Monday, June 12, 2006

Car, blue

You see this car? It's MINE, all MINE. Isn't it gorgeous? Rhetorical question, natch. Bought on Ebay actually, from completely normal, sympa people. Good price, good car, basta!

I have been searching for a 406 estate for months. There have been none, and I mean none in this area. I even approached a used car dealer and asked him. Apart from his own which has 225,000km on the clock, he knew of no others for sale. And therein lies the problem for potential 406 estate buyers : people hang on to them. They do. Or they are salesmen and have wracked up 200,000km in 5yrs and are moving on. Or they are only to be found north of Dijon.

Having found my bijou bleu on Ebay, I asked my male pals who know about this sort of thing what they thought. There was a general concensus of opinion : it was a good car. The day the auction was coming to an end, I was a bundle of nerves. I tried not to show it, but kept coming back to Ebay to check on bidding progress. There was no need really. I was the only one in the running, but put in a second higher bid just in case. You never know with people who might pip you at the post in the last seconds. Had that happened, my cries of despair would have been heard out to sea, I'm sure. However, my bid was successful and I made arrangements to pick the car up from Toulon the following Sunday.

The next day I was super organised, contacted the bank for the cheque, and the insurance. All was hunkey dory... except that by Friday the cheque had not arrived. Should I risk it and hope it arrived on Saturday? Knowing the French postal system it was better to assume the worst and contact the bank. My very nice conseiller was in constant meetings but I eventually spoke to him and he told me his boss had given him the go-ahead to re-issue the cheque. This meant a hurried dash into the centre of town on the tram, the traffic being way too heavy and unpredictable to make it before COB.

Second cheque in hand, I confidently expected the original one to turn up provocatively on Saturday morning, so it was with some relief and an aura of 'what do expect from la Poste' that, on opening the letter box, I found it empty.

Sunday was a day of bliss for my youngest. We started the day on the tram, all the way into town. Then, we had 2.5hrs of train in one of the new Corail Teoz carriages. SNCF have completely redesigned these trains so that there are not only sets of 6 seats facing each other for large families, but there are open spaces, cosy nooks of compartments, single seats, and toilets big enough to get a wheelchair inside. The toilets have open and shut buttons which take some getting used to, but once inside, you can change a baby, use the loo or just adjust your make-up and wash your hands. The colours in the carriages are a delightful bluey grey - very restful and cool, and at each seat, there is a super pull-up table big enough to fit a lap-top, paper and felt tips, lunch, the odd toy or sundry reading matter. Sandwiches, snacks and drinks are available from the trolley service and you can even hang up your bike next to the guards' compartment. Super, absolutely super.

My youngest gazed adoringly at double decker TGVs as we passed them, observed the freight trains, multiple sidings and disused old trucks. I observed, after Marseille, the fantastic coastline of the Cote d'Azur, living colourfully up to its name. We arrived at Toulon on time none the worse for wear and met the owners of the car and my friend J.

The sale went amicably as no one was trying to rip anyone off, bargain down the price or create an uncomfortable atmosphere by being suspicious of car theft. We left and had lunch then had to race back to Montpellier to meet my eldest. The car drove beautifully on the motorway ; felt comfortable, solid and smooth. We made it back safely and admired its smart lines in front of the house.

I no longer have the crappiest car in the neighbourhood or work carpark. This might seem a vain and frivolous thought, but remember I did use to have a very splendid Saab convertible and going from the sublime to the ridiculous was a heavy burden to bear.

'Oh frabjous day, calloo callay' she sang in joyful song.

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  1. Well what splendid news. Can hear you chortling in your joy from here.

    Certainly endorse the beauty of the Côte d'Azur coastline you mention - we went there for my last birthday. Very memorable.

    I don't expect you remember what the Esso sign said, but I wish you it.

  2. I've been wracking my brain, but cannot remember anything Esso except the birdlets going "Esssooooooooo".

  3. The Esso sign means 'Happy Motoring'
    The Esso sign means 'Happy Motoring'
    The Esso sign means 'Happy Motoring'
    So stop at the Esso sign.

    ca. 1959. Credits: J and J Shakespeare.

    *Shogs off to watch Germany v. Poland, don't know why.*

  4. erm...that should be *doesn't* know why. No respecter of 3rd persons, obviously.


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