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Nowhere to go but everywhere – Fiona Tatton, Womanthology Editor

Hula girl on dashboard
Fiona Tatton - Womanthology Founder and Editor
Fiona Tatton

…So just keep rolling

Hello and welcome to Womanthology edition 39. This fortnight we’re hearing from dynamic Women in Automotive. I’ve taken the liberty of including amazing women who work in related sectors too. September is one of the two dates each year when a new registration comes out in the UK so I thought rather than splash out and celebrate on a new car – maybe in six months’ time (I wish…) – we should celebrate the women who have transformed their passion for cars into careers.

That new car feeling

The last time I was fortunate enough to get a new car I was so happy / excited spontaneously burst into tears whilst driving home so I’m not sure I could cope with that much joy at the moment. Cars can do that to people. They don’t just move you physically from place to place, they really move you spritually. Or is that just me?!

The world suddenly opened up

I’ll never forget the excitement when I passed my driving test and I suddenly gained the freedom to be able to go pretty much wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Having grown up in a small village I was used to being stuck in one location and relying on my long suffering parents to ferry me back and forth to school and then after that to work, all of a sudden, if I could think of a place in the UK, I could get myself there. My world had suddenly opened up exponentially and I was in love.

Jack Kerouac said,

“…There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep rolling under the stars…”

This was a bit like me when I’d filled up with petrol in my first car. Although it cost a lot less then.

Roll up your sleeves, it’s going to be a long journey…

Of course back in the day, sat navs were not available, so my trips were somewhat restricted by my own limited navigation skills. I used to print out a route finder from the AA’s website and then handwrite out the key roads to remember. I even went through a phase of writing this up my arm in pen, which was fine until I wanted to go somewhere really far away and I had to write from my wrist up to past my elbow. ‘Past elbow’ journeys were long. It also looked a bit weird if I was driving for work and then I got to a meeting with biro all up my right arm. Not a good corporate look…

Hurrah for when sat nav reached the masses and in theory I could drive all around continental Europe. Not tried that one yet. I’m saving it for the future. I quite fancy doing a Top Gear style driving challenge, but with less producer punching and wacky blokey banter.

As my current car was just been returned to me after its annual service, it got me thinking about the way your service intervals in your car are a bit like the phases of your life.

15,000 miles

So your first major check is at roughly 15,000 miles, so that equates roughly to your 15th year as a person. You get prodded and tested in your GCSEs – you might need your engine oil replaced and your filter changed, but you’re pretty much good to keep going no matter what. You’ve not got many bumps and scrapes and everything is working pretty much as it should.

30,000 miles

Now the big test is when you reach 30,000 miles. This is a biiiiggg service, in the same way that most people’s 30th birthday is a bit of a reality check. So you’re not old, but you’re not exactly young in the traditional sense any more either. I think everyone of thirty or over has grappled with that one.

Time for a new fuel filter, your engine coolant needs changing and your power, steering and transmission fluids all need flushing out and replacing. Where are you going? What are you doing with your life? Are you on the right road? Let’s hope so.

45,000 miles

By the time you’re at 45,000, or roughly 45 in human terms, in addition to your oil and oil filter needing to be changed, you also have to check your spark plugs and your ignition management system. What is it that gets you out of bed in the morning? Your spark plugs and ignition still firing like they used to? Are you doing the right thing with your life? Are you working for the right people? Are you being treated in the way you might expect to be treated?

As we get more miles on the clock we become less tolerant of our days being wasted on journeys we no longer feel we want to travel. Brake fluid needs a quick check too. What do we need to stop doing in our lives?

60,000 miles

Now by the time is gets to 60,000, it’s time for your 30,000 mile service again, but this time with the addition of your timing belt. No one need problems with their timing belt. And so it continues…

I’m happy to say that my car did well in its service and didn’t have a crisis or a meltdown. I’m relieved to say I’m a fair way off my next major service interval myself, so fingers crossed its more happy motoring for a while longer until then.

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