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

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St. Valentine and the stars.

What did you do for St. Valentine’s day?  Far from it’s “christian” name, the festival is a mixture of spring-time fertility rituals originating in the ancient pagan festival of Lupercalia – little overtly christian about any of this.

Of course the French claim the first Valentine card – allegedly sent by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife, from the tower of London following his capture at the battle of Agincourt.

An interesting French custom follwed the usual sort of lottery for a partner. However, if the process of pairing up went wrong and the man didn’t like the girl he ended up with, then he could desert her, and she could burn his image on a bonfire and call him names. This fascinating tradition was banned as it led to too much unpleasantness.

Ludiver, the planetarium at Tonneville celebrated St. Valentine among the stars, with a special viewing incorporating the romantic music of the spheres, and the stories of lovers associated with the stars and the names of stars. Ludiver is open all year round, and well worth a visit at any time for anybody interested in astronomy and the natural world.

Bob and Marjory

An early Spring?

slovak-primula-sp.jpgEaster might be the earliest it can possibly be this year; but is Spring going to be early too?

We’ve just had an absolutely glorious weekend; in fact last week wasn’t bad. Clear blue skies, hour upon hour of sunshine, and warm with it. Daytime temperatures are around 12 or 13. Glorious sunsets – We’re basking in the red glow of tonights as I write this – giving way to clear night skies with the stars shining brightly – no light pollution here; the moon and stars are bright and clear in the sky. Payback is in the nightly temperatures dipping to just above freezing, but that again gives clear frosty mornings.

Everything is bursting in to life with this unaccustomed warmth.  The primulas cover the banks at the roadside, the grass is growing, catkins have appeared, and white blossom. Yesterday afternoon doing a little work in the garden we were surprised by bees buzzing round the heather, and midges dancing in the sunshine.

If you want to enjoy this early Easter and warm spring in Manche, why not contact us for details of Spring special offers?

In the meantime we’re off to enjoy a glass of kir as we watch the sunset.

Bob and Marjory

Summer in Surtainville

Thinking of a holiday in this area for this summer? Before choosing your dates, if you’re not a teacher and so stuck with certain dates, it might be worth checking out some of the websites for local communes.

For example, Surtainville has in the last year totally rewritten its website, and has just published its calender for this year, including details of the summer festival on July 12th/13th. Well worth a look at, though the English translation side is not very good, nor up-to-date!! French needed!!

Websites for other local communes, again with Calendars (agendas) for the coming summer, are also well worth a look at in preparation for a holiday locally. Try Les Pieux, Barneville-Carteret, Briquebec, Hague tourism, among others.

Perhaps we’ll see you on the 13th July, when we hope to be taking part in the inter-commune games at Surtainville – though not sure on which side; should it be Pierreville where we live, or Surtainville where hirondelleholidays has its gites??

Best wishes

Bob and Marjory.

Christmas House

Christmas HouseVisitors to Surtainville will no doubt know about the house at Mare Du Parc which is brightly lit and decorated every Christmas (as also at Hallowe’en and Easter). Guests who stayed with us just before Christmas sent pictures they had taken.

The lights are on every evening from the beginning of December through to Epiphany (6th January). There is also a small Christmas Crafts market in the garage of the house. All proceeds fro the lights and the crafts go to charity. Well worth a look if in or around Surtainville in December.

Lots of other houses in the area are similarly lit; and this year the Community of Communes of Les Pieux held a competition, consisting of weekly visits to any house wanting to register. Lots of excellent entries, but we still think the original Christmas House is the best.

Bob and Marjory

Watch out; there’s a gendarme about

The local press reported the case of an English driver rushing to catch a ferry, arrested, fined and points put on his licence. Needless to say he missed his ferry, is out of pocket, and his car is immobilised awaiting a valid licence holder collecting it and taking it back to England.

He was recorded as driving at up to 183kmph in a 110km limit – a dual carriageway. The gendarmes immobilised his car and took him to a cash point to withdraw the €450 on-the-spot fine (he obviously did not have that much cash on him; cards and cheques are not acceptable). €90 is the basic speeding fine, but then an amount is added for extra kilometres over the limit.

A concern in the past has been that points have not been recorded on non-French licences. In this case the gendarmes confiscated the licence and sent it away for processing properly. Hence he was not allowed to drive his car.

We’ve heard in the past of others being caught out by not understanding or following the letter of the law!! It’s not really worth the hassle of complaining after the event. Much better to be sure, before you set out, of what the law requires, and what are the duties of the upholder’s of the law.

Some minor examples – having log-book, insurance documents, passport and driving licence with you at all times; having warning triangle, spare bulbs and so on, in the car. Check it out before you visit. Rather be safe than sorry.

Bob and Marjory

Twelfth Night – Epiphany

6th January – Feast of the Epiphany; celebrating the visit of the wise men (magi is the word used – not kings, nor are we sure how many there were).

The Christmas tree and decorations are taken down, some stored for another year, others disposed of, hopefully in an eco-friendly way. And so it’s all over for another year.

But not quite finished with here
– there is still the Galette des Rois to be enjoyed. A cake or flat pastry containing marzipan, and quite often fruits, and of course (!) chocolate. And in the package a cardboard crown, to be worn by the person who finds the figure in the cake. (A bit like the silver thrupenny bit in the christmas pudding, and as dangerous to dental health) Traditionally a figure from the nativity, this year’s favourite appears to be “Pirates of the Caribean”. A long way from the magi following a star to find the infant King of the Jews!

So even though overstuffed from the two festivals celebrated in the past two weeks, still more to look forwards to.

When will life get back to some sort of normality?

Bob and Marjory