28 August 2010

Summer Holidays - Part 2

Following on from our initial week in Orne, we had now moved over to Seine-Maritime. As there was only a 2 hour drive between cottages, and you have to be out of one at 10am, and can't get into the next until 4pm, we had to take this extremely slowly. In the end, we don't think this was actually necessary as it didn't look as though the place was occupied before we arrived.

We therefore moved in and sorted ourselves out. At the end of the evening, we all headed to bed, my wife and I upstairs, and my mother-in-law to the ground floor room. That was an eventful night. As with all new beds, it takes a while to get off, and then in the middle of the night you get "Are you awake. Did you heard that noise?". At first I hadn't, but after a while I smelt wood smoke (?) I immediately sat bolt upright and stared out the window. Well I call it a window, but that was actually open. We had a fly screen over the opening, so when I tried to shine a torch out, all I saw was the screen. However I did hear some dainty footsteps going down the drive. Next morning we all discussed the evening, and we all had pretty much the same experience.

That day we decided to take a drive into Dieppe as we had read that this ferry port was unlike Calais and Boulogne and was actually very pretty. We thought therefore that we could stop of and have a meal in a harbour side restaurant. No hope - the town was packed and no parking spaces seemed to be available. We therefore headed up the coast to see if we could find somewhere to stop. Unfortunately we couldn't find anything, and after the lack of sleep the night before I decided to head back to the cottage.

Monday brought us to market day in one of the local towns - Buchy. These are a great experience. It seems as though all the local traders are our to sell their wares. Amongst the stalls there were the usual sellers of fruit, vegetables, cheese and the biggest fish stall I've seen. In addition we also saw livestock including kittens, ducks, chickens and snails.

Tuesday brought a return to Dieppe. This time we left a bit earlier and were able to find a parking space around the harbour. We then took a stoll along the harbour side checking out the various menus. One took our eye as it had crab available. We sat down to eat around 12pm and had a lovely meal. I had 1/2 crab, followed by scallops and then by a creme brulee, my wife had mussels followed by scallops and then ice cream. My mother-in-law had 1/2 crab followed by monkfish and then by a chocolate cake. The meal was lovely and when we left around 2pm we all felt that it was worth the 77 Euro. We then made our way back to the cottage to let the meal digest.

On Wednesday, we had planned to drive to Etratat to see the cliff formations, but felt that a 90 minute drive just to take a picture of 'an elephant's trunk' maybe wasn't the best use of our time. We then spent a long time looking on the web for local attractions and we unable to find anything. It seemed as though the majority of people who had used the cottage travelled to view the sights - some as long as 2 1/2 hours. Sorry but that's not our cup of tea. We therefore headed to the local SuperU to stock up for the final few days.

Wow - Autumn definately arrived on Thursday morning. We got up early as we were planning on going to Forges-les-Eaux market and the wind was howling around the old farmhouse. The great thing though was the quail running around the next field to us. Unfortunately we didn't feel to hot in the morning so felt it was best to stay in the cottage until we felt better. In the afternoon, we thought we needed to get out for a while so headed into Forges-les-Eaux to see the local WW2 museum devoted to the French Resistance. It was extremely interesting to see a different side of things. The only thing I wish is that my understanding of written French was better so that I could read more of the signs.

Friday, what a morning. Woken up at 3:40am with a thunderstorm going on around us. Eventually it went, but I'd been awake for too long so my brain had started thinking about everything. Managed to drop off about and hour later only to be woken again at 6:30am by another thunderstorm. This time it was overhead. No hope of getting back to sleep after that. Today was supposed to be a simple day as going home on Saturday. Headed off to the local SuperU to stock up on items to take home, including cheese, biscuits, cider and some good solid saucepans. Got back and had salad for lunch then we all had a doze as a bit tired. After waking up we chatted for a while and then had another salad to use all our food up.

What a journey home. France was great. We made excellent time to the Channel Tunnel. Check-in via the Leisure Select channel, boarded the train and arrived in the UK. Then the problems started. The traffic queues on the M26/M25 were terrible and it took us 1hr to do only a few miles. How I wish I was back in France. Oh well - roll on 2011.