Transports of delight

Written by Simon Renfrew

Felicitations. After a seemingly endless search, you’ve found your French idyll. The paperwork complete and your wallet suitably lightened, the family, dogs and nags are at last happily ensconced. And now you realise the flaw in your otherwise perfect plan.

Outside the yard lie endless acres of fields – most of which were left untouched by the previous incumbent, his father (& his father before him) for decades.

Outside the yard lie endless acres of fields – most of which were left untouched by the previous incumbent, his father (& his father before him) for decades. The brambles doubtless hide both ancient towers various and a posse of seriously bored virgin princesses – who’ve long since given up waiting for their knights and resorted to dating websites instead. The grass is feet high and the once neatly trimmed hedges have become primordial forest. And you really, really, need a tractor.

Happily, the guy who delivered the forty tons of gravel required to make the drive passable has just the thing you want. That the machine in question is older than he is, has Bakelite switches and looks like it’s circumnavigated the globe twice is unimportant. He says. And he may have a point – it’s about the same price as a small, fifth hand and seriously knackered car, the chassis clearly came from a Challenger tank, the engine roars at the first touch of the button and here’s even a cover above the driver’s seat. Better still, given that you can’t be bothered to insure it and wouldn’t dare to drive it on the road anyway, he lives down the road – and delivery is gratuit.

A grass cutter is also acquired nearby and you’re good to go – and many curiously satisfying hours (days, weeks) of jungle taming lie ahead. Remember though that the clutch, brakes and steering aren’t hydraulically assisted, the exhaust has the decibel equivalent of a 747 on takeoff and the seat will numb your bum in the first five minutes. Good. Enjoy.

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