Ruthie and I sat at the kitchen table, murmuring to each other, mindful to keep our voices low and out of Betsy’s earshot.
‘I think it’s time,’ I said.
‘Please Sean! Wait a while. She’s not ready!’ Ruthie begged, reaching across the table and clutching my hands, tears welling up in her eyes.
I sighed. ‘Look, if we don’t do it now she’ll not develop. She’ll stifle. Tony and Val had the right idea – you’ve got to push her to get the best out of her.’ (Tony and Val were Betsy’s previous owners and had wasted no time in taking her to the wintry depths of Scotland).
‘Well, yes, but… ‘ Ruthie grabbed a tissue out of her pocket and dabbed her eyes. ‘She’s not ready!’
With that, she folded her arms and buried her head in them before a tsunami of tears could drench both her and me and any cats in the vicinity.
I sighed again. I’ve been doing this a lot. Ever since the subject of taking Betsy over the border into Wales arose.
‘What’s your problem with Wales?’ I asked.
‘It’s too far. It might break her.’
‘Break her!? You heard what the man at the garage said. That engine will outlive both of you. That’s what he said. We’ve spent a small fortune on her so that she can do what she was designed to do – travel and camp. We’ve done the suspension, sorted out the CV joints, plated the wheel arches, had her re-wired, even bought some pretty stickers.’
‘Yes, but -’
‘We’ve T-cut the headlamps, changed the wiper blades, spent a small fortune on bedding, fitted her with genuine Mazda mud-flaps, even-’
‘But WHAT!?’ I cried.
To be honest my outburst was a tad unfair. I knew what she was worried about. No matter how much work you do to a vehicle, you never know how they’re going to react to being pushed up a 20% gradient such as on the steeper parts of The Horseshoe Pass near Llangollen.
‘Ruthie,’ I started, taking a deep breath, ‘Betsy’s got a 2.5 litre diesel engine, with less than 80k on the clock and with permanent four wheel drive. Horseshoe Pass is a piece of piss. You’ve just got to trust Betsy to do what she was built to do. She’s magnificent. Trust, Ruthie, trust.’
Ruthie grimaced. But it was a grimace of acquiescence and that was enough. I started packing…