Until recently we had an old series 3 diesel Land Rover. For months on end it would sit unused in the street outside our house in London. Driven maybe once, twice a year in the city, usually only to head for the channel and the European countryside. Then Boris the-great-mayor-of-our-times brought in his one size fits all solution to city traffic pollution in London. If we had kept the car in the city zones, the fines, the ongoing price to us would have been enormous. As usual the small user/offender gets targeted for political purposes, while the mega polluters with deep pockets and political clout get strategically overlooked.
It’s true the Land Rover was smoky at times and for that in this age there is little excuse, but it was also a wonderful wagon for getting-to, cruising the back roads of France, Switzerland, and crossing the alps into Italy. What I saw of France, if I were French, I would defend to my dying breath. After a day’s driving (a series 3 taking-in places in slow-motion) with all the wonderful local-commune-run-reasonable camp sites, we could pitch our wild made-up tents, attaching tarps to the back of the van, and exhausted from hours on the road sleep dry and warm as squirrels in the dead of winter oblivious to rain torrenting down on the roof. These overnights in out-of-the-way places in France, Spain and Italy makes me wonder what the 100km/hr + drivers on le péage, motorways, and le autostrade ever get to see.
So in homage to the old car, the transport that facilitated visits to the twig cracking quiet of the open French forests and back hills and small towns east, west, south and north of Paris all visited at speeds from 10 to 60 km/hr, those secluded empty, silent parts of France, Switzerland, northern Spain and Italy in all weather and times of year, places that afforded us so many extraordinary moments on the way to Tuscany and back, here is a photo-montage essay of those times we never want to forget. Why not buy a new car? I don’t want a new car.