Friday, 20 March 2009

The Bingmobile

Bingley has changed our lives in many ways, most of which I’ve already talked about and most of which I wouldn’t want to change back again. But possibly the biggest event since his arrival has just taken place: we’ve bought our first car!

There was a time when Bingley would quite simply have had to learn to be a cyclist. Or at the very least he would have had to get used to being carried around on a pushbike: there are some very nice trailers out there, so it isn’t beyond the realms of imagination. Though the idea of getting Bing to sit still in one of those things is probably stretching things a bit.

I recently spotted a cyclist pootling along with a dog zipped up in his jacket: just its head sticking out, with ears flapping in the wind. The dog that is, not the cyclist. Small dog too, definitely not a Bingley.

A papoose would have been a possibility. Bing strapped to my back with his paws on my shoulders and his chin on my head. That would have worked, I’m sure; and been fun as well. But my back, as I’ve mentioned, has been very creaky recently and lugging around 6 stones of dog wouldn’t have done it any good at all.

No, Bingley and bikes were never going to work out.

But Bingley and cars seemed like a grand idea.

Learning to drive was an adventure in itself and deserves its own story. For the time being I’ll just say that I count myself as being very fortunate in finding an instructor who was not only a wonderful teacher but also a top dog breeder. I ended up learning as much about dogs as I did about driving cars; which is as it should be I think. Thanks again, Janet!

I’ve always enjoyed looking at cars – from a design point of view as well as that of a cyclist trying to survive on the roads. But finding a car just right for Bingley turned out to be a challenge. Zipping around in a small reliable hatchback was a very appealing idea; but we quickly realised that there was no way we were going to be able to wedge Bingley into the hatch, and getting him to sit still on the back seat of one of those cars wasn’t even close to being a possibility. Talk about back-seat drivers!

We did think about cutting port holes in the back of a van or strapping Bing’s cage onto a flatbed. But in the end it seemed easier just to buy an estate car instead. However finding an estate that was just right proved to be tricky: I discovered that some of these cars have backs with a very high step, some have a very deep inner lip. On some the wheel arches get in the way, whilst others are full of integrated netting designed to secure the shopping (yes, I did consider that one!)

Talking to the staff at the different garages I visited was good fun and very helpful: some of the people I met were dog lovers themselves and they not only understood what I was looking for, they also had very useful suggestions of their own.

But in the end, after much trekking around, we came across what seems like the perfect Bingmobile: a dark blue Golf estate with a low step and a large flat back big enough to comfortably accommodate an almost 2 year old bundle of boundless energy.

Bingley’s good friend Dave helped us out and drove the car home on the first day. Bing of course greeted both this newest addition to our household, and his friend, with typical giddy enthusiasm. Thanks again, Dave: I’m glad that you’re still talking to me and I hope that the bruises have started to fade (I’m sure Bingley didn’t do it on purpose!).

I’m still getting used to the new car and we haven’t driven very far yet; but after a couple of trips to the beach Bingley seems to be settling down to the idea that this is going to be fun. He’s quickly grown accustomed to sharing his back yard with this new room on wheels and he happily clambers into the back when it’s time to set off. On the first trip out he spent the entire journey walking round in circles, but by the second ride he seemed comfortable enough to simply lie down and wait for the fun to begin: he loves going to the beach.

So here we are at the beginning of a new series of adventures; and knowing Bingley all I can say is – watch this space!


Anonymous said...

The idea of Bingley in a papoose really appealed - especially as since my own graduation (such a long time ago!!) from this mode of transport nothing has ever come close to the perfection papoose travel offered! The best bit was putting my own 'paws' over my Dad's eyes whilst moving - in turn he would bend down to tie his shoelaces with me now suspended upside down - the ultimate revenge..and great fun!!! Alex

Rob said...

Lovely as always, Alex! I missed out on the papoose phase myself, though I got turned upside a few times. Of course Bingley's ears would have dragged on the floor if I'd tried that with him!

But I really do think that I could have whizzed along the lanes quite happily with him papoosed on my back: ears flapping, tongue lolling. Great fun, definitely!

Dave said...

As a French friend of mine often says when I thank him for something: "The pleasure was mine". My first encounter with Bingley is the most memorable since my first encounter with a Golden Labrador in Somerset in 1964named 'Captain'. Captain's speciality was whipping you with his wagging tail. Bing simply goes for maximum body contact! Very touching, in every sense. Love him to bits, every bit as characterful as his photo's suggest.

Rob said...

I think that you've definitely captured the spirit of Bingley, Dave: he's an absolute character and doesn't do anything by half! I just love the way he bounced non-stop with all four paws off the ground throughout your visit - he only does that with the people he really likes. Captain must have been terrific – but luckily for you Bing’s tail is one of the more sedate parts of him otherwise you might not have survived intact!

Sue said...

Hi Rob, I really enjoyed reading this entry. When's the novel coming out!

Rob said...

Thanks, Sue. It’s exciting to be able to share a momentous event like this, and to watch Bingley’s reactions to it. He loves the car, I’m glad to say; and I’m sure that he’ll start to get as giddy about it as we are once he realises that it’s going to mean more fun for him!

The novel? Well, I must admit that now that I’ve begun to find out what it costs to run a car, the idea of possibly being paid to write is starting to look very appealing!

Sue said...

Rob that's brilliant, just go for it. Who would have thought that through buying a car it would have turned you into a award winning novalist!!

Rob said...

Thanks again, Sue. But at the moment I think that the only award I'd be nominated for would be one which involves extreme patience with dogs. And even then I'm not always sure that I'd win!