In search of coffee

The village of Beauvoir lives up to its name. It has a great view across the Pays de Bray, with just a little mist between the gentle ridges this morning. It’s dairy country, a land of celebrated cheeses… and bucolic simplicity.

But on a Tuesday morning Beauvoir is very quiet. The kids are being dropped off at the village school, next to the mairie, but otherwise not much is happening. The old boys are out pruning and weeding their gardens, but the boulangerie doesn’t open on Tuesdays, nor does the épicerie and the cafe shows no sign of life – and no indication if it might at some point provide a coffee and a croissant.

But the little garage is busy, getting my car ready for the next F1 adventure: a 900 km run down to the Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet (pretty much the same as going to Monaco a few weeks ago), followed by 1200km (give or take) along the Riviera and into Italy and then up to the Red Bull Ring for the Austrian and Styrian Grands Prix, and a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing up in the area as the accommodation available is spread far and wide.

There will then be the 1300 km run home, on the first Monday in July. So that will mean another 5000-odd clicks on the trusty automobile, which will take it over 380,000 km in total.

There really isn’t a lot of logic in going home between the three races, unless someone else is paying for air fares and hire cars. The internet pretty much everywhere these days, one can work in the gasthofs in Austria for the free days between each race – and so avoid the rush, paperwork, queues, PCR tests and other hassles of going from airport to airport to get home for very limited times.

So I’m off for 20 days, the penance one pays for a life in F1. Still, there are worse things in life than relatively free days in France, Italy and Austria. The lockdowns are easing in most places and life is less complicated than once it was.

But things are still not easy. Last weekend was supposed to be a Grand Prix weekend, originally in Canada and then in Turkey after Montreal was axed. Then Turkey was cancelled as well and so I ended up having a glorious weekend at home, working in the garden and having a barbecue with the neighbours. It’s hard to plan ahead at the moment. Logically, the British GP will follow this triple-header, but the news yesterday that Britain has delayed its lifting of restrictions on public gatherings because of the of the so-called delta variant (the one from India) means that the British GP may have to operate with a reduced crowd. Everyone is making positive noises at the moment but a reduced crowd means reduced revenues and if the limit is too low, Silverstone cannot really afford it.

It will, no doubt, ask for a cheaper deal if the circumstances require it, but the noises coming from the F1 group suggest that deals are no longer on the table. You pay or you don’t get a race. It’s hard to imagine F1 without a British GP, but the sport is unemotional. It was once hard to imagine F1 without Germany or France, but we’ve seen both disappear in the past. Money makes the cars go around…

After Silverstone Hungary should be fine (things were worse last year and we made it) and then we get to the August break. The second half of the season is pretty unclear as of now, but we know that the “orange belt” races in Belgium and the Netherlands will go ahead as there might be an uprising in the country if the great Max Verstappen cannot be celebrated… then Italy and Russia will likely be as they should be.

After that who knows? The pandemic complicates all things and although we hope we’ve seen the back of the worst of it there are still problems, as the quiet uptick of case numbers in the UK in recents weeks has shown. Last summer things went relatively quiet for a while before the second waves began. This year we have vaccines to add to the equations, but life is still not really back to normal.

But some things don’t change. The church bell is ringing on the hour, as it has done through wars, revolutions and previous pandemics. So I’m off to see if the cafe has opened.

Beautiful views are fine – but a coffee is required.

29 thoughts on “In search of coffee

  1. Memories of DSJ rolling round Europe each summer , enjoy the trip. Maybe you should touch up Porsche for a sponsored trip and advertorial on the whole experience . Good luck

  2. Gosh, F1 without Silverstone. Is that even imaginable?
    Yes indeed Joe, money does make everything go around. Has anyone thought of inviting Jackie Stewart to subsidise the event??

  3. “Beautiful views are fine – but a coffee is required”

    You mean you don’t have a jar of Nescafe at home?
    Shock horror 🙂

  4. The resurgence of covid in India gave the UK lots of time to stop incoming flights but these continued for weeks. We only have our own govt to blame for this one and if I were Silverstone management i would be fuming. We now have the highest new cases in europe which negates all the early vaccine superiority smugness from boris and co.

    1. Quite – and yet there will no accountability for it. Just like the 2 other late lockdowns, early opening, and closure of the borders (which in itself is funny, considering the strength of mandate to “take back control”)

    2. Pretty accurate analysis 👍🏻 Borders have been the first things to close in any other major country around the world. The right thing to do! Not a priority here though!

  5. I’m envious of your experiences and grateful for your ability to articulate them with such vivid imagery. You are a treasure.

  6. Hungary is not “fine”. Orban has just passed new legislation which, in conjunction with the constitutional definition of marriage, basically outlaws anything (thought,action) related to homosexuality. How can Liberty (ha!) Media continue to bolster dictatorships around the world? Shades of the ’36 Olympics.

    1. So how do you explain the Hungarian parliamentary election of 8 April 2018? It’s called democracy and just because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it a dictatorship. If you’re going to comment on here at least get some facts right…

      1. Potatoe, po-tah-toe. He was elected by using govt $ as personal campaign support and appealing to the worst xenophobic elements of a failing kleptocracy. He moved the Chief Justice from a legislative post to one reporting to him. He studied at the feet of his master, President for Life Putin. We can agree to disagree.

      2. “It’s called democracy and just because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it a dictatorship.”

        Completely agree, Joe, but if you arrest all the journalists who disagree with you, and pack the courts with judges who can be relied on to make the “correct” decisions, is it still a democracy?

        Not that F1 could, or should, complain too much about dictatorships hosting races. Indeed Hungary was a proper dictatorship when the first race was held at the Hungaroring.

      3. Joe, interesting that while the old Soviet bloc countries are democratic in make up now how politically they tend to be quite narrow minded. They all have this homophobic bias and tend to be the source of group racism. Sadly it takes more than a single generation for change to filter down.

        Surely this legislation is not allowed under European Law which is supreme. But then these type of showdowns play into the hands of Putin.

  7. Yes – as someone else suggested, memories of “from our Continental correspondent”, great stuff!. But, “but the sport is unemotional” – the financial business of the sport maybe, but without emotion, I suggest the sport would have no fans and then where would the British GP and others without Government support be, not to mention Motor Sport magazine?

    1. Joe has a Toyota Prius that if I remember correctly he won somehow. I can’t remember the finer details.

  8. Is your blog blocked by the great Hadrian firewall, as a colleague in Jockshire tells me if you call it the Indian Variant you are contravening wee Jimmy Kranky’s hate law.

    I’m assuming Silverstone cannot go back either as there will soon be not enough weekends left in the year.

  9. What a really nice picture of life in France, albeit at the near end of COVID times. My goodness, my mouth is watering (maybe others too) with the thought of getting out and doing a real road trip. For me it would be even more AMAZING doing a road trip into the south of France, the Riviera, Italy, and Austria (super picturesque). I have nearby wide open spaces to explore in Seattle, but far away places in France, along the Mediterranean, and into the Alps sound amazing. Thanks for the post!

    1. I’d love to be doing the same sort of thing in the US this summer, to catch with my son, after nearly two years of not seeing him, but I’m not sure I can get an NIE… (national interest exemption) to get into the country.

      1. My goodness thank you for the reply! I am not sure about entering the US. This is the most vaccinated country anywhere, even with the weird anti-vaccine crowd factored in. The most expensive healthcare (by GDP) in the world has naturally done.a tremendous job producing vaccines. My 13 year old son just received his second shots yesterday in his school parking lot by the Seattle fire department. Washington state is one of the last places to open. California has opened. Places like Texas simply never cared about the virus because of politics. I am sorry I can’t tell you more. I have parents in Canada who finally received their 2nd vaccine a week ago, such is the vaccine progress across the border. I am not an expert but I would be optimistic about visiting the US soon if you are vaccinated.

  10. Hi Joe, why driving through le Pays de Bray to go from Paris to the South of France ? I can’t imagine that this is the only place you found having a garage to work on your Prius…

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