Showing posts with label 2CV. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2CV. Show all posts

Sunday, 5 February 2012

The only time you see teenagers out with their parents

At the crack of dawn next week my son will thrust a hastily downloaded Google map at me, plug his favourite Justice tracks into the car’s audio system and we’ll set off for yet another university open day (snow permitting!)

The only trouble is that after visiting a handful of universities already, they’re all starting to blur into one. Neither of us can remember which boasts 22 Nobel Prize winners, which has a library with four million books and which serves coffee that tastes like old socks.

University open days are a new and weird phenomenon in our lives. When I went I more or less stuck a pin in the map and hoped for the best. Today’s teenagers get bombarded with leaflets and letters, spend hours trawling through the UCAS website and are encouraged to visit universities all over the shop before applying. The only trouble is that when they get to open days they meet academics in tweed jackets quoting statistics like 1,000 applicants for fewer than 100 places.

Even more bizarre is the sight of thousands of 17 and 18 year olds trailing round campuses with their middle-aged parents. Some look dead embarrassed to be seen out with their mums and dads, while others are clearly livid that their parents have muscled in on the trip. I’ve scored a double. I’m in both categories.

And this year there’s something new to worry about. The newspapers are full of doom and gloom about tuition fees trebling to an eye-watering £9,000 a year and students being saddled with debt for the rest of their lives. I take one look and stuff the papers in the bin. This university lark is hard enough without worrying about that right now…

PS. Forget my hankering for a 2CV. I’ve just spotted my new dream car outside Jamie Oliver's restaurant in Islington (see above!)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Will I get talked into buying a 2CV?

As building work continues apace on the House with No Name, the question of how we’re going to get around the rural back roads of southern France without a car is rearing its inquisitive head. We can bike to the nearest village for croissants and milk but for trips further afield we’ll need four wheels rather than two.

If I am going to buy a car in France then the only one that will do is a Citroën 2CV. They’re cheap, chic and well, not 100 per cent reliable, but I don’t care.

When I was little my mother had a bright green 2CV, which we drove through the Dorset lanes with the wind in our hair and Dory Previn singing Lemon Haired Ladies on the ropey old tape machine. My dad loathed the car because it was noisy and shockingly slow and my mum went off it after the canvas roof came adrift and knocked her half-unconscious as she drove along.

But my sister and I adored it and once my mother got a swankier car she gave it to us. I’d just started training as a reporter on the Mid-Devon Advertiser and when I set off for work at the crack of dawn every Monday morning me and my mum had to push it down the road for a quarter of a mile to get it started. My friends likened the car to “a deckchair on wheels,” but within a few weeks my fellow trainee and spin-doctor-to-be Alastair Campbell bought a Citroën Dyane (the slightly more sophisticated version of the 2CV) in exactly the same colour.

On a good day my top speed was 60mph but on bad days lorries and caravans whizzed past me with ease. I was still so entranced that when it finally gave up the ghost I bought an identical Deux Chevaux in a shade of pale blue Cath Kidston would give her eye-teeth for.

Twenty-five years on I’m still hankering after another 2CV – and my teenagers are egging me on in my quest. Even though 2CVs went out of production in 1990, you can still pick them up for a song in France. Last summer my daughter spotted a beaten-up turquoise 2CV for sale for three hundred euros outside a garage in Dieulefit and campaigned for days to make me buy it. I admit I was half-tempted but luckily someone else snapped it up before I could do something even sillier than usual.

But hmmm, this year I just might...

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Dreaming of a second-hand 2CV

Slowly, slowly, the French farmhouse I bought on a mad whim back in 2006 is coming back to life. My husband and children always promised it would but, being a wimp, I had my doubts. We still haven’t managed to sleep a night there yet, but the tumbledown six-bedroom wreck with half a roof, terrible damp problem and bathroom inhabited by a plague of rats is looking – and I never thought I’d say this – well, rather beautiful.

The rats are long gone and the clever architect friends who are renovating the house have replaced the hotch-potch of windows with elegant pale grey ones. They’ve designed a new roof, built steps from the terrace to the front door, restored the stone staircase from the ground to the first floor and transformed the dingy downstairs kitchen and salon into stunning, light-filled rooms with domed ceilings.

Instead of wanting to run a mile from the place, I now want to spend as much time there as possible. My student daughter, keen to perfect her French, is even making plans to buy a second-hand 2CV and decamp there for the whole summer.

Progress is coming along at such a pace that when we visited the house last week, we decided to brave the new Avignon branch of IKEA to buy a kitchen and bathroom. I can report, by the way, that shopping in a French IKEA is just as horrendous as visiting a UK one. The upside is that we’ve added an impressive number of new words, from poignets and robinets to lave-vaisselle, to our French vocabulary. The downside is that we've got to go back again in the summer to buy a fridge.
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