Thursday, 21 September 2017

Beating the Blue Train

The Calais-Méditerranée Express was a luxury French night express train which carried wealthy passengers between Calais and the French Riviera from 1922 until 1938. It was referred to as "le train bleu" in French and the Blue Train in English because of its dark blue sleeping cars.

In 1930 a very unofficial race was held between a Rover car and the train. Although the car was stopped by heavy fog 5 hours into the run, the team decided to drive on to St Raphael (near Cannes, on the Mediterranean coast) and race the train back. This they were able to do, beating the train into Calais by 20 minutes. After that there were a number of other "races" notably involving Bentleys and Alvis cars.

 Yes please! A 1927 Bentley 4½ litre (the blue car, No2)
behind No3, a 1928 Bentley 4½ litre Blower (supercharged)

These days people who own vintage and classic cars can join the "Blue Train Challenge", a six day event from Deauville to Cannes. This year there was a scheduled stop at Angles sur l'Anglin, so on Sunday I collected Pauline in Célestine and we wandered off to see what was happening.

No23 is a 1937 Bentley Derby Open Tourer and No8 is a 1932 Alvis Speed 20.
The enormous cream coloured car is a 1938 Chevrolet Fangio Coupe

There was lots of cars (and spectators) and although Célestine isn't exactly a vintage GT machine people were just as happy to see us as they were to see the Bentleys, Alvises, Aston Martins, and a bevy of other 1930's, 40's and 50's exotica.

No8 Alvis passes a 1936 Buick Special Convertible (No18) and a 1934 Aston Martin MkII

No48, a 1954 Arnolt Bristol Bolide leads off a 1948  Bentley Le Mans 8

A full list of runners and riders is here.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

A New Footpath

18 months ago Susan wrote "A Greenway to Replace the Railway". A meeting was held about 12 months ago to discuss the project; specifications, financing and the like, at which number of options were put forwards.

I don't know which option has been taken - either 2 metres wide, pedestrian only, or 3 metres wide pedestrians, bikes horses and skaters, but I do know work has started. I hadn't heard anything further on the project since last October, but I met TimB and Gaynor for a walk last Friday in Chaumussay and was rather surprised.

This is looking from Chaumussay towards le Grand Pressigny

 Looking from Chaumussay to Preuilly
Most of the track has gone from this section 

I will have to keep my eyes open - I hope there will be some sort of announcement about the opening, but you can't take these things for granted.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Look Out for Swallowtail Caterpillars


On Wild Carrot Daucus carotta in our vegetable garden October 2016.

On the roadside above the Claise near Chaumussay, on Wild Parsnip Pastinaca sativa, September 2013.

In our garden on Wild Carrot, September 2014.

On French Hog's-fennel Peucedanum gallica, on a forest ride near Luzé, September 2012.

On Wild Carrot in our orchard, September 2015.

Caterpillars of the Eurasian Swallowtail Papilio machaon (Fr. Machaon) can be observed on their food plants in September. They are busy fattening themselves up before winter, which they will spend as chrysalises, having wrapped themselves up before the cold weather hits.

They will leave their food plant and move to a sturdy upright stem where they will attach themselves and make a chrysalis. Depending on the surrounding vegetation the chrysalis could be green or brown, to blend in.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Fun with Célestine

On Thursday Susan and I had dinner in Amboise, and then I drove Célestine home. It's the first time in almost two years I have driven Celestine in the dark, and boy, did she let me know who was boss....

The problem was electricity - with the headlights on she was drinking it like it was going out of style, and she wasn't recharging the battery. This means that by the time I got home 75 minutes later the headlights were little more than glow worms in a tin, and once the motor was off that was it - she wasn't going anywhere. Which was peeving, because I had plans.

Anyway - a day on the charger later (yesterday), Tim and Gaynor arrived to go to the Bouchonne de Ste Maure with us, and this time Celestine behaved impeccably. Yes, it rained, yes there were probably less cars than there could have been, and yes, many people didn't stay to picnic on the road (we did).

And yes, we had a great day. Here are some pics:





So now I have to sort out Célestine's electrics. I have a suspicion the battery isnt good.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

See Yesterday's Post

I know we have posted this photo before, but it still makes me laugh. It is also appropriate given that today I am taking part in a deliberate traffic jam.


Saturday, 16 September 2017

Traffic Alert for Tomorrow

Tomorrow Célestine and I will be at Sainte-Maure-de-Touraine for the biennial bouchonne on the N10 for cars built before 1977. We went two years ago and had a great time. This year, Susan is working, so I will be going with TimB and Gaynor.

This year, once the traffic jam on the main road (10.30 - 12.30) is finished we will be parking wherever we find ourselves stopped, for a picnic on the old Route Nationale N10. It's on occasions like this I wish we had a roof rack and vintage deck chairs.

What to expect...

This means that if you're planning on travelling through Ste Maure you will be diverted all day until about 17.00. But that's just your bad luck - we like heritage traffic jams and this one is part of the European Patrimoine weekend, because automotive history is important here.