Thursday 25 June 2009

It's a Nash, Frazer

The pensive looking chap looking into the engine compartment is my 'beau frere'. He has just acquired this extremely purposeful 1929 Frazer Nash Super Sports. To be honest it rather suits his devil-may-care attitude and he will soon be terrorising the roads of East Sussex with it. For those of you who are interested in such matters, despite the car's relatively late date, it is driven by chains - several of them, in what is a theoretically highly efficient method of transmission. However, these chains break every so often necessitating much struggling at the roadside with the oily objects, re-connecting them, shortening them or throwing the worn out ones over the nearest hedge. The Frazer Nash has a marque following with an entusiasm bordering on the clinically insane. Huge journeys are undertaken in them, and due to their favourable power to weight ratio and fast acting transmissions they often win vintage races against much more esoteric machinery. Personally I like the unpolished Brillo-padded aluminium finish and the general touch of the smithy that characterises many of its fittings. As you can see it won't be long before it requires new tyres which, driven in the manner intended have a half-life of about 25 miles. Behind the wheel there are several items to amuse the conductor such as an object which looks like the handle from a garden syringe - this you pump furiously in order to build up enough pressure in the fuel tank to propel the motor spirit from tank to engine. The dinner plate size revolution counter would look more at home in the treadmill room of a Victorian house of correction and the other gauges, such as they are, have an air of The Great western Railway about them. All in all this is my type of car. Quite fast enough to frighten yourself, yet not so hot rod that it doesn't draw admiring looks from tweed-capped old gentlemen who nod sagely and talk animatedly of the late 1930's and tales of how you 'could buy a good one for fifteen quid in those days', etc., etc. It's nice to see this old iron being used for as long as possible before the powers that be declare how dangerous and antisocial it all is and that we should jack them all in for 2000 quid each and buy electric cars instead.

Thursday 18 June 2009

Still earning its keep.

Here's a recent glimpse into a French shed. A wobbly and out of focus shot due to a half-starved Alsatian straining at its chain intent on grabbing what little virility I have left, I'm relying on more knowledgeable blogistas to identify the vehicle therein. From the little to be seen, it is utilised on a very occasional basis to gather the winter log supplies and has sacks thrown over it after its spells of duty. The registration number '89' gives its location as The Yonne and this is The Puisaye area. It looks to be American and I suppose was either abandoned there after the War or became one of the many French governmental vehicles which were drafted into the likes of Les Pompiers. This one's still in Olive Drab so maybe it was 'liberated' after all? The region of The Puisaye, whilst only about an hour and three quarters from Paris remains largely 'undiscovered', particularly by Brits although the Dutch have caught on in a bigger way. It is an area of blissfully beautiful countryside peppered with quiet villages and hamlets. If you are a night owl - forget it - everything closes down at around 7.00pm. On the bright side you can get a nice drop of Pastis 51 at 6.30am! Should the mood take you, they do a fine line in scythes and effective hand tools at the local agricultural merchant, all designed to help you tackle the wilderness you'll have to cut through to gain access to the 85,000 euro farmhouse, barn, seven hectares of woodland and a sizeable lake you've just purchased (having spent an expensive morning in the bar with the friendly local estate agent - see earlier reference to Pastis)

Friday 5 June 2009

Ploughs and pasties

St Winnow, Cornwall near Fowey. Where else, at the end of a gorgeously remote lane would you find a roadside caravan dispensing exquisite food and providing a diversion in the form of a farming bygones and miscellany museum? The weather was kind as we sat and munched our way through homemade pasties, farm-reared pork and South Devon beef rolls of such ample proportions that we were fair tuckered by the end. The museum (or large shed as it should better be described) is educational in its diversity, covering such miscellany as wheelwrights tools, primus stoves, gas masks and what can only be described as a devotional to David Brown tractors. These red prime-movers are scattered throughout the place, poking out from under sacks, standing in dusty formation and in one unlikely pairing, hitched to an old fashioned threshing drum. I say 'unlikely' for the tractor concerned is one of those airfield jobs which used to tow bombs and aircraft around the bases of Britain - all nicely faired-in and streamlined,surely only to satisfy the designers eye, as no possible aero-dynamic advantage could be gained. The building in which this lot is housed has a familiar construct about it; telegraph poles with their id. numbers still attached and clad in that perennial favourite, corrugated iron. The smell is delicious and well known to those of us who enjoy visiting such places...oil, grease, paraffin, diesel fuel and grain, with a mixture of old sacking and hay. A short walk down to the river brings you to St Winnow Church where episodes of Poldark were filmed...which applies to most of Cornwall...but it is a fabulous building with a barrel vaulted roof and wonderful carved pew ends. The day for us was rounded off nicely with a few pints at the admirable New Inn at Tywardreath - no food, just 'salt and vinegar' or 'plain' - and a great bunch of regulars.