Lovely brocante – but what is happening to Moe?

table of thingsMy previous trip had concluded with Moe breaking down. But with her electrical problems sorted out, the main goal of the next trip a few weeks later was an excellent market in the Perche region. I’d been there a couple of years previously and found it stimulating, varied and worthwhile.

As I was one of the last on the ferry at Portsmouth I had to reverse on. “Je deteste faire marche en arriere,” I grimaced as I attempted maintian a reasonably straight line. “Vous n’etes pas la seule!” was the reply of the man in his orange boiler suit, and he gave me the thumbs up once I was in place. And Moe crossed to Cherbourg in the elevated company of many classic cars heading to a big weekend at Le Mans.

An overnight stop south of Valognes was planned and I’d intended, for my supper, to take a pizza to Monique’s lovely chambre d’hote. But the pizzeria had closed down since my last visit, and the only shop left open at 20h was the boulangerie. So with a baguette and a fruit tart a few minutes later I drove up the little allée of trees with a peaceful sense of return.picnic Monique added to my supper some Camembert and a bottle of red wine, and I ate outside in the last of the golden sun while frogs croaked, cows were called in, donkeys watched over the fence.

It took a few attempts to get Moe into gear the next morning but then I was on my way to a favourite dealer with an enormous warehouse. Amongst monogrammed linen sheets, candelabra, oil paintings, mirrors and café chairsI bought a promising farmhouse table with a chestnut top that had just been brought in from a “debarras” – a house clearance. We flipped it onto its back to load it, and underneath was pencilled with a firm hand, “Cette table était fait le 23 juin 1935.” Again I struggled to get Moe into gear but drove on to my next rendezvous thinking I can’t break down now, I’ve hardly started buying!

At the old Cider Factory I found a magnificent 18th century oak commode and after we ‘d loaded it in to Moe I asked Jean-Francois if he knew anything about gear boxes. “Je suis desolé, rien du tout,” he shook his head. It was getting late on a hot afternoon and I decided to drive straight to the Manoir de Clerrison where I’d stayed in May, and was relieved to arrive without mishap. A tall ladder rested up against a cherry tree by the manor – it was an abundant year for cherries.


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