France Part 3 – Whatever the weather…

Me again, the Blogger in Black – in a  lot less black – it IS summer after all (apparently) – with the final blog from our first site here in Normandy.

Friday, as I mentioned in the last blog was lovely, weather wise. I spent the morning chasing letters around the keyboard working on said blog and did little in the afternoon apart from soak up some rays.

In the evening we returned to Port-en-Bessin. There was a market on and a firework display once it was dark. Predictably of course, we were there far too early. A stroll around the market on the quayside didn’t take long. There were some stalls selling local produce – cider is really popular here again, and you could pick up your caravans weight in French cheese if you wished. There were plenty of stalls selling the usual cheap tat from china too sadly. Five Euro sunnies and the like.

Food of course was near the top of the agenda. Having done the usual tourist trudge past all the offerings we settled on a place just off the main drag and enquired politely if they had menus in English. The waitress gesticulated and waved towards some unknown destination, spouted off something incomprehensible in a tone that could never be described as welcoming.

Unperturbed, we sat down, thinking we’d be able to decipher the menu. Sadly we never got the chance. People went inside, were seated and handed menu’s. We waited. And waited. Then left.

We successfully managed to procure a couple of beers from one of the bars on the quayside, but food was still on our minds so tried again at another restaurant. Two coffees were successfully ordered and a quick search on Google Translate revealed what some of the items on the menu were. We ordered, not having a clue what we were asked in return, but the food arrived and it was fine. The fact that the waiter was young and fit helped as well….

Sensible people would have bought a jacket or jumper but we’d breezed in in shorts and t-shirts not anticipating how much the temperature would drop before the fireworks started at 11pm. So although we enjoyed the display – as did many others, it was packed in the end – it was nice to get back to Patsy for a warming nightcap.

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Saturday saw us head south – about 70 miles or so to Ceauce – to catch up with a friend and colleague who has a house there. It was a pleasant enough drive – one particular tailgating tosser notwithstanding – with some pretty if not particularly spectacular scenery. I keep to the speed limits – largely – but certainly don’t dawdle however they do like to drive close here it seems, although whether the foreign (i.e British) number plate makes a difference I don’t know.

Laurie’s cottage was built in the 1800’s and was a delightful little place with a separate garden. Laurie works term time like us and like us spends all his free time away – us in the caravan and him over here. There’s seems quite a little British community going on judging by our visit to a coffee shop where we didn’t hear  a French accent.

We went for a nice walk around the lake, at the side of which is a municipal camp site offering ten or so pitches, each separated by hedges and most offering mains hook up. A clean and tidy toilet block with washing facilities and showers sits at the end all this is your for just ten euros a night. We really need to look at these municipal sights if we come again.

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We had a lovely lunch at Laurie’s’ place then headed back. Trev was starting to feel a bit out of sorts – shivering and a general malaise – so we stayed put and had an early night – a rare alcohol free one too.

Sunday and Trev was still feeling rough so we stayed put. The weather was not great, windy. chilly and occasionally wet so we were confined to Patsy for the day. Trev caught up on sleep having had a bad night and I caught up on reading. We emerged in the evening for a meal over at the site bar. Trev was feeling a little better and the food helped, but another early night beckoned.

Despite more of the same, weather wise, Monday saw us back on the road again, and up to Cherbourg at the tip of Normandy. A popular ferry port with crossings from both Britain and Ireland and was a stop off for the Titanic. We didn’t know what to expect – especially free parking which was an unexpected bonus. The idea of  a town this size in Britain offering an abundance of free parking is laughable so well done. We headed to the old town – after pausing for coffee to dodge the showers. It was pleasant enough but most places were shut and there were very few people about. With it still raining we decided to cut our losses and start our journey back along the coast hoping the weather would improve.

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It did too – well the rain stopped anyway. Having passed through some pleasant enough but rather uninspiring settlements we stopped at Barfleur for lunch. Once the biggest port in Normandy it is – according to my Rough Guide – largely tourist free, but there were plenty about when we stopped.

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We continued around the coast, stopping at various points before happening upon the bigger resort town of St Vaast-la-Hougue. It only piqued our interest initially because it was twinned with Bridport in Dorset. What a wonderful idea twinning was – particularly if you were a councillor or official. Foreign trips to agreeable destinations at the tax payers expense. How lovely. Andy M, perhaps you could get Saltdean twinned with somewhere, we’d be happy to represent!

Anyway, we stopped for a stroll and some lens clicking under an ever lightening sky before continuing our journey.

Quineville was the next place to be graced with our presence before stopping again for almost the final time, at both ends of Utah Beach, – another site of the D-Day landings.

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Our final stop was at the supermarket – not only for food but diesel too – and this is when you really know you’re in Europe. The equivalent of 82p a litre making it far less painful to fill up than when at home. Rosie has been frugal too. Without Patsy on the back making her thirsty she has returned over 45mpg which I’m more than happy with.

So, that’s our time in Normandy almost over. Today is Bastille Day, and Lucia is cooking up a special treat in the restaurant tonight, then there are a number of firework displays about later or a lightshow around the cathedral in Bayeux. We’ll see how it goes but we want an early start tomorrow as it’s a 250 mile trundle to our next site.

So, until then…

……there is another video for you to endure – sorry, enjoy:

Quineville & Utah Beach

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