Yesterday was another of those sunny, spring-like days we've been having a lot of down here in Sussex, but there was an edge to it: the daytime temperature was not quite what it had been. This was an important consideration, because I felt ready to sit in Fiona, unused for mearly four weeks now, and try firing up the engine. And then sit there a while longer, letting the engine idle, so that the battery would have a chance to recharge, if it needed to. I'd know, because if there was any difficulty starting it could indicate a battery that had run flat, or nearly so. And with Volvo coming out on Tuesday to collect Fiona and drive her over to Portslade for her service, it would be best to discover any starting problem now.
Anyway, if I was going to sit in the car for half an hour, I'd best dress in something that could fend off the cold. (Which indicates a foggy brain! Because of course the climate control would kick in, and keep me cosy, but I'd 'forgotten' that. Oh dear!) So I selected my Olde Trustye Leathern Jacket from Gap and duly donned it before picking up Verity and my keys:
The neckwear (which you'll see more clearly in some future shots) was a little creation by Ubu of Paris - basically a thick black leather choker with a half-axe chrome piece at the front, simple but bold. I bought it in Tunbridge Wells a month ago, on the day I bought Verity, at a Pantiles shop called Glitterati. The lady in there was modelling it - a perk of the job - and it looked so good on her that I tried it on myself and fell in love with it. It was warm from her skin, too, which made it come alive as a piece of jewellery. I felt as if a baton had been handed to me in the race of life, a baton from a natal woman, passing on to me some part of her essence as a living female being that I'd talked to and engaged with. I look for such things. It was going to be one of the first pieces of 'new jewellery' that I'd reserve for post-op wear.
Anyway, I was prepared not only to sit in Fiona with a comfortable heat-retaining jacket on, but, if there were no starting problems, actually go off on an experimental drive in her.
I shouldn't have worried. Fiona sprang into life as soon as I pressed the start button. As if I had driven her only hours before. Maybe that means I could take her up to the far north of Sweden, leave her overnight by some hut in the wilderness (in one of the trekking areas near Sarek?) and be confident that whatever the frost, she'd fire up next day. Or, more likely, I could feel reassured that a tactical overnight stop in a snowdrift on the side of the M40 wouldn't mean an ignominious roadside rescue! Good old Fiona. She's my kind of girl.
I didn't drive too far to begin with. I pulled in on Ditchling Common to take stock:
Look at the pleasure on my fat face! Oh, YES! This was the definitive moment when I really felt well and truly out of bed and back in the world. The end of the beginning - if not yet by any means the beginning of the end - of my long convalescence.
I drove on. In the course of 45 minutes I covered 16 miles along country roads. I never went over 50mph. Usually it was much less. I felt in control, but not yet ready for a fast, sharp, motorway dash. Nor was I entirely comfortable. I was sitting on a big maternity-type towel inside my knickers and my sutures were still sore. After less than ten miles I was very much inclined to go no further, and head for home. But at least I'd proved that Fiona was alive and kicking, and so was I.