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

 

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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.
Image

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.

Image

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.

Festive Fairway

The festive season is in full flow and all 10 boxes (no kidding) of Christmas decorations have made their annual migration from loft to living room, with a few members of the flock left behind en route due to unexpected turbulence (I broke a chair).

We’re unashamed fans of Christmas and the tree tends to be well covered, to the point where the tree isn’t really visible, it’s more like a plinth of decorations in the shape of a tree. A good friend actually asked if the tree came decorated and we simply packed it away in one, because he couldn’t believe that Nina would spend that long decorating it!

Percy didn’t get off lightly from all the festive festooning. What’s worst for him is that I was allowed to be in charge, which meant that I looked for decorations of questionable taste at best and darn right tacky at worst. I’m not sure why I took such pleasure in it but here’s the end result, with a few more pieces still to be added. I’ve already spotted a few cheeky snaps being taken by passers-by outside the flat. Maybe we’ll also get hailed less when we’re out in Percy now.

Christmas Wreath on Fairway Driver Taxi

Fairway Driver London Taxi Christmas decoration

Yes, that really is a Fairway taxi bauble

DSC_0152

We welcomed December with our traditional mulled wine party for friends and family, mind you it was a poor turnout by the fam’ this year… it was all friends and no family.

In a change from tradition, there was the option of non-alcoholic mulled apple juice this year, and the lovely gifts were more of the baby clothing kind than the alcoholic sort. You’d expect the topics of conversations to be mainly around babies and the joys (or not) of parenthood, but those I was involved in actually centred on the amusement and subsequent ridicule of writing a blog on my car….fair enough I say, but it’s still good fun and I just enjoy writing it. Its probably my comeuppance for once setting one of these friend’s flight simulator game to a nose dive, when he had set his autopilot to fly from London to LA, planning on landing when he returned. He’s never got over it, his dreams of being a pilot ruined. He’s now turned to alcohol, albeit mainly selling it.

Another topic of seemingly endless amusement was the limited mileage we have for Percy (3,000 miles for the year). Cue jokes of one way trips to the supermarket and getting the bus back home. Speaking of which, we did receive the insurance renewal form last week and the quote has increased from £200 to £460, but this is for 6,000 miles (up from 3,000 as I had to purchase an additional 3,000 a few months ago, of which we’ve only used 800). I think I’m going to ask for a quote for 3,000 miles again, confident in the fact that we won’t need 6000 miles next year. So he says…

Pet rabbit in Fairway Driver London Taxi

No one escapes Christmas in this household!

Fairway West End Parking

Extreme laziness this weekend meant that rather than taking 2 buses to hospital for antenatal classes we opted for Percy for the 2.5 mile journey. Although the main reason we decided to take him was really lunch… we fancied going to the Japan Centre on Regent Street for some cheap sushi before out class.
Before we set off, I did have a moment where I thought I might regret the decision to take Percy, as parking in central London on Sunday is harder than winning the lottery. However, I figured everyone thinks that so maybe we’d get lucky.
So, round the outer circle of Regent’s Park we went, down Portland Place, across Oxford Street (absolutely mental, as the Christmas lights are now on and people are taking their Christmas shopping very seriously!) and down Regent Street. Any single yellow is a goer on Sunday but that doesn’t mean there’s any spaces. Having no luck down Regent Street, while on Pall Mall and turning back onto Waterloo Place to head back up, I spotted a car-width’s worth of single yellow between a BMW and double yellow lines with traffic cones, right outside the Sofitel Hotel. I saw the doorman looking at Percy while I reverse parked, so I quickly checked the signs and it said diplomatic cars only in the designated parking spaces, but Percy was on a single yellow so should be fine.
Fairway Driver London Taxi Sofitel Waterloo Place

I stepped out and the smartly dressed doorman greeted me and asked if I was picking up. I explained that Percy is a private car and we were actually out for some lunch and gently pointed out it was a single yellow and shouldn’t be a problem for the hotel. He wasn’t bothered at all. In fact, it slowly dawned on me that he was actually rather taken by our Fairway Driver. He spotted it was a 1992 model from the number plate and proceeded to ask about insurance and the general ownership questions (he wanted to buy one for his wife and he also wanted to drive one through Europe to Morocco, where he is from). He even suggested that he was going to campaign to the Moroccon government to introduce Fairway Drivers as their taxis, as their current Mercedes models are really cramped when they have the maximum 5 passengers, which is most of the time because, unlike London taxis, they take more than one fare at once making strangers share.

Then, a gentleman whom I presumed was the hotel manager stepped out and I thought I’d have to put up a fight to leave Percy parked where he was, but he was actually after a taxi for the some guests and asked if I was working, to which the doorman very kindly explained for us that we weren’t a working taxi, so we all had a giggle.

We waddled off to the Japan Centre only to find that it appeared to be shut for good and boarded up, so we headed towards Soho in search of an alternative, only to find the Japan Centre had actually moved to Shaftesbury Avenue. Nina had sushi and I had chicken donburi before heading back to Percy. The doorman was still working and by now seemed to have decided that he would like to purchase a late Fairway model, asking us what year the last ones were. I responded R reg or 1997/1998 but suggested that the year is less relevant than a well cared for, one-owner cab. And for once, somebody wasn’t taken aback by Percy’s mileage; in fact, he’d guessed that Percy had done around 450,000 miles.

Before we left I passed on Graham’s (the cabbie we bought Percy from) email and ‘phone number to the doorman in case he was seriously interested in buying a Fairway Driver ex- London Taxi, as Graham always seems to have one for sale. I hope he does buy one then maybe there’ll be two private Fairway Drivers parked outside the Sofitel next Sunday.
P.S Whilst perusing in Selfridges we saw this cabinet display in Ted Baker!
Fairway Driver FX4 model display Ted Baker counter
which reminded me of last year’s window display outside Selfridges again which I had forgotten to share with you.
Selfridges London FX4 London taxi window display

Fairway Driver MOT

Percy’s new battery is going strong and it’s time for his MOT, so we took him to Danny the mechanic in Walthamstow to be checked over first. Apart from a few minor things that might be picked up on, Danny said Percy should sail through the MOT and sure enough, 2 hours later, we received the call to say that he had passed his MOT with only a replacement reverse light and 2 new tracking rod ball joints for the steering. Hurrah!

Fairway Driver London taxi MOT check

Open wide!

With his new MOT, Percy took us to Ikea where we bought a fair amount of furniture and at the checkout we saw a queue of ‘self-hire delivery drivers’ ready with their vans waiting to pounce on us, figuring that we wouldn’t have brought a van (of course we couldn’t fit all our purchases in a normal car). Sure enough, we were greeted by several men offering different rates to drive us and our newly acquired Ikea flat-packs home.

This only made me more determined to fit everything into Percy, although I had no idea at the time whether it would actually all go in or if we’d be left red-faced and have to go back to the crowd of drivers with our tail between our legs asking for a lift.

Well, here’s the result… it was very close and we had to take the arm chair out of it’s packaging, but we did it! So that’s 2 adults, a wardrobe, changing table/shelving unit, cot, baby mattress, bathroom cabinet, bedside table and an armchair in one Fairway driver. Granted, all except the armchair were flat-packed but impressive none the less?

Fairway Driver taxi Ikea wembley

Just before the storm (St. Jude) arrived, we took Mimi the rabbit for a walk in the autumn sunshine, which she seemed to enjoy. I was wondering whether it was a good idea to leave Percy parked up beneath a tree but I really didn’t think that this ‘storm’ would be too bad, especially at the time we were walking Mimi with not a wisp of wind in the air.

pet rabbit eating autumn leaves in Rembrandt Gardens London

However, as you can see below, it really was pretty brutal in London. When we were woken up by it at 6.30am on Monday morning I was praying that Percy wouldn’t be squashed under another tree.

Fallen tree st Jude's strom St John's Wood Road London

Luckily Percy survived, but I should follow my intuition next time and find another parking spot.

New Shoes

When I set off for work this week on foot, I made a slight detour to check on Percy as he’d been parked in the same spot for almost a week, but he looked fine to me, with no windows smashed (I don’t know what I was expecting but I do like to check).

I then came home to find the Percy’s new battery (Banner Buffalo Bull 105AH) had been delivered so wasted no time in going to fit it, mumbling “positive first, negative last” all the way to Percy (didn’t want to fry myself or Percy). I had to borrow my kind neighbour’s trolley to transport it from the flat to the end of the road where Percy was laid up, because it wouldn’t have been fun carrying it by the two tiny plastic handles- dropping that on your foot could win you prizes for Halloween!

I was coming up towards Percy when I noticed that there was something missing, he looked like his wheels had gone! I thought surely not, it’s not the kind of area where people actually put cars on bricks (let alone a 2 tonne taxi) to steal the wheels and they’re taxi wheels for goodness’ sake. As I got closer, trolley in tow, I realised that it was in fact our chrome hubcaps that had been pilfered by some rotten thief. However, perhaps one with a sense of humour, as he’d kindly left us the two on Percy’s left side, but helped himself to the right, which was oddly right under a lamp-post and unshielded by cars.

fairway driver taxi missing hubcaps

Where are my shiny shoes?!

Well, it wasn’t the most pleasing start to the evening but I did manage to install the new battery without setting fire to myself or Percy, and he started up like a dream. However, I still had the small matter of finding some replacement hubcaps for him. I was all set on removing the two remaining hubcaps and just driving him around without but as you can see from the picture above, he looks ridiculous, like he’s floating on a magic carpet. Umm, actually it is Halloween….

I couldn’t stand seeing him without his shiny shoes, so I texted Graham (who sold Percy to us) to ask if he had any spare chrome hubcaps for sale, to which he replied he had several and in different styles. I also searched around on the internet and research told me they were roughly £10 each for new ones, but I didn’t know what size, whether they’d be any good (you can’t really tell on a screen) or how long they’d take to be delivered. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted new ones, just in case the thieving swine returns for the other two he left behind!

A day later, we were home watching TV after work and I received a text from Graham asking if we’d be home in the next hour as he’d be working a late shift and had some hubcaps in his cab for us. I was rather surprised and less than 45 minutes later we heard the honk of a TX1 outside. I rushed down to the street to greet Graham and he took out four new chrome hubcaps which were of an older style (perfect for Percy), showed me how to put wire round the inner rim and where the valve goes. I hadn’t actually decided whether I wanted to purchase them yet at that point, but Graham had so kindly driven them to us and they did complete Percy once again. We would much rather buy them off a fellow Fairway enthusiast than a website anyway. He even had two used hubcaps that matched Percy’s remaining two, so that we could drive around London in those and switch to our new super shiny ones if we go to any London Vintage Taxi Association shows or events.

So thank you very much Graham (if you’re reading) for coming to Percy’s rescue and you must give us your address to post the cheque to.

On a final note, for those who read one of our previous posts about my attempts to find a cabbie to give Percy CPR, we have some pictures of the Chapel/Pavillion cab shelter, and were even very kindly let inside by whom we presumed was the owner (a very kind lady, as only cabbies are allowed inside).

The Chapel cab shelter st. john's wood

Once inside, we were greeted by a hand-painted mural of a Fairway Driver on the walls, beautifully painted by her brother.

mural of fairway driver taxi in the Chapel cab shelter

fairway driver taxi mural side view in chapel cab shelter