We hit the border at around noon, after four hours of blizzard conditions. The roads were thick with ice and the biting wind hurled horizontal snow into Suzy’s face. She carried on, blind.

Just south of Berwick we decided to stop, pulling into a car park full of hung over tweens. Thier hungry eyes showed them as desperate for that first bite of McDoghair, bloodshot and pallid. We made to venture inside, planning to use this international chain of public toilets and then get out. Only things weren’t so easy.

Pulling the key from Suzy’s ignition, there was a mighty honk of someone’s horn and then silence. Nothing stirred in any of the other cars. S- and I looked at one another before dodging herds of bleary-eyed people with brown paper bags, and dived for the bathrooms.

On returning to the car, we devoured a flask of coffee which would form our lunch and rejoined the A1. But something was amiss. Despite it being only three days after her annual service, Suzy Primera showed an engine warning light.

I know the mechanic who performed the service well – he’s been taking care of my cars since Percy Polo could pass an MOT unaided. The fluid levels were all normal, the engine sounded fine and for once, both of Suzy’s headlamps were working*. We tried driving a little further and the engine temperature remained in its usual place or a journey of 4 hours and counting.

We decided to press on, leaving Berwick, Newcastle and Doncaster behind. I had ensured that the car was covered by the AA before setting off, but being perpetually penniless, I opted for the most basic level of cover. This meant that should the beloved car shudder to a halt, we would be towed to the nearest garage, leaving us stranded to find shelter and more caffeine. As a result, we wanted to be as close to Cambridgeshire as possible, should the unthinkable happen.

We did eventually stop for fuel and another mad rush to the bathroom, though other than that, we managed the day on whatever sustenance was at hand. I prodded Christmas cake into my husband’s mouth at periodic intervals and repeatedly spilt coffee all over my new jeans but after ten hours of almost non-stop driving, we reached our cottage without incident.

I like to think that the light is on as the result of a short-circuit. As it only started showing after we pulled away from McLoo, and because the horn that sounded was in all probability ours, I reckon the cold and the Primera’s notoriously dodgy wiring are to blame. I’ll be incredibly sad if I’m wrong – that little car has been spectacular, lugging us and various others around Europe and sailing through MOTs without even new wiper blades. And if nothing else, Suzy’s hard seats are luxury in comparison with Charlie’s.

On a random side note, Read Between the Lines is down – in case anyone was wondering about the lack of RSS at the bottom of the page. I will endeavour to fix this asap.

*That Charlie Micra’s now need replacing is, I am sure, a total coincidence.

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