Day 8

Wick to Eriboll

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or, how to fix a starter

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img0030.jpg (80640 bytes)I got up at 7 in the morning and oh boy did the foot hurt! Probably I have a muscle somehow twisted or what because it is not the bone. You should see me walking. At any rate, somehow I got to Richard's garage with all my belongings and watched how they just removed the starter. Although Monday was truly a national holiday, this somehow doesn't matter in Scotland as they have all holidays differently. As the Scottish AM radio station said later, there is a 12 page handbook listing the individual holidays within Scotland -- apparently each town has a different day when celebrate a national holiday. This was however good for me, as the starter was off the car at 8:40img0020.jpg (43277 bytes) and I was out of town at 9:30. Apparently the whole thing was a lose contact inside the starter, so the guy who has a whole setup for testing starters had an easy job. Hence this was the cheapest and fastest way for me to get away: 28 for the towing (which I didn't need after all) and 25 for fixing the starter. What a bargain -- how can they survive at these rates? I was stranded some 20 miles away and a whole tow truck came out at night to get me, for 28. I will ask my shop at home, but I know for sure that they do not repair such ridiculous things like a starter but rather exchange it, at about $300 or so. And yes I am happy for not joining the British automobile club for 90. The only question that remained was why could the damn thing not fail 2 hours earlier? I would have been out of town 3 days ahead...

img0015a.jpg (57485 bytes)img0021.jpg (39212 bytes)The rest of the day was smooth. First I drove to Thurso along the coast, after which I returned through the inner land to Wick for a wonderful Chinese lunch for ridiculous 4. After this, by heading steadily west, people's predictions came true: the roads are indeed wide enough to allow a car and a sheep to cross, and you will see definitely more sheep than tourists. The more you head west the prettier the landscape becomes, but that of course depends on what you are looking for. Lakes and hills and green and sheep is what I was after, and I sure got it here. Three rolls of film are proof of it. Braveheart pure, you could say, except that the language of the locals is even stranger. Once I was attacked by (mad?) cows when I was attempting to take pictures of the interesting trees in the background... I am still about only halfway west, so there is more to come, I assume. In the meantime the weather forecast has whispered some rather bad news, so I am getting ready.

img0040.jpg (78740 bytes)More news from the radio: no FM stations at all, only two MW and one LW station, but that is sufficient to get the basics. So far during my stay here, they have lost some five children, of which they found some three raped and dead. Other two sex offenders have been sentenced to impressive jail terms. Without the usual sarcasm, I thought that this was a safe place. Burning ferries (and cricket and rugby) aside, this is about all the radio is talking about.

img0022.jpg (54645 bytes)Another interesting news came across the airwaves today: private car clamping is legal everywhere in the UK except in Scotland, where it is regarded as "legalized extortion and theft". This means that in almost all of UK a private person can clamp another's car if illegally parked and then ask for ridiculous money if you want it back. Apparently there are no legal limits and so the clampers just take what they can get. Strong opposition is now building up and wants it prohibited. Soon no more wild west in Britain?

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