The phrase Revolution has been thrown around my 30 year working career as some kind of business mantra (no Opel pun intended). However I never thought I would go full circle and find myself sampling in a modern day equivalent of the Bedford HA Van #, and yet that is exactly what I have been doing of late. So now I am back-filling due to necessitous resource management and using a company Vauxhall Astra Estate to go and take water samples.
This is not the first Astra I have driven. I once was the proud owner an Astra GTE Mk.1 which after 6 months use I sold for almost what I paid for it about £1700, which was a lot of hard earned money in the mid-eighties. It was a great car although its lasting memory was its propensity to over-heat when idling. To resolve this issue I use to allow the temperature gauge to nuzzle the red and then apply the hot-air blowers on full bore. This was most uncomfortable in a summer jam but it worked. The only other gripe was its fondness for front tyres which it went through at an expensively alarming rate, however this may have been caused by the way I drove it, making full use of its power to front ratio. Front wheel drive was still a novelty back then.
So what of the new style HA? Well it has 6 gears, very efficient on fuel and as my 59 plate was manufactured in Germany (rather than Liverpool) it is therefore built like the proverbial tank. In fact even though my other car is a Golf, this Astra is actually “…built like a Golf”. From years of watching Jeremy Clarkson ridicule anything from the Vauxhall stable I was expecting something not much improved from the Old HA and thus far have been pleasantly surprised. The sampling equipment has also moved on over the course of 30 years, all digital and precise to UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) standards. Where as 30 years ago I could rock up in a pair of Rugby Shorts and a Cramps T-shirt, nowadays you can’t even open the gate to a site without full blown PPE in fetching Railtrack Orange, having to wear 3 different style pairs of of gloves just to get a sample, not forgetting a bump cap and safety specs even though I maybe in the middle of a field in darkest Staffordshire.
Sampling in the West Midlands makes a change from the flatlands of the East. With just a short drive from the delightful (not) Black Country you find yourself back 30 years in the Shropshire Hills, not a million miles from a Wes Craven movie. In fact most of the location filming for American Werewolf was filmed in South Shropshire and Powys and not as the late Rik Mayall will have you believe in Yorkshire.
As for the music just like the HA there is no cassette player and unlike the Golf sadly no DAB Radio either, which is fortuitous as I don’t have to listen to Alan Green’s commentary in crystal clear sound (oxymoron intended). However the stereo does have an Auxiliary to plug my MP3 player allowing me to recreate some of the old HA tapes and create some new ones, even if it means I have to disengage the shuffle setting to hear an album in its entirety and in the correct order. During the course of the next few days, weeks probably months could be years I will share some of these new tapes/playlists.
# Not forgetting the Bedford Chevanne !!!