7 March 2023


We went out yesterday afternoon for essential supplies and when we got back this was in a parcel which was propped up against the front door.  (Right under the notice we had taped to the door asking for parcels to be left under the car port and out of sight!)   A kind and thoughtful gift from friends to keep us occupied until we get better.

We debated whether or not we should go out whilst having covid.  There are no restrictions, the only advice on the government website is to "try to stay at home".  We had run out of cough medicine and cat food so off we went to Tesco.  Nick donned his mask to go into the store whilst I waited in the car.

Afterwards we decided to go for a "run out".  This is what in our family we called a ride around in the car.  The weather was horrible but a change of scenery appealed.  Whilst we were a few miles from home Nick's phone rang.  It was the car auction people, a company called "carwow".  We would have to say that there is nothing particularly "wow" about this company.

We had been chasing them all morning to find out what had happened to our buyer.  They seemed not to be able to get a response from them either and were ringing back with a new offer from a different buyer.  A much lower offer which we declined.

When we got home we put our car details into the website of "Arnold Clark", a used car company with an outlet not far away.  They offered a much higher price so we booked an appointment for twenty minutes later.  Nick took the Mazda and I followed on behind in the rattly old Peugeot.  Nick donned his mask and got part way through the deal when their computer system crashed.

We brought both cars back home feeling rather dejected but as soon as we walked into the house his phone rang again.  They were back online.  He was back in the car like a rat up a drainpipe and thirty minutes later he phoned me to go and fetch him.  The deal was done, the car was sold.  We're sorry to see it go as it was a lovely car, the best we've ever had, but it is, after all, only a car, and selling it has taken away a level of worry and aggravation we can well do without.

Nick had spent some time in the morning trying to get a certificate of conformance to enable us to register the rattly old Peugeot in France, just in case we had to.  Let's call it the ROP from now on.  The link on the Peugeot website took us to an online form that said it would cost £220 which seemed rather a lot.  He contacted the local dealer who had no idea what he was talking about and referred him to the main dealer in the next town.  There he spoke to a woman who said we didn't need one because it had been manufactured in France before Brexit.  She knew this, apparently, because she used to live in France and had imported several Peugeots herself.  Nick didn't suggest that the rules might be different now we are post Brexit, just thanked her for her help.

One of the frustrations has been the plethora of conflicting advice online.  Every question asked of Mr Google results in a number of alternative solutions but which one is the right one?  It's hard to tell.  

Two days ago, to try to get to the bottom of things, I filled in an online form on the French Embassy website to ask if we were obliged to import the car we arrived in or if we could use it for a while before returning it to the UK, and if so, for how long.  A helpful reply has come back in mega quick time - two days being mega quick in my book - to say we can use whatever vehicle we arrive in on UK plates, without having to register it in France, for a maximum of six months, after which time we must return it to the UK.  That suits us very well.

We are very much of the mind to take the path of least resistance in everything as we navigate our way through this stage of our lives so we're going back to plan A.  Having got a sensible price for the Mazda we will buy a nice French car in France and, when we've got it, bring the ROP back to the UK and leave it here.  The reply from the French Embassy tells us that we have six months to do this.  If there is enough money left over we will buy a second French car, a little runabout, if we can find one.  You never know, I might achieve a longstanding ambition of owning another Renault 4TL, just to see if they really are as bad as I remember - my very first driving lessons were in a blue one in 1975!

Our twelve month visas actually start tomorrow, 8th March.  Our plan had been to go to France tomorrow, in the Mazda, with cat, dog and a trailer full of stuff, day one of our move to France.  It's lucky for us that we delayed it for a week to sell the car, not only because we are both rather poorly but also because we wouldn't have been able to get in!

Our builder has started the work on our new gates and poured the concrete footings last Friday, which take a week to harden and that isn't until two days after we would have arrived!  I can't wait to see our lovely new gates in situ (ones that don't need painting) and fab new gateposts (ones that don't lean at a jaunty angle).

As for the dreaded virus, for the first time this morning we both feel a bit better.  My painful sore throat has mercifully gone and I now feel like someone with a bad cold instead of some life threatening illness.  We both look dreadful but are definitely on the mend.  Hopefully we will be on our way to France in the ROP with the cat, the dog and the trailer full of stuff in a week's time.


  1. First, sorry to hear about your Covid and glad to hear it is improving already. Second, we imported our old Megane, which had originally been a French registered car and we didn't need a certificate of conformity, but that's a different scenario to your car, which must have been made for the UK market, not the French market. Third, if you get a 4L, can I have a drive please :-) I've alway hankered after one, with a giraffe hatch, essential, but actually driving one might put me off, which would be a good thing.

    1. My recollection is that the Renault 4 has a three speed gearbox with the gear stick sticking out of the dashboard, and leans alarmingly when going round corners. The one we had was incredibly unreliable, frequently wouldn't start, but luckily we lived on a hill and if all else failed there was always the starting handle. Driving it was a unique experience and one of my most embarrassing moments ever was being overtaken by a milk float when trying to persuade it to go up a hill somewhere near Harrogate.

  2. Sorry to hear the resolution of one tricky problem is being marred by another. Get well soon.

  3. I’m so glad you are on the mend and the car is sold. Baby steps in the journey back to France. And how in the world did you put that puzzle together in one day? 😳

    1. Nick has a system for doing jigsaw puzzles that makes the job quicker. Personally I'm a random fixer, I like to wander past and nonchalantly slot a piece in every so often.