Driving heaven – and parking hell – is just 2 hours away by Easyjet

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Author: James ElliottPublished:

Obviously, it takes a weird and obsessive sort of character to immerse themselves in the world of classics, but (as Martin Port's blog emphasises), many of our habits and personality traits would today probably be diagnosed as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

We all have our foibles away from the classic world, too. For example, I like the toilet roll to be turned so the sheets fall away from the wall and if I ever see one with them running against the wall, I feel compelled to turn it around. I know this may be interpreted as a bit weird (not least because it makes very little difference), but while if I were a celebrity this would be splashed across Heat like I was some sort of straitjacket fodder, I really don't think that it is that unhealthy or abnormal.

All of which rambling brings me meandering towards a vague sort of a point: parking. Hey? Yup, parking. There are only two types of car parkers in the world, the OCD ones and the rest.
I am one of the former group. I don't lose sleep over it or have panic attacks, but I like my classic to be neatly parked. If I am kerbside, I like the wheels to be equidistant from the pavement and both an acceptable not-too-near-not-too-far distance away from it. If someone has gone to the bother to paint white lines on the deck, I like my car to be not just parked within them, but to be parked so that each line is neatly and evenly framing the outline of my classic.

In real terms, this adds virtually nothing to my day, usually just one more trickle forward and back to sort it out. Thing is everyone I know does the same, or the opposite – abandons their car with no concern whatsoever for neatness or precision – and there appears to be no middle ground.
On a recent holiday in Corsica (finally, the agenda is clear, Elliott is rambling on like a loon simply as an excuse to tell us about his holiday and to post his bad-parking-spotted-on-holiday snaps) I discovered the most extreme, almost paramilitary incarnation of the non-OCD parkers that I have ever encountered.

First up, there are a few things you need to know about Corsica. Technically a part of France – I say "technically" because many Corsicans don't seem to agree – this 100-mile-long volcanic nugget sits in the middle of the Med next door to Sardinia, the pair (having both been French and Italian more times than either would care to remember) being more similar than anyone would ever dare suggest to either.

The people are charming and welcoming, but have a death ray glare (my wife is of Corsican descent, I have seen it a lot) and less spoken English than the rest of France where you are so often humbled by their mastery of our mother tongue.

This latter point was best illustrated when I plonked my two kids (both under 5) on a toddlers' merry-go-round and all the kids laughed and played while the adults tapped their feet and clapped along to a song that repeatedly seemed to shout "I love big dick". No it is not about a large chap called Richard. So horrified was I that, having had a quiet word with the merry-go-round owner, on return to the UK I instantly Googled this song to find out what the full disturbing "lyrics" were.

If your interest is similarly piqued, I can now advise you in the strongest possible terms that Googling "I love big dick" on your work computer is not to be recommended. Yes, that was rather naive of me.

Anyway, the main things about Corsica is the roads and scenery, which are utterly breathtaking and wonderful. No wonder they are so popular in motor sport because I swear there is not a stretch of tarmac on the island that wouldn't make a brilliant rally or road course, every mountain – and Corsica is all mountains - providing an endless work-out for the arms as you encounter everything a keen driver could ever wish for. Even the steep, largely straight (a real rarity out there) climb I could see scooters struggling up daily from our balcony, looke to me to have the potential to be a longer, quicker, scarier, more thrilling Shelsley. I have never driven a classic in Corsica, but I am already hatching a plan to change that.

Sadly, the other thing you are highly likely to encounter is a Corsican coming the other way. I was so intrigued by how often this happened that I spoke to several locals about it and, as far as my Spanish cow-style mangling of their language could ascertain, this was solely down to a very fatalistic, almost religiously so (if that isn't a contradiction in terms) attitude to life and occasionally death on the roads. If your time is up, they reckon, there is nothing you can do about it, so why let such trivial concerns impinge on your enjoyment or the way that you drive? Just as they take a similarly laissez-faire attitude to parking!

Please don't for a moment think I am trying to warn you off; just to warn you. In my view no petrolhead has truly lived until they have driven in Corsica and – even if it weren't a mesmerising and stunning place that it is a privilege to visit anyway – it is an utterly essential part of your motoring education. Just be wary of what may be around every (blind) corner... and what speed it may be hurtling towards you at!

The lead image shows Stratos-driving Bernard Darniche and Alain Mahe winning the Tour de Corse in the 1975 World Rally Championship.
The other rally shots are Sainz and Moya in 1988 (Sierra RS Cosworth) and Auriol/Occelli in 1992 (Integrale)
The picture of the island is from NASA

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