Jonathan: A change of car today! My blue Vauxhall Astra steadily deteriorated over the last 8 years it’s been here in Uist: the salt air and the sand will certainly have played their part but lots of short trips (mainly to the croft just 3.5 miles away) will have taken their toll on the engine. But that said for a 14 years old it could have been worse, and anyway we were prepared to put up with doors that didn’t lock, turning lamp lenses missing, back hatch that didn’t shut properly … After all the alloy wheels still looked great, the silver sheen set off nicely against the deep ochre of rusty wheel arches. When the engine oil started to foam about 6 months ago, I started to suspect that the cylinder head gasket was not all it should be, but when during the last week I found I had to top up the coolant with about 2 or 3 litres every other day, it was clear we’d hit the end of the road! At Laing’s garage they estimated it would cost £500 or so to get the car back on the road and through an MOT: Seaumus suggested we consider a 7-year old Astra for £2000. My reaction was – we don’t have that kind of money! But on reflection it was clear we could easily end up spending far more trying to keep the old one on the road. This afternoon I went to drive to Lochboisdale to return with the ‘new’ – and the old Astra wouldn’t start: cylinders flooded with coolant! Laing’s had to send round a mechanic to get it started: a tow-start in gear drove the water out of the cylinders and then thankfully the engine burst fitfully into life – for its last drive to the garage for breaking up.