It's a minority pleasure, but one that must appeal to a few car nuts, and particularly enjoyable when pursued in France and Italy for some reason. And that's the enjoyment of spotting dead cars among the scenery when you're on the move.

Despite years of can't-help-it commitment to this diversion, I still haven't worked out why a dead old car in the undergrowth is more interesting than the same old car parked on the street and alive, but it is. Perhaps it's the possibility of planning a rescue. 

Anyway, I was driving through France recently, and had confirmation of what I have long feared - that scrappage schemes, environmental clean-ups and the desire to be tidier, perhaps, has cleansed the French countryside of many a dead wreck.

Among the few mouldering cars that I saw were an '80s Peugeot 305 saloon (no rescue pangs there, although the second-generation version had a brilliant chassis), the rear half of an Opel Kadett estate that appeared to have been used as some sort of agri-storage and amazingly, a couple of Austin 1300s in scrapyards, which would have been at least 30 years old.

That certainly triggered the investigation urge, but there was no time, frustratingly, though that's probably as well. So a couple of good spots, but compared to a decade ago this is an activity of rare rewards. 

Most well-balanced members of the public will be pleased at this development of course, but for me it's a pity.