Change is afoot

This morning I had my first Starbucks for two weeks. Jade (barista) asked where I’d been, which is always nice, then made my drink perfectly. I’d forgotten how good my specific drink is. Actually, when Jack asked what my Starbucks order was, he used this to bolster the fact that I’m a fussy eater. Ptah! That’s what I think of that.

Walking into town, I noticed a big change in the park. The adventure playground, near the stile at the Park Lane exit, has been completely removed. This included a four seater swing set, a massive pyramid monkey bar climbing frame and a flying fox. These have been replaced with Heras fencing and a porta-loo.

Meanwhile a new wandering hard-core path has been cut into the turf, leading the casual visitor between…well, nothing at the moment but, presumably, the new playthings, eventually.

newplay

When I returned home, I told Mirinda, employing as much mystery in my voice as possible that ‘Change is afoot in Farnham Park’. After I told her about the playground she asked what other changes. I had no idea what she meant. Then it occurred to me that ‘Change is afoot’ is a bit of a Mondagreen in that it sounds almost exactly like ‘Changes afoot.’ I told her there was only one real change, although the plants curling up the string outside the Hop Blossom have reached the top.

Castle Street was closed for most of the day as there was a charity bike ride starting and finishing there. I missed the start (that was at 8:30 and I was still in bed) but I heard one guy finish while I was walking home (I say ‘heard’ because there was some rather vapid cheering at one stage).

castlestret02

Mirinda Skyped Bob and Fi while I went and collected the girls. Obviously they both went insane.

Back at the house, finished off organising the accounts for France and setting up my laptop from whence it came. Then, after lunch, we headed off to Hankley for a lovely walk. Mirinda asked me if I’d swap it for the walk we did each morning in Massangis and I said, while I thoroughly enjoyed the walk, nowhere can compare with Hankley.

Hankley heather

Hankley heather

When we had dinner in the remote restaurant last week, they served sort of cheesy puff triangles rather than bread. I thought it looked simple enough so I tried some tonight. Using puff pastry, egg and Parmesan, they were a great success. I guess that’ll be on the menu next time we entertain.

Breaking down in France

Our ferry arriving from the UK

Our ferry arriving from the UK

It was rather noisy in our sea-view room. It was also quite warm. I suppose both problems could have been solved by closing the window and setting the air conditioning to -10 but it would have felt wrong. The experience of FINALLY getting a sea view room at Chateaubriand was well worth the minor inconveniences.

We’d not really unpacked so, after breakfast, we more or less simply checked out and walked over to the ferry terminal and waited to board. It would have been quite pleasant except for the far from dulcet tones of a bunch of Scousers having a bit of Facetime with another bunch of Scousers somewhere else. I like to think that the other bunch were in a ferry terminal somewhere else in the world and annoying another person who will then blog about it.

After the announcement to move forward, the whole boarding was, as usual, painless. Well, to be completely honest, the gang plank was a lot steeper than it usually is making entry onto the ship with luggage, a bit of a drag…literally. But at least I had wheels.

Once aboard, we sat on the back deck for a bit, watching the cars drive on. There wasn’t a lot of them and very few foot passengers which means the trip will be far from busy. This was immediately apparent when we happened to walk through the cabaret show which featured a young woman sitting on a chair singing Easy Listening songs while a chap sat next to her playing a keyboard. Her audience was a group of four and five year olds who were intent on running around the dance floor playing some strange game that didn’t really include the entertainers. Tough gig.

Mirinda saw two films during the crossing (Second Best Marigold Hotel and Far From the Madding Crowd) while I sat, snoozed, read or scribbled in our reserved recliner. I also managed to catch up with the Archers.

Meanwhile, the painting of the helipad continued during the crossing. Two weeks ago, during our crossing, half the deck, excluding the yellow circle and the ‘H’, had been painted. Today the painting the continued and was completed by the time we reached Portsmouth.

helipad

The only reason I mention this is because of the smell. A lot of passengers were sat, dotted around the painted area, sizzling in the sun (crazy Brits), nasally bathed in the obnoxious odours of marine grade paint. Very odd. I mean it’s not the only bit of deck on the ferry.

Given I raved about the meal I had the other night I feel it only right that I pass judgement on the lunch I had on the ferry. It was disgusting. A smoked salmon bagel with, rather than cream cheese, shredded lettuce held together with pungent wallpaper paste. The whole thing was soggy and untoasted. It was foul. Fortunately, Mirinda’s pizza was nicer and big enough for both of us.

As we neared Portsmouth, there were lots of lovely ships for me to photograph…

warrior

…including my favourite, HMS Warrior which seemed to be hosting some sort of function today.

Our entrance into Britain was as smooth and perfect as our exit from France and we were soon sitting in our taxi, headed back to the house.

We had a lovely holiday in a beautiful part of France. I’m not sure how it could have been more perfect.

Spare a thought, however, for the chap on the passenger shuttle back to the terminal. He had to have a couple of guys from the ferry help him with what seemed to be far too much luggage for one person. Which it was. I overheard him telling another guy what had happened.

He and his family were holidaying in France in their own car, a Landrover. Before leaving for Calais from Dover, they’d put the car in for a complete service, discovering that it needed a new engine. They, therefore, had the engine replaced. They then packed up the car and headed off for the Continent.

They hadn’t gone far down the French coast when the car broke down and refused to move any further. It was impossible to fix. They were then faced with the awful prospect of not only getting home without their car but also lugging their luggage with them – people always pack more when they have their own car. They made it to St Malo where they boarded our ferry.

The car will be shipped back at some stage and the guy had obviously accepted the situation and was carrying on the best he could. He’d probably already been through the anger and denial but of the grieving process.

I felt very sorry for him and his family (they’d gone in the first passenger shuttle so I don’t know how many there were) but did think it would make an excellent couple of blog entries…

It was a lovely day in Portsmouth today

It was a lovely day in Portsmouth today

2000+ kilometres

We’re going to miss Coco. It’s the first hire car we’ve ever named and the only one we’ll really remember. She has faithfully driven us over 2,000 kilometres across France and back again, sometimes with the roof down, sometimes with the air conditioning on…either way, she was a star.

And that was about it for today. Originally, Linda had said it would take five hours from St Ay to St Malo but, because I had to buy a new suitcase, she did some sort of navigational magic and reduced it to four. This meant we arrived back at the Chateaubriand Hotel with plenty of time for me to go and buy one. Which I did.

The trip was completely uneventful…though the lunch stop wasn’t exactly what I’d call cordon bleu – I mean, really, Swedish bread? In France? And it’s bloody awful. Weird stuff.

Lunch aside, however, everything went very smoothly and we left Coco back with Avis to satisfy some other customer like the tart she is.

Back in St Malo we discovered, to our delight, that finally, after all these years, we’d been booked into a sea view room. And what a sea view. Fantastic. And the view from the sea isn’t bad either.

hoitel

Having filled our senses with the view, we went for a drink at the hotel bar then strolled down to the beach for a paddle and a wander. The rapidly incoming tide eventually forced us to go to dinner where we witnessed the youngest mother in the world trying to look after her barely walking baby. She was definitely bossy enough but I’m not sure just how responsible a nine year old can be. Though the actual mother wasn’t the least bit worried, even when they started playing on the road.

After dinner we went for a stroll up the road, passing a group of singers, belting out some French tunes we’d never heard before in aid of some charity or other. Here we witnessed a rather odd woman who really, really wanted to be a part of the group but because her clothes didn’t match she remained, singing loudly but just outside the group dynamic. It was a bit sad.

singer

You can just see her head behind the guy on the right.

After listening for a bit, we continued on up to the best ice ream place outside Sorrento where I had a double cone with creme brulee and Smurf flavours. Mirinda had stracciatella and Smurf. They were delicious, of course. It was then, finally, back to the room to wash off sand, repack the new suitcase and, finally, go to bed.

Tomorrow we board the ferry for home.

** Sad face **
** hash tag EndOfHolidayMisery **

Chateaux galore

Tonight we had the best meal this trip. It was during an evening pootle that Mirinda spotted a sign to a restaurant in the middle of nowhere. One of the few pootling rules dictates that once a pootler has found something worth investigating then the pootler must make every effort to locate it properly…so it’s not like we could ignore it.

Not only did we (eventually) find it but it was open as well, although there was a bit of confusion when the owner tried to explain that they weren’t ready for business for another 15 minutes. Still, it all made sense after the production of a sign that said it plain and simple.

It was well worth the wait. What a delicious meal. They even served Liverot as part of the cheese course. I was in taste bud heaven. It was pretty much the opposite of last night’s repast in the Celestial Palace.

And the serendipitous nature of restaurant’s discovery made it even lovelier. We’d spent most of the day wandering the many rooms of the Chateau at Blois which we followed with some chateau hopping pootling so finding the sign was mere happenstance.

Not so Blois, which was only found after some deliberate navigation through one-way streets and sharp turns, amid some awful and impatient French driving. Unlike most chateau we’ve seen, Blois is not obvious until you’re standing in front of it, really. The modern sprawl of Blois has seen to that. I think you could probably glimpse it from the Loire but you’d need a flat bottomed boat and good eyesight.

The view from the chateau to the river

The view from the chateau to the river

Still, eventually we found the very handy underground car park built specifically for the chateau, parked Coco and went hunting for a place to lunch. We hadn’t started off very early from our B&B because it was so lovely sitting beneath the trees, by the long lake, reading. At least it was before the sun heated it all up.

We’d already walked around the property, accompanied by Ginger, the dog and felt we’d earned a lie down and read. The grounds are lovely and stretch for about an acre and a half along either side of the lake which the original designer of the house had included in the build. This was back in the 18th century and now, with the mature trees it all looks perfectly natural.

Not so Blois which sits like some fantasy of stone and gravel, showing the lengths to which the rich went in order to impress each other in other, less enlightened ages. My tongue was firmly planted in my cheek as I typed that. Of course people still do that it’s just they don’t have to be rich any more, just foolish.

The history of the chateau at Blois goes back to the late 900’s and Thibaut I, nicknamed the Cheat by those that hated him. He built a wooden tower which eventually became the stately manner we visited today. Actually, there was a chapel to St Calais on the site before that and, even earlier, some count’s castle but there is nothing known about who he was.so it’s best to start with Thibaut I. Incidentally, when Thibaut I’s son, Eudes I took over the family business, the king was called Hugh Capet and he had a mate with the wonderfully unlikely name of Fulk Nerra.

But I don’t want to start chronicling the entire history of Blois chateau. That would even bore me! Let’s fast forward, instead, to one of my favourite silent movies of all time. It is about the assassination of the Duke de Guise. It happened in the King’s apartments at Blois and effectively ended the awful Wars of Religion which had gripped most of western Europe for the latter half of the 16th century.

For those that don’t know: The Wars of Religion was a thinly disguised power struggle between the House of Bourbon and the House of Guise for the control of France. In order to get everyone to kill as many people as possible, the protagonists dressed the whole thing up as Catholics versus Protestants (or Huguenots, as the French call them). It was an awful period of French history during which an awful lot of people were killed because they thought their Christian god was being undermined by another Christian god.

The Duke of Guise, a rather gung-ho sort of chap with a sword arm that just wouldn’t stop and a bravado that not only bordered on the foolhardy but also wandered aimlessly into foolishness quite regularly, was a staunch Catholic while the Bourbon King was Protestant. The king, according to the movie, was a bit of a panto villain who had his special guards to surprise and stab Guise to death. Then the king stepped up and gave Guise a bit of kick for luck.

There’s no need to feel sorry for Guise, he was an evil bastard who pretended to be righteous in order to win the throne and forget about the Bourbon king because he was assassinated in turn by a disgruntled peasant a little while later.

We sat and watched the film in the room where Guise was stabbed. It was gloriously melodramatic and a great opportunity to rest up during our long, long tour of the place.

That makes it sound dull but it was anything but. We thoroughly enjoyed it (if you ignore the oppressive heat) and gladly add the Blois to our Chateau we have seen list.

The see through staircase of Francois I

The see through staircase of Francois I

Leaving Blois drenched in violent history, we started our pootling half of the day, heading around the Loire countryside, spotting chateau and an abbey as we went.

Pontlevoy Abbey - photo for Bob

Pontlevoy Abbey – photo for Bob

These chateaux are for future reference and cannot be included on our list because we haven’t, actually visited them. However, they all looked pretty good from without the closed gates or perched high on hills.

Chateau Chaumont

Chateau Chaumont

Naturally, it leaves a lot of places to visit for next trip…and the one after that.

While we were visiting Blois, Mirinda had a text from Lisa begging off the proposed dinner (they’d dragged the kids around Chenonceau for four hours and would have had a revolt on their hands if they’d asked the kids to get back in the car for a drive to dinner) which is how we managed to find the splendid eatery we did. So, thanks Lisa, Jack, Anna, Sam and Maggie. My taste buds and my tummy thank you very, very much.

Flunch Frenzy

Tonight, on the advice of Mirinda’s little friend, we headed to possibly the most unsavoury part of France we’ve yet encountered. According to Mirinda’s little friend, there was a department store open till 10:30pm in this shopping centre. Well, Mirinda’s little friend knows bugger all about department stores, sending us to what can only be described as a labyrinthine car-park from hell.

In fact, the most interesting part of the whole (mid)adventure was our witnessing of the Flunch Frenzy. This obviously begins at about 9pm when hordes of teenagers descend on Flunch (it’s a bit like Sizzler in that you serve yourself and get something that tastes like food) and start to queue like rabid ducks. In the short space of time it took us to walk to the end of the shopping centre to be told by the Department Store Bouncer that it was closing, to wind up back at the entrance to Flunch, the group of buzzing teenagers had attained swarm proportions.

We left as quickly as we could. You seriously do not want to get caught up in a Flunch Frenzy. Not if you value your life. Speaking of which…being a nun before the turn of the first millennia wasn’t for the faint hearted, I can tell you!

Back in the 8th century, a chap called Girart of Roussillon decided to open a convent on the top of an old Roman Villa in a place that would eventually become known as Vezelay. The convent was raided, looted and dispersed by Moors. Not to be defeated, Girart managed to find another bunch of nuns and built a second convent. This one was burnt by Norman raiders. I think he gave up then.

Move a century or so ahead and Badilio refounded the convent on the site and that one lasted until July 22, 1120 when, during the major pilgrimage of the year, god, clearly upset, burnt the place down, killing about 1,000 people who probably still believed god was good. This was Mary Magdalen’s feast day so maybe it was one of her miracles. In fact, the reason the pilgrims were there was because, apparently, there were some old bits of Mary housed there.

Now this is interesting. It seems that after Jesus did his eventual trip to heaven after refusing to die properly shtick, Mary and some others, wound up in Provence. Maybe they liked lavender, or Impressionism, I really don’t know but it seems that’s what happened. Then she died. Bits of her were cut up and distributed to various holy places around France, the convent at Vezelay being one of them.

And there’s still a bit of her there. I’ve seen it. It looked a bit like a very old piece of half a colon; a semi-colon if you will…though, these days, the Basilica is better known for its capitals.

Carrying Mary's colon

Carrying Mary’s colon

I didn’t see the point in photographing an old bit of human gristle, so opted for these dudes who are carrying the oversized glass box that houses it. Glass box? Maybe it’s waiting for a princely kiss to reawaken the penitent Mary? Wouldn’t that be something?

Ignoring my nonsense (for a moment), the Basilica at Vezelay (incidentally, a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is an amazing building. Mostly because the temperature plummets as soon as you walk through the front doors. This was a very good thing today given the temperature was over 38 degrees today…40 by the time we reached St Ay on the Loire.

We visited the basilica with Lisa, Jack and the kids before we parted company (we’re planning to meet up for dinner tomorrow night at Blois). It was, like yesterday, another place I’d never heard of before this trip and yet it seems so important. Pilgrims (the ones that survived the Great Conflagration of 1120) walk through it all the time on their way to Spain.

In the museum of capitals

In the museum of capitals

It was rather sad bidding them all farewell having spent such a delightful time together at Les Roches. Incidentally, Les Roches was built in 1901 by a judge called Mr Perrot for his mistress, whose name I have been unable to find. Still, here’s what she looked like:

mistress

So, having wandered around and through the basilica admiring the carved stone capitals…

Cop that!

Cop that!

…we parted company but not before planning to meet up for dinner tomorrow night in Blois which, we discovered, is equidistant from the two places we’re staying at for the next few nights. Coincidence? Perhaps. Anyway, we then headed off for the strangely unpleasant St Ay.

On our journey we saw the beginnings of a fairy story. Two huge trucks were stopped just off the motorway, one driver returning to his rig. One of the trucks was carrying a load of hay while the second had great massive tree trunks. I wondered if they’d lost the chap hauling the bricks and were concerned that one of the pigs might be upset.

We arrived at our B&B and, like two Magnums left in the sun, we melted into our room.

And, just to finish on an unearthly note, here’s a bit of sculpture from the Basilica. I think he (or she) looks quite Egyptian.

Angel from Cairo

Angel from Cairo

Visiting Beaune

The most fantastic, brilliantist, bestest shop in the world is at Beaune. I know because I shopped in it today.

A counter longer than possible with display cases stretching into the impossible. And all of them containing cheese. So much cheese it would be impossible to count the types. Cheese for eating, cheese for drinking, cheese to scare away terrorists, every cheese imaginable…and then a few more. I was in heaven.

Alain Hess, House of Cheese, it’s called. The website can only show a very small part of this wondrous place but it’s better than nothing. Just click here for more pleasure than you’d think possible.

Speaking of cheese…one of my favourite cheeses from this region is Epoisse and we’ve had some with most meals that featured a cheese course. Asked by Sam to describe the taste, Anna put it like this: It’s like goats cheese met Brie and had a really strong baby. I can’t really improve on that.

Actually, Anna entertained us quite a bit today in the long car ride from Mont St Jean to Beaune. Mostly telling us about the things she believed were true when she was younger. There were also some hilarious stories about Sam…but I’ll spare his blushes. I was with Jack and the kids while Lisa nattered along in Coco with Mirinda. Apparently it was a very easy trip because they were just following us and didn’t have to worry about such annoying things as navigation.

The reason we were going to Beaune was to see something I’d never heard of before walking into it today. It was something that Lisa was wanting to see. But, before I leap into what it was, let me first correct something that’s been happening ever since we left Massangis. I blame Alex and Paul because before we met them we’d never heard of Beaune.

Since first hearing of it, we’ve been pronouncing Beaune as Bone. This is subtly but very wrong. It sounds so much more lyrical when the inhabitants say it. Imagine starting to say Berne but suddenly changing your mind halfway through the ‘r’ and gracefully slipping into the end of Bone. Beaune. Now, practice until you get it right.

A rather exquisitely surreal statue in Beaune

A rather exquisitely surreal statue in Beaune

However, moving right along, we were in Beaune to visit the Hotel Dieu.

The courtyard of Hotel Dieu

The courtyard of Hotel Dieu

It’s an extraordinary place. Thought of by Nicolas Rolin in 1441 and gaining royal approval, the building started in 1443 on a hospice for “the accommodation, use and residence of sick paupers.” Eventually they also took in paying customers who had a fire in their room but it never stopped taking in the sick poor.

Nicolas Rolin served under both John the Fearless and Philip the Good and had a meteoric rise through the government until he was one below the Duke of Burgundy. Amazingly, he gave us the tour of his hospital via the magic of an audio guide.

The audio guide was excellent but possibly the best bit was when I first walked into the main ward that leads to the chapel. I had yet to turn mine on and was suddenly presented with the sight of about 20 people either shuffling, standing or sitting down, guides pressed to their ears and the faint sound of voices speaking in numerous languages like some sort of electronic Babel. And not another noise the length and breadth of the room. It was quite a surreal moment.

ward

As we drifted around the various rooms of the hospital, learning about its development and the gradual raising of Mr Rolin to mythical status, I was astounded by how quiet the story managed to keep the kids. Cleverly, the Hotel Dieu has two level of audio guide. One is for adults while the other is for ‘enfants.’ Now, I don’t know what they are told but it sure manages to keep them interested.

Anna and Sam listening intently

Anna and Sam listening intently

Could I just stress that by placing the above photograph in that spot coupled with the content of the preceding paragraph, I am NOT saying that Anna is a kid. I just thought it was a nice photo and it’s the first one of her I’ve put on the blog so far. But back to the Hotel…

Having heard all about the wonderful things that Mr Rolin had achieved and seeing the results of his labours, one felt that he was quite the humanitarian and, regardless of the fact that he used his own money to build most of it in a bid to ensure his entrance into heaven (something a lot of Catholics still do), giving the poor access to the latest medical treatment and care was still a mighty good deed. However, I then read later that, when visiting the hospital in 1462, following Rolin’s death, King Louis XI is quoted as saying: “It is only fair that the one who brought poverty to so many during his lifetime should build them a refuge in which to die.” Makes you wonder.

There were many things I loved about the Hotel Dieu. St Sebastien is one of the patron saints for a start and there’s the most amazing model of the place made entirely of straw built by a soldier in lieu of payment in around 1750. However, having been accused by Jack of having extremely long blog posts, I’ll move onto the rest of the day. In fact, I’m going to write it in the style of Jack.

The weather was hot. It was 40 in the shade. Lunch was lovely though Gary had raw cow. The Goodman Macintyres tried to walk the ramparts but stopped halfway. We went shopping.

Dinner was a piecemeal picnic on the lawn. The four of us then had a delightful child-free walk to the local Chateau.

Okay, this post might be approaching and passing 1,000 words but I prefer my overblown, descriptive nonsense style…though, to be fair, Jack makes reading a lot quicker. I guess it depends on if you prefer reaching your destination or the actual journey.

So, finally, and before I go, here’s a jolly little video of Sam eating his first snail after being challenged by his little sister. It is very funny.

Obviously, there’s more (and better) photos on Flickr.

Fermé le lundi

How many times, I wonder, will we fall for that old trick designed to catch us Johnny Foreigners out? How often will we be disappointed by closed towns and villages? How can the French economy afford to take a day off? Of course, we should know better but, unfortunately it appears we never learn.

Today we headed off for a mornings pootling while we sent Lisa, Jack, Anna, Sam and Maggie off to see the chateau at Chateauneuf. The plan was then to buy some picnic food and head for a lake for the perfect French afternoon.

Our pootling took us to Vitteaux, a town with a convent, a tourist information office, a bank and a very weird looking genetically modified dog. While nearly completely deserted, there was an excess of traffic driving through Vitteaux, including some pretty hefty trucks. A couple of these hefty trucks almost came a cropper at the three way intersection we were standing at trying to work out why everything was closed.

A petrol tanker came barrelling down one leg while a cement truck approached from another (fortunately the third leg was devoid of traffic). They were both going too fast. There then occurred one of those daring feats of brave lunacy as the two trucks appeared to glide around each other, the cement truck roaring up the road from where the tanker had come and the tanker heading up the third road. It was quite balletic but looked like it would have been more at home at one of those stock car events with monster trucks running everything over and breathing fire.

All but dead

All but dead

So, we wandered around the empty streets of Vitteaux before heading back to Coco to continue our pootling.

We soon found the extraordinarily elaborate church at St Thibault. The village is very small (it has population of less than 150 and includes Australians, Americans and Brits) but the church is quite big. While perhaps the seating capacity may not be large, the height of the structure is impressive.

St Theobald

St Theobald

It was built sometime before the 13th century because that’s when St Theobald’s remains where removed from the church and given to a local priory. For reasons unknown, the church and village were named after St Theobald but called St Thibault. Needless to say, there were no leaflets, even in French. Still, it was a nice, plain church looking quite dominant in such a tiny village centre.

The church had a series of gargoyles, all looking quite ferocious and a little more in keeping with a church than the ones at Dijon.

gargoyles03

The plan had been to meet Lisa, Jack and the kiddlings back at Les Roches at about 12:30 so we headed back across country stopping off to check out the local chateau. It’s a lovely little building though privately owned and, therefore, inaccessible.

chateau02

The chateau sits alongside the parish church (obviously closed) which has, among other things, a very interesting set of helioloid columns. (Actually, I THINK they’re helioloid. It was written on a plaque and I’m writing it down from memory so it’s probably wrong.)

columns

I reckon the columns look like legs crossed in an effort to not go to the toilet.

After a short visit, we drove Coco the remaining 500 metres back to Les Roches where we sat in the shade and waited for the others.

Eventually, Mirinda received a text from Lisa saying that Chateau Chateauneuf was closed, as were all shops within a 50 kilometre radius. They were at a boulangerie and could only buy baguettes and pastries. We said this sounded fine for lunch and settled down to wait.

After a rather long wait, they returned with a delightfully sugary lunch which was devoured with great abandon…though some members of the party seemed to think it wasn’t as nourishing a lunch as it could have been.

We then decided to set off for a lake. The Morvan is an area of forest and lakes a short drive from where we’re staying and we’d settled on one particular lake which looked nice and had a creperie near it. We still have no idea whether the creperie was open or not (I think not) because one of the trades that do not have a day off on a Monday is that of road builders. We know because we ran into some.

There had been a diversion which Mirinda and Lisa (who had been offered my seat in Coco while I navigated for Jack) had tried to drive around but only managed to wind up facing two big trucks full of road makings. They were told, in inexplicable French, that there was no way through to the lake which was only a short distance away. We all turned around and headed for another lake.

This second lake was a bit fiddly to find but find it we eventually did and we sat down on the grass, amongst a number of random French, possibly food shop owners, and soaked up the scenery. Anna sat with Mirinda and me while the others went for a long swim in the lake. She told us her ‘Interesting fact about continents’* which we thoroughly enjoyed and were suitably amazed at.

Lisa and Maggie look for Sam

Lisa and Maggie look for Sam

Nicely wet and cooled down, we all then set off back for Les Roches.

And that was pretty much it for today except for the momentous news that Sam ate a snail at dinner tonight after a bit of coaxing and a courageous fight against instant evacuation. Tomorrow we are probably going to Beane which, hopefully, will be open.

* Anna’s interesting fact about continents: All continents begin and end with the same letter (Asia, Europe, Australia, Africa, Antarctica, America). While this is very interesting, it’s not exactly accurate because America is sometimes divided into two continents of North and South America. Still…