Drawing towards the End of “Our Story”
At the start of October 2007 we took a holiday. With a couple of very good friends, we shared the rental of a cottage in Mortagne-sur-Gironde, on an estuary off the Atlantic coast.
We visited the zoo at Palmeyre near Royan and it was so good it kept us captivated for five hours. Next, we went to Merchers to see the grottos. These were interesting but definitely “touristy” though the oyster traps were fascinating.
One day, Terry and I walked along a grassy bank of a narrow stream and saw a pair of huge gates with the padlock and chain hanging to the side, though the gates were closed. To the side of these gates, almost covered by the bushes there was a small sign indicating that there were some caves within, so in we went.
We saw a cliff that had been hidden by the trees and some caves with old oak doors pulled across them and as we climbed higher we saw that there was a very old lady sweeping the narrow stone ridge in front of the doors. She told us that the caves were closed though she indicated one smaller cave a little further round the ridge that she hadn’t yet locked up, so we walked round to it and went inside.
It was difficult to see much very clearly as there was no lighting but the old lady came and found us. We told her that we had seen the caves at Merchers and she then beckoned for us to follow her.
She took us back to the cave behind the locked doors, opened them up and ushered us in. This was an ancient small chapel with a stone-flagged floor and an altar enhanced by magnificent statues with still-good colours for their age, decorated with gold-leaf. She told us that this chapel had been created by, and had belonged to, one of the most important and powerful families in France and that it was very rarely opened for the public. She told us that it had once been the second most important early chapel in France.
We came back home from our little break to the important job of getting the Moss (the old car that we had brought back from the UK in September) road-worthy. Terry applied to the DVLA for a new V5 and at this point found out that it had been reported as scrapped so he requested a revised one which he eventually received, showing the Moss as a 1970 Triumph Herald with sports body - potentially a problem when we came to register her in France. The word “Moss” was not mentioned.
He started working on the chassis and got that welded and cleaned and painted the bits that he could reach and wax-oiled the bits that he couldn’t. Then he started on the mechanical stuff and the electrics - which I could go into here but as it will not be of much interest to many people, I shan’t! Terry has written his own account of his restoration, which he can elaborate on, if required.
This work took us into 2008 before it was completed. Thoughts then turned to registering the Moss in France with the first hurdle being trying to obtain an attestation from the French federation for old (over 25 years) cars (the FFVE). The form was filled in and sent with the required photos only to be returned pretty quickly saying that they needed an attestation from the Moss motor company. We were a bit stumped at this point but decided to write and explain that the factory had burned down and that all records had been destroyed so no attestation was possible, we also enclosed a close-up picture of the build plate from the Moss, then held our breath!
We were very lucky, as we received the attestation stating that the vehicle was a 1982 Moss sports and had been accepted to register as a “vehicle of Collection“ - the only possible way she could have been registered in France..
With the CT test booked, it was just a matter of checking and rechecking that everything worked then taking her to the test station, some 25 kms away in Guéret. This was her longest run for over 6 years. The test went okay except for the emissions and the tester came into the waiting room said it had failed as it was a 1982 registration and had to comply with modern emission levels. We pointed out that the V5 showed it as a 1970 Triumph and after he had studied the V5 document, he agreed and promptly passed it, noting it as a 1970 Triumph!
After checking that all the correct documents were to hand, we made an appointment at the Préfecture to register the Moss. There, the lady glanced at the conflicting documents (a CT pass certificate for a 1970 Triumph and the Attestation for a 1982 Moss, both showing the same registration number, of course) and she looked at us and asked “what is this car?”.
We explained that it had a Triumph chassis and engine and a Moss body, then we tried the age-old Gallic shrug. For a second she looked at us then said “I will register it using both names” and issued us with the French registration document for a 1970 Triumph/Moss and that is what she is now under French law!!
We had a French upholster make a hood for her and we now have great fun once again exploring the beautiful Creuse countryside, as we did in our MG.
Most of any work that we planned on doing has been completed, so after this - the 21st article - I have reached the end of our story about the “why and how” we came to live here in Creuse - which was the whole point of my articles..
We enjoy all the seasons - the winter being a challenge yet not a bad one and the rest of the year is pretty good to marvellous. We have regular visits by family and friends and generally enjoy ourselves and consider ourselves fortunate to have chosen to live here when we did.
I may write the odd article about our car club outings a bit later on, if they seem interesting enough, but thank you for reading my offerings and for your comments!