The university of Neil

Yesterday I learned to be a mechanic under the excellent tutelage of Neil, an ex-pat building his own house on the Asturias/Galicia border, who also happens to be an very good amateur mechanic and who responded to my ‘distress’ e-mail with unbounded generosity of time. There is a real community here with everyone offering assistance, advice and contacts.

I say I learned to be a mechanic, but in reality I learned how to; strip down a distributor, change an electronic ignition coil, clean points, check plugs, and get very greasy and oily while losing a little skin from my knuckles. I now know the electrical side of a 1987 Landrover engine in intimate detail, and so does Neil!

Eight hours of grease and oil, and rain!

From being a non-starter first thing in the morning, Neil coaxed the old girl back to life and has made her almost drive-able. We’ve narrowed down the problem to the points or the condenser, words which probably mean as much to you as they did to me at 9am yesterday morning. We now await Amanda’s precious couriered parcel from the UK, which is expected to arrive at some point on Friday, containing shiny new things for us to make oily and greasy.

Eight hours patiently investigating under the bonnet, myself passing tools to my teacher, like a nurse to a surgeon, meant that gloom was descending as our short two-car convoy rolled out of Neils garage. My tutor following me in his 4×4 to give the Landy a run up to the house and test out our/his handiwork, with tow rope stashed in the back of my car.

She’d still not right, misfiring under accelleration, and encountering a descending large lorry on a narrow uphill section, as we wound our way from Pontenova to Liñeiras, was not the ideal test I’d been hoping for. But she did make it to the house (and mercifully, half an hour later, back to Taramundi).

Mondays work on the barn could only be investigated by torchlight but from what I could see Facundo and his men have rebuilt the window and door surrounds in natural stone and completed the steelwork ready for the pouring of the concrete first floor on Wednesday (today is a holiday – All Saints). Is this really going to take him two months to finish?

The architect is also visiting site on Wednesday so I will be setting off early in the hope that my journey is free of incident and I can spend a full day working, watching, and discussing with the architect.


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