‘Percy, Percy!’

I almost forgot we had a blog it’s been so long since our last post! Life appears to be moving at a hundred miles an hour. We hope everyone has had a lovely Easter break and enjoying the warm spring sunshine and longer evenings. Cold, dark, winter nights finally behind us!

Percy has been ageing (rusting) gracefully, with very little issues. We may have developed a slow puncture in the rear left tyre, and he might have a leak from the sunroof, or just the roof, after Nina spotted a small puddle of water on a plastic bag in the front passenger side area after a night of heavy rain. However, there were no wet marks on the ceiling and it didn’t leak when we were driving in rain. Hopefully it was some sort of condensation or the sunroof was left ajar.

Other than that and a few rust holes being a few centimeters bigger now, I can scarcely believe this 23 year old work horse is not far off the condition we first bought him in a few years ago.

We spent the Easter break in Tunbridge Wells, with Percy fully loaded with what felt like all our earthly possessions but he made the 55 miles journey without fuss.

We had lunch at the Mark Cross Inn on Monday and having parked up, an elderly gentleman seemed intrigued by Percy. He asked if he was an ex London taxi and what mileage he had done. I told him roughly 463,000 miles, and he said he didn’t believe me, so I opened the door to the driver’s seat and asked him to see for himself. He looked and said ‘no, really? wait, let me see again,’ and I’m not kidding, he got his magnifying glass out of his pocket (people still carry these around?), looked again and said ‘463,000 miles?! it really doesn’t look like it’s done that many miles,’ but I assured him it has, and that Percy doesn’t sound like he’s done that many miles as the engine is very sound, but if he looked at the chasis and bodywork (even without magnifying glasses) he could definitely see the mileage.

The problem with owning and driving a black taxi in London when you have a baby, who is just learning to speak, is that your taxi just becomes like any other to them.
Baby on Fairway Driver Taxi bonnet

Nina was walking with Cabette from her nursery to the bus stop when they passed a taxi rank by Hammersmith tube station. There was a black TX2 parked up at the rank, and Cabette walked over pointing at it saying ‘Percy, Percy,’ and the driver asked if she wanted to get in. Nina had to interject and explain that we drive a taxi and that Cabette thinks it’s her taxi.

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I have a feeling this won’t be the last time this happens! There are almost 40,000 working black cabs in London I believe. That’s a lot of Percys!

Fairway in town

Hope everyone has had a good Christmas and New Year.
Fairway driver taxi christmas wreath
It’s been a hectic past few weeks with Christmas and Cabbette’s birthday so close together.

Percy has been quite busy too, taking us to grandparents in Tunbridge Wells and back, a friends birthday lunch in Knebworth, and nephew’s birthday party in Epsom. He’s been reliable as ever throughout if a little cold.

He passed his MOT with no advisories too!

I renewed his insurance with Peter Best insurance on 3000 miles fully comp and a commute to one place of work and breakdown cover for a little over £200. We only drove 1900 miles last year so that should be plenty.

With Cabette taking up much of our focus and rightly so, Percy has had to play second fiddle, including rocking last year’s Christmas decorations. I simply haven’t had time to even notice any new decorations for him.

Fairway Driver Christmas bauble

He’s quite a celebrity on our street now though, so it’s good to know that he puts a smile on people’s faces when they come home.

Speaking of commuting to work, I’ve been cycling to and from work 8 miles away everyday since we moved to West London, and I’ve never seen the roads so quiet as today, so I will continue to enjoy the quiet but cold commute.

Although I managed to wrangle a parking space from building security for New Year’s Eve, when I took Percy, as I was collecting Cabette from nursery in the afternoon. I wouldn’t normally even consider driving given the traffic and congestion charge, but there was hardly any traffic (at least in comparison to a normal working week in central London) and congestion charge is suspended between Christmas and New Year, so I took full advantage. I did have to warn security that I drive a London taxi so when they see me on CCTV at the gates, not to think it’s just a cabby turning, but to let me into the undercroft.

It was the smoothest drive into town, 25 minutes into Holborn, with the A4, Knightsbridge, Shaftsbury Avenue all virtually empty. I did get some interesting looks from people as I’m sure there aren’t many Fairways that are in town very often now.

And as I left reception to the undercroft, the building security lady told me she’s been inspired to get a taxi having seen Percy!

New Home

We’ve been rather busy over the past few months, hence the lack of posts. We have moved away from St. John’s Wood in North West London to leafy Chiswick in West London. Percy has of course come with us and is happily parked on the street outside our flat.
Percy has been wonderfully reliable this summer if a little bit warm inside. He has been ideal for moving the mountain of belongings we’ve built up over the past 5 years. We did several trips to the charity shops, and I did many return trips to the new flat to paint it, ready for Nina and Cabette.

We must have done 6 return trips all fully laden with bags and boxes, and even then we still needed a large transit van to move the rest of our belongings to the new flat.

Fairway Driver Chiswick

We are settling into our new flat and area nicely, and although I used to work round the corner there are still many places to explore. We haven’t needed Percy much recently due to our explorations on foot, so I’ve bought a battery isolator switch to add to the negative terminal in the battery and it just makes it much easier to disconnect the battery with a twist of the wheel, as opposed to having to loosen the connection everytime with a small wrench or pliers.

Percy also has a new side kick, Clarke. He’s a monstrous jump starter (Clarke 4000) for car batteries. I believe it starts petrol engines up to 6 litres and diesel engines up to 4.5 litres. What was rather amusing was that Nina passed the local funfair today and saw a Clarke attached to some leads of a ferris wheel. So if anyone needs to jump start a fire engine or power a ferris wheel, get a Clarke!

I was driving Percy to see a friend in Brixton yesterday when half way through a corner the steering went very heavy and I heard a snap in the engine area. It was the alternator belt and it was shredded.
I pulled up and crawled under Percy to get as much of the shredded belt as I could out and got 2 replacement belts from the boot (he has two belts, one to run the alternator and the other to operate the power steering pump). I tried for the life of me to fit them but it’s very similar to the last stage of replacing your bicycle tyre where you need thumbs of steel to push the final part of the rubber tyre over the rim but on a bigger scale. I completely failed and swore profanely at Percy.
I gave up and called the AA and even then it took both myself and the AA man to fit the belts, with him turning the engine from underneath Percy and me pushing the belt in while he spun the cam slowly to get the belt over the it.

We came back from a holiday in Spain last week, and having parked up at the local supermarket, we walked past a rather familiar sight.

rear of fairway driver taxi in mercadona carpark benitachell spain

fairway driver taxi in mercadona benitachell spain

I have no idea how the owner managed to drive it without melting, because it was probably 35 degrees celsius and I’d bet that the heating is stuck on like Percys. Still, I’m sure he enjoyed driving it in Spain, but I definitely wouldn’t dream of driving Percy to Spain, especially in the summer. He is barely comfortable in a 25 degree British ‘heatwave!’

Day out in Greenwich

It’s been a very busy few months, with flat hunting and a rapidly developing Cabbette, hence the dearth of posts recently.

People always say your life changes when you have children, and not just the big things like needing a bigger flat/house or starting to save for nursery etc, but your daily life. A good example was Friday night. Towards the end of the working day, conversations in the office turned to ‘what are people doing tonight?’ with lots going out to eat or meeting friends for drinks before moving onto a club somewhere in Soho or Clapham, but me? I was off to Asda for some disposable changing mats because they were on offer and we were running low. In fact, I’d driven to the Asda in Park Royal (about 6 miles away) when there were 2 Sainsburys and 2 Waitroses closer to home because the mats were on offer in Asda. I genuinely wouldn’t change it for the world though. I just find the contrast with my similarly aged colleagues amusing, but then Nina and I have done all that over the past few years. The traffic wasn’t bad for a Friday night though and I enjoyed the drive in Percy, he felt much swifter without Nina or Cabbette in the back, but don’t tell them that.

I’d always been a fan of Greenwich Park, since I wandered through it when waiting for Nina and my sister while they were at a wedding show in the nearby Excel centre. And with the beautiful weather on the weekend, we decided to take Cabbette with us for a visit. She’s starting to pay more attention to her surroundings now so we debated whether it was time to ditch the aircraft carrier attachment (carrycot) and install the seat, but she was still a little small for the seat so we kept the aircraft carrier for a little longer.

Paul and Stokke in Greenwich

It was also Percy’s first longish run for a little while, and it was a very pleasant journey in the morning sunshine and quiet roads (difficult to believe I know). I even had to open the driver compartment windows, not without reaching under the steering column to pinch the wire for the windows to actually work. We found a parking space right at the top of Greenwich Park by the Observatory, and I quickly assembled the aircraft carrier before we took a lovely stroll around the grounds.

Fairway Driver London Taxi Greenwich Observatory

We played with Cabbette on the grass and Nina fed her, before we wandered towards the Cutty Sark, while deciding what to have for lunch. We came to the conclusion that a sit-down lunch in a restaurant in the sunshine, tempting though it was, was probably not going to last with Cabbette teething.

Stokke Xplory Cutty Sark

So, it was a footlong Subway for me and Fish and Chips to go for Nina. We took it back to the top of Greenwich Park and were eating it on the grass, enjoying the views over London, when the wind started to pick up and Cabbette was having nature blown into her eyes, so we decided to finish our food ‘inside’ and simply sat in the back of Percy. Nina and Cabbette in the back seats and me on one of the fold-down seats. We got some interesting looks from people who were trying to find somewhere to finish their lunch out of the wind. I’ve been meaning to find a small fold up picnic table to go in the back of Percy to complete the ‘dining room’ but have yet to find a suitable size.

Nina and Dilly in Greenwich

We will be moving flats next week, so Percy should come in very handy for the move. I’m so confident that he can do most of it, I’ve only hired a van for a couple of hours to do the large furniture, with then intention of Percy doing the rest (bags and boxes).

R.I.P Mimi the Rabbit

Sadly, over the weekend, we were grieving the loss of our pet rabbit Mimi. She passed away suddenly, having had a seizure in her hutch at home. I took her to the emergency vet’ hospital in Belsize Park but, having battled valiantly for 3 hours, she breathed her last breath at 11pm. She was 4 years old.
Nina and I had been living in our rented flat (in a portered block that we’d had our eye on ever since we moved to London) for a year when Nina asked me one day if we could get a pet rabbit. I’d had one when I was a child and agreed that they made ideal pets- easy to maintain, docile and unbelievably cute! However, our building has a no pet policy (shhh) and I didn’t think we really needed a pet in our life, rabbit or not.
Shortly after this conversation, I returned home after work one day and found a rabbit hutch in the living room, already assembled and painted to match the walls, and a grey rabbit kitten hiding on a cushion in a straw house in the corner.
grey baby pet rabbit kitten
Mimi was impossibly cute at that age and would lick your face if you laid down to play with her, something she continued to do all her life. Because we played with her at such a young age and let her roam around the flat, she was very tame and putting a harness and (pink) lead on her was much easier and painless than people would believe. Her favourite place for a walk was Rembrandt Gardens by Paddington Basin and Warwick Avenue, where she loved running round and round the rose garden.
Rabbit in grass

Spring

Grey rabbit wearing sunglasses in bag

Summer

Grey rabbit wearing Christmas jumper surrounded by autumn leaves

Autumn

Winter

Winter

Mimi was very well travelled too. Since we bought Percy she’s been on many days out with us. She’d travel with us when we visited my parents in Bath or to Tunbridge Wells for Nina’s parents, and she was definitely loved at both households- my Mum would walk her in the garden with the neighbours looking on in amusement. She even has her own portrait photo inside Percy, just above the storage box in the centre of the driver’s compartment, where insurance certificates from the previous owner were once displayed.

Rabbit on Fairway Driver bumper
She also travelled by bicycle for shorter journeys…
Rabbit in basket on Boris Bike
She always attracted a crowd when she was out for a walk, mostly children wanting to stroke her, some well behaved and some not so well behaved but she was always calm and accommodating, never biting or scratching anyone, she wasn’t that kind of rabbit. She did become a bit of a mini local celebrity in her own right, with people approaching us and saying ‘I’ve heard about you’!
Rabbit in basket on St Johns Wood sign
After long walks we would let her sit in her favourite place-  the left arm rest of the sofa, next to the radiator- and sometimes she’d jump down and lie next to us while we watched TV.
Rabbit sitting on sofa
Mimi was also very useful for eating any vegetable peelings, favourites including carrots, grapes and pears. The afternoon before she died, we took her and Cabette for a walk in the beautiful sunshine in Regent’s Park along the boating lake. Mimi was full of energy and enthusiasm, hopping almost the entire length of the lake. Afterwards, we put her in her basket on the pram and pushed both girls home. We took what would be the last photo of her.
Mimi riding on Stokke pram
She brought a huge amount of joy to our lives and will be sorely missed but we’d like to think she lived a good and happy life with us.
It’s a shame that our daughter will never get a chance to properly meet Mimi and take hold of that pink lead.
rabbit in chinese dress

Celebrating Chinese New Year

Rabbit riding London Taxi

Mimi Lau; 2010-2014

 

Fairway Lullaby

We’re stretching our feet a little more now, venturing beyond just the local shops and 15 minute bus rides to Oxford Street, and we finally made a break for it last weekend. We were heading out to Chiswick to try a Brasserie recommended to me by several colleagues that I’d never got round to sampling. It’s called Sam’s Brasserie and is hidden away behind the Barley Mow pub, just off Chiswick High Road. Although we could have taken the bus, we opted for Percy as we hadn’t taken him for a run in a while.
Little Cabette was a slightly agitated by something or another when we left the flat and was crying in her Starship Enterprise buggy (it’s about the same size) when we reached Percy. I thought I’d start the engine (just to check that he would actually start after 2 weeks of inactivity) first before fitting the car seat and folding the Starship. I had two surprises; Percy started first time, and Cabette stopped crying straight away. She stayed quiet and slept from then, through the faff of fitting the car seat, and all the way to Chiswick. So, yet another use for a 22 year-old 2.7L Nissan Diesel engine… I might have to record it on my ‘phone to play at bedtime at home.
 

We had a lovely lunch even though we only managed a table at the bar as we hadn’t booked. Nina had the fish and chips and I had the spicy chicken with coleslaw. With it being winter, Percy’s steering fluid leak has started again, so I strongly suspect the rubber seal has hardened and with the metal contracting in the cold his leak is worse, so I top up the steering fluid every few weeks, or at least when I can.

Also, with the recent heavy rain I noticed that the leak in Percy’s boot is worse, or perhaps it’s just the sheer amount of rain that has fallen recently making it seem that way, but the towels I had in there were soaking wet. Still, I’d rather a leaky boot if it means we stay leak-free in the driver and passenger compartments. I was particularly grateful for the leak free interior when we were making our way back from Pets at Home near Kew, when a huge thunderstorm erupted above us, with rain drops almost the size of Mimi the rabbit coupled with full thunder and lightening. It was almost too much for the ancient windscreen wipers to cope with and I had to tap the windscreen a couple of times when they started slowing down.

So, it maybe wise to carry a few buckets in Percy in anticipation…

Room for one more

We hope everyone had a happy Christmas and New Year!

We haven’t posted for a few weeks, as we have been kept busy with our new baby girl…
 
It turns out that the Fairway is a pretty useful mode of transport for a woman in labour, as finding sitting down uncomfortable due to being 4cm dilated, a large floor space with 2 door handles to hold onto was ideal for kneeling, all the way (all 10 minutes of it) to the hospital on Boxing Day morning. We did get some interested looks from the queue of people outside Madame Tussauds, who must have thought the baby was being delivered in the back of the Fairway.
I do wish I had practised a little more with the car seat, as it wasn’t a quick getaway from the hospital the next day. Trying to work out how to get the seat belt around car seat correctly is more complicated than it sounds! The midwife who saw us out of the hospital asked which car was ours as we approached the row of parked cars and she couldn’t understand why we drove a London taxi when we’re not cabbies. We went through the usual “Well, why not? We live in London, what better car to drive?” She left slightly bemused but also bored after watching my protracted effort with the car seat.
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All the Christmas decorations, including those in Percy, have migrated back to the recesses of the cupboards, to be replaced by baby furniture (Percy included). It’s rather useful that he can take a fully loaded pram unfolded, along with a car seat and a couple of passengers comfortably in the back, as we haven’t bought the most collapsible/compact pram on the market. In fact, if it was a car, it’d be a black cab… fantastic turning circle, weighs a tonne, and about as aerodynamic as a house, especially against side winds. Still, the perfect choice for us and our lifestyle.

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However, like Mimi the rabbit, Percy hasn’t been garnering a lot of attention from us recently, even after his very important duties in taking us to the hospital and back.

Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we can all go for a day trip somewhere once we’ve found our feet as new parents.