17 August 2011



On 14th July we went to a birthday party.

It was a meeting of Renault 4’s and other old vehicles in the little town of Scorbé-Clairvaux, which is a few kilometres west of Chatellerault.

We arrived fairly early and there was not much happening so we had a wander round the brocante that was also taking place.  There seems to be a brocante at most events, whatever they are.


Lulu enjoyed all the attention from lots of people who had obviously never seen a standard poodle before and she made several new friends.

birthday10  birthday5

The Renaults were all out on a ride – a parade through the countryside – and pretty soon they all started to arrive and line up to be admired.  I was especially impressed with the one with the birthday cake on top !!



There were lots of other old cars in the parade, all twinkling in the beautiful sunshine. 

I thought the flame job on this one was superb.


This seemed to be the “sublime to the ridiculous”.


I thought this would make a very nice camper or ice-cream van.


For those who would like something a little faster in pink !!


It was one of those essentially French events.  Glorious sunshine, good humour, good fun, beautiful old cars, nobody taking it too seriously, any excuse for a jumble sale and no admission fee.  A great day out.

15 August 2011


To celebrate the Renault 4’s 50th birthday, there is a really nice collection of them in the “auto, moto, vélo” museum in Chatellerault, along with posters from its hey day.

renault 4L3 

I have never owned a 2CV, the iconic car of France, but I did once have a Renault 4.

renault 4L1

 renault 4L4

I actually had my first driving lessons in one.  You may justifiably question the sanity of someone who tries to learn to drive in a car with only three gears, a gear stick sticking out of the dashboard and a tendency to lean alarmingly on the slightest bend, but that’s what I did.

Until the occasion when I was overtaken by a milk float going up a slight hill in Leeds.  Then I decided that if I was going to get anywhere (literally) I needed proper driving lessons in a proper car.

renault 4L6

The posters in the museum showed how the Renault 4 was everything a car should be, appealing to everyone; it was a shopping trolley, a workhorse and a cool set of wheels all in one design.  Pretty clever. 

Mind you, from the experience of owning one, I would think it might have trouble keeping up with those skateboards in the poster !!

renault 4L5

I had to arrange a bank loan to afford it, which in itself was a huge step in the 1970’s – having to be interviewed by the bank manager to borrow £300.

renault 4L7 

As it turned out, it was the most awful car I have ever had.  It wouldn’t start at all in winter and I had to use the starting handle or bump start it down the hill outside my flat.  The heater was almost non-existent and those windows were not the best design for keeping the draughts out.  It was really slow and almost died on the slightest uphill slope yet leaned as if you were on race track on every bend.  I had to choose my passengers carefully – there was no room for anyone who suffered from motion sickness or was afraid of getting frostbite.

renault 4L8

But I loved it.  It was fun, quirky and none of my friends had one so it was unique.  They were all burbling around the countryside in their done-up VW Beetles, or posing in their MGB’s and I would lurch round the bends in something like a cross between a small van and a blue brick.  It was also all I could afford and my very first car, like a first love, always remembered with fondness, forgetting the annoying bits.

renault 4L2

In my mind it will always be on a pedestal.  You can keep your 2CV’s.  I will be getting another Renault 4 as soon as I can.  Just to see if it is really as bad as I remember it.

14 August 2011


My mischievous attempts to throw you clever people off the scent worked. 

Those who guessed it was a door bell were right.  It seems to be an empty doorbell casing where the push button is missing.  I spotted it on my doorknocker photo shoot tour of Chinon.


I thought it was a shame that someone had ruined what probably was quite a handsome door by mounting a regulation letter box in the middle.

13 August 2011



Any idea what this is?

I’m not giving any clues ………. bon weekend !!!

10 August 2011


motor museum2

We had a lovely couple of hours in the “Musée auto, moto, vélo” in Chatellerault last month.

motor museum1

It is in some kind of old an old arms factory premises* down by the river. You can’t miss it – just look for the two magnificent chimneys outside.

(*Thanks to Susan for this info.)

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motor museum3

Inside there is everything from the original penny farthing, through the first motorised cars and cycles to more familiar two, three or four-wheeled vehicles most of us will have seen on our roads.

motor museum4 motor museum6 motor museum5

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motor museum8

There is something for everyone with an interest in cars or bikes, all beautifully displayed, with old garage workshops, videos and posters. All for a modest entrance fee.

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motor museum9

Quite a bit of space was dedicated, as you would expect, to the 2CV. However, I was more interested in the displays of something having a big birthday this year.

The Renault 4 is 50 years old.

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The bottom one was just like mine !! Or at least the one I had in the 1970’s. I didn’t check if its starting handle was just as well used !!

9 August 2011



We love the early evening routine of sitting in the square with an apéro, watching the last of the shops close and people making their way home with last minute baguettes or little packages of meat from the butcher.


Mariel, the proprietor of the PreHisto bar, has a superb skill of stopping exactly at the top of the glass when she pours a rosé wine.


There is an equally specialist skill in taking the first sip without spilling as demonstrated by our friend Gail.

With all the unbelievable things happening in our cities these last few days, I can’t wait to get back to the peace of rural France.