahon, in and around the other demands of life.
There will definitely be more to follow…


* That is my once in 18 months speed-obsessive moment.  I’ll get back to my usual “pretending I couldn’t care less” attitude, now


Friday, 16 August 2013


Well last week, after just over 5,500 miles of communting on my bike, I managed to face-plant the pavement in a bike accident for the first time since childhood.

It was just a normal Monday morning cycling to work and not in much of a rush.  It had rained a hour or two earlier and the raods were wet but I have ridden in much, much worse conditions.  However, I turned left from a main road onto a side street and BANG, the bike shot straight out from under me, dumping me unceremoniously on the road! 

I had no time to catch myself, and my hands, elbows, knees and face all hit the floor with a quite bump.  I got up pretty quickly and made sure that my teeth were still intact (which mercifully they were) but the amount of blood I managed to wipe on my sleeve and spit out told of at least one decent injury.

I pedalled the last couple of miles to work so that I could assess the damage:

  • Deep cut on top lip where face hit the floor
  • Deep cut inside top lip (but thankfully not all the way through as an exploratory blow revealed)
  • Skinned knees
  • Bruised elbows
  • Bruised hands
  • Bruised pride
The deep cut warranted a quick trip to A&E where they stuck me (literally, with Super Glue) back together but I was back on my bike the following morning.  The only damage to the bike was a broken bottle cage which I have still yet to replace.


The damage to my lid

Lessons learned:

As I stood up fromt he road, I noticed a large patch of oil/diesel which is what I presume I crashed on.  Diesel is the bane of the cyclist/motorcyclist but is very hard to spot on the move.  It turns a wet road into little more than an icerink - I can't overstate how quickly the bike went down!  Keep your eyes peeled folk.

As I sat waiting in the hospital, I actually though "fat lot of good wearing a helmet did me" as I had only felt my face hit the floor.  I took the helmet out of my bag for a look and found a deep dent/scratch in the front of it!  If I hadn't had it on, the damage to my face would have been much worse.  That I hadn't felt that particular impact must be (in part) because the polystyrene shell absorbed some of it. 

The crash had nothing to do with the quality driving of the observational powers of car users.  It could have happened on a short ride as much as a long one and no other vehicles were involved.   Yet wearing a helmet saved me from more serious injury, of that I'm in no doubt.   It's up to you of course but I'll always wear a lid from now on.  Having dinged the black one significantly, I have bought another this week (an nice blue and silver Bell, of which more later).

Hopefully it'll be at least another 5,500 miles before another fall from the bike but one in a year and a half of riding isn't bad going I reckon.  Just one of those things.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Seasons change

This evening, for the first time in a long time, I left work under clear skies with the sun on my back. It's so mild that my standard winter combination of skull-cap, buff, micro-fleece and waterproof is far too hot. Again, for the first time in a long time!

At this rate, I'll be home before dark (yet again, for the first time....etc) so I may even revert to my "fair weather" route home through the lanes. I'd better strip off a couple of layers (with apologies to the rest of the passengers on this train) and break out the shades.

When you're out in the elements daily, as we cycle commuters are, you really get to feel the seasons changing. Today, there is a definite sense of having come out on the other side if winter and into longer, lighter and (occasionally) warmer days. It's a good feeling.

Spring is springing and life is good!

Friday, 15 February 2013

Three grand

Oh and there's just the small matter of having smashed the 3,000 mile barrier on my Dahon to report too.  Counting other bike miles into the bargain, I'm at almost 4,000 in less than one year of cycling to work.

Compared to the Tour Divide or Race Across America, it not a huge distance as those events cover 2,750 miles off road or 3,000 miles on road respectively in a handful of weeks.  However, compared to most people it's a whole load more than they'd ride in five years I reckon!  As a side note I am fantasising more and more about riding the great Divide Moutain Bike Route one day.  Inspired by John Metcalfe's excellent book and both Kent Peterson and Justin Simoni's description of the adventure it sits on the back burner of my mind as a Big Goal for another day.  I accept that it's a bit of an extreme excuse to buy a mountain bike but a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

In general, as a result of my commuting, I'm feeling fitter, healthier, stronger, richer (well only just but I line the pockets of oil sheiks and insurance sharks less than I used to) more hardened to inclement weather and generally better for the planet.  I'm probably smugger than before too but I think I've earned the right - I'll try not to be so too much.

Onwards and upwards - the open road and adventure beckons...

I'm back (and this time I brought a friend)

Once again, updates to the blog are a little thin on the ground.

I can't blame much other than busy-ness at work and laziness at home (generally as a result of recovering from the aforementioned busy-ness).  Nevertheless I'm still here and still commuting regularly on my Dahon folder.

I've also pimped it up a little over the last month (after getting it back with a new rear wheel - see previous post) so I'll put up some pictures when I get the chance.  Unfortunately there are also the usual litany of minor niggles to sort out but it all makes good blogging material, when I get around to it.

The mornings are definitely getting lighter now and it's even still light(ish) for some of my ride home each evening.  When the biting cold subsides on occasion, one can almost feel that spring, while not yet here, might just be around the corner.  And with the promise of longer days and warmer weather, my thoughts are turning to this year's adventures.  I already have a decent Sunday out in March planned and a few of us from work are having a cycling weekend away in May.  There's a possibility I'll use the Dahon for one or both adventures (though I have taken a step towards completing my 1980s Raleigh fixed-gear conversion too - the use of which would also be a blast.)  I also have my eye on a couple of Sportive events which look like they might be fun.  But Dahon or fixed-gear, I just love the thought of turning up to events with something other than the usual Specialized/Trek/etc. carbon-look road-bike.  I'm feeling fit and string too and so it promises to be a great year!

Yesterday when I got home from work, my youngest daughter gave me a present.  Upon unwrapping it I was delighted to find a little companion (handmade by my wife) who will be coming with me on cycling adventures from not on.  He spent today tucked snugly in the cargo netting on the back of my rucksack and I think we're going to have a lot of fun together.  Ladies and Gentlemen may I introduce, Little Sock Monkey:

"Hello everyone!"

And so, in the immortal words of The Two Ronnies (overseas readers may have to Google that one):

"It's goodnight from me, and it's goodnight from him.  Goodnight."

Monday, 28 January 2013

Of broken gear-hubs, snow and fixed-gears

We've had a spot of snow here in the UK over the last week or two. You could tell quite readily in the first day it fell. Not from the white stuff on the floor (though that was a give-away) but from the mile after mile of nose-to-tail traffic on the road.

I managed to get home well enough on day one but as I pulled into our street , my rear wheel started making a truly dreadful noise. It sounded like a handful of loose nuts and bolts in the gear hub. For the next day's snowy commute, I took my fixed gear MTB. I have to say that, although it's a bit of an old dog, it was brilliant in the snow. Excellent grip from the knobbly tyres and much more slow speed control than just coasting and using the brakes.

It took the bike shop just over a week to sort my Dahon under warranty (complete new rear wheel, thanks guys) and so I spent that time commuting by fixed gear.

I have always enjoyed pootling round on the fixie but have never done any serious mileage on it. I really enjoyed the simplicity of the experience though and it has spurred me on to get my old Raleigh 10-speed built up into a decent fixed-gear road bike. It's lovely spinning along in almost silence without a thought for what gear you should be in. Between spinning, standing and heaving and judicious use of the (front and back) brakes on the downhills, I managed with one gear admirably.

Today I have my Dahon back and I am glad to be back on it. I do miss the fixie but I've done so many miles on my folder it all feels very natural.

I also fitted it with a few bits of bling too. Of which, more to follow...

Monday, 14 January 2013

By jove I've finally cracked it (part 2)

Another thing that's been bugging me since I started cycle commuting is damp feet.  I like to cycle in normal walking shoes so that:

  • Walking when off the bike is a comfortable and convenient experience (I have wide feet and like wide shoes!)
  • So that my pedals don't required special shoes every time I ride my bike

I know that a hybrid "SPD one side and flat pedal the other" option is available but they don't fold.  I definitely want folding pedals so that I'm not limiting the usefulness of my bike's key feature.

I have, however found it very hard to find overshoes that are a reasonable price, which fit over my regular shoes and are waterproof.  I don't find that it's the falling rain that's an issue in itself.  Rather, it is the spray from the front wheel on wet roads and through gutters and puddles which really give shoes a soaking.  Even with decent mudguards fitted. 

However, after a lengthy Google and a bit of "out of box" thinking, I found these in (of all places) the Demon Tweeks catalogue.  Well for about 15 quid posted, I thought they had to be worth a go.

Today is the first time I have tried them in anger and I have to say I'm delighted!  I ordered the larger size as my UK 9 (Eur 43) sat pretty much between the two sizes on offer.  They are quite large, maybe a little too large but are light and laughably easy to pull on over my shoes.  OK so they look a little daft but commuting by bike is not a style contest and loads of other people on the train this morning were sporting wellies of one sort or another.  Maybe the smaller size would be snugger and no more difficult to slip on?

They are fine to walk in and I didn't notice any appreciable lack of grip between shoe and pedal.  It's pretty poor in the wet anyway (more to follow on this soon, I hope) but wasn't any worse than usual.

So all looks well on the dry toasty feet front now - I'm a happy chap indeed!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Mechanical disasters

In previous blog entries I have written at length about the plight of our family car. What I have not yet mentioned is the string of other mechanical failures which have accompanied it in the space of a few weeks.

Some time ago, I broke a second spoke on my hybrid bike. As it's not a bike I use vety much, I have left the repair for "another day" since it happened. Over the Christmas break I finally got around to dropping the wheel in to the bike shop to get it fixed. Note to self: I really must learn how to fit a new spoke!

And so it was, with the hybrid firmly out of action and our car in the garage that I cycled home from work last Friday, full of hope for the weekend ahead.

And then, about four miles from home, I got a puncture.

An encumbrance for sure but not really a big deal because I have "Slime" in both tyres and so I quickly flipped the bike over, pumped and span the tyre to seal the leak and then got back on my merry way. About a quarter of a mile from home, as I was musing what great stuff "Slime" is, I heard a distinct hissing from beneath and felt the unmistakable bumping of a repunctured tyre. Once again I flipped the bike and once again I pumped. This time however the tyre gave up the ghost pronto with an almighty PSSSSHHH and a liberal spray of bright green slime. Even in the dim light from the pub carpark over the road I could see the large split in the tyre side-wall and so, with such a short distance left to travel, I walked and pushed the bike home.

Now I knew all along that Friday would have to be a "rush in, eat and rush out again" kind of evening as I was on the rota to help out at our church youth group. So as I pushed I hatched a plan. I decided to whip the lights off my Dahon and fit them to my one remaining mode of cycle transport - my 90's beater fixed gear MTB. And so feeling like an indefatigable hero, that's exactly what I did.

All was going well until about a mile into my ride to church. I enjoy riding the fixie but don't do it nearly as much as I'd like to. So I kind of get out of the habit of doing certain things. Things like remembering not to try and coast. Especially when standing on the pedals and heaving up a hill.

Long story short, I did just that and got thrown into a mega wobble which pitched me from the bike. I did manage to stay on my feet, but not before knocking both of my lights off, dropping the bike and clanging various parts of my anatomy on it in the process. Ouch.

So there I was, in the middle of a (mercifully quiet) road, in pitch darkness trying to find all of the components of my lights. I did manage to as well, but the clip had snapped off the rear light and the front one only worked when held together by hand. I actually stood there and burst out laughing. After all of the mechanical disasters of recent weeks I felt like something out of a bad comedy sketch! Once (relative) sanity returned, I jammed the rear light between the bungee mesh in my rucksack, and limped along holding the front one together until reaching the better lit sections of road through town.

On my way home later that night, I was much, much more careful about riding the fixie. The bike itself is a tough old thing and remained unscathed but battered body parts are a good teacher for the fixed-gear rider, it would seem.

Bright and early on Saturday I started putting things right. I rang around and ordered a new tyre for the Dahon, to be collected once the car was back in order. I also popped to town on the bus and picked up the newly be-spoked rear wheel for my hybrid. Fitting this was the work of a moment when I got home and so, when a quick trip to the shops was required later on I took the hybrid out for a shakedown. I was significantly dismayed to find that the awful grinding squeak, which is what first made me look at the back end and find the broken spoke, was still there. Mechanical woe after mechanical woe!

What I found after a thorough look and a bit of a Google is that the rear freewheel was completely shot. There is a load of play which feels as though the bearings have gone and an article online where someone cured the same symptoms with a new freewheel. At less than ten quid for a new Shimano one on Ebay it should (hopefully) be a cheap fix!

At the time of writing, we now have the car back, I have collected and installed a new Michelin City tyre on the Dahon and a new freewheel is on order for the hybrid. It is possible, just possible, that by the weekend, my stable if bikes will be fully functional. But based on recent experience I won't hold my breath.

On the plus side it's all good spannering experience!

N.B. Pictures will follow when I can get on the laptop. They are easier to upload and format there than on my iPhone!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Our completely car-free "experiment"

Well firstly a happy New Year to you, dear reader.  I am sorry it's taken so long between updates, but I have been enjoying a lovely relaxing bit of time off over Christmas.

As I mentioned before, our family car (the only one we own) chose the Saturday before Christmas to die.  It turned out to be quite a serious fault that, coupled with Bank Holidays, has taken quite a while to fix.  I hope to be able to collect it tomorrow and so that has meant we have spent over a fortnight truly car-free.

So how have we, a family of two adults and three (5-13 year old) children, managed without a car?  It's the sort of problem that would have most families in a pickle in this car-dependent society.  Indeed the first reaction of a quite a few friends and family members was to offer us the use of an alternative car.  Very kind of them but Mrs Folding-Bike and I agreed to try and go car-free, just to see what happened.

I have to start by saying that, unwelcome huge expense aside, we are pretty lucky that it happened over the Christmas break.  I had planned to have almost two weeks off work anyway and the kids don't go back to school until tomorrow.  So how did we deal with the ordinary stuff for which we usually depend on a car?


The shopping was probably the simplest thing to deal with because larger supermarkets deliver.  It took a bit of planning to make sure that the cupboards were well stocked but we did become aware of the the number of times one of us would just hop in the car and zip out for milk, bread or other essentials.  These trips I covered by going shopping with bike and rucksack and, as I commented previously, it is surprising how many groceries one can fit into a medium-sized pack.  I did find the limit though when picking up some items for my eldest daughter's birthday sleepover - it seems that popcorn, fizzy pop, pizzas, chips and sweets are bulkier than they seem.  In truth, I did throw a small sack of dog food in there as well, for the dog you understand, not the birthday party!  However, I had to resort to removing the boxes from the pizzas in order to get it all to fit.  I am sure that I looked pretty eccentric crouched in ASDA's car-park unpacking pizzas but in a dayglo cycling jacket with my trousers tucked into socks, I cut an odd-looking figure anyway.  I'm used to the looks by now!  And besides, the cardboard is better filling ASDA's recyling bin than mine.

I also used the bike to take my hybrid's rear wheel to the bike shop for (another) spoke repair.  I love my versatile rucksack - I just strapped the wheel on the back of it and cycled to town.  Again, strange looking but who honestly cares?  It got the job done. 

Strangely the wheel makes the rucksack look much smaller than it is.


Everyone likes a party over Christmas and New Year and we had two planned where we needed to travel.  Boxing Day was due to be spent 50 miles away at my parents' and on 30th December we had another large family gathering  to attend.  Our solution in both cases?  To stock the cupboards and bring the party here!  We had a couple of brilliant days welcoming people to our home and putting on the hospitality.  Hopefully a great time was had by all and we didn't have to go anywhere!  We did have to tidy up a bit but the place needed it - again more a blessing than a chore in the long run.

Random half-days out:

During longer school holidays, we'll often just pop out to town or somewhere else for half a day, to kill time as much as anything.  This Christmas break, we just haven't bothered, largely because we couldn't, and it has been lovely.  We've stayed at home and played games, walked to the park together with the dog and generally found cheaper, simpler and more relaxing ways to spend our time. 

Although we live a few miles from the nearest large-ish town, I have never taken the bus to get there.  We have one which comes through the village every hour and takes 15 minutes to get there.  I took my youngest daughter out on Saturday for a "bus to town" adventure as we had a few things to pick up (my repaired wheel among other things).  She had a brilliant time and, I have to confess, so did I!  It cost me £3.10 for a return ticket and the didn't charge for my daughter.  Had I driven it would've cost me at least £1.70 to park and so adding in the cost of a little bit of diesel and the convenience of not having to find a parking space on a Saturday afternoon, I'd say I had a bargain.  OK so we are a little restricted by the once an hour bus schedule, but we coped just fine by not rushing, taking a later bus home and enjoying a chill out together in a coffee shop.  A bit of Father and daughter time is always welcome and if it involves a treat in a cafe, so much the better.

Waiting for the bus home, she seems happy in her work!

The school run:

As it's been a school holiday, this hasn't been an issue.  We only have to get the kids to school tomorrow without the car and a friend has kindly volunteered to collect them.  The experience has made us think about how we could do it without the car though.  The bus goes at a time in the morning that would get my wife to town in time but leave about a mile to walk to Primary School with the younger two.  My eldest starts a little earlier than them at High School but could cycle to a friend's house nearby, freshen up and walk the rest of the way.  It would need a bit of toughening up on their parts but that never hurt anyone, really!  In fact the major concern was from my eldest daughter about appearances in front of her peers rather than the actual physical effort of the cycle.  Tsk, teenagers, eh?

So to sum up, in all honesty, we've managed admirably without a car.  Despite the fact that it's Christmas, there seems to be a little more disposable cash than usual and I guess this is what we would normally have spent on diesel.  It'll have to go in the pot for the huge repair bill we're about to incur but every little helps, I suppose.  We've really felt the generosity of friends too in their offers of help and transport.  Sometimes it takes a bit of a disaster for us to realise just how truly blessed we are.  And we are truly blessed.

When the mechanic told me that the car was going to cost upwards of £1,500 to repair, for a moment, I did wonder whether to bother.  The car is worth quite a bit more than that so I couldn't justify writing it off but just briefly I thought sod it, we'll manage without.

And so we'll go back to being a one-car family tomorrow but hopefully one that will make a few changes.  I hope that we use the car less for those short or unnecessary journeys and cycle more or use the bus.  We have definitely learned that a car, while very useful, is not the must-have item of hardware that we had previously believed. 

I'm sure that, with planning and a bit of ingenuity, even the larger car journeys such as holidays in the summer could be managed by other means.  I'm also certain that, if we did ever decide to go for it, we'd have a fantastic time and would learn a lot through the experience.  Best of all though, now we don't dread the loss of our only car for some reason.  It is a tool to make life more convenient and not life-or-death itself. 

I honestly recommend that we all try and live without our cars, even just for a little bit.  Even those of us who think that we simply can't.  I'm sure that somehow you can.  For the good of the planet, the roads, our wallets and yes, just for the fun of it!