We've also been to Reading a few times with friends, and I've moved offices, to a little place called Pangbourne on the Thames river, just south-west of Reading. (It's dirty and yucky, but at least it looks pretty!)
Last Friday I was driving to work. The BMW in front of me slowed down and stopped at an intersection. I put my foot on the brakes... and I wasn't slowing down! I managed to slow down enough and turn the car onto the shoulder with a squeal (there was only a sliver of one, and then a building)! I got to work a bit shaken, with no brakes.
Thanks to certain friends who are good with cars, I managed to impress the mechanic who came to tow our car home enough that he drove me all the way home instead of charging me £150 to go 20 miles, which was awesome. (I was very grateful.)
He also explained that it was probably air in the braking system, and told me how to bleed the brakes. Brendan and I decided that this was a good idea, and we would do it ourselves.
So, all of Sunday afternoon, and Monday evening, we learned how to take the wheels off the car and bleed the brakes. Lots of fun, arguments, swearing and four (four!) trips to Halfords to buy the right sized spanners and assorted tools. But, the brakes worked again! We are very proud. We're not particularly mechanical people!
The car is at the mechanics at the moment, though, just to double-check. Apparently the reason I stopped a little and didn't totally crash into the BMW or into the building, was that the back-up brakes went on when the main brakes failed. It looks like we do have to replace the master cylinder. Ack. But brakes are, shall we say, quite important.