The first couple of months of the year are always a little more expensive than the rest of the year. The insurance is due on both the bug and the bus, and there there’s the dreaded MOT for Clarence.

It’s not all bad news though – my birthday also happens to be the anniversary of picking Clarence up and driving him across the M62 in the snow – 4 years ago now! And what better way to celebrate than to kick off a Black Stone Cherry double-header down at Wembley Arena?

Having spent a week back in La Plagne in January, it’s not been a bad start to the year at all!


Seriously unhappy when I saw this Amazingly, it’s been 5 months since I last sat down and and wrote something. But then, things are always fairly quiet on the VW front over the winter – there aren’t really any shows to head to and it’s more often than not too cold to be camping (as our trip to Biggin last February proved!). That leaves plenty of time for planning however. And buying stuff! Unfortunately we had some unwelcome visitors not long before Christmas and Clarence’s aerial got snapped off. W*****s. At least that was the only damage they did. A replacement has been sourced therefore, along with a new 76 aerial ball to go atop. That should be being fitted in a few weeks along with the new woodrim steering wheel that I picked up back in November.

On the planning side of things, we’ve got our first trip to the Peaks in the diary (more pie, beer and cheese), we’re looking at a long weekend in the Lakes, and then there’s the big trip in the bus over the Channel in September. We haven’t figured it all out yet, but essentially it’s going to take in the Normandy landing beaches and various other destinations en route to Guillemont Road Cemetary to observe the centenery of my great-grandad falling in the Battle of the Somme. Hard to believe it’s 5 years since me and Dee took the bug over to the continent on a similar pilgrimage. Strange how life changes.

In order for Clarence to be safe for that and the other trips, this week saw him square up for his annual battle with the MOT testers. I must admit that I wasn’t entirely prepared for the fail sheet:

  • Horn is a siren (1.6.2c)
  • Front Windscreen washer provides insufficient washer liquid (8.2.3)
  • Nearside front Brake hose excessively deteriorated (3.6.B.4d)
  • Offside front Brake hose excessively deteriorated (3.6.B.4d)
  • Offside front upper Suspension arm ball joint dust cover excessively damaged so that it no longer prevents the ingress of dirt (2.4.G.2)
  • Offside front lower Suspension arm ball joint dust cover excessively damaged so that it no longer prevents the ingress of dirt (2.4.G.2)
  • Steering system has excessive free play detected at the steering wheel (steering box fitted) (2.2.A.1a)
  • Offside front inner Track rod end ball joint has excessive play (2.2.B.1f)
  • Centre Steering arm has relative movement at its fixings (2.2.B.1h)
  • Offside Front wheel bearing has excessive play (2.5.A.3c)
  • Nearside Rear wheel bearing has excessive play (2.6.2)
  • Offside Rear wheel bearing has excessive play (2.6.2)

Soon, my pretty I was pretty irritated with the rubber components having failed, with most of them having been fitted fairly recently. Talking to Jonnie at the Herbie Hospital though, it seems that the quality of rubber parts these days is generally poor. Having seen the state of the front brake hoses once they’d been replaced, all I can say is that it’s a good job we have the MOT test. Not that my credit card would agree!

Anyway, he’s legal now and that’s all that matters. He’ll be heading back to the Herbie Hospital in a couple of weeks to have his new steering wheel fitted and an oil leak sorted. It also sounds as though there’s a piece of tinware missing that could potentially cause some overheating issues so it’ll be good to get that sorted before we try any long journeys this year. He turns 45 on the 19th March, so we’ve got to make sure he’s looked after!

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