One of the (admittedly very few) downsides to combining your work and your passion is that it’s very difficult to completely switch off; there’s always something percolating at the back of the ol’ brain box.
On a recent family holiday to Spain, I decided to leave my work behind for a few days: no cameras, no laptop, no wi-fi and not much in the way of a phone signal, so not even a sly scroll through Instagram either. Full-on cold turkey.
However, knowing that I’m ‘a car guy’, I was told by the villa’s owners about an old car down in the garage that I might be interested in. Naturally, my over-excitable brain filled with images of pre-war Bugattis and ’60s Alfas. What I found was slightly less exotic, but fantastic nonetheless.
Hidden away under boxes of old tat, musty blankets and a knackered settee was a bruised and battered, but still undeniably cute Citroen Dyane.
I managed to get a few slightly shonky photos on my phone. And then turned it off and went for a swim.
Lovely isn’t it?
If every dent tells a story, this thing is War And Peace. There ain’t a straight panel anywhere to be found.
Almost 67k on the clock – lord only knows if that’s the original mileage. By the state of it, it could’ve been clocked a couple of times. In a demolition derby.
I was desperate for a little go in it, but the combination of it being a left-hooker (never driven one of them before), dubious roadworthiness (no-one seemed to know the last time it turned a wheel) and driving on the wrong side of the road (again, a first) meant that I kind of chickened out. Call it self-preservation.
Come to think of it, I’ve never driven a column shift before either (my car history is fairly conservative) so re-programming my ageing brain to cope may have been a bit of a challenge.
From what little backstory I could find out, the car seemingly leads a bit of a charmed life. Apparently, a few years ago, the owner was pressured into scrapping the car by the older members of the family who obviously failed to see the romance in driving a 40-year-old four-wheeled punchbag.
Fast forward twelve months, and the now-former owner is passing the same scrapyard and notices that the little Citroen is still there, awaiting the inevitable. Cue violins, a lump in the throat and a soft-focus montage of shiny happy family memories. One swift trip to the cashpoint later, the car is back home in the bosom of the family where it belongs.
And while it may never be more than a holiday hack, I get the feeling that this time it’s home to stay.