The rally was not starting well. On the way down to Portsmouth, a terrible whine from the rear, and no child in the back to be making that noise. It had to be part of the Holy Trinity, transmission, brakes or wheel bearings. Bugger!
Solution: stop for coffee and ring my mate Trevor. Now he has been towed off three TOC rallies, so he knows a good noise when he hears it. ‘If the noise changes when you go round a corner it’s wheel bearings.’ Right got it!
Now you engineering types have probably already diagnosed the problem. Nothing to do with the Holy Trinity, but more to do with it being noon on one of the hottest days of the year. Hot Blockleys on melting tarmac, unbelievably noisy.
First night, great chateau, lots of shiny Talbot radiators all lined up. Talbot London, Talbot London, Talbot London etc. And there was this French geezer wandering up and down and with a gallic shrug, ‘Zut Alors, sont de Paris, non?’ Or words to that effect, with a vite ‘ah bon’ I made a quick exit. I didn’t want to get into a conversation about the STD saga; Swiss, Breton, London, Paris etc. And I am not even that sure how English Vanden Plas was. Oh, where is James Fack when you need him?
Now the real attraction of the rally was to see ‘Guys and Dolls’, or to be more precise Guy and Doll. Guy Gregory brought his new girlfriend to a continental rally. This is a first. I thought she was terrific, could drink me under the table, but struggled to get out of my Wrong London Factory Car in her mini skirt after a swift spin. After all I was in a cad’s car. Guy used a crook lock on his steering wheel to prevent his 90 being stolen, let’s hope he has a similar device for his Doll. Watch this space!
David Vine explained how he had owned virtually every WLFC made including a works racer, and how he had had all the tools and know how, to rebuild one on the hard shoulder of the M25 in the rain at night.
Not sure what he thought of my cable tie solution? And I bet he cleaned his cars. Oh, and I felt ashamed to ask him where the dip stick on my car was. Anyhow it seems he now just has a dead Talbot lurking in Berkshire.
Talking of dead Talbots, our esteemed Club-Sec and Editor, as you may read elsewhere, was in the full international STD mode. Firstly, a London car from the right Factory, (‘sorry Guv won’t be ready till the end of the decade’). Secondly a car from Bristol, with a Munich-designed engine, that got a bit hot and bothered on the A1. Who doesn’t?! Thirdly a car from Trolhättan with ABBA on its eight track. This developed a dodgy clutch, which is ironical, as his first car doesn’t even have a clutch, just more bands than a royal wedding. And fourthly a hire car from Turin, that was huge and black and looked like something from a funeral procession, good clutch, but no ABBA: even that broke down.
Not only was it truly international, but every vehicle was also from a different decade, and in some cases a different century, the EU would be proud. I think our esteemed Club-Sec and Editor has out-trumped my mate Trev.
Now for the Historic Scoop of the Rally; funny how these things still keep coming to light. In Giverny, Monet’s gardens near our fab chateau, while ferreting around in the archives, I found a new Talbot discovery. In one of Monet’s London pictures he has included an early Edwardian Invincible Talbot on the embankment, just back from having its body made by J. Rothschild et Fils just around the corner at 45 Horseferry Road London, SW. No one knew of its existence before.
Great Rally, great crowd.
Now if only I can find my Haynes Manual, presumably the WLFC does have a dip stick.
David and Susann Cook
The decision to visit Monet’s gardens at Giverny was made the previous evening and so at a reasonable hour we set off for what was to be a spectacular day. David Roxburgh was returning to Ouisterham to 'swop cars!' So, Ros joined Rowland, Janet and ourselves for our day of culture.
We had been concerned that the place may be very busy and crowded, but the area is large enough to soak up all who are interested and there really is so much to see and do. We did queue for about ten minutes to tour the house, hardly a problem in the morning sun and well worth the wait. Many paintings were displayed and there were beautiful views from many of the windows. We then meandered through the gardens, marvelling at the creations and colours
The famous water garden, created by Monet, was stunning and, despite there being a number of us wandering around, it was incredibly peaceful. Viewing the water lilies from the iconic bridge was amazing and exactly as depicted in the famous painting. At this point however David and Rowland were deep in conversation about the merits of Zenith Carburettors.
For anyone travelling through this area, we can wholeheartedly recommend taking the time out to enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of Giverny.
Thursday was our second ‘free day’ and started with an impromptu meeting outside the tourist office to plan their day’s activities. Martin had already decided to lead a raid on Falaise to bag another chateau, while others chose to stay in the area and enjoy the walks around Clécy, a centre for outdoor activities based around the Orne River.
Trish and I opted to try the Route de la Suisse Normande, a signed 65km scenic drive around the area taking in all the best sights. The route would have been easy to follow except that we went round in the wrong direction and in consequence missed many of the signs. In spite of this, we found most of the route and visited many charming villages, some of them twice, before we paused at Thury-Harcourt for an excellent lunch. So fortified, we completed the route and returned to Clécy by early afternoon.
Refreshed by an ice cream from the town square, we concluded the day’s activities with a short walk along the river and back over the disused railway viaduct now part of a “voie verte” for cyclists and also used for abseiling practice for the busy nearby “colonie de vacances”.
Dinner was an even more elaborate affair than the previous evening: Pommeau and canapés to start followed by five courses including perfectly cooked fish and an interesting foamed cheese creation. I only wished we had a menu so I knew what we were eating! Definitely up to the high culinary standard of the tour.
Before concluding this, I must express my thanks to Martin, Hilary and all the experienced Talboteers for the welcome and friendship offered to Trish and myself on our first continental jaunt with the Club; it will certainly not be our last.
The day began badly. Not having Satnav, I relied for the first leg of our journey from Vieux Villez to the mid-day meet at Crèvecoeur-en-Auge on the basic principles of navigation inculcated by my father, based on observing the declination of the sun with respect to the azimuth etc... Unfortunately, the sun had not yet appeared that morning, allowing me to take a wrong road, not to Le Neubourg as intended but away from it. This became apparent when the sun did appear, but on the wrong side of the road. Not only was this very embarrassing, but I then had to endure ten miles of Tere’s criticism with clenched teeth.
We had no further difficulties getting to Crèvecoeur where we enjoyed the picnic and the rebuilt medieval buildings, although faced with rather more information than I needed on M. Schlumberger’s use of electrical resistance to locate deposits of fuel oil. We then tailed Clive Kent and Caroline to Clécy along a very picturesque route which, though a bit rough in a few places, was devoid of the really vicious speed-ramps we all encountered in small towns elsewhere.
Clécy and the Site Normand hotel were charming, although the cuisine was a bit too nouvelle for us after so many years of robust Spanish fare.
Unfortunately, as we arrived last, there didn’t appear to be room left in the hotel car park so I had to leave the car on the very steep road outside with all wheels chocked with substantial stones borrowed from an already crumbling wall nearby. Seeing that I was not happy about this, Clive Kent very kindly edged his car over a bit so I could get ours into the park beside it, so I slept soundly that night and, being British, replaced the borrowed stones when we left next morning for Wm. the Bastard’s castle at Falaise.
On arriving I was rather put-off by the expanses of galvanised ventilation ducting on the approach to the keep, fearing it had been converted into another sort of Pompidou Centre. However, once inside, the presentation was well done and very relevant to Martin Bryant’s masterly ‘lecturette’ on the Notorious Normans on Tuesday night. On our last day we were enjoying a picnic by the beach at Colleville-Montgomery when we were approached by a charming lady who ran a photo-press agency for West of France – see the accompanying item which appeared in the local papers the following day.
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This was a truly enjoyable and well-organised tour, as reflected in David Roxburgh’s generous thanks and presentation to Martin and Hilary Bryant at the final evening’s dinner for arranging such a splendid event.