Today, that happens to be Christmas Eve (although it feels nothing like it), I finally plucked up courage to take out Victa, the ride on mower and cut one of the paddocks. I’ve already taken out the petrol push mower and done the lawns round the house, as I’m more used to this kind of mower and wanted to ease myself in gradually, but Victa is for the larger areas.
Victa’s home is in the large double garage that is accessed through the electric up and over door, that in itself has a certain manly feel as you push a button and watch the big door open up to a spacious garage – and Victa!
|Victa in his garage. Sadly none of me driving him, Jackie obviously didn't think it macho enough!|
I’d had a bit of instruction from John before he went and he had left refresher notes for me, so I was sure I could master him. I had to go through the pre-operational checks and refresh my memory on all the controls. Now, lets see, first pump up the rear nearside tyre as its got a slow puncture. OK, done that, next, lift the bonnet and check the oil, apparently Victa is old and uses quite a bit, so he has to be topped up on every mow. Check fuel, yes, John had already filled it up. OK, off we go. Check neutral, check blades off, check blades are up, choke on, turn key….nothing! Press clutch/brake pedal, OK, now it starts! Move choke to off and maximum revs, put on ear defenders!
Now the scary bit, depress clutch, engage 1st gear, lift clutch and….hey, we’re moving! Off we go round towards the grass – and it stops! What have I done? Ah yes, turn the petrol on, but before I could do it Jackie remarked ‘turn the petrol on, even I knew that!’ Its hateful having a woman tell you what to do on a ride on lawnmower, I mean, what do they know about it anyway, this is man’s territory and women should stick to women’s things!
|Ustinov having one of his daily cuddles!|
OK, petrol on, choke back on, turn the key, yes, now we’re cooking on gas! Into 1st gear and away. Actually 1st is a bit slow, so 2nd (out of 5 gears) it is. Onto the grass, lower the blades to position 2, as instructed, engage blades, into gear and away. The good thing about the ride on mower is that it doesn’t matter about the grass cuttings, they just get blown out the side – satisfying! The first few minutes are fiddly, getting Victa round the edges, forward and reverse etc, but once these are done we’re up and down like a professional! I ventured into third gear, which felt like I was really moving. The slightly sloppy steering makes driving in a straight line quite difficult and occasionally I glanced down to look at gear 5 and wondered what that would be like. I decided against using it and quietly thanked John for not putting ‘L’plates on it. No one was any the wiser, although I probably looked pretty amateurish, wrestling with the steering wheel while going straight!
I previously had no idea how manly a ride on mower makes you feel, driving up and down, glancing over the edge when near beds in a ‘I know what I’m doing’ kind of way and ducking under branches in a ‘how cool am I’ way. After zipping down one side and doing a cool ‘glance over the edge’ when nearing a bush and the fence, I came across the next door neighbour on his ride on mower. We looked at one another and did a manly ‘nod’ to each other, that said ‘I’m cool and tough and I can see you are too’ If we’d met in a bar we’d have just ordered a whisky and had the glass slid to us along the bar, whilst chewing on some tobacco and throwing a dart straight at the bullseye! A quick check and I could see he was wearing ear defenders as well, so at least I didn’t feel inferior wearing mine. I wondered at this moment whether I should be eating a Yorkie bar, like they used to do in those truck adverts and I glanced down at Victa to see if there was a fitting to take one. Sadly there was nothing, but hey, I wasn’t hungry, there was work to do!
|Rosie's position on our bed, between us, every night, all night!|
Up and down again and glancing across to the other neighbours I could see Pete, John’s friend. Normally he’s busy in his workshop with his wood working, but today he’s in his garden. I caught his eye and, letting go of the steering wheel with one hand gave a John Wayne kind of wave along with a smile that must have impressed him. With not a wobble I carried on. I’m now really feeling good, but not quite confident enough to try out 4th or even 5th gear! After a few more glances I could see Pete was still in his garden, so I guess he’s checking up on me, can’t blame him, I’d do the same in his position.
After what seemed no time at all the paddock was done and my day’s excitement nearly over. John had said not to run Victa for more than an hour as he can get very hot, so I’ve left paddock 2 and the front section by the road (as big as another paddock) for another day. Perhaps I won’t do it tomorrow on Christmas Day, but the experience was as good as a Christmas present! The only down side is my hayfever. I usually get it in the summer and it comes on when cutting grass, but two bouts in one year, it’s the downside of having 2 summers in one year! Fortunately I had bought some pills, so I should get it under control. Just hope no one saw me snivelling rather than looking tough and macho!
|The finished paddock no.1, sadly Victa doesn't cut in stripes, very disappointing!|
To take Victa back to the garage I stopped the blades, lifted then up and, with a clear area a long way ahead, engaged 5th gear, lifted the clutch and sped off! Actually I wasn’t that fast and I was glad I had experienced it. Back to the garage, reverse in, switch off, brush Victa down, turn off the petrol, close the door and sit down and write the blog. What an exciting day, I do hope I see other people when I’m out cutting the front, I’m going to practise the manly ‘nod’ in front of a mirror now!
|The back garden lawn that I had previously cut with the petrol push mower|
|The house (you can just see the roof) and grounds from across the road. Paddock 2 is behind the trees and I've got to do along the road and round the corner!|