The Plot Thickens

We are all up and ready rather earlier today but then Dick and Eileen want to go into St Vaast for some shopping before we drive up to Barfleur to check up on Jolly and then have some lunch before they start their journey home. Shopping is a bit of a damp squib because the shops are shut including the chandlery Dick was hoping to browse. I find it difficult to keep track of this because opening hours change with the seasons. They are able to get a few things at Intermarche however.

Before we go to Au Moyne de Saire, a restaurant which has agreed to open up specially for us, we drive to Barfleur to check on Jolly’s status. The vessel is now moored alongside the quay, sporting a Dutch flag, and the state of her dilapidation is even more evident.  Yesterday we guessed that she is perhaps an erstwhile tug or barge, American in style but possibly not in manufacture, of a 1930s, 40s or 50s vintage.  Mast and rigging including ratlines have been added at a later stage.  There is a fancy Japanese motorbike with a European number plate strapped on top of the wheelhouse, some ancient bicycles on the deck, a large hammock strung from the rear of the wheelhouse in which the crew had sat out the low tide the day before.  Added to this the deck has a load of new timber planks which we think might have been salvaged from the recently shed cargo of timber in the English Channel.

Many of the major components are thoroughly rusted and all the metal panels along the sides are dented.   The extent of fouling on the rudder and prop (see below) suggests Jolly has not been antifouled for about 10 years.  Despite her thoroughly disreputable appearance – there was something of the Caribbean pirate about her – when the engine had eventually been started up the day before, with two small puffs of smoke from her funnel,  the engine had putted into life sounding, as Dick said, “as sweet as a nut”.

Today there are maritime police standing on the quay and civil gendarmes are in the wheelhouse with the crew. There must be 6 officers involved. We can’t stay long because our booking is for 12.30 and the Hunters must leave St Vaast by 3. We ate a lunch that would carry us right through to bedtime! Dick chose hot oysters, some grilled in garlic butter, others in cream and Pommeau, each oyster served in its little individual china ‘pan’. I must look out for some of these to entice visitors who know they don’t want to try oysters a la nature!

As we purred our way back to the house in the Hunter’s Jaguar we all agreed that the whirlwind weekend had been great fun and must be repeated before too long.  Dick would like to do some fishing with Nick and I want to take Eileen to see the botanical garden at the Chateau de Vauville on the west coast of the Cotentin.  It is open on Saturdays and Sundays during March so we may get there this weekend with Liz and the Paynes.

Liz is arriving on Tuesday evening and I’m very excited about her visit.  Prising her out of Burton takes some doing as she has so many ties but at last she has taken the plunge and we must make the most of her sejour.


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