- The glorious Ateca before it was covered in yuckiness

How to make a Seat Ateca very, very dirty

Just leave a load of rotting plants outside for a year and then put them in the back

Phill is a freelance motoring journalist who has worked for loads of places, including Autocar, the Daily Telegraph, Evo Middle East and AutoTrader.

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The weather in the UK has recently improved, albeit rather briefly, so that’s been an opportunity to do what apparently all middle-aged people do when they’re old and don’t have fun any more – sort the garden out.

The garden at my house is a bit of a nightmare, having been largely ignore by the previous occupants before I moved in about 18 months ago. It was overgrown to all heck, and at the start of 2020 I started ripping out ivy and kicking down a rotten shed, stacking up bags of stuff to go to the local tip.

But then I had a kid, and lockdown started, and, well, the bags of crap were sort of forgotten about.

Now, a year later, having sort of got to grips with the sheer insanity of me somehow being allowed to be parents, my wife and I decided it was time to carry on our Ground Force operations. So I set aside a morning to do repeated trips to the recycling centre to ditch the bags of year-old fermented plant cuttings.

Down went the rear seats of my long-term Seat Ateca, which go flat, although there is a bit of a lip between boot floor and seatbacks. But no matter. I covered the whole load area with a tarpaulin to protect the boot floor from the small amount of garden dirt that I expected would be unavoidable.

SO MUCH SPACE

SO MUCH SPACE

As it turns out, leaving plastic bags of fermenting leaves in your garden doesn’t yield attractive results. As I lifted them up after months of festering, thousands of small insects ran for cover, and I realised that plastic sacks probably aren’t built to live outside for extended periods of time. Several had perished, their contents rotting and stinky.

But no matter – the tip isn’t far from my house. With the seats down in the Ateca I had basically got a small van at my disposal, and figured I could get everything gone in a couple of trips. Tarp in place, I loaded dozens of gross leaf bags into the back and set off.

OK, this might take a while

OK, this might take a while

The trouble was, this was just a couple of days after lockdown lifted, and as I arrived at the tip it appeared lots of other people had had the same idea. The queue was horrendous. The smell was horrendous. And to top it off, there was a wasp in the car. Never mind, I could at least sit in the queue and listen to podcasts. With the window open.

After two runs, I’d had enough. Conscious that The Child had to be picked up from nursery imminently, I went to remove the tarpaulin from the load bay and fold the seatbacks back up. Like an entry-level magician whisking a tablecloth from beneath some glassware, I whipped the tarp out.

*Slosh*

Wait, slosh? That’s not the noise I was expecting.

As it turned out, a year under the elements means rain gets into your leaf bags, even though you think you’ve tied them up rather well. And when you transport said bags in a car, the rain leaks out. Except now it’s brown. Very, very brown. And now all over the boot floor.

Oh God it looks like treacle

Oh God it looks like treacle

There followed 45 minutes of soaking up minging leaf water from the Ateca’s footwell, which required an old towel, an entire roll of kitchen paper and a lot of swearing. My next job is to get the Vax onto the now slightly discoloured boot floor panel. And probably get the Ateca valeted. I'm open to detailing tips here.

I guess the lesson here is that if you clean some crap out of the garden, get rid of it quickly, because it ain’t going to get much nicer. And after all that, I realised that most of what I'd just thrown away had already grown back. So now I have to do it again.

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