Sam and Joel have been signed up for a beginners’ course in sailing. This is quite an adventure as it will be their first time afloat in a wind-driven vessel and they will also be learning alongside a group of children whose native language is French. We take them down to the sailing school on their first morning and they are kitted out with wetsuits, life jackets and before they know it they are afloat, two to a boat. Sam is old enough to learn in a small catamaran, a Hobie Cat, and Joel has a dinghy, an Optimiste. Meanwhile back at the house Nick hauls out the inflatable yellow submarine paddling pool for Amelie and Charlie to enjoy.
After sailing on the second day Barney takes the children clamming at Le Dranguet. They come back with lots of Dosinia and an assortment of other bivalve species. Nick also takes Barney and the two younger children fishing whilst Sam and Joel sail. They catch lots of mackerel and some pout whiting. The latter, together with crevettes roses and hard-boiled eggs, go into a fish crumble and the mackerel are either smoked over apple wood on our barbecue and made into pate, or filleted and grilled. The smoked mackerel are served, together with pasta and clams for supper that night. Fresh from the sea grilled mackerel with lemon juice are a delicacy and perfect at lunchtime the next day.
A couple of days later, because the time and tide are favourable Nick decides to take the two younger children fishing again whilst Sam and Joel are sailing. Francois has stuck his head round the door and told us where there are bream to be fished. Lukie accompanies Nick and the children, and what a time they have! They try Francois’ place but have no luck so they try another fishing ground further offshore.
Only when they move onto a third site, an area of open seabed between rock outcrops do they succeed in hooking their catch. Nick has taken some cockles out to use as bait, cockles which Joel had picked up by chance from the sands off La Hougue the previous day. Cockles ought to be perfect for catching bottom-dwellers, although websites suggest that baiting the hook with worm is better. However, the fishing trio are rewarded with a trio of fish, a bream, a red gurnard and a very fine plaice. The latter two species are firsts for the boat. Having hooked the plaice Lukie handed the rod over to Charlie to reel in. I would love to have seen his face when he saw his prize. (As the week progresses the sailing lessons fall later in the day (to conform with the times of high tide) and there is an opportunity to go cockling on the sandflats close to the house beforehand. Cockles are easily raked from the surface sands and the fishers return to the house with hundreds.)
We ate the trio of fish the following evening, and there was enough for everyone to taste each fish (although we did cook a batch of sausages as an alternative for the children) and we voted on favourites at the end of the meal.