Thursday 30 September 2010

A breath of French air

I know that it is more than ten days since I last posted. When I made that statement about being back in ten days I had forgotten that when we returned from our break, we were going to a wedding in Northampton, which meant we would be away again. I had not really forgotten. Maybe it was selective amnesia. How could I forget? It was the wedding of SIL's daughter. Mrs Bennet from the previous post. This was her one and only daughter's wedding and it is just as well that there are not another four to marry off! I am sure that when Kate Middleton and Prince William marry it will be done with far less fuss. At least the date had been set in stone for ten months so could not be subject to constant changes.

For our trip to France this year we had decided some time ago that we would go to Brittany, but we did not have any fixed ideas about where we wanted to go and as we found, when we set about booking the holiday, Brittany is quite big. One thing that was definite was that we would go with Brittany Ferries. So I chose a few hotels from their brochure. Then we selected what we considered to be the most suitable location, which turned out to be the attractive and genteel seaside resort of Dinard, on northern Brittany's Emerald Coast. We were pleasantly surprised. It was quiet, clean and tidy. Unlike most English seaside resorts there were no kiss me quick hats, candy floss stalls or cafes selling fish and chips. In the centre of the main promenade is a statue of Alfred Hitchcock who apparently based the house, in the film Psycho, on a villa which over looks the Plage de l'Ecluse but nobody is sure which villa. Dinard could not be better situated.  The wide clean sandy expanse of Plage de l'Ecluse is sheltered by cliffs to the east

and the west

and across the bay is San Malo.

Late each afternoon a quartet of men could be found playing boules at the top end of the beach. The sea is tidal and I could have watched it, going in and out, all day. Around the corner from where we were staying was the Clair de Lune promenade. Unfortunately the attractively planted flower beds were past their best. However, the view across the bay, from above the promenade looks good at any time of year. It could have been Cornwall.

We had one warm and sunny day, which we spent exploring Dinard. The remainder of our stay the weather was grey and windy - bracing as we English say. It was on such a day that we took the ferry across the bay to San Malo where we were deposited outside the walls of the old city. Inside the walls the streets are cobbled and the buildings tall and impressive, if a bit difficult to photograph. But a very windy walk around the city walls gave us the opportunity to take some photos, before we caught the ferry back to Dinard.

On our way back to Cherbourg, to catch the ferry home to Portsmouth, we stopped off in the very pretty medieval town of Dinan.

The photograph is courtesy of the Internet, as my camera refused to work. Here we visited a large open air market, where you could buy almost anything. I am sure that in the UK health and safety regulations would prevent many of the items being sold at such a market, but this was France. Something that I really noticed was how smart  and chic the French women are. All neatly dressed in jackets, trousers and scarves to go to the market. Sadly our breath of French air soon came to an end and we found ourselves on the ferry back to Portsmouth.

Saturday 11 September 2010

The Visit

My return to blogging has not been as quick and as smooth as I had hoped. I had intended to wait until after the Visit to return to my blog as I realised that preparing for it would be time consuming, but when two planned dates for the Visit were cancelled with no new proposed date I decided to return sooner rather than later. The Visit was my mother-in-law (MIL), sister-in-law (SIL) and her husband coming for lunch. They only come once a year and it has to be during the summer as MIL does not travel well in the dark. Originally the visit was scheduled for the first weekend in August and MIL kept telling my husband, who is her one and only son, how much she was looking forward to it. At the time my infected cyst was at its' worst and I could have happily cancelled the planned visit, but not wishing to disappoint MIL I soldiered on. The Friday before they were due I went off to the supermarket, in the morning, with my mile long shopping list. Half way round the supermarket, which had recently been extended and re-arranged, when I couldn't find an unfamiliar ingredient and wasn't feeling great, I thought to myself 'you should have cancelled this'. I did manage to find what I was looking for. That afternoon it was off to the hairdresser. Not in honour of the Visit but because I needed to go and it at least gave me a bit of time to relax while the hairdresser worked her magic. I returned home to find that while I had been out MIL had phoned to say that they would not be coming because her carer was going to be on holiday and there was no one to get her up! At this point I had done everything except cook the food. I wasn't terribly pleased but the reprieve was welcome and I managed to freeze most of the perishable food.

A new date would need to be arranged with SIL. The second weekend in August would not be an option because MIL's carer would still be away. Anyway about a week later SIL phoned my husband to say that they could come the third weekend in August, but that there was a slight snag in that one of her husband's unmarried brothers (BIL) would be staying that weekend and would have to come too. My husband tactfully explained to her that we had not invited her BIL and we would prefer him not to come. Over the course of the next few days there were several phone calls between husband, SIL and MIL. SIL kept insisting that BIL would be coming. Eventually she informed my husband that her husband would take his brother off to the local pub for the afternoon, when they arrived. How was this going to look? At this point I saw red and cancelled the second planned visit. For once in our lives MIL and I agreed as she did not want BIL spoiling her visit. Perhaps I should explain that if this were Pride and Prejudice, BIL would be Mr Collins. SIL would be Mrs Bennet and her husband would be Mr Bennet. Quite fitting as their daughter is getting married later this month. MIL would be Lady Catherine de Bourgh. My husband would be Darcy and I would be Elizabeth Bennet. I have the necessary green eyes. Oh dear! that was Scarlet O'Hara in Gone with the Wind.

I suggested that we re-arrange the Visit for the fifth weekend in August which was the bank holiday weekend, as the fourth weekend was not convenient for us. This did not suit SIL who, without checking with us, had moved her arrangements for the fourth weekend onto the fifth weekend in the expectation that they would come here the fourth weekend. After yet more toing and froing we re-arranged the visit for the first weekend in September, which was not ever so convenient for me, but it was either then or not at all. September is a busy month for us and I would have preferred to wait until October, but by then SIL will be house sitting for her newly married, honeymooning daughter. So the Visit took place last weekend and I am pleased to report that it went very well.

After all that we are going away for a much needed break. Back in about ten days.