Le Terrible

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“Le Terrible” fourth of a new generation of nuclear submarine launched on Good Friday in Cherbourg. Sarkozy said “we will not back down on defence and the nuclear deterrent”.

At the same time people in England were protesting about new generation nuclear reactors to be built, under direction from France, in England. How much of England’s power is already generated in France by nuclear power? Some research needed by the protestors, I think.

 Bob 

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Joyeux Paques

Easter bunny                                 Happy Easter.                                              easter-bunny-delusion.jpgeaster-bunny-delusion.jpgeaster-bunny-delusion.jpg

The Spring Festival of the goddess Eostre is upon us; or is it the christian celebration of the paschal lamb sacrificed?? The French name reminds us of the Christian Story, whereas the English name takes us back to the pre-christian religions of Northern Europe. Long before Christianity this time of the year was a celebration of new life and new hope; symbolised in the eggs painted and offered to the god Saturn asking for his blessing on the newly-sown crops, in the cakes quartered (hotcross buns?) for the seasons of the year, and the antics of the March hare – symbol of Eostre, goddess of Spring. (for an interesting side-swipe at all these ideas, have a look at http://www.flickr.com/photos/cpurrin1/298691559/ )

Whichever approach to this festival you prefer, the emphasis on life renewed is strong. It’s a time to look forwards to the coming seasons.

Why not use this time to think ahead to holidays in the spring. We’re offering a special for May/June – gite plus ferry crossing from Poole or Portsmouth for just £445. for a week. If this offer is what you need, please contact us quoting WP1. If this isn’t just what you’re looking for keep an eye out for future offers.

In the meantime, have a very good Easter, plenty of (chocolate) eggs, and time to relax and to recharge your batteries. Locally there are many Easter egg hunts today – the Easter bunny (hare) has left the eggs hidden; and also some Easter egg races; traditional ways to celebrate this time of year.

Bob and Marjory

St. Patrick and the celtic tradition

shamrock.jpgToday is St. Patrick’s Day, the patron saint of Ireland, but celebrated throughout the world, and here in Manche as in many other areas of the celtic fringes of France. The connection between Cherbourg and St. Patrick might be because of the number of Irish living in and around Cherbourg, or the regular ferries from Ireland into Cherbourg; or probably both. Kilbeggan’s Irish Pub, just off the Place du Theatre, will be leading the celebrations, but most other bars will mark it some way.

Last year we were in Cherbourg and happened across a group Mask ha Gazh in the “50s Diner”. We’d heard them previously in Les Pieux at the music festival 2006. Originally from Bretagne, this group is now based in Normandy, and play their Bretagne version of celtic rock folk. Well worth a listen to, they can be previewed on their website – www.maskhagazh.com.

But back to St. Patrick, and the celtic link. Patrick was a welshman, captured and sold into slavery in Ireland as a young man. After his escape, he converted to Christianity, and decided to return to the home of his slavemasters taking his new religion with him. As a missionary bishop he has become part of Irish folklore, giving his name to many notable landmarks, and allegedly responsible for there being no snakes in Ireland. His contribution to Christianity was in using the shamrock (now the emblem of Ireland) as an illustration of the Trinity.

The links with the celtic fringes is obvious – Wales, Ireland, Brittany, etc. As is also the link with celtic iconography in the Shamrock. The celtic versions of Christianity were superceded by the Roman, but again, as with St. Valentine, the earlier forms and icons have challenged and on occasion overflown the attempts to subdue the exuberance and joie de vivre which they contain.

To all who enjoy our celtic inheritance, may we wish you a very happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Bob and Marjory

Le Mont St Michel

mont-st-michel.jpgLe Mont St Michel is one of the premier tourist sites in Normandy, third only in France to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Chateau de Versailles; and a world heritage site.

For the next few years however, it is to be the site of major environmental and renovation works. It was announced recently that works begun in 2006 and due to finish in 2012 will not now finish till 2015. The aim of the works is to recreate the Mont St. Michel as an island within its bay, by removal of the sand and silt that has been deposited around it. This will affect access to the site, as the island will once again become an island proper, and access via the causeway will terminate.

At the finish of the works the river Couesnon will have a new barrage which should stop further deposits of silt in the bay; and access to the Mont will be by boat along the course of the river. For the duration of the works however, we are assured that access to the site will not be affected.

What do you think? Is this work necessary? Is it working with the environment in recreating the world as it was? or is this going against the natural development of this site?

Whatever your views, you can visit Mont St Michel from our gites at Surtainville. See the website for further details.

Bob and Marjory. 

A “royal” visitor !?!

pippa.jpgThe following story was published in the Brittany ferries magazine, and is reprinted here by kind permission of the authors.

Pippa, the Corgi – treated like royalty in France. 

For many years now we have taken most of our holidays in France. We love everything about it; the people, the food, the wine and the way of life.

Last year we found ourselves in the very fortunate position to be able to buy a holiday home there. Top on the list of our requirements was to have a home where our dog, Pippa, could enjoy long walks and as she is a bit of a water baby, the perfect spot for us had to be near a beach.We went to view many properties, but eventually found and fell in love with a sweet little stone cottage next to the beach on the west coast of Normandy and very soon it was all ours. At home we wasted no time getting Pippa to the vets to get her micro chipped and vaccinated for her own pet passport and as soon as possible, we had us all booked on the ferry to Cherbourg and off we went.

We were a little anxious about how she would cope with her first ferry crossing, but we need not have worried as she just settled down on the back seat of the car and went to sleep during the whole journey.Very soon we arrived at our destination and she made a thorough investigation around the new premises and told us of her approval by making several speedy laps around the garden. It got even better when we went for our first walk on the beautiful long white beach where she enjoyed several swims and many rolls in the sand. A resounding four paws up.The next day, having already done our homework and found out the location of our nearest vet, we were up bright and early and made an appointment there for Pippa’s treatment in preparation for our return back to the UK. With this done we could relax and enjoy the rest of our holiday. Our next visit was to the local market held every Friday in the square. This is a wonderful affair with many marvellous stalls selling all sorts of amazing fares to assault the senses and tempt the taste buds, but we were surprised to find that we too were attracting a lot of attention.

We hadn’t realised that Pippa’s breed, Pembrokeshire Corgi, has virtually never been seen before in France. We encountered constant curious looks and enquiries of “Quel race?” as we made our way around the market. This attention carried on for the rest of the holiday. Since that first time, we have returned many times to our lovely cottage in France with Pippa and she has become a local celebrity. We have made many friends out on our long walks on the beach and in all the local bars and shops. These are all people that we would not have met without her being with us. She makes our time in France even more special and we look forward to many more wonderful holidays. P.S So does Pippa

If you’d like to take a holiday in their cottage, please check out our website. We will publish more about the joys and tribulations of holidaying with pets in future posts. If you have a “waggy” tale to tell, please share it with us

Bob and Marjory