Archive for April, 2008

Easter in France – Pont Farcy

France diary – 03/08 

Where we wereWe set off for France as soon as we were comfortably able on Good Friday (21st). The week had been a busy one and I didn’t get to switch off (literally AND mentally) until after 5.00pm on the Thursday. Betony was going to her ‘leaver’s’ ball and the house was in chaos: friends and other activities all over the place = madness! As she also needed picking up from the ball after midnight – we didn’t get to bed early either. So, the relaxed start to our journey was quite a Godsend.

 

We began by calling at the Motorman Cafe up Manchester Road (A62) for brunch. Then, we tried to ‘fill up’ at Tesco’s but it was complete and utter madness there – only to find 90% of their pumps had no diesel!! We filled up at Morrison’s in the end and then endured local traffic all the way to the M1. The motorway was full but moving and without the trucks was almost a pleasure. In fact it lulled us into such a sense of security that I decided not to cross over to the A1 at Dearne Valley or Worksop and to continue along the M1. However, just north of Nottingham, it got slow and full and busy and … I drove around Mansfield to the A1!!!

 

The trip was uneventful and we managed to just about keep in front of the rain storm that was following us south. Peterborough Services was extra busy for some reason and I hated it, so following a disgusting coffee we quickly moved on. We stayed the night at a Travelodge, just off the M25 at East Hornden on the road to Southend. It took half an hour for the rain to catch up!

 

By now, it was snowing back home, so we felt very lucky to have set off when we did as originally we’d planned to set off on the Saturday. We’d opted for a Friday departure when a Travelodge promotion allowed us to book a room for the three of us for £19! However, the weather was not so kind to us on the Saturday. In fact it was so windy and wet that we (I) decided to dump the idea of sailing across the channel and to book a Eurotunnel ticket. Sharon did this on the net (and we were ‘stung’ – but it think it was the wisest decision) so we were able to drive straight to the terminal. This took about 80 minutes on a very clear M25/M20.

 

The weather was truly appalling! There was wind, rain and sleet in turn and all together – and arriving in France made little difference. Initially it was sunny but this lasted about ten minutes before we were deluged in rain. The sleet caught up with us as we passed the Bay of the Somme and then pretty much stayed with us (on and off) all the way to Normandy. We stopped for a coffee after two and a bit hours and arrived in Vire (to do some shopping) after about four and a half hours (maybe less). So – Easter Saturday, the hypermarkets were open and we managed to do a fairly big shop to carry us over the weekend and in to next week.

 

Th e Water Mill - Moulin HyThe Gite is delightful. It’s an old Watermill that comprises of a living/dining room (which opens onto the old mill workings), a small but adequate kitchen, a double en suite bedroom and separate toilet. Upstairs one huge room contains three single beds (again, this overlooks the old mill workings) and a small entrance to a large family bath/shower room. The layout is such that you might call this room ‘en suite’ but it is designed to be used by a family. There was a big open fire lit ready for us and after the tiring wintery journey, it was a welcome sight.

 

Because we’d originally expected to arrive quite late (too late to shop), I’d made a Lasagne, frozen it and had brought it along with a rack of lamb, a tub of soup and some lamb stock for us to eat over the weekend. I’d packed these carefully on Friday morning and now, 36 hours later – they were still frozen! But a combination of microwave and slow cooking sorted that and we eventually had a really nice dinner of pate, salad and Lasagne before going to bed reasonably early.

 

Sunday morning and it had snowed lightly during the night!

 

However, it stayed quite mild as Sharon and I walked into Pont Farcy to the bakers. Being Easter Sunday meant that the shop was full of all sorts of cakes and pastries so we filled our boots and prepared for a long day of eating and doing little else!

 

The day proved to be changeable – it was nice most of the morning but then started to rain and sleet again. I lit a fire late-afternoon as Sharon was suffering from exposure (well …) which was exciting because I was able to use the biggest ever log! Lunch had been a buffet of pate, gum crunching bread and salad, olives and pickles – delicious! I’m writing this as tea is underway. I’ve boned the lamb, seasoned it and wrapped it around some Rosemary stolen from the garden outside and lots of crushed garlic. I’ve made a little stock with the bones (and lamb stock from home) and that’s reducing away as the par-boiled potatoes are roasting with some onions, waiting to be mounted by the lamb! Carrots and Cauliflower both al dente will accompany all that! Lovely

 

After dinner we watched a DVD. We’d brought several DVDs to watch and our Tesco rental ‘Brick Lane’ was first up. I was very disappointed. I’ve read the book and enjooyed that thoroughly but this, the film, was a very poor imitation of the real thing. Half of the story is missing and the characterisation isn’t a patch on the book’s. How Betony and Sharon managed to stay with the plot is hard to say.

 

EASTER MONDAY

The fishermen were up and about in the stream early today (I saw a red squirrel run under their car) and we had to get dressed with the curtains closed. It has been quiet enough not to bother with curtains up until now. Sharon and I walked on to the village again today but the Boulangerie was closed. No matter, we went to the village garage and bought a pack of Brioche buns which we toasted and had with chocolate spread, marmite and a variety of cheeses. But not all together – that was the selection.

 

It has rained overnight but seems set fair, if overcast for a while now.Chapelle Sur Vire

 

Which is pretty much how it stayed all day. Instead of preparing/eating lunch, we went for a drive around the area. We called at Tessy sur Vire to pick up some bread from a Boulangerie that was open and then drove up to Chappelle sur Vire for a short walk. Then on to Conde (sV) and back to Pont Farcy via back roads. Reading and the beginnings of my gig on 4th April took up the rest of the day – as well as dinner: Roast cauliflower and carrots, potatoes, onion and garlic baked in stock and pan fried escallops of veal. We finally manged to eat the cauliflower soup we’d brought with us too! I’m stuffed now.

 

After a couple of games of cards we went to bed.

 

TUESDAY 25th March

 

We’d decided (wrongly, as it turned out) that the Boulangerie was closed on Tuesdays, so we had toast (sliced ‘country’ bread, bought and frozen on our first shopping trip) with preserves, cheese and boiled egg! Once again the chocolate coloured coffee was delicious.

 

We drove to Villdeiu des Poelles first of all because it was their market day. As it was quite chilly we didn’t stay long but bought some bakery items whilst there. There wasn’t much produce either – but I suppose that’s only to be expected at this time of year. We then drove onto Vire, where we had lunch (sandwiches in a bar) and a short shop in a couple of places – mainly to buy a jug, some milk and some butter.

 

After we got back, Sharon and I went for a walk in the intermittent sunshine. Very nice.

 

Dinner on Tuesday was a selection of pate’s, cheeses and salad.

WEDNESDAY 26th 

We’d bought some brioche yesterday in Villedeiu, so with half a left over baguette, we didn’t have to go out foraging for breakfast. Betony seemed out of it and only had coffee. Sharon and I went out for a drive later – ostensibly to get some bread for lunch, but also be cause we like driving around this area. We ended up going for a walk around the Abbe Hamble (spelling??) – a 13th century semi-wreck up on the road from Tessy to the coast. We called in Tessy sur Vire for our bread and it looks like we’d just missed their market! So – Wednesday = Marche @ Tessy sur Vire. 

The rest of the day was spenit reading or working on my TAGGING gig for online delivery 4th      April. It is so quiet here that  managed to record most of my sound files. James Clay – who will MC the gig, has suggested that PowerPoints do not work quite as well as they should online so I’m saving each slide as a JPEG. I’m then recording a sound file to go with each one. I’m not altogether sure that this is the correct procedure – but, what the heck!

 

Dinner was roast FRENCH chicken with yellow beans, roast potatoes carrots and cauliflower. So much food!!

THURSDAY 27th

Betz was out of sorts yesterday and we put it down to being 16½ and on holiday with crumblies – but today she was fairly ill. Hormonal I suspect – at least that’s what she and Sharon think.

 

So Sharon and I went up to St Lo – ostensibly to shop and have lunch, but the weather became so bad (hail and rain) that we shopped a bit and then came home for lunch (buffet styles salad and stuff). I managed to finish my John Grisham (The Innocent) before I realised that the weather had bucked up big time and that Sharon was outside reading. Pont Farcy seems to have been in a cloud free (sort of) zone all afternoon. The sun was warm and we took the opportunity to go for a more extensive walk and exploration of the village.

 

Dinner (because Betz was still ill and didn’t want anything) was a ham sandwich and a bottle of beer. Whoopee. Watched The Stepford Wives on Sharon’s ACER (Betz was watching Heroes on the Toshiba!)

 FRIDAY 28th 

Vire Market day. Betz still isn’t well, although slightly better, so Sharon and I went off to Vire on our own. The market was much smaller than we’ve seen before, but given the time of year and the weather, I’m not really surprised. We had coffee and a pain au chocolat in a cafe on the south road out of Vire. We didn’t visit the cafe on the roundabout because it was so cold and wet, so went to the cafe we had had lunch in the other day. We also ‘did’ Moutant and Champion, but will probably still have to pop out this afternoon to get our cornichons from the Moutant in Villedieu (as they didn’t have any on Vire).

 

Betz still didn’t appear, so Sharon and I just had some pesto and pasta for tea. We also had a croque monsieur – just because we could! Then pudding arrived! Bridgitte called to confirm that we could stay until Sunday and brought some rice pudding along with her. Delicious.

 

SATURDAY 29th March 2008

 

Up early for a walk in the morning sunshine. Sharon and I walked down for pain au chocolat and were joined at breakfast by a much recovered but still tired Betony. We then (all!) decided to go for a drive and initially find the viaduct close to Beny Bocage. It was a real treat to drive around on these roads. We did around 100 miles in the day (we went all over) and was a pleasure in itself.

 

We drove up to Coutances for lunch (which was fine) and realised that this was a town worth another look at – especially when the weather isn’t so cold. Although sunny, the weather is really cold out.

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