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November, 2005:

Car registration

Once you permanently move a vehicle into France you’re supposed to go about the formality of re-registering it locally. Now, there are plenty of people that don’t, but we’re keen to keep on the straight and narrow, so here’s what transpired for us. It should have been fairly simple/straightforward but in the end the whole process took over three months and some startling beaurocratic snarl-ups and the odd mistake by ourselves.

Our car, with a valid UK MOT, UK Road Fund license and UK based insurance was completely street legal for use in France, but were due to run out around September. However, in order to change it over so that we had the French equivalent, we first needed to put it through the French version of an MOT (‘Controle Technique’)

  • 22nd August – Took the car for it’s Controle Technique test. Predictably the car failed on just one thing.. the headlamps. Now, looking at same model, year, left hand drive vehicles here they have the exact same lens on the headlamp. The Controle Techniqe people said that erm.. yes.. you just need new bulbs. Poppycock. It’s not the bulb at all, but infact the internal reflector inside the headlamp that defines the beam.
  • 30th August – New headlamps installed. Now, when I put the lamps on I marked up on the garage door the exact centre of the old beam and marked the new centres of the new beam… there was a vast difference. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Driving around with them for a few days, we went out one evening, which gave me my first chance to drive with the new headlamps on. What a disaster, the beam alignment was so far off that only the first 3m of road in front of the car was illuminated. It was reckless to drive at anything more than about 30 mph, as I was driving almost blind. I was cursing the new ‘improved’ French standard headlamps. Irrespective, I booked the car in for a re-test at the Controle Technique centre.
  • 8th September – Sat waiting for the re-test, the test engineer comes in and says.. “Are these French standard headlamps?”. “Yes”. “Did you install them?”. “Yes”. “They’re no good, they’re failing the test”. So, I popped the bonnet and with the beam-angle measuring device on the front of the car I popped the cover off the back of the headlamp and grabbed the internal reflector mechanism and moved the beam up by hand to the point where the engineering meter gave an ‘ok’ for the beam height and angle. “Magnifique” cried the Controle Technique man, that is good enough! So, the car.. with a dangerously misaligned headlamp beam that rendered it almost impossible to drive at night, left the Controle Technique station with a pass certificate.
  • 9th September – I figured out the that the electronic beam-adjuster mechanism was not engaged in the reflector/parabolic bowl inside the lamp. A two minute tweak on each headlamp and the beams are now fine. Safe again!
  • 10th September – Our English insurance was due to run out. Went around a number of insurance agencies. The message back was certainly mixed. “We can’t insure right hand drive cars”. “We can only insure for accidents and not theft”. Eventually as a last attempt we dropped into an insurance office which happened to have a sign saying that they spoke English. Hurray. We could only get insurance for 1 month at a time until we got the full French registration – but it was a start.
  • 11th September – To get the car registered in France, we need a letter of conformacy from Peugoet to prove the car is up to French safety standards – money passes hands at Peugoet.
  • 21st September – letter of conformacy arrives – a piece of paper that cost 109 euros – bargain!
  • 23rd September – visit Parthenay Mairie’s office – told to go to local office in Gourge.
  • 23rd September – visit the Mairie’s office in Gourge and hand in all the paperwork and another wad of money – 95 euros. They then send all the paperwork off to Niort.
  • 6th October – paperwork returned from Niort – missing a piece of paper – Kitus Fiscal – what? This is a certificate from the tax office to confirm that VAT had been paid when the car was originally purchased – our R reg Peugoet! A quick trip into Parthenay to get this piece of paper and then return back to Gourge Mairie’s office. Off it all goes to Niort again.
  • 18th October – paperwork returned – cheque for 95 euros is wrong amount – this is for a smaller engined car. This was a mistake by the Mairie’s assistant – who was totally embarrassed and apologised profusely. Wrote out another cheque for 195 euros. Off it all goes to Niort again.
  • 3rd November – paperwork returned – what is it this time? Adrian had forgotten to sign the cheque. Back to Gourge Mairie’s office. The assistant bewildered that we still hadnt got it all sorted out. Off it all goes to Niort again.
  • 22nd November – paperwork returned ……… and the French registration – Hurray – only took us 3 months!

It seems that we were one of the lucky ones, as our car was a French make. If we’d had a Rover or Toyota it could have taken even longer!

We then went to the local DIY store and got 2 French number plates made up. Went to the insurance office and got a year’s insurance cover. Voila – job done!

Ash Wigwam


During November, Adrian had cut down some stems from a previously pollarded ash in our hedge. Instead of just putting these stems onto the bonfire pile I decided to have a go at making a wigwam for plants to grow up.

Taking some of the longer poles, I stuck them into the soil in a circle. Then I wove thinner stems around, about two thirds down and then some even smaller ones near the top to form a wigwam shape.

As a first attempt, I am quite proud of it. It is very rustic looking and will have, for now, wild blackberries scrambling up it.

The blackberries are just a trial. During the autumn we had brambles all over the garden and some of them had wonderful tasting fruits. While digging out the flower bed at the end of the orchard, I removed a load of brambles.

I decided to keep one bramble and this is the one currently climbing my wigwam.

If, in autumn, the fruit is no good, I will remove the bramble and grow a clematis up it.

I have tidied up the ends of the sticks on the wigwam since this photo.

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