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Monday, monday...
It's been a while since I posted, one way and another. Yesterday, for instance, was spent putting the car in for its annual service - plus aircon service, as they were doing an offer - and MOT (which it passed, thank goodness) and just scraping into the warranty period for the broken electric wing-mirrors control. The car is cleaner than it has been for... well, since it was last in for its annual service. Things taken out of car before it went in included: two folding chairs, picnic blanket, four pairs of shoes, four sets of spectacles - three of which were Ina's as mine were just the one set of car-based sunglasses - three baseball caps in blue, white and pink, two stainless steel water bowls for dog, plus one folding water bottle, a dog collar, a leather lead, sunscreen, glass cleaner, screen-cleaner, half a dozen CDs, a small stuffed bear, ball-throwing stick plus ball, squeaky bone, cat blanket, three tubs of Vanish, an empty handbag, a wooden wand, a coat, a cardigan, peppermints, and a vast array of maps, identification crib charts, leaflets and a photograph of a lost cat (not mine.) Now I have to decide what to put back. (Though the big AZ road map goes into recycling as I bought a new one yesterday when putting some petrol in the courtesy car.)

We also walked the dog in Roding Valley Meadows, where I attempted to photograph mating darters, and pretty much failed.

Mating Flight

However, we did meet a rather splendid dog called Albert

Albert on the Run

Albert is the result of a breeding programme I didn't know much about until talking to his owner, which is trying to recreate the original British bulldog (just as the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel came about as an attempt to recreate the look of the original spaniels owned by King Charles II.) Anyhow, the bulldog experiment is known, variously, as the Victorian Bulldog and the Olde English Bulldog and, judging by Albert, is a real success. You could put him into a 18th century engraving of bull baiting and he would not look out of place. Also, look at him run!

I found myself reading a lot of Primeval fanfic last week, which sent me back to the fixit fic I started ages ago. The ending of fifth season has given me an opening to rework the whole thing (and make snarky comments on the lack of scientific knowledge, logic and series continuity shown in the last two episodes.) Heyho.

Otherwise, I keep flitting from book to book, but mainly re-reading Pinker. This ought to depress me, on the basis that the very premises on which I have been working in my fiction go against human nature as depicted - incontrovertibly, I think - in the chapter on families in How the Mind Works. I comfort myself that my people aren't actually Homo sapiens sapiens and that genetic tampering is possible if not, at the current time, legal.

Anyhow, on a more cheerful note, here is Xolo, holding her position on the sofa despite there being a DOG in the room.

Wary Xolo

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A lovely pic of Xolo! Can we assume she's keeping an Eye on the dog?

Doesn't she look happy?
I am so glad I'm not the only person whose car's cleanliness is directed related to services.

I filled three bags with 'stuff' that didn't include the chairs or anything else of any size.

Great pix. And Albert is very handsome.

Ahem. You should see what comes out of my car when it has to go in for a service. And the problem now with working away from home during the week is that all manner of stuff now gets stored in my car, just in case ...

I failed to mention the two umbrellas (the last version of this car had a special space for brollies and I miss it), the car handbook, the reel of sellotape and the sissors (which permanently in the car doors), the can of Red Bull, the two full bottles of water, the spare cash for the Dartford crossing, the bottle box etc etc. Not to mention the dog's travelling box. It's no surprise we have an estate! (The folding seats and squeaky toy are a consequence of the agility training sessions!)

I have all manner of emergency items now, including a folding shovel, several blankets and the latest acquisition, Yaktrax for my walking boots, in case I break down halfway down the A34 in snow and ice!

Ah... the winter stuff (shovel, wellies, blanket, water, chocolate) will go in later in the year, whenever we have to travel further than walking distance...

Lovely Xolo looks suitably pleased with her own patience in dealing with the dog. :)

And Albert's beautiful. What a great pooch.

Xolo seems to be holding her own for the moment after her awful experiences a few months ago. She tells the dog what for.

Zolo "don't mess, I ain't moving".

I've already told Russ that I want ALL HIS CRAP cleaned out of my car before he leaves for Dragon*Con, so that I can take it for a full detailing. (It tends to get used as extra storage space between cons, and I can't move a lot of the stuff because it's heavy.) I don't think we have anything corresponding to your Annual Services, so this gets done irregularly whenever I feel like putting my foot down.

If the car is serviced regularly at manufacturer specified intervals, it is easier to sell, with each service recorded in the log book.

However, the main reason cars aged three and over go in every year is because of what is still known as the MOT (Ministry of Transport) test. (The Ministry of Transport introduced the tests - and, though it no longer exists under that name, the test still does.) Without an MOT test certificate you cannot tax your car and if you do not tax your car, and the cops spot you (all police cars carry a direct link to a database which lists, by registration number, all details of tax and insurance, and ownership for every vehicle in the UK, and licence details for all drivers) they can fine you and/or tow away and crush your car. The MOT test is fairly basic - you know, what your tread depth is, whether your exhaust's emissions are within legal limits, if your brakes work - and does not guarantee that your car is roadworthy, but if it fails, it certainly isn't.

Among your British LJers you with see bouts of intermittent panic if their car fails its MOT.

Ah. We do have that kind of safety inspection, but nobody I know uses it as an excuse to clean out the interior of the car. When I lived in TN, I had to have proof of passing inspection within the previous 30 days in order to renew my tags every year. Here, they aren't tied that way, and in fact my inspection cycle is nearly 6 months off from my tag-renewal cycle, but I still have to have them both done once a year.

Right now I'm skating on thin ice -- my inspection sticker expired at the end of July, but my car needed a part replaced that Russ didn't have time to do before Worldcon, and now something else is acting up that he won't have time to fix until after Dragon*Con. So I'm currently running on the principle of "you can do ONE wrong thing" and not going to be driving anywhere I don't have to this week! As long as the cop-on-the-street doesn't notice the expired sticker...

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