I have a strange (for a chick) fascination with machines. Gadgets. Metal thingies, stuff that does stuff.

I have an equally strange fascination with overland-pimped vehicles, solid 4x4s and similar cool-but-rugged beasts. Hence owning Olivia...

I've been known to accost strangers with old Landrovers. Like the bloke that lives down a side-street in town. I saw a Series 3, 101 and Forward Control standing around his place, slammed on brakes, and interrupted his conversation with a neighbour to ask if I could drool! He got rid of the neighbour, we spent an hour climbing in, on, around and under all three of his trucks (and checking out the wooden-panel-van classic in his driveway), before realizing we actually hadn't introduced ourselves! Such is the fascination with such things - the common heartbeat of the Landy addict.

I've been spotted on hands and knees in a mall parking lot, peering at the undersides of something that's seen a bit of offroad action. I've been caught peering through overland-kitted vehicles windows and checking out their mods.

I've learnt not to blush when caught... :-)

This evening I had someone stopping by to borrow a few of my jerrycans for a trip to Zimbabwe. He turned up in a big, heavy (3,5 TONS!) Toyota Landcruiser, suitably modified with decent tyres, two swing-away spares at rear, an entire storage area with drawers, solar panel, comms etc and a slide-out table on the roofrack. With his permission I grabbed my camera... Yes, I've been known to take photos of stranger's vehicles too. Beware weird woman rushing up to you with camera!

I suspect this mechanical fascination is a life-long one. I've always enjoyed fiddling with things that get the hands greasy (or cut - see woodworking...). I saw nothing wrong in whipping the chain off my bike as a kid and fixing it, or getting into gramps' woodworking chest and learning how planes and chisels worked. If it wasn't banned, I would have ended up in woodwork class instead of needlework in high school. After school, I loved getting into the Food Tech machinery, or mixing up concoctions in chemistry class. Yup, this one's come a long way.

But I like it. I don't mind the greasy fingers, the random bruises, cuts and scrapes, the struggling with stuck bolts or trying to wrap my mind around some engine diagramme. I enjoy picking up the GPS and discovering features I didn't know it had. I like being able to open up my computer tower and see what's come loose, or taking apart the washing machine to fix it (remember that episode? it's still going strong!). I've always been the practical type, never too finicky about getting dirty, enjoying figuring out how stuff works.

Tonight's encounter only added to the fact that I'm a confirmed machine addict.