A Special Builder's Notes


The Special Builder's Breakfast Club

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26 May 2015


Well, it would be churlish of me to do the deliberate mistake routine. Last week’s car was indeed a Renault, not a Peugeot, but in the interests of balance, here is a Peugeot 203; I know that because this time I took the trouble to look at the badge on the bonnet.

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And the occasion was the Pau Grand Prix Historique. Pau is a splendid and elegant city and is home to one of the oldest street circuits in the world. Like Angouleme, the track snakes its way up to the top of the town, under bridges and round hairpin corners and rising about 500’ in the process, before plunging back down to the station and paddocks.

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The joy of this spectacle was that all it cost was the princely sum of 2 Euros each. So in comparison to a similar event in the UK (the VSCC day at Snetterton at around £12-15 a head for instance) a family of four could have a fun day out for less than £20 including ice-creams all round (2 Euros a shot). It was a lot more to get into the paddock but that was to be expected. Elsewhere, all the viewing points and grandstands were available to all, in fact the Boulevard des Pyrenees straight was free to view – so to speak.

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Learned Counsel and The Navigator arrived from Suffolk in their newly acquired MG Roadster after a test run of over 1000 miles and as we sat under the trees in one of Pau’s squares sipping coffee, this Delahaye carrossier with a body by Henri Chapron, came and parked in front of us setting the tone for the day.

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And in contrast….

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There were several C types on show – this I thought being the prettiest but my taking the picture coincided with the start of a race and I didn’t look to see if it was genuine or not; not that I cared because it ticked all the boxes for me.

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Inside the park were arranged all the car clubs and individual cars that had come for the day. One of the most entertaining interludes was the parade of private vehicles that were invited to take a few turns around the circuit; refreshingly free of restriction and H&S!

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After the first race, we repositioned ourselves at the back of the Casino de Pau where after the hairpin at the Lycee Barthou, we could watch the cars through a fast left hand curve before the cars disappeared round to the right at the top of Parc Beaumont (not my best video moment…!)

I’ve been coming to help Cook in the Pays Basque – the Lantabat valley specifically – since 1998, and in that time the only piece of kitchen equipment that’s been changed is the gas oven. It’s been changed for one that is even worse than the old one – which we got used to finally in 2012. The new oven cooks on the left, is cold on the right, burns in the middle and has only one wire tray. Catering for 20 people, all discerning diners, is a bit of a juggling act. We had a tricky moment with the Basque flans but managed, in the nick of time, to take corrective action.

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