So it was not to be, I couldn't stay in Middlesbrough forever no matter how much I enjoyed my stay and the company of Mr Fryett of Crystal Clear. After the completion of our task on the Audi S3, we packed our tools away and said our fare-thee-wells. Dusk set in as the trusty Detailed By Andrew wagon sailed off past the Why Aye land of Newcastle just up the road...
The roads became more narrow, twisty and bleaker as I traversed through Northumberland National Park towards the Scottish border. My sense of direction dwindled as did the available amount of radio stations. It came to a point where I seemed to be driving forever with no hope of a service station, and I was left with no choice but to pull over in the woods, only to feel like I was on set in "The Hills Have Eyes" for the most eerie, erm, stop for a sight-see I have ever had.
Many miles later I finally arrived in Falkirk to my Premier Inn hotel where a couple of pints of Guinness and a Beefeater meal greeted me just as well as the the locals. Seriously, as an Englishman visiting Scotland my welcome proved there was nothing to fear. As it was just the start of the weekend and I was booked to be up there until Tuesday I had a night to relax and catch up with some personal admin work.
Before my scheduled visit I really needed to get my barnet sorted. A quick Google search lead me to The Ross Carter Barber Shop and I tell you now, they do a really sharp job there. Sat waiting in the queue I was familiarly acquainted with the usual Premier League commentators voices, Stoke were being beaten to my delight, and it was in no time at all that I was asked "So what is your preference - Celtic or Rangers?" A question that a young wee English lad alone in Scotland best answer diplomatically! In a strange twist of fate, Ross's father used to be a barbering tutor at a college local to me - Dudley Tech. I left, truly with a very fresh trim. With the brisk Falkirk air hitting the sides of my head - man, was indeed, not hot.
This window of time proved well in the end as Saturday's appointment to attend an Audi RS5 with Johnnie Hamill of Pro-Valet (www.pro-valet.net) fell through as the customer was sadly called into work on short notice.
These are the perils of our trade; we fully intend to provide our service to please the customer and pay our bills, but unexpected situations can dampen our efforts somewhat. Not to fear though, as Johnnie had another job lined up on a 2010 Mini Cooper that desperately required some love so he did.
Johnnie's works van is a mobile guy's dream. An MWB Transit T280 with enough space to pack everything you could require into. Much like the Crystal Clear van, I soon appreciated my own efforts to equip my diddy Peugeot Partner van in a space effective manner, otherwise there was just no way I could effectively compete!
Rocking up in the van, firing up the generator and linking the pressure washer to the water supply we were soon on our way after the initial inspection, and meet and greet with the customer.
Johnnie has been in the trade for more than 30+ years so there is more to his wealth of experience than I could possibly hope to include in this write-up, which is why I was keen to get some hours down working with him. There is only so much you can hope to learn on your own, or by reading books, or by watching videos after all.
Sadly this Mini was bereft of TLC, and Pro-Valet was the port of call to get it shining once more. I picked up tips from Johnnie to further up my game on the clay bar process, to name just one of many. Not that I had been doing it wrong or inefficiently, but there are some little tricks to make the side panels a little more comfortable on the hands.
One of the main educational points for me was getting to try the Rupes Bigfoot 15 for size (myself being a die-hard Flex user this was akin to a West Brom fan trying on a Wolves shirt, as some would say), but jokes aside it proved an opportunity to try out some polishing tools that I otherwise would not have unless I committed to buy them. In a strange turn of events, a young man happened to walk by wearing a West Brom jacket... Stifling my temptation to shout "Pulis Out!" Johnnie imparted some advice on how to get the most of the light cut pad and polish in conjunction with that particular machine.
I thoroughly enjoyed working alongside Johnnie, and the lessons I learned will always shine through in my future work.
It wasn't just the tricks, working manner and tools that I had the benefit of learning form either. There was a particular protection product used on this visit that really shone through. I'll keep it a secret for now though, as I really want to offer it to you, the potential customer, some point soon... But not only that, some methodology that works well for mobile guys putting up with unpredictable weather. The customer was delighted with her car, and with Johnnie and I working somewhat in tandem we managed to get the whole thing done in 3 and a half hours. Those are Usain Bolt stats right there!