Last day of the year

I was fast asleep when a tiny pattering on the door dragged me up from the depths of slumber. I sleep walked over to the door and frightened Claire who said she’d never knock on our door again. I think she may have crossed herself as well, as she backed away from the door and went to breakfast.

Mirinda was still half asleep as I dressed and went down for a coffee.

The breakfast room was big and bright and fully laiden with breakfast foods. Having consumed a few life affirming cups of coffee, I spied a basket of eggs. Ah, I thought, a hard boiled egg would be nice with my bacon roll. I took one and put it on my plate. Sitting at the table next to Bob and Claire, we chatted about how awful I am first thing in the morning and debated whether the egg I had on my plate was raw or cooked.

Eventually I cracked the egg. It was raw. I decided I’d rather not have it for breakfast. Bob went and investigated and found that just behind the basket of eggs and really, really obvious, was the egg boiling equivalent of a toaster. It was a big rectangular box full of water with little wire baskets hanging into it. The water wasn’t boiling.

I decided to give it a go and popped a raw egg into one of the baskets. I waited four minutes. All the time the water did not boil. As I lifted the wire basket out of the water, the egg decided to go for a bit of an unaided swim. I managed to fish it out eventually and popped it into one of the polystyrene egg cups also sitting very obviously in front of the basket of eggs.

When I sliced the head off, it was cooked to perfection. Just runny enough to dip my French bread into. I have no idea how it worked but it worked a lot better than the raw one.

Naturally this whole event caused great hilarity and muchos laughter in the breakfast room. I am always happy to entertain. As long as I’ve had my coffee.

Mirinda decided to join us as Bob and Claire left. I told her the egg story and she chuckled merrily.

After eating we decided to stroll around the streets before meeting Bob and Claire for the off. The day was foggy, the path icy. Seagulls stood about on the surface of the river looking chilly but confidently balanced. A couple were trying to emulate Torvil and Dean while, presumably, the Bolero thrummed inside their heads.

We strolled down one leg of the River Orne then up another, across it and down yet a third. It was very cold and vaguely slippery. We ended up back at the hotel in time to pack.

We all rolled our cases up to the station to pick up our car for the week; a lovely VW with lots of luggage space, fortunately. Apart from the usual clothes and electronic equipment, the guitar takes up more room than is really fair…unless you’re a musical instrument in a padded gig bag.

We successfully navigated our way out of Caen with Bob driving brilliantly if somewhat hesitantly at first. He was soon zooming along the motorway, as we followed trucks to their various destinations. Suddenly hungry and in need of some refreshment, we pulled off to the small town of Sees where the A88 joins the A28.

We found what we thought was the only restaurant open in the town and had some lovely traditionally Breton buckwheat meals. I had some of that fantastic cidre I tasted last time we were over in these parts. It was damn fine.

Having sufficiently filled ourselves up, we went in search of shops for groceries. This was successfully achieved. Mirinda and Claire went to a patisserie and sent Bob and me to the charcuterie. Sadly everything I chose in the charcuterie needed cooking. My French is not very good. No change there then. On reflection it occurs to me that it wasn’t actually a charcuterie but rather a butcher. Which goes some way to explaining the raw meat.

Before leaving town we visited the cathedral. It’s a wonderfully big and scary place, that’s apparently famous. The building that stands there now was built some time in the 13th century though it sits on the site of a Gallo-Roman sanctuary. The original building was destroyed a number of times before this huge cathedral was built.

Interior of Sees cathedral, France

A lot of the stained glass is either clear or relatively new. Apparently a lot of stained glass was destroyed in French churches during the ‘wars of religion’ in the 1500s and this place was no exception. One of the highlights in the church is the series of little carved heads on various pillars, quite close to the ground.

Next to the cathedral is an equally impressive building. It predates the cathedral and is a chapel built in the 12th century. Sadly it was all locked up – Mirinda and I walked right around it so we know!

It was finally time to head down for the last leg of our journey. After negotiating the horrendously expensive toll (which you are not warned about) we left the motorway and wandered around a few country lanes until we found our Chateau. Bob and I then wandered around the chateau for a while trying to find the owners. Eventually we found the Lodge and decided to just move in regardless.

Eventually Elizabeth came and introduced herself and made sure we were comfortable. Naturally she had been cutting the children’s hair when I rang and we knocked.

We had cheese on toast and pastries for dinner and just waited for midnight…basically. Though it should be noted that for a while the Lodge appeared to be after Claire. She nearly lost a finger trying to shut the shutter and the kitchen attacked her other fingers. I think I’m the only one who actually likes this place!

Then everyone went to bed well before midnight! I sat, watching an odd French party show, counting down the funny videos of 2008. They all seemed to be having a great time. They were in peculiar fancy dress. I waited for the countdown and drank a Leffe to the new year. The final video was at 12:30 and THEN I went to bed.

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