Bon Anniversaire Normandie – Happy Birthday Normandie

This year is the 11th centenary of the founding of Normandie.

In the autumn of 911 the Treaty of Sainte-Claire-sur-Epte was signed by Charles the Simple, King of France, effectively signing over a vast part of the north-east corner of France to Rrolf Gongu (“toutes les terres de l’Epte jusqu’a la mer”), a viking leader. After years of viking raids and pillaging along this coast, there came a time of peace and rebuilding by the descendants of those raiders, and the “Kingdom”(actually a duchy – self-governing, but owing allegiance to France) of Normandie was founded.

This year there are major celebrations of the 1100th anniversary. For details why not visit http://www.happybirthdaynormandie.com/

For the summer, the vikings make a welcome return to Surtainville – see our posting last summer; and there are many events within the regions listed on the website above.

Happy Birthday Normandie

Bob & Marjory

“Mad March Offer!!”

Spring has sprung early in the hedgerows of Pierreville. The primulas are already in flower, before the snow-drops are finished

The catkins are already hanging from the branches

There are even some early daffodils

So why not think about an early spring  holiday?

For March we have a special gite price from £200 – follow the link below to our website –

http://www.hirondelleholidays.com/specialoffers.htm

Brittany Ferries also has a special offer for March for the relaunch of the Poole-Cherbourg service – £59 each way.

http://brittany-ferries.co.uk/offers/ferry/poole-cherbourg

So you can have a week in Normandy for two for just £318!! 

Hope to hear from you soon

Bob & Marjory

New Year, Galette des Rois and on to Chandeleur . . .

31st January already, and the winter celebrations almost over. Today is the last day for wishing people a happy new year – so  “Bonne Annee; et bonne sante a tous”

Christmas came and went – bitterly cold, but no snow. New Year we celebrated here with french friends

A great time was had by all – including this little character

Made by one of our guests out of a slab of butter (and perhaps after a little too much to drink!), it’s supposed to be a statue of me. Now I know I’ve put on half a stone over the holiday season, but if that’s what I look like, then the New Year’s diet had better be undertaken in earnest.

We finished the evening – or morning – after celebrating both French and English New Years, with a little champagne

And so on to Epiphany and the galette des rois. Epiphany is celebrated the first Sunday after Christmas, as is also the patronal festival of Piereville – St. Genevieve – in the church. But the galette can happen anytime in January. So the 19th the hall was set for the club celebration

the galettes were brought in

the crowns set up

and the galettes shared and enjoyed (love the taste of the frangipane!)

3 people – Marjory being one – were crowned king (or queen) for the day having found the figurines

And so to Chandeleur (Candlemas) on the 2nd February. Last weekend was the Candlemas Fair at Montebourg – unfortunately we weren’t able to get there – perhaps another year. Traditional food for Chandeleur seems to be pancakes !! always thought they were for Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Carnival – but that’s something else to follow in about a month.

So Happy Candlemas, however you celebrate it, and best wishes for this year.

Bob & Marjory

Vacances en Espagne …

or was it Germany? –

If you look carefully you will see that even the signs are in German; but it was actually Mallorca! (Then again when we told French friends that we were going to Spain on holiday and they found we were going to Mallorca, they said “not Spain; the Balearics”; so not quite sure where we were!!)

Except it was Mallorca, but very definitely the German sector. As we arrived at the hotel we were greeted in German; in all the shops we were greeted in German. From the centre of the town you couldn’t see across the terrace to the beach for a huge marquee, where they were busy setting up for “Oktoberfest”.

And so the holiday went; a mixture of good and  not so good. The Hotel was lovely

though meal times were strictly regimented – we were told off for remaining too long (just an hour was allowed for meals) at the dinner table.  The setting of the town was beautiful;

though I don’t think I’d fancy the beach at the height of the season

The view from our balcony wasn’t too bad – after we’d insisted on a change of room from the smelly basement with no view that they wanted to give us

though it did have the disadvantage of looking out to the side over the kitchen and its extractor ducts

And there were some quite quirky aspects – like the fairground “Hall of Mirrors”; Can you recognise what it really was?

The first few days the weather was good – a walk on the beach and through the town in the morning. Relaxing in the sunshine with a drink by the pool in the afternoon

Then the thunderstorms arrived, and it rained

and it rained

and it rained

Hoping for a little better weather when we head off for Dublin shortly; though an Irish friend has given us a warning about the weather, as well as some useful advice on things to do.

Bob & Marjory

Le Poulailler

Interesting place to visit – called in by chance last week on our little camping tour – “le Poulailler”, a small, but very interesting bar close to the cathedral in Coutance. It changed it’s name in 2002 to

with artwork inside and out by Paul Martineau

In 2008 it was extended, and the interior made to look even more like a chicken shed, and with further artwork by Paul Martineau

Even the sign for the toilet continues the farmyard/chicken shed theme

A couple of “1664”s and a very palatable rose wine made for a very enjoyable apero. Well worth a visit.

Bob and Marjory

Hirondelle Holidays goes mobile

Went away last weekend in our new toy –

to the site and hooked up, ready to begin

First was to get the caravan level

as we’d already discovered that the fridge doesn’t work unless level! What, no chilled white wine?! Not quite so important to check the level of the glass though – unless to guard against spillage.

 Next was to get the awning up –

no instructions, and the first time we’d tried it – very much trial and error. But we got there and just in time for the apero !!

So, all sorted, and ready for our first night –

Just one last thing before bed –

coming in dark, and Marjory not willing to use the shelter of the hedge, or the bucket (with lid!!); or even to walk the 50 metres across the site to the bloc sanitaire; we had to get to grips with the chemical toilet

Always useful to read the instructions, just to check we’ve got it right

OK, so we were only 55km down the road at Agon-Coutainville; but it was a good 4 day break, and we were able to do something that we’ve not managed to do for a good few years now – be tourists. Coming up – some of the things we found around Agon-Coutainville. But we leave you with the site we stayed at – a lovely, quiet, family-run site – mostly mobile homes, but ten pitches for tents/touring caravans; showers, sanitary block, washing machine; some small recreational areas, but overall a good place to get away, be quiet and unwind.

Bob & Marjory

Vikings invade Surtainville!!

 

The Viking flag was hoisted over the Mare des Laguettes last weekend. Camp was set up, and the invasion began –

They’d brought with them their weapons –

but also their household items, as if for a long stay –

Not only that; they were accompanied by their workers in wood and bone –

and in metal –

They set up home in Surtainville; but of course, it was just for the weekend. For these Vikings were members of a re-enactment society, of which a search of the web reveals many in Normandy. They brought with them traditional artefacts, games, and music, many of which are still to be found in derivative form in the region.

The Viking kingdom of Normandy was established in 911 A.D. by permission of the King of France, in order to try to curb the power of the invaders from the North, but also in recognition of their advanced state of civilization, under Rollon (Hrolf Gongu). 100 years later it had become a Dukedom within France, but was to blossom again under William, Duke of Normandy who in 1066 established the Kingdom of Britain and Normandy.

Many Normans revel in their Viking origins, and for the 1100th anniversary of the Kingdom of Normandie are planning on linking with countries of Viking origin throughout the world, and organising events and spectacles in celebration.

More information can be found on the website –

www.911-2011.fr

and the links to Viking and Norman heritage given there. ( www.Normandie-heritage.com is one example)

Bob & Marjory

Midsummer’s Day – Fete de la Musique

No need to travel far to celebrate Midsummer’s day and the start of the holiday season here in France. Every major town and city, and many, many smaller towns, villages and communes celebrate the summer with the Fete de la Musique. From the spectacular celebrations of Paris, Toulouse, Marseille, Bordeaux and the like; to Caen, to Cherbourg and other smaller cities; it will be a night of celebration of all kinds of music – medieval, folk, classical, pop, rock, indie, techno; you name it, it will be there somewhere.

Not to be outdone, smaller towns and villages started the celebrations early. Last Friday saw the choice of three local villages – Surtainville, Le Rozel and Benoistville. As I was singing with “Dynamique” of Pierreville it was to Benoistville that I went.

The village centre was packed by 2030hrs

Entertainment included choirs; small groups with guitars; a large group of musicians who came together for a jamming session; a group of singers who concentrated on songs in the local language – patois; a group of musicians and dancers with traditional instruments.

One highlight of evening was “La Chanson de Rue” – a mass sing-in of “Les Copains D’Abord” by the assembled visitors led by most of the musicians and the choir “les Marins de Cotentin”.

For me, a real find  was the group Ars Nova performing medieval songs accompanied by medieval instruments in the church. If you’re interested you can find out more on their website – www.arsnova-consort.com

I missed the “Danse Country” at Surtainville on Friday, but managed to catch some of it on Sunday in Les Pieux; part of their Fete de la Musique – not that I’m enamoured of American line dancing, but it does seem to go down well over here. No the reason I wanted to go to Les Pieux was that Mask Ha Gazh were once again playing outside the Hotel Les Pieux

– always a pleasure to watch, and join in with the singing (and dancing – you can’t keep still to their brand of “Rock Celtique”). Their website – www.maskhagazh.com

Once again the town was packed and people were entertained by a wide variety of acts –

And yet another “find” for me. Playing beside the Mairie was the (locally based) Folk group Eridan

Once again you can find out more, and listen to their music on their website – www.eridan.folk.free.fr

So the season begins – after a long time without blogging  I hope to get organised and bring you up to date on events in the area for the summer season; and just to tantalise a bit  – ‘what are the Vikings doing in Surtainville this August?’

Best wishes for a great season

Bob

A long, hot summer

After the longest and coldest winter for many years, indications are that the summer is equally likely to be the longest and hottest for many years.

From the blossom on the trees

to the hedgerows full of flowers

it appears that Spring has finally sprung. And is it my imagination, or are the primulas stronger

and more profuse this year ?

Even the gorse looks “jolie” in full bloom

The blossom and flowers indicate warmer weather. The swallows also have returned – I saw a lone one over Surtainville a week ago Monday, four over the port at Portbail last Thursday, and then again four over Surtainville the same day; and today a lone one over Pierreville. The cuckoo has been heard at Surtainville and at Pierreville; and there are even some reports of the Hoopoe in the area. Flies, butterflies, honey bees and bumble bees have also been in evidence over the past two weeks; and today this little chap decided to take a walk along the road

Will it last? local folklore says yes – for the first time for years we have only twelve moons (spring tides have been very high, but this is also supposed to be an indication of a good summer). And … the magpies are nesting right at the top of the tree, not in the middle

Let’s hope the summer turns out to be the best for years

Bob & Marjory

New for this New Year

Happy New Year from a very snowy and cold Pierreville.

It seems that most of Europe and Britain is very similar, so hardly surprising that peoples’ thoughts turn to the warmer days of summer, and summer holidays.

So we can announce a new gite for holidays this year; sleeping up to 7, and willing to take dogs, HT30 is now available.

Larger than our other gites at Hameau Tranquille, it has three bedrooms

plus a large seating/dining area with a kitchen off to the side.

With one of the bedrooms on the ground floor, with a seperate small sitting room and bathroom

it would be ideal for several generations of a family holidaying together; with space to be all together, but private spaces also.

Other features include washing machine, dishwasher and possibly also wi-fi connection.

We haven’t managed to get it onto our website yet, but already it’s booking up for the summer, so don’t hesitate to contact us if you might be interested.

Mieullers voeux 2010

Bob & Marjory