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Interlude – part deux

November 7, 2012

We had booked into a Best Western hotel in Caen which was easy to find and literally a stone’s throw from the ferry terminal. Room was comfortable but the dining room was a bit pretentious and expensive, however going anywhere else meant driving and that meant no wine with dinner and no apero! The ferry crossing to England from Caen to Portsmouth was pretty uneventful – just the way it should be – apart from a strange discussion about seating. We had booked a couple of reserved reclining chairs in the ‘premium’ lounge and they gave us the seat numbers at check in. We found the lounge easily enough but the seat numbering system defied any logic at all, ours were 87 & 88 but they were not together – one behind the other. So I went to the desk to see if we could change them and was basically told the place was fully booked but after a few minutes discussion the nice lady reassigned one seat so we were together. This lounge holds at least 100 people, possibly more and at no point in the six hour voyage were any more than 15 seats occupied – so we sat where we liked 😉

The drive from Portsmouth was, as ever, very tedious; English traffic is really bad and not helped by people driving 50 mph in the outside lane because they think it saves fuel (or something?) and endless trucks taking 20 minutes to complete an overtaking manoeuvre. We stopped for diesel and a cup of coffee and then eventually found the B & B we had booked. Very comfortable and quiet but like many B & B’s, suffering from a lack of a sitting area – it was a bedroom and bathroom only so we could only use it for sleeping and washing. We treated ourselves to an Indian dinner in a local restaurant we have known for over 30 years and it is still as good as ever.

The Thursday was taken up by the funeral and wake and although we met many old friends it was a very sad if well-attended occasion. We left the following day and went shopping for Christmas stuff we can’t get in France – like Christmas pudding, English language cards, tree lights, stuffing mixes etc. We also met some other long-standing friends for lunch and began to get over the stresses of the past few days. Then we headed to yet another friends place to spend the weekend, very welcome break with great food – they keep pigs & chickens so breakfast and the roast pork dinners were exceptional. The company, conversation and just general relaxing really did help us and we left in a much better frame of mind than when we arrived in England.

Then it was back to Portsmouth, slow drive as it was misty and raining but we still arrived in excellent time so headed into town for dinner. Found an excellent pub in Southsea where we had a few drinks and a Sunday roast dinner for £10 each – bargain! They let us on to the boat early so we found our cabin, grabbed another nightcap and off to bed. The only issue with this crossing is the very late departure (11:45pm) and early arrival (06:45) which combined with the time change (1 hour) makes for a short nights sleep. We arrived in Caen and were off the boat pretty quickly, however this is the first time we have been this way and the GPS decided to quit on us. The weather was awful, torrential rain, dark with poor visibility for the first hour, but it did clear up later. We got lost around Rennes because I took the west-about ring road instead of the east-about so that added time to the journey. A detour for basic shopping and we eventually arrived home about 11:00 am totally knackered. Thankfully I had left the heating on low and the house was relatively warm, after a quick unpacking and washing, we lit the wood burner and settled down for a quiet evening.

When I checked the mail, I discovered the Mairie has been busy. First they have banned all bonfires for private citizens (farmers exempt of course) which will cause us issues and then they have decided to allocate a number on our address, so please update your records and add a 6 before the street name like a house number. Now I have to tell everybody like the bank, electricity, credit cards etc – more work I didn’t need. Oh, and the skirting board still hasn’t arrived 😦 but the GPS mysteriously started working again!

Now we settle down, complete the decorations and do some work on the garden before winter really sets in.

David & June

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Mel Kerr permalink
    November 15, 2012 21:55

    Interesting account. My cunning plan, such as it is, is for ma femme et moi to retire to Morbihan next year, maybe in the area of Josselin or Ploermel. So the more I read from people who live in France the better. Thanks for that, and I will be careful around Rennes!

    • November 16, 2012 09:22

      Josselin Ploermel etc seems to be where the ex-pats Brits congregate, there are very few this far south. For reading go to http://www.expatforum.com/expats/france-expat-forum-expats-living-france/ – loads of data there.

      • Mel Kerr permalink
        November 16, 2012 16:55

        Merci for that, rynd2it. I was not aware that the area as discussed was awash with Brits but it could be a useful asset as we settle in. I will check out that site as you kindly suggested, and thanks!

      • November 17, 2012 10:00

        Not sure I would use the word ‘awash’ but it does seem as if the N24 is a sort of boundary line. A look on AngloInfo for ex-pat businesses and craftsman will show that.

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