Salt is the enemy of old cars, it makes them rust in all sorts of exciting ways. The council spread it on main roads in winter to allow idiots in modern cars not to have to drive carefully on frosty mornings, so at this time of year a drive of more than a few miles will expose your ride to more of the stuff than is healthy for it.
So people like me, custodians of Rusty Old Wrecks and their ilk, are faced with a challenge in the winter months. Cars need to be driven, if you don't use a car for a few months you'll find that bits of it no longer work when you return to it. But driving it on main roads brings salt, and that's bad. So we pick dry and fine winter days like yesterday, and venture forth on the most salt-free roads we can find. For me yesterday that was a well-worn run round a couple of the villages near where I grew up, the council never salt minor roads.
January days can be beautiful. Yesterday saw the sun poking under patchy grey cloud with a bit of haze, lighting up the countryside in rays like the Promised Land. The muted greens of winter roadside verges and fields of winter wheat seedlings were briefly rendered emerald, and the browns and greys of the dormant hedges and trees gained flecks of gold and red.
The car didn't show its five decades as it started almost on the button. Coolant and oil as they should be, all hydraulic systems responding well to a repeated cycling. The charging was a bit lacklustre, but what do you expect from Lucas, Prince of Insufficient Light.
Not everyone will understand this, but it's fun piloting a geriatric car through country lanes in January.
I was assaulted by one thing though. Back in the summer, the Wreck's heater valve started leaking. Car heaters run on engine coolant, so leaks are generally a Bad Thing. New heater valves for a Wreck are only available as reproduction units, and at eye-watering prices, so I simply piped the entire heater out of the system and kept driving. Really, I've paid more for entire Wrecks than what they want for a new heater valve!
I meant to fix it, I was going to ask a heating engineer friend to source me a microbore gate valve as a substitute. But somehow I never got round to it, so the car still doesn't have a heater.
Rather cold, bimbling through the British countryside in January in a five-decade-old car with no heater.