Four years of Welsh living

It is now just over four years since we got the keys to our cottage in Wales. That means it’s over four years since we jacked in our jobs and decided to have a bash at the Good Life. I hadn’t realised that Felicity Kendal had made such an impression on me.

It’s good fun to look back. It was a somewhat bold move after all. We decided we could live on one exceedingly variable freelance income with financial sacrifices made in order to have a better overall life. After all, I’d been married for four years, but felt like I barely saw my wife due to hectic work-lives. For the past four years, we’ve been barely separated – it’s a bloody good test of a marriage! Happily, we seem to have passed it. We’ve absolutely loved living somewhere so special though. Every view is astonishing. The people (a mix of Welsh and English for the most part) are marvellous. It has been a largely very happy time. Living in Wales comes highly recommended.

Initially, I was a bit crap at the whole hippy thing. I sold my 1955 Austin Westminster A90 as it hardly seemed ideal hippy transport at 20mpg. Within two months of moving to Wales, I’d replaced it with a Land Rover 90 V8 which did 15mpg. Go me! To be fair, I later sold it for an actual profit! This happens not very often. So overjoyed with my money-making spree was I (all £700 of it) that I went out and bought a Reliant Scimitar GTE. Again, not really a prime example of hippy living. But that’s ok, as I later replaced it with a diesel Range Rover, which ate up lots of money and put a stop to such silliness.

Land Rover 90 V8 County Station Wagon

A crap hippy’s steed – 15mpg Land Rover V8

Since then, I’ve been more hippy-like. There has been a pretty constant stream of dreadful, but cheap motor vehicles. Driving adventures have been few and far between though, as we rarely have budget to do much travelling. Heading to Scotland in January 2014 was a very rare actual holiday, paid for by my lovely wife taking a part time job at a local tourist attraction. We drove all the way there and back in a rusty Daihatsu that cost less than £400 to buy.

But now there’s a problem. It’s the 2CV. Famed for being the original hippy machine, I can only assume that it rained less in the Swinging Sixties. My 2CV is very rotten, and fixing it will be very expensive. Very Expensive is something we just don’t do anymore. It feels like a decision needs to be made, as current income does not support restoration fees. Something has to change. Either The Good Life needs some thorough re-jigging, or I can no longer own a 2CV.

Inside the rear seat box was ok. Around it less so

2CV keeps doing this. Restoration costs are significant

For now, I’m going to try and buy an XM and pretend the problem doesn’t exist. I’m sure everything will work out in the end.

2CV – fun in the sun

It’s been a while since the 2CV has appeared on this blog and I apologise for that massive oversight. I’ve been rather busy with other vehicles and work, but that’s not to say that I haven’t been using the 2CV. In fact, the little Tin Snail has been very busy recently, reminding me why I love it.

When it comes to bombing around the roads of rural Wales, I honestly think there isn’t another car I would rather be in.

Citroen 2CV Dolly

For hurtling around Wales, few things can match a 2CV

That may seem a bold statement, but there’s a reason for it. For a start, much as I love TVRs, it would be left for dead by the 2CV on some of the twisty, trecherous mountain roads around here. It simply doesn’t have the ground clearance and with bends coming at you like a herd of demented cattle, there are few opportunities to exploit the power. You might as well have a mere 29bhp that allows you to keep your foot down.

So, with undulating roads, perhaps a 4×4 would be useful? Well, not really. 4x4s are big, bulky and generally don’t handle as well as smaller cars. If I was in one of those, I’d have to be seriously worried about meeting another car. The 2CV is skinny enough to nip past most things.

A modern supermini then. They’re nippy things aren’t they? Well, no. They’re heavy with city-friendly and therefore lifeless steering. Oh, and huge blind spots. I’m here to appreciate the view, so it’s roof back in the 2CV, which makes it easier to keep an eye on kites and the like. Well, until I got too cold…

Mix in the 2CV’s keen steering, sharp brakes and fabulous all-independent suspension and you’ve got an exceedingly entertaining machine that’s also very comfortable. Also, it took in a forestry commission lane (to a legit car park, don’t just go heading off down random lanes) and transported a household door. The 2CV may not be brilliant at everything, but it’s bloody good at a lot of things.