December 2018

3192 days ago

IT happened on a quiet country lane in county Durham. The white van approaching wasn’t going all that fast, yet in its wake a stone flew up and hit my windscreen. The impact created a small star burst no bigger than my little finger nail near the base and the centre of the screen. I was covered for this type of accident so later I contacted my insurer and electronically I was transferred to an online windscreen repair company. Helpfully their website provided three diagrammatic examples of typical sizes. I selected the lowest ‘no bigger than a sixpenny’ piece.
This brought forth an instant excess cost of £10, which I didn’t quite understand, having assumed this was all part and parcel of my car insurance policy.
But what the heck, I wasn’t going to get into a fight over a tenner, so a date was fixed for them to come out and repair the screen.
Four days later the big highly decorated van, its paintwork proclaiming the company was the very best in getting you back on the road, duly arrived.
The young man who got out quickly started to examine the slight damage. His brow was furrowed, and returning to his vehicle he brought out a plastic ruler. Now he began measuring the damage, with meticulous concentration, measuring to the last millimetre the extremities of the now hardly discernable chip He measured it twice, then after a third attempt, declared that the wound was too big to repair and I needed a new windscreen. I enquired by how much was it too big, and he informed me it was a couple of millimetres outside the limits laid down by his company.
He made a couple of calculations before announcing that my excess for this would now be £90 plus VAT.
for a repair I had assumed was fully covered by my policy. He didn’t actually say – read the small print dummy, he didn’t have to; his eyes did the talking.
For the sake of a couple of millimetres I had to fork out over £100. There was no appeal, take it or leave it. There was also the problem of it being on my record when it came to renewing my insurance. So with heavy heart I had to accept a new windscreen. Three days later, the highly decorated van arrived with it. This time the technician was a man in his sixties, and after examining the screen, his brow was furrowed, he was perplexed. “Do you want me to repair this?” he asked. I told him I had been informed that it was outside the guidelines. He looked knowingly over the top of his spectacles and winked “Let’s put that down to the inexperience of youth.” Within twenty minutes my screen was as good as new and the original £10 quote that I had already paid, was honoured.

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Rob Watson

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October - November 2008

3773 days ago

It was a Sunday evening and Ruth and Peter Annison were driving back to their Nottingham home after spending another delightful weekend in their favourite Yorkshire Dales.

“We so loved this part of the world,” Ruth explains. “And on that journey we began asking ourselves why we were leaving it. Why not move there permanently?”
It proved to be a road to Damascus moment for these two college lecturers, who decided there and then to sell up in Nottingham, and become residents.

But in so doing, two problems immediately presented themselves. Firstly they would need to find a suitable residence, and secondly, how would they earn a living?
It was while Ruth was looking around Hawes that the answer to that important second question was answered. “I was watching Tom Outhwaite the local ropemaker twisting rope in his small workshop, and he told me he was hoping to retire soon. With no obvious successor it seemed that the ropemaking tradition in Hawes, as in so many other places, was doomed. I made a quick telephone call to Peter and we began to explore the possibility of taking over Tom Outhwaites’s business. We were not alone. The news had got out, and Tom suddenly received 300 letters from people wanting to buy W.R. Outhwaite & Son which had been established in Hawes since 1905.

By Saturday morning Andrew was almost at the end of his tether. “I was now convinced that I would be found dead on the cliff.”

With his strength ebbing away, he decided on one last throw of the dice. Ignoring the pain and stiffness that was ravaging his body, he somehow managed to climb on to the rock that had given him some shelter. Stretching out his phone above his head he suddenly realised he had got reception. He frantically keyed in a text message and pressed the ‘send’ button.

“It took an age, and I shook with relief as I finally read the response – ‘message sent’. I tried immediately to make a

13strides

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