ZE MiG FLIES SOUTH! My journey from Liverpool to Aquitane.

Posted on November 7, 2015 by

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My journey from Liverpool to Aquitane to deliver VIN 471 to its new owner.

By Jim Meehan ( username: LeRoiDeLaRue)

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Packed in my job for a career break end of March 2015. Got a few bob, which quickly was running out after paying 6 months rent in advance and buying tickets for some travel including a long one to Oz to see son and NZ to see long lost relations.
So, in order to fund the food, drink and attractions along the way, the time had come to part company with VE04 YLL, after 15 months ownership.

jim18During that time, some £3000 had been spent (on top of insurance, tax and juice to do some 14000 miles) to make the car safe (new fuel pump, as the old one tried to kill me on the second day of ownership) and sound (upgraded water pump, serviced at correct intervals, with thorough initial input from Nick at Austin then local fellas for bits and bobs, plus having wheels refurbed). Then a chap called Paul from France, an Englishman abroad, spotted Ze Mig for sale on Pistonheads. Having been over by plane some months ago to see one in Preston, then missing out on it as his daughter’s wedding took priority, he offered me the full asking price after sending his mate to check the car over on his behalf. I said I had hoped to travel to France in the car anyway before I had realised the need to sell to fund the Oz trip. Paul couldn’t come til July, by which time I would be in Oz, so I offered to drive the car to Paul, on one final mission. Paul was made up. The niceties of the deposit resting in Paypal’s account til they had sucked a little interest off it notwithstanding, I planned a gentle drive to Portsmouth, an overnight ferry to Le Havre and two days to trundle through France, where I have only visited once by plane, never mind driven before. All done, the days went by, focus was sharpened and some prayers said for a safe and uneventful journey, aiming to arrive with me and the car in one piece …. It was a big responsibility, as now I was no longer strictly the owner, but a custodian. What if we never got there? I would be up the creek with no boat, yet alone a paddle …

Local mechanic had prepared the car for the trip,it flew thru the MOT and, to be sure, I asked a vehicle inspector who lives opposite a mate, to take her out. We did around 6 miles, on a warm day, in traffic, and he as

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sured me that not only was the car fit for said task, but he said the car is in “excellent condition”. I still checked I had the RAC cover and insurance company euro cover (First Central – steer clear, don’t be fooled by initial “low” quotes; they don’t give agreed value and they make their money when you ring their premium number. I won’t bore you with the details of the calls in the days before I left, suffice to say my subsequent complaint led to me receiving a call from them while I was sat drinking coffee, in Angles, to offer me a £25 refund to cover costs of £16 plus he said, without a note of irony, “the cost of this call to you also”) Would we make it, my little black Ronin and me …? Pray, hope and do not worry…
Bucket, chamois, microfibre cloth, oil and coolant all ready so I could present the car sans flies at end point to new owner. Halfords for red triangle, hi viz waistcoat, breathalyser sticks (2), for the regs. And printed off sections of the journey as I (thought …) did not have sat nav for French roads …
Our gardener, while extolling the virtues of French roads, told me to get the triangle, warned me about the French bizzies, speed limits, speed cameras, the costs of the toll roads (“hundreds of euros”), after which I thought cheers you miserable sod, this might be tricky! So spent hours on the net making sure I planned a route, to get there safe, and in time, on French mostly A roads via Bing from Crosby.
From home to Portsmouth – what a lovely city! It seems quietly assured of i’s role and place in the history of civilisation – memo to Scouse mayor: forget the Fab Four and biggin up the Pool; just let it speak for itself. I always have to see the sea whenever I visit anywhere near a coast and there was QM2 floating along, a few weeks after watching her leave from Liverpool only 3 weeks ago. Journey returned the usual MWay 21.5 mpg.

jim17A couple of those five minute power naps along the way – the M6 toll is worth the additional fiver too for a relaxing interlude from the UK Mway madness. Having chosen to try a National Trust place near the route – Coughton Court – I found myself near Alcester on the way by A46 to the M40 and, lo, here was I taking Ze Mig to a new home and I only found myself passing The Stag at Redhill for the second time in my life, the first being when … I stayed over on the day I was bringing Ze Mig oop north. An affirmation that the gig would be a goodun.
The M40 was horrible, so detoured via a very usable and pleasant B4009. Recommended. A church signposted as “historic” at Shirburn, led to a dead end and “private road”, terminating with locked gates, no access to any church. All Saints apparently according to wiki. Last night’s leftovers ate cold in the gardens of Winchester Cathedral. Blackbirds being kept on their toes by marauding, alternately horny and hungry, woodpigeons, was a sight. The Chilterns – beautiful countryside, great driving roads, soaring buzzards and Red Kites and descending parachutists all in the same field of view.
The squeak from the rear right wheel started. Not heard it since last service, it had started some time after brake pad replacement some 4 thou ago. Irritating. Had not mentioned it to Paul the buyer as it hadn’t happened for such a while and Id forgotten about it. Texted mechanic and my brother ex mechanic – heat, dust, build up of brake dust, don’t worry … don’t worry? Hmm, a mile in my shoes right now … but hey … Pray, hope and do not worry…
Never been on a ferry before. Excited anticipation. At the port, a couple of hours wait, watching loads of Harleys and other seasoned travellers arrive at last minute for their boat to Bilbao. Great set up there at Portsmouth which I reckon must be chocker in high season. The port staff were very efficient. Prompted by an elderly chap adjusting his lights for French roads, I did mine (there is a lever inside the left side headlamp I discovered). It was also time to clean the flies off the front of the car (for first time). Ok, a bit OCD. Talking of anal, I visited the facilities in the Port building. I noticed, as one does, the colour and found myself thinking Oh I’ve just passed a frog. And then bursting out laughing at the irony; there had been no pun, and definitely no insult, intended.
Porsche man was going my way, and offered to lead as he had sat nav, knew the roads, been there before etc etc, and why am I doing the smaller roads he asked when the mways are great? Cos they cost hundreds don’t they on tolls …? Hmm well I would be there all day on the small roads he says … but he was dour and I thought as English as he was, his choice of vehicle matched his persona. This would be me & Ze Black MiG on a mish, aim true, and hope in our hearts.
Great overnight ferry crossing to Le Havre, met a bloke on deck who had been upgraded to a state room with a telly. Decent I thought. He said he has been going to France for years, maintaining client relationships for his firm, all paid for by the firm; he spoke fluent French, said the country is ace, but threw in the clichéd line it’s a great place, the only problem with France is the French. I said aye aye lad, is there any need? Apart from it being such a cheap shot, it is also, as I would find out, not the case. The skipper was a lark, he set the bell on a buoy ringing as he went close on a turn. And so many people appeared to have ignored the request to lock the car using the key in the lock, not the remote. As we pulled clear of the port, alarms were ringing all over the gaff. Classic.

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I saluted F78 (which I had seen passing my place in The Pool a couple of times, later revealed as HMS Kent) and opened my bottle of wine, got into Private Eye and laughed myself to sleep. Great sleep, a smooth passage, but for £164 I would not have expected to pay a further £7.50 for brekky. A bit dear. Deary me. Sausages microwaved to dry solidity at the ends. Shower didn’t drain well either. Dear Brittany ferries …..

Some good people to chat with, including a Frenchman and his son, in their 1960 summat Mini Traveller, with upgraded Cooper engine. Great stuff! And the fella from St Helens who gave me the thumbs up when we started our engines to disembark.
Then off into Part Deux – the strangeness of the driving abroad experience. A grey cool morning. My first roundabout. Wits to the fore. I hit my first toll road – they are great. I only ended up spending around 20 euros on them all in.
Checkpoint The Pont du Normandie – an amazing engineering as well as aesthetic achievement. Steep, long, higher than anything I can recall we have back here.
After nearly 450 miles, that little irritating squeak from the rear right was still intermittent but getting louder – at other times it was silent. Brakes working great though, dab em and the squeak lessened.
Ze MiG took to those roads like a Typhoon to Cad West. Not a murmur, poppin and snarlin, gear changes smooth as silk, brakes and steering true and sharp and sweet as a nut. It felt like a bird of prey. Talking of which, I am sure all the British Kestrels have gone to France. They were everywhere! And Kites, even a Hoopoe flew overhead, first one I have ever seen out of the pages of a book. Looked like a Magpie on acid. Or rather, how a Magpie might see itself, while on acid. Or maybe a Bee Humming bird might, after sipping too much amber nectar. Ah well, sod it, where was I …?
They don’t alf travel fast over there! But the country is vast compared to GB mainland and with the large cities spread so far apart, it is a breeze for the tourist.

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On one MWay, a young couple overtook me, in French MG ZR. The lad stared straight on, but his bird craned her neck around, flashed me a smile, I threw a thumb and reciprocated, she did likewise, her smile grew broader, her eyes wider, and she turned and gestured, I reckon to show her fella hey, the brit in the big bro he put le thumb up! And his response? Foot down, must have hit a ton in no time, and they bombed off. Le Roi De La Rue and me, we just sat at 65 and I smiled, patted the V8 symbol on the dash … there there boy …easy fella , I soothed.
A little later, a guy in left hooker Fiat Abarth pulls alongside, to offer a thumbs up and a smile. I returned the gesture. He was pulling off the MWay. I blipped, clutch in, dropped into 3rd and accelerated a dash, and his smile grew and a wave followed.
France was to this point a lovely but flattish place in the main, on the route I had set out via Caen, then Rennes , onto Nantes, my pre chosen end of Day One overnighter. Checked oil after 500 + miles,– same level pretty much as when changed some 2000 ago. Water – not a drop lost. Had used the air-con sparingly, to get cool from time to time with widows closed, then off, windows open again a little, sunroof on tilt; nice draft, little wind resistance offered. It was all new to me, the sun was peeping through, the greyness lifted altogether and things had gone well. Had two mini sleeps. And am sure le pissing in public is not only legal, but a badge of honour for these French lads. Everywhere, they lean, they hold forth, they even do it against a hedge in a car park where the toilet is open to the world anyway, sans door, sans sex differentiation. Curious. Talk about doing it the French way. Reminded me of one of my former patients, who, when asked why he wet his pants when he is capable of using the loo, told me, once you have been arrested a few times for peeing against a tree, you realise they can’t arrest you for pissing yourself. Quite. In France, he wouldn’t need to worry.
So to La Chappelle Sur L’Erdre. Having identified, but not booked, an hotel just this side of Nantes, The Westhotel Nantes Atlantique, on trip advisor, I was delighted to make it there by 4pm; I had not booked as I didn’t wanna lose the deposit or try to make it to a hotel 600 miles from home when who knows where I might end up in between. But when I arrived, it was not “overlooking” any river, and since when did £45 equate to 177 Euros?! Although with hindsight I ought to have accepted the luxury and tranquillity and enjoyed the beautiful La Chappelle Sur’Erdre village nearby, as, let’s face it, I would soon come to remind myself in my distress, that I already have a river to overlook back home … Is it not enough to have made it thus far, all going well … ish?
I wanted some wine for the night, and as a gift for the table tomorrow at Paul’s. Found this hypermarket which had Chateau Neuf for £12! Not only that, but the best Single Malt whisky selection I have ever seen!! So I got a bottle of Laphroaig (again no pun intended) and Le Chat for me and the buyer for tomorrow night, and a(n even) cheap (er) basic red for myself for tonight. As they never had a single bottle with a screw top, and I had left my corkscrew at home as I knew it wouldn’t be allowed on the plane home, I even bought a cork screw, one whose screw did not protrude, thinking I might get it in the backpack for the flight home – in order to injure anyone, they would have to willingly insert a digit – or worse – into said the device to do damage, so it was not exactly a threat to life and limb on a plane … it could sit with the emergency hopeful and defiantly redundant condom(s). If they disallowed it, I would be losing a mere one dollar ninety nine.
So, all full of myself, all chuffed to bits at the progress thus far, I headed into Nantes, seeking the 4 star hotel that a pal had found for me using her posh phone back home via text. Could I find it? No chance, I couldn’t find it and no one spoke my lingo when I stopped to ask, no one could recognise the address in the text and now it was peak hour, traffic heavier, so no time for fannying I thought.
But hey, here is the river…. I spotted a Novotel opposite the Loire so I called in and got me a room overlooking the river; hooray. Mission day one accomplished, time for relaxation … or so I thought. French receptionist who had a little go in her English tongue, decent n all, she gave me the code the underground car park as all bays were taken up top. Down the twisting, corkscrew which turned to the right, a steep, narrow, granite-kerb-lined path to the elecky door … where was the code pad …? BACK at the top of the steep, narrow, twisting, granite-kerb-lined path …. reversed back up using each mirror, made it – a little whiff of clutch pad due to the steepness and need to hold on the bite due to steering niceties … leaned over to enter the code with box in neutral, recently readjusted handbrake of course; put the code in, green light, so once again, very carefully at about half a mile an hour if that, incrementally down the steep, narrow, granite-kerb-lined , twisting slope to the garage door, which opened and I carefully tried to get the car into position … this wondrous machine, whose turning foibles we all know and … love? well, that we just accept and learn to adapt to, so as to protect and be safe, and …. what was that?! Was that the rear right wheel touching the kerb there … ?! Lord no … had it touched the final sticky-out bit of the corner before the doorway …??!! into the garage, leap out and … greeted by the sight of a full third of the newly refurbed wheel paint having been sheared from the rim … very little damage to the alloy itself and no damage at all to the tyre but …. jim6was I gutted? I was in bits. Told the French bird, asked her please to get me an alloy wheel repair man out, using Franglais. But she came to the garage to have a look with me – I think she was enchanted cos, whilst I may have a great face for radio, the motor must have sounded as sexy as a sexy thing when I had pulled up outside the door a little earlier. So she came to the garage with me and, on second viewing, it was clear that the wheel was well beyond local repair man yellow pages mobile guy stuff, which she spotted herself, as she put her hand to her mouth in horror, realising why I was so distressed. So I started up, so as to park better, as I had been afraid to go anywhere near the pillars earlier and was sat on a white line. Of course, like sodding Herbie, the car decides for the first time since new fuel pump was fitted, to go all oh doctor, my furry front bottom is all hurty on me, with that fuel rail evap crap uneven running, in a hot garage, and ran like a bag of nails, with all throat clearing throttle blipping efforts making less dent on proceedings than a bladdered Loire smoking drunk farmer might achieve. So that was what promised to be a beautiful relationship gone for le Richard. Anyway I thought, get a grip, get to yer room and shower and stare at the carpet and wonder what the hell I tell Paul, still 250 miles away.
I spent twenty minutes – the free time allowed – on the hotel lounge pc trying to compose an email to the buyer, to alert to the situation; but their keyboard is different set up and my glasses were elsewhere so I ended up losing the session, which timed out. Not my day at all.
The other hotel girl later said, as we were both together, in the lift, “so you come from San Francisco then …?” … nah, I thought, don’t even go there ….. far too young for you, you letch. So I corrected her, I am from the City by the Bay, but Liverpool I said. Her mate must have somehow sensed a little yank tongue lurking within. Darn it I was close … But I had reached a nadir … I was despairing, calling on my God to help … having come all this way, with the aim to raise funds and deliver a beaut. Not even the thought that I was in France and they do it the French way, was enough to raise an interest. With the squeak, the clutch smell on the steep slope, the wheel damage … aaaargh!!! What if Paul says you know what, I don’t like it, no sir, I don’t like it …?
What is this (marginally) less expensive hotel going to cost me in real terms now?? How do I get home from 250 miles further south if he says thanks but no thanks …? What a mess I have made of my life. A great job, gone cos I was fed up with it and stressed. Now not motivated to find more work as it takes too much effort. Am I burned out? Am I too old and tired? Am I losing it? What have I got to show for a wasted 55 years anyway, apart from a broken marriage, debt, a car I need to sell so bad I drive it all this way and aint got time to stop to smell the roses? What a tosser!! But hey … you have your faith, you can see the big picture. You are also on a mission, now get a grip!
I opened the wine … I texted Nick – no reply. Texted my mechanic – he replied: don’t worry about the wheel. Don’t worry about the clutch. It’s all ok! The paint code is Nissan KY0 … or is that KYO? I ask. Local mechanic gets back to me – paint code is internationally recognised and any alloy wheel repairer worth his salt in France could fix it easy. Phew!
So after an emotional hour collecting my thoughts – weeks of prep, all hopes of resources for trip to Australia pinned on the sale, the desire to deliver in first class nick, all maybe up in smoke … then seeing on BBC world service a clip of a centuries old basilica in Nantes, somewhere across the water out there, fully ablaze … here of all places … it put things into jim10perspective. I rang Paul to break the news. Squeak in same wheel which has had rim paint damaged … ouch!. Sounding sombre, but evidently trying to reassure both himself and me, he kindly says let’s see how it is when I arrive and we can work something out …. So I dried my eyes and went and ate.
Interesting to note that they ask you how you want your duck and appear impressed when you ask for the rare side of medium ….
So after a glass of red with me dinner followed by a Ricard, I never had the courage to go online again in the public now filled bar, to check if the paypal had defo cleared in my bank, so went up in that lift once again to my room and was cheered up by a third of my bottle of wine I brung with and by a read of Private Eye, and I managed a chuckle, out loud, at some of the antics in there.
BBC world service news – 800 years ago today the Magna Carta was signed …. Bon soir, France.jim11
Anyway , after a crap sleep, and a smorgasbord brekky, which included posh chocolate – Jacky Mason is right, and all that was missing was alfalfa to get stuck between yer teeth – I asked the manager to guide me up the slope; he had some sympathy. So that was it, off I went to get lost around Nantes for half an hour before yippee! I located the road to Bordeaux which led to all roads south, with a lessening angst as the car ate up the miles with relish.

The rest of the journey was made using a mix of toll A/Mways but mostly excellent D dual/single carriageways, a diversion via the sleepy village of Angles where I visited a graveyard – located with help from passing lady motorist and patisserie owners. The graveyardjim12 purportedly holds a memorial to those who perished from their Halifax bomber on 24.07.1941 while bombing the Scharnhorst. Locals were helpful to me finding the cemetery but I could not find the “cache” or a specific memorial and I had no suitable phone to access the net to locate it; those who have and might wanna do the trip, should use this:
http://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC1WMXE_halifax-l-9527

The story of the mission is here: http://www.archieraf.co.uk/archie/l9512tlustory1941.html

But I found a tomb on which was written:
FAMILLES TROGET GREFFARD FNCR A LEUR CAMARADE
… which as far as I can deduce means summat like: from the Troget and Greffard families , and the Federation Nationale Des Combattants Republicains (national federation of republican fighters) , to their comrades.
According to a local, that may be from the first world war …. I said some prayers of thanks for their sacrifice and hopes for peace between all peoples.

I got off and tried to aim to visit La Rochelle , next and final leg of my planned journey. But I had been forewarned about the city being pedestrianised in the centre, car parks outside, and expected heavy tourist traffic, so reckoned I would not have the time to do it and arrive by ETA of around 1530hrs at Les Ages, Brantome. So I went out towards the coast as far as I could, a place called La Tranche Sur Mer, and said hello to the blue, blue, blue and mildly emerald wonderful shiny aromatique Atlantic, before getting a move on and making a shape to tail it out of there.
“The commune of” Saint-Hippolyte , a pleasant stop for a lost soul to ask for directions. Lovely lady in what I thought was a cafe, next to St Hippolyte’s church, told me in French to follow the main roads to Saintes. I thought I might reach Saintes, if not sainthood, not at this rate, love; plus she was married, and it wasn’t a cafe, it was a hairdresser’s. No-one there, apart from me and her. And no time even for a gratuitous bit of trim.

jim13It was busy, busy roads for a while and endless flatness, before picking up signs for Angouleme, using the MWay a little before the excellent A (actually D reg) roads took me the rest of the way.
A couple of scary moments from the day, not in any order….One where I overtook a car and hadn’t really given myself enough wriggle room and so found myself head to head with an oncoming car at combined closing speed of around 100 MPH … No time to even Gulp! Nip in smartly behind vehicle, look back in mirror and find oncomer hasn’t hit the brakes, was maybe as cool as I was … or maybe s/he had been texting or summat and is still oblivious to this day as to the near death experience we both shared unwittingly … Thanks be to God for a solid motor which handles like a housefly when required. And two occasions of driving on the wrong side, once after stopping for a bottle of water at a shop that never was and then after a three point turn (the latter, a common occurrence according to ex pats out there), which led to some incredulity and hand waving on the part of the oncoming woman French driver. Another time, me not wanting to get a speeding ticket, and sticking to 40mph in a 40 equivalent, some guy tailgating me to hasten me on, I indicated right, opened my window and did that wave thing we can do when driving on the left, waving the vehicle behind on, which was a fair effort seeing as how my left arm was longitudinally under-equipped for the equivalent in my right hand drive car, and all I succeeded in doing was annoying the poor fella who seemed to be taking the mick big time out of my pathetically redundant hand signals, and offerejim14d his own suggestion which was to wave me onward straight ahead, with both his hands off the wheel, and for me to do it at pace 😀 Anyway he overtook eventually, with my further encouragement and a friendly wave on. And a couple of times finding myself on a bus lane … oh and one where I was beeped for not

knowing that the roundabout was actually one and a half roundabouts … or were they two?

Cognac – the first truly beautiful and essentially French vineyard countryside. Great driving roads, sweeping fields, gently rolling hills, red roofs above tall tree lines across the varying horizons … wine … wine EVERYWHERE but not a drop to drink L and no time to investigate the vineyards or distilleries, I was going to be a couple of hours late as it was. No access to email Paul who has no mobile and did French phones allow SMS like BT does and so did they get my earlier “hi, I will be with you more like half four now, just leaving La Rochelle” …? as it happens, no, but I never knew that, then.
Big green warehouse in a field like a hangar, large white letters COURVOISIER all along the side. Nope … can’t stop there either …..
Angouleme – town on a hill, the other side of Cognac. Sexy drawing on one of those signs that has dotted the route all the while at every stage, a sketch of the local pertaining area’s own identifying theme. This was a town on a hill, a bit like I remember Toledo. I thought the picture was an exaggeration. Not so! I spotted it through the trees. They were grown surely to allow this view at this time in this place. Magical. I can see it now, a highlight of the journey, like that Pont du Normandie in impact.
Jet wash of the highest order. 2 euros for 3 mins 30 secs and I flew round that car, brushes clean and offering economically frugal but sufficient amount of water and soap, just suffis, no waste, then onto the jet rinse. Chamois down … oh my … that poor wheel … but hey, it aint as bad as you thought. And yes, you could have been killed today. You could have got smashed at the intended hotel and been done for D&D …. you grew a set; you came. You have seen. The car is soon to be with prospective new owner, but will he want it …? All done, in 15 mins, carry on Jimbo, nearly there.

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On to Mareuil which is truly gorgeous little place; but before turning off to Les Arges, as per instructions, I stopped to ask for directions to a petrol station from a couple of fellows who were just sitting down outside a pub. I tried French but they were cockneys. I wonder if they had any anxiety as I first drove by, then stopped and reversed, with my customary throttle blips and Mr Toadesque manner, lowering the windows in my blacked out V8. Have we been rambled me ol son? Farnd us, ‘ave they? They were not exactly hail fellow well met. Indeed they affirmed my sense of annoyance with those, of any country, with their own version of little Englander approaches, who put other nations down. The only thing wrong with France I thought, so far, has been the British … Maybe these lads didn’t like Scousers, or noisy V8s; or a V8 driven melodiously; but they never put me on a bum steer, which is fair enough. They told me to =get the juice in Brantome. The car needed petrol, and must not be run anywhere near below one quarter full, to save the fuel pump. Think new owner. Think provenance.

jim16I stopped in the delicious Brantome (abbey built by Charlemagne, from whose line the now recently deceased Christopher Lee claimed to hail) and asked a French lad up a ladder where the petrol station was – well, it was more like “er, permissez moi, excusez moi, quest que c’est le petrol, le gasoline, sans plomb? For c’est voiture, ici. Sil vous plait?” (le dynamite with this lingo after 36 hours now innit me, mate n that, la?). Get on the pavement he said in French but a universal gesture attached – which I took to mean get out of the way of the growing queue behind you, you soft scouse English bullocks. But as I parked up, I spotted the petrol station around the bend 50 yards further up the road and shouted to him as such. He emerged from his van, generator and compressor in hand, looking for which tyre was flat and needed air ….. now you tell me, what is wrong with that French lad? Nothing. More of a diamond than the other two grim British souls a few miles down the road. Great stuff. Vive la Francais!!
Filled up and did final calculation … wow …. after 4 visits to the petrol stations from home I had got 21.6 mpg in UK … then in France yesterday 23.5 mpg and today a glorious 24.8 mpg. Amazing! Best figures in the 14700 miles of ownership. I had driven at 70 mph on mways and anywhere up to 55 mph on the other a & b type roads, enjoying the gears, selecting the right one for gradients all the way. Never missed a beat, apart from that Herbie moment at the hotel. Ze Pearl Noir loves this place.

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Paul was worried on my arrival – he had not got my earlier text . I was by now almost 3 hours overdue … Ouch! Ok get it over with … have a look at this wheel ….. then the current guest, a GP from Sydney, said hello. I said I thought he was Paul’s muscle in case things were going to go a bit pear shaped with the scouser with a car with growing issues …. but it went great. A cordial and business-like process emerged.
Paul has a diesel ZT already. He and his wife Pam are great people, run a lovely guest house for those who want to improve their photography skills, within quintessentially French village scenery.
They both loved the car when he took it out, I suggested he don’t rely too much on the cruise control (which I had never even located yet alone tried 😀 ) rather get changing gear and let her pop and burble to her heart’s content. Paul said he had heard these motors can pull in fifth from 5 MPH. I said, fair play, but I wouldn’t ever be doing that, rather select the right gear for the right situation. I mentioned that now and again, after long journeys, there can be a whiff of clutch, and while we had the all clear before setting off, I would let the car build up her own momentum, but play freely in 2nd and 3rd between 2500 – 5000 to enjoy Ze Full MiG. I also discovered, in the boot, that the CD case contained … European countries sat nav CDs ….. as Paul said, Talk about knowing yer car …. we did laugh.
Paul was a gent and offered me the full price we had agreed upon before I set off – he will get the wheel repaired in time and will look after the car properly I am confident of that. We had a bevvy and some gorgeous home cooked food, al fresco – I still have the silent mozzies’ bites to prove it; an evening of some hilarity ensued, the lads said I will be fine with my plazzy corkscrew as summat about hunting knives and the like may be disallowed but they measure the length of blades now so my humble retracted corkscrew should be sound, and they had one anyway so didn’t need another. A lovely sleep followed and a healthy brecky started the next day. Pam kindly dropped me off at Limoges airport 40 miles away next morning and home I came into Liverpool. Pam and Paul will collect and deliver to and from the airport if you attend one of their week long stays. Limoges is a nice little airport. The corkscrew attracted the attentions of a bruising looking customs geezer … he handed the job over to jim20a less malign looking female colleague who gloved up and opened my rucksack with my blessing to search it. She pulls out the corkscrew and says in French kind of what did you think you were doing bringing this on a plane? Oh our eyes met, we both smiled a lot, I said hey girl you keep it for the staff party or lunch or donate it to a fundraising table sale, its no sweat it was one dollar ninety nine and where I live we buy screw-topped red. She laughed, but lashed it in the bin, fastened my bag and never even wanted to know about the rest , never even got as far as finding the ever redundant condom. Nice girl. Lovely smile.

Not a great waiting area – the lounge had the look of an NHS walk-in centre on a hot Sunday afternoon when you don’t really want to be there. The usual behaviour seen – people stood in a queue, twitching for the plane’s arrival, like seeing it arrive is gonna get you to your seat quicker … it won’t take off til we are all on bard and all seats are allocated so no one else will grab it. But hey, I remembered, before Barca, my arris would have been in tatters too.
On the plane, and next to me sat a guy from Leeds who hated flying. I too hated flying, but had used my last trip , alone to Barcelona in April , to watch the mighty Barca, as my prep for conquering all that nonsense ahead of going to Oz. I spoke to him as we took off.
His story …. he and his missus had brought caravan from Leeds to south of France. All well until his 59 plate Touareg’s water pump had given up on way home from south of France; he had extended wjim21arranty with main VW dealership. He hated flying and only flew with his wife as the insurance company sorted it. The car is being repatriated to Leeds main dealer; the caravan to his home. He had to come home today via Liverpool and a waiting hire car, as he couldn’t fly into Leeds today and he needed to get home fast … as his house had been burgled while they were away … but his son in law was, like himself, a locksmith, and had sorted things out in his absence. Cue jokes about making lots of friends of the wrong kind when the topic of what do you do for a living comes up in bars … cue escape to Dordogne to hide jokes :-
Ryan air – they were still serving people food and drink as they only reached midway point on the plane AFTER the pilot said all tray tables up, seatbelts on … how can that be efficient? Maxing the income, milk ‘em to the end. Me and my new Yorkshire pal had our own philosophical discussion group, putting the world to rights.
And so, to home. Paul emailed to say he was delighted with the car, having taken her out for a spin after I had gone – maybe he and Guy did the photo shoot in it. Nice.
I will now bide my time, do without a car altogether til required; get to see the son in Oz for a month in a couple of weeks then home, find work, save up and look forward to the day when I can findV8, whether it be MG or TVR.

All I know is an MG 260 is a superb motor and has been a joy to drive every single day, no matter what the journey, work or pleasure. Thorough classic, usable motor. Wonderful stuff.
Shame about the loss but c’est la vie. Better to have loved and lost n all that.

jim22jim23

Bon Voyage Le Pearl Noir.
Bon Chance mon ami Paul.
Good luck to all you guys on the Two-Sixties. And of course, … Safety Fast!!

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