I have some family in Matakana, a small but growing development near Warkworth, which in turn is about an hour north of Auckland. My cousins Stephanie, David and Paul are a lot younger than me (15, 13 and 11). They are immensely talanted (it is possible that Stephanie will be representing NZ in the youth sailing world cup in the Canary Islands next year and we kiwis are very good sailors. Actually, when I say we, I really mean the rest of us as I couldn't sail across the bath (as much as I would like to think I can sail round the Horn by myself)). My cousins have a paddock, and they also have a deregistered Mazda 121. This is the basher. The basher is fueled by petrol that Paul and David steal from the lawnmower. After learning handbrake turns from the eleven year old Paul I strapped myself into the basher and drove around the paddock as fast as it will go. There is something very liberating about driving straight towards a small ditch and hit the accelerator. Nice to not have to worry about suspension. When I was finally prised from the drivers seat, David got a turn. After some really impressive turns the car ground to a halt. The young fellers immediately popped the bonnet and reattached the battery that had come loose. Still no life in the car. Being the senior man in the party I had a look. Being as good a mechanic as I am a sailor (my diagnoses with car failures are a short and sweet list: Did a) it hit another car, b) the car run out of petrol, c) the battery die, or d) the alternator die) and having had experience with a, c and d I said get more fuel. So we stole some more from the lawn mower. That didn't work. We tried a few more times and then I declared it to be flooded. So we walked away from it to let it, um, de-flood. After several more attempts an hour later she still didn't start. We popped the bonnet one more time and then I noticed a large accumulation of grass at the base. The amount of grass had compressed a rubber hose leading into the whirry engine thing. I declared it to be blocking the fuel line so we prised it all away and gave the key a turn. First turn and we were bashing again. Big technical fault that, grass under the hood.
But paddock bashing, by golly, that was fun.
(Pictures of the dirt and the basher when I return to blighty)