MY mechanic Charlie is a resourceful bloke.
I was in big trouble on Monday. The Fat Kid and family were just 45 minutes away from Cardiff and we were due to head off for a holiday park at Porthcawl for a few days break.
Then Boo decided to throw my plans into chaos.
Boo, as readers of this blog are aware, is my black N-reg Fiat Tipo. Reliable engine, but beginning to look a bit old in the tooth.
It didn't help that a short while ago some little oikes decides to bend my driver's door double in a bid to nick the five 2p coins in the little compartment under the handbrake. Since when it has become possible to buy a wrap of crack cocaine for 10 pence I have no idea, but the whole thing caused me hours of inconvenience, not to mention the immediate rise in my blood pressure whenever I saw some little hoody-wearing scroat riding past me on a bike.
David Cameron, the tory leader, suggested at one stage we should hug a hoodie. I agree. By the neck, preferrably.
But enough of the ranting. Having driven into work to find out some details about Trecco Bay, the park we were heading for, I noticed that Charlie's window repair job wasn't quite working as it should. Having got him to do a quick fix on the cheap perhaps I only had myself to blame.
The cause of my consternation was that a gap had appeared in my window and, in the past, I have always been able to solve this problem by brute force, pushing the glass back into position and hoping to God it sticks. It's worked in the past.
On this occasion I opened the door, put my hands on both sides of the glass, and pushed it upwards into position. Then I let go. Mistake.
The next thing I know the glass is shooting down at a rate of knots, disappearing into the door panel. No window, and I'm damned if I'm going to leave it like that. The Welsh summer is temperamental to say the least, particularly on the coast of the Bristol Channel where our holiday home is situated.
What to do? The Fat Kid, Big Boy, the Vin Monster and new boyfriend Mikey have just sent me a text to say they have reached the Severn Bridge. Nothing else for it, I drive around to Charlie's.
Lovely bloke Charlie. Heart of Gold. Talks for Britain. And baffles with science, like most mechanics tend to do. I'd always wondered about the magic method he had used to fix my window, but didn't have the two hours available to listen to the explanation.
I turn up this time, however, and I can see the master at work. Well, not the master exactly, but his teenage apprentice. Far be it from me to suggest that the spotty youth is identical to how I imagined the oikes were who broke into Boo in the first place.
In this case my future is in his hands.
"Remove the door panel and sort this man's car out now," orders Charlie to the trainee whippersnapper.
Meanwhile the boss himself regales me of his recent trials and tribulations while also attempting to sell me an old Corsa for £500. "About time you got yourself a new car," he says.
I'm absurdly loyal to Boo, besides all her quirks, but he may just have a point there. I'm considering the offer as we speak. At least the electric windows work.
As we're looking around the car the whippersnapper interrupts us.
"Er, Charlie, I've taken off the panel and I've found this piece of wood in there. Did you leave it here for a purpose?"
Charlie looks at him as if he has just arrived off the planet Bozo.
"That's the piece of wood that's been holding the bloody window up," he explains, then proceeds to walk around the door and wedge said lump of wood back in place, forcing the window shut once more. Job done.
God, it can be technical this motorcar repair business.
So the Fat Kid and crew arrive at my house. The Vin Man has weed on the backseat of the Fat Kid's Clio and is in the doghouse. The Big Boy, meanwhile, is already on the hunt for food. Spying some week old grapes that Wren bought, he immediately lunges for them and precedes to eat as many as he can. There's no stopping him where food is concerned.
The Fat Kid introduces me to Mikey. I hate all her boyfriends, but this one seems alright. He's two years younger than her but seems infinitely more mature than the two sorry losers who managed to somehow father her kids.
After having a lovely cup of tea we set off for Trecco and arrive at around six. The chalet we have been allocated is wonderful and the site manager has provided us with an assortment of welcome gifts including the tea, coffee, sugar, milk and toilet rolls that I had taken the precaution of bringing with us. Oh well, more the merrier.
By 6.30 we are in the bar discussing what to buy the kids for tea. When I look at the menu, though, it doesn't seem great and it's pretty expensive.
Supping on a second pint and giving Mikey the third degree while watching the Vin Man enjoying himself in the nearby playground, we decide they can eat later. Fatal mistake. We end up in the club watching a typical holiday camp show, the Big Boy falls asleep and the Vin Man is happy just to blow into an exceptionally loud, rave-type whistle that the Fat Kid has bought him to "keep him quiet". Duh!
By 11 we are back in the caravan having enjoyed four or five pints and chips, jumbo sausage and curry sauce on the way home. The kids are too tired to move, yippee!
I spoke too soon. While I sleep soundly, the Big Boy decides that this is the night he will complain bitterly about the new teeth pushing their way through in his mouth. The Fat Kid and Mikey take shifts to be up with him all night and look like death warmed up when I finally surface. Poor things.
But it's no sleeping on tour so off we go for a walk around the beach, followed by a nice drive to Mumbles for a walk, dinner and a fabulous Joe's ice cream. While the Vin Man plays with his Jacket potato and tuna, big boy demolishes a plate of fish fingers, chips and beans and then proceeds to finish off Vin's meal too. After that he also has his fair share of ice cream.
Delighted to say he slept well last night, but I wasn't talking the risk. I departed on Tuesday evening in order to be ready for work again on Wednesday.
Before I left I cooked for the Fat Kid and Mikey. Without any of my normal ingredients - garlic etc - I had to be a bit inventive with only the local supermarket to provide for me.
I opted for a basic pasta sauce with spaghetti and this is what I did.
a. Heat olive oil in a frying pan or wok, then gently fry onions, stirring regularly.
b. Add some garlic powder and keep cooking.
c. Add pieces of bacon and sliced mushrooms.
d. Add a good sprinkling of mixed herbs.
e. Meanwhile, Boil water in a big saucepan and add spaghetti.
f. Add a good dollop or two of the tomato puree to the bacon mix and stir in well.
g. Add two tins of tomatoes and a good splash of milk, then bring to the boil.
h. Drain the spaghetti, then add the bacon mix to it, stir it around, dish it out and top with grated cheese. Eat with some nice crusty bread.