“Dreaming of a White Christmas”??

The snow arrived here, after some days of bitterly cold weather, on Friday morning. We’d been following the discussion in the media, which seemed to say nothing more certain than “possibly, but probably not”; so it was quite a surprise to waken to the snow in the garden

Just after midday we set off, somewhat warily as it was still snowing, towards Benoistville for lunch. The roads were covered, with only tyre-tracks each way, and the snow continued to fall . At Les Pieux we joined the back of queue of traffic which then ground to a halt. Fortunately, we managed to turn and make our way home, very slowly; passing various queues, and the gendarmerie on duty redirecting traffic. No pre-Christmas lunch for us on Friday.

Saturday we checked the gites, in the snow; but a glorious, if bitterly cold day

 – and the views over the dunes were wonderful

So, snow for Christmas ?? Posibly, but probably not. Today is grey and wet, though still bitterly cold; certainly not the stuff of Christmas cards.

One Christmas meal missed. But one occasion “The Buche de Noel” started off our Christmas celebrations last Tuesday

not only the cake, but an afternoon of eating and drinking -with fruit salad, biscuits, chocolate, clementines, and of course wine, coffee and calva and rhum!! 

Sunday we had our own Christmas dinner, as Christmas Eve we eat out at friends’ in the village, and Christmas Day with the neighbours. The diet starts after that, or maybe in the New Year.

Hope to see you next year; watch out for our special offers for the Spring, and news of another, larger gite for holidays next year.

“Bonnes Fetes” to all our readers.

Bob and Marjory

Celebrating the start of summer

Last weekend saw the start of some traditional summer festivities with the local commune of St Germain-le-Gaillard celebrating its Foire Saint-Urbain. Traditionally a livestock fair, it began with a concours de mouton; and then through the day an animation inter-commune; including courses en sac, tir a la corde, lancer de charentaise, course a l’oeuf – recognise these from English village fairs?

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There was , of course, the modern aspects to the fair, with a soiree couscous, a vide-grenier (literally an empty attic) or car boot sale, and a moto-cross.  All-in-all a good time was had by all; and the weather, though not as sunny as the previous few weeks was good. Not like now as we have traditional English Bank Holiday weather!!

But then there was the more modern start to summer. Last year it was the fishermen protesting at the price of fuel and blockading the ports. This year the farmers blockaded the supermarket carparks. In an on-going protest at the supermarkets’ lowering the price paid to the farmers for milk, old tires, fumeur (mucking-out from the cowsheds) and agricultural vehicles are used to block entry to supermarket carparks. To do our weekly shop last Friday we had to park in a nearby street, and walk to the supermarket. Super-U was quieter than we have ever seen it! The protest continues, and there are rumours of a shortage of milk and dairy produce. We wait for further news.

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Meanwhile however, the summer season slowly begins – watch this space for upcoming events and new, or refurbished summer attractions.

Hoping the weather continues to improve after this Bank Holiday setback. (We have our fourth bank holiday within a month next Monday – Lundi de Pentecote (Whit Monday, the [religious] forerunner of Spring Bank Holiday).

Bob and Marjory

One swallow might not make the summer …

but many swallows suggest that summer has arrived!!

swallow

Last Sunday the familiar shape passed over the road as we drove down to Portbail; but it was such a fleeting glimpse that it was not sure. However Tuesday was a very definite sighting of two over the bridge at Portbail, and then yesterday definite sightings of groups over the roads between Portbail and Surtainville.

It’s taken us so long to report these sightings because for the past week, as you probably can guess, we’ve been in Portbail. We’ve travelled in early morning, and not returned till late evening. 13hour days working with a group of French schoolchildren from just north of Paris on an immersion English course, including a daytrip to Jersey!! We’re exhausted, but just about ready for the season as it begins.

So summer is officially here, and all signs are that this is going to be a good one. A little cool today, Easter Sunday, but it’s only early April yet. Time to look forward to those long lazy days of summer holidays on the beach at Surtainville.

Bob and Marjory

What a week!!

Just over a week since we arrived back from England, and what a week it’s been.

The weather is glorious, so the grass and the hedges are growing apace – we’ve spent a day starting the first major grass-cutting of the year.

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The Club des Aines had its assembly (AGM) last week; which is a full day out starting with the meeting and elections, then lunch at a restaurant for all members, which went on till almost 5 o’clock. Add to that I was pressurised into joining the bureau (committee), so had to return the following morning for the first meeting for election of officers, and planning for a day’s activities in May and a day out to St. Malo in June.

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Saturday  we had a delivery of wood for the fire (ordered over a month ago), so began work sorting and stacking that. Then the evening was the “Premier Samedi-Gras” in Surtainville, where we went for a dinner dance/ fancy dress ball. We feasted on chou-croute and danced into the early hours, followed by a night-cap with friends. (I thought it was mardi-gras before lent, though I suppose there is some justification for not counting Saturday evening into Sunday as part of the season of abstinence!!)

Sunday was the open-day to start Jacqueline’s exhibition at Flamanville (see the preceding post), so after a lie-in and some work in our own garden, we were away there.

Monday/Tuesday making the most of the weather stacking wood, pruning and cutting bushes, cutting grass.

And the enquiries for holidays beginning to come in; and beginning to prepare work for an english experience for French schoolchildren (including today booking Fish and ships (chips, I think) in St. Helier for a one-day visit there.

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Looks like it’s going to be a busy summer. And the best is, we’ve been told that as it’s been such a hard winter, we are to expect a glorious summer!

Bob and Marjory

“Carnaval” – is spring finally here?

This evening we’ve been invited next door for crepes – just a day late – it’s Cendres (Ash Wednesday) today; yesterday was Mardi-gras, Carnaval, or Pancake Day.

crepes

Strange the names and customs for the start of lent. Carnival goes back to the latin – “farewell to meat” – but means so much more these days. There have been  carnival clothes available in the shops for weeks now, and many “carnivals” particularly involving children at the end of their spring holiday locally. And of course, the great “carnivals” in Venice and other Italian towns and cities.

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Then again the Spanish and South American traditions of Mardi-gras or “fat tuesday” as seen in the Carnival celebrations in Rio and other places.

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The English affair is a little tame – Pancake Tuesday compares poorly with Carnival and Mardi-gras, and perhaps reflects the Puritan influence of “Shrove Tuesday”, the traditional English name which refers to being ‘shriven’ or confessed and forgiven one’s sins.

One could be forgiven for thinking that these are a reflection of pagan spring festivals rather than the approach of the penitential season of Lent. Especially on such a day as today when the sun is shining, the spring flowers in bloom, the catkins on the trees, the birds are singing (we are of course well past St. Valentine now!). Such a contrast from our last few postings of just a fortnight ago. Is spring here at last? Do we have a good summer to look forward to? 

“Hope springs eternal…” !!!

primula

Bob

Update on the snow!

It’s continued all day – and now we have a really thick blanket of snow –

from thissnow-feb1

to this –021

And this –

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to this –

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Already the icicles are starting to form, and more snow (flurries!) forecast overnight and tomorrow.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens: in the meantime we’ve stoked the fire and the central heating, brought in a pile of wood and knocked the snow off; and helped the neighbours clear their stairs, and get some wood in. Time to batten down for the night I think.

Bob