La Belle France

It would be nice to think that a few days spent in France would be the perfect antidote to all the Brexit crap we’re being fed in UK at the moment. The reality, however, is that if you’re any sort of Europhile all that happens when you spend time in Europe is that you realise just how much our continental cousins have got right and just how dire the UK’s situation is going to be when the umbilical cord is eventually cut. Not that everything in the European garden is completely rosy, and there are undoubtedly many things that the European bureaucrats have got completely wrong, but I have no doubt that five or so years down the line we’re all going to be feeling very sorry for ourselves. Still, that’s what happens when you give peasants and old people the vote. In the meantime I’m sure that I can detect a distinct sense of sympathy in the attitudes of the French people we meet – ah, les pauvre Anglais; ils sont absolutement fou!

For this, our fourth adventure in the ‘van, we decided to go ‘off piste’ and, apart from our first stop at the outset of our journey, we decided not to book campsites in advance. To be fair we’re not taking too much of a risk as we’re right at the end of the holiday season and, apart from the Dutch, who seem to be perpetually on the road, most holidaymakers have returned home and there’s more chance of sites being closed than packed-out.

Saumur with its fortress
Looking across the Loire towards Saumur with its imposing fortress

Our first stop was at Saumur in the Loire Valley, home of the French cavalry school and the country’s biggest producer of mushrooms – there has to be a connection there somewhere. We picked a campsite on the Ille d’Offard , which is both in the centre of the town and on an island in the middle of the Loire. It’s a lovely location and within easy cycling distance of the chateau, which is Saumur’s main tourist attraction, and in reality is more of a fortress than a palace. Constructed initially by ‘Charles the Bald’ (the French certainly know how to call a spade a shovel) around the turn of the first millennium, over the next eight hundred years it had a busy and frequently violent history, ending up as a prison for Napoleon’s political opponents.  Bizarrely, in the middle of our guided tour we were greeted by Jeanna Ind, a member of the Glavon chapter of the TR Register and someone we know quite well. What are the chances of bumping into an acquaintance like that completely out of the blue when far from home?

Would you believe it? Jeanna, Denise and our guide who obviously thought that the faster she spoke the better the tour. Wrong!

Today we’d planned to take in the Chateau du Rivau, but in the end we instead visited Chinon and enjoyed a walk around its well-preserved medieval streets followed by a visit to the town’s fortress which, like Saumur, has been partially reconstructed and is well worth a couple of hours spent wandering about. After a misty start to the day the skies cleared around midday and the sun shone and I spent some time cogitating about how things would have been very different if some of our medieval Kings of England hadn’t so carelessly lost our possessions in France; and that brought me back to Brexit all over again. Bugger!

 

I Like A Challenge

I like a challenge and, although I’ve probably got more than enough to keep me busy for the foreseeable future , when I heard about this rather unloved little Triumph Herald convertible I couldn’t resist going to look at it and ………. well one thing leads to another.  So we now have four Triumphs and I have a BIG challenge for the winter months.

This latest member of the Ewbank stable is a 1967 Herald 1200 convertible which by all accounts has sat, untouched, in a garage for at least the last 26 years, maybe longer.  It has 89,000 probably genuine miles on the clock and although the bodywork is tatty and a bit rusty in places the car seems to be generally sound – which is to say that it’s only rusted through in one or two places!  The engine currently seems to be seized but with a bit of luck and a lot of gentle persuasion I’m hopeful that I may be able to get it turning again and hopefully save it from the scrap pile.

Hours of endless fun in prospect.  It’s strange how these enthusiasms addictions can take you isn’t it?

 

Glorious Goodwood!

When it comes to attending outdoor events during the English ‘summer’ timing is everything, and for once we seem to have got our timing spot-on.   Our trip to the Goodwood Revival has been planned for months; in fact,  ever since Denise bought me a couple of tickets to attend Saturday’s activities for last year’s Christmas present.  At the time it was a bit of a leap of faith because I was really quite unwell at the end of last year and the beginning of 2017, but the big day eventually dawned and fortunately coincided with the ‘Ewbank Remission’ (an event of equally epic importance as the Revival!).

Denise, the TR3A and me
Scary thing – the older you get the more you start to resemble your parents. Watch out kids!

Whilst some gentlemen may be deluded into thinking that the Goodwood event is all about motor racing, the ladies know different.  As probably Britain’s, and possibly the world’s, largest vintage  fashion event it really is all about what you wear.   After months of angst and countless hours of research and trawling the local charity shops we (that is to say Denise) finally decided what we would be wearing at the eleventh hour.  I, on the other hand, simply had to dig out one of my older suits, source a waistcoat from a well known internet auction site, and doff my panama – who says that fashion’s a young person’s game?  If only I could have found my flared jeans and US Army surplus jacket I would have felt right at home back in the sixties .  Fortunately the TR3A needed no ‘fancy dress’ and was completely at home in ‘memory land’.

As far as timing goes attending on the Saturday turned out to be an excellent choice as torrential rain and prolonged drizzle were the fate of Goodwood goers on Friday and Sunday.  We, on the other hand, stayed dry and saw some excellent racing – not to mention more than a few vintage fashion victims.