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Harrow, do you sell badderies?

I should of gotten the car checked out sooner If I’d of been smarter, but alas – I am not.

But stopping to find a garage, to take the car in and say “I think there’s something wrong with the battery, but I’m not really sure” sounded time consuming against my schedule, and so all like all good problems – I ignored it and hoped that it went away. It didn’t.

Yes, the car had had trouble starting a couple of times a few days in, but I pressed on regardless thinking that I’d get it checked out back in Charleston when I pass through their on July 4th weekend. The car however, had other ideas.

I’d literally just pulled up and stopped in Harrow, PA – one of my stops – when I took a call from a friend. It was raining slightly. Call finished, and I tried to start the car again … only … no joy, at all. The engine pathetically half-turned over and then failed, and I slowly realised that I was in need of some help!

It could have been worse. I could have been stuck out “in the boonies” as someone said, but as it was, I was a two minute walk away from a gas station, who helpfully lent me their local phone book and I scanned all the numbers under ‘Auto Repair’ for a local garage in Harrow. There was one – just one!

So this is Scott, from Vanderlely’s. my knight in shining armour, who after some initial confusion on the phone (He didn’t get what I meant when I said “Do you sell car batteries?”, but when I said “Do you sell car badderies?” he understood me just fine) drove out to meet me in his truck, and after (thankfully) confirming that it wasn’t the alternator that was duff, just the battery – he jumped started me, and I drove the mile down the road to his garage where he fitted me out with a new one.


Well, I say ‘garage’, but it was actually more of a vintage car repair shop as Scott was a man that liked his cars – really like his cars. And he spent most of his time collecting old vehicles, repairing and racing them. He showed me around his garage full of collectable vehicles including the town’s original fire truck from fifty years ago which he’s lovingly restored.

Suddenly I realised that it was almost fortuitous to have broken down where I did and meet this guy, because now I got to look at the cool cars that he had in his garage. He’d lived in Harrow all his life (40+ years) and at the weekend went out racing in classic 1970’s car. I was lucky that he was in work today, because the racing for this weekend had been cancelled because of the rain.

Scott replaced my battery with easy, making me realise how inappropriately experience I am in all things cars. A battery (sorry, baddery) is something that sounds simple but even I would struggle with. Scott replaced the cheapo K-Mart bought and now dead previous model, with some super heavy-duty king sized monstrosity, and the car fired up into life beautifully.

I left Harrow and visited Centralia a couple of hours driving to the west – more of that in a video to follow later this week, and you’ll see why.

I also got Acton, New Jersey and Camden in Delaware down and ticked off the list before heading west into what will now be the start of a long nine weeks.

This first week has been quite ‘snappy’ .. a lot of places done because they’re all (relatively) close together, but starting tomorrow when I hit Ohio, the places are going to be more spaced out and I think I’m really going to start to feel like I’m on a long summer roadtrip at last.

Let’s just hope the battery dieing in the car is the only auto-drama I’m going to have …

13 responses to “Harrow, do you sell badderies?”

  1. Michael says:

    When you wrote about Harrow, it made me think of when I lived in Ruislip Manor (also on the underground) back in 1965.

  2. Scott Rhodes says:

    To be fair most of the mechanics over here in sunny Manchester say badderies, usually whilst scratchng their heads and saying “ohhh, tricky to fix Dat is, it’ll cost ya mate” 🙂

  3. tami says:

    At least you didnt break down in the west with miles from nowhere. Maybe you should get AAA for this road trip!! Maybe I should come follow you in my car!

  4. Betty says:

    I think I would much prefer to hear my name pronounced the way you would say it.

  5. Adam says:

    On my frequent trips over to California, it’s almost laughable how voice recognition systems won’t recognise English unless you talk in ‘American’. I can also be stood in front of people saying the same thing over and over again and the clerk will give me the same confused look. Then the girlfriend steps in, translates into American and all is fine.

  6. MumTina says:

    Perhaps you should take out Breakdown Cover, like the AA or RAC. Presume they have that over there? You don’t want to be stranded in the middle of the desert or similar!

  7. Kathryn says:

    Did they have any surplus sandwiches?

    Darling, it wasn’t the “t” that gives the problem; it’s that you swallow the remaining syllables—baTTrhhh, and generally don’t project. We have no trouble with the likes of John Gielgud, y’know.

  8. amy says:

    I hope it IS your only car malfunction. Crappy to be on the road and break down. I know as my father generally refused car maintenance in the old days and we had many, many adventures broken down on the side of the road in road trips of my youth! That and running out of gas.

    I am enjoying reading of your journey Geoff!

    Amy in BC

  9. Rudi says:

    @MumTina: that’s AAA over here (American Automobile Association), and if you have AA from the UK, they have reciprocity with AAA here in the States.

    Of course, with Geoff having been Stateside for a few years, AAA might be his best bet. Geoff – are you a AAA member?

  10. Amandeep says:

    Wasn’t the real point of the trip to see America, rather than racing along and checking off tube stops? Seems to me a breakdown might be good for you in serving that purpose (though perhaps not for keeping up funding). I like your descriptions of the places you see and the people you encounter.

  11. Gerard says:

    @Rudi – my fault, I (constructively!) suggested that Geoff sometimes has too many “errs” in his dialogue – subconsciously he is now dropping them from everything, hence, “battry” as opposed to, “batt-er-ry”!

    Actually, I don’t think I’ve noticed it before but you’re right, I say, “battry’ also.

  12. MumTina says:

    I love the picture of the red truck in the garage; it is truly ‘American.’ As Amandeep says, you get to see the real America when you go off the main road and meet up with the local folks in small towns. Would you say people are more helpful than the U.K. and do they ask what you, a Brit is doing there, and do you tell them?

  13. David says:

    I find it easier to understand you when you don’t end every sentence with “Gov’na”

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