On Tuesday when Esme and Dick returned to Portsmouth they boarded the ferry at Ouistreham that had brought our friends John and Celia to stay until the end of the week. They last came to St Vaast several years ago, before the dry rot episode which was to prove such a trial. Then their visit was part of a week of shore searching and shell-collecting with fellow Conchological Society members. This time with inclement weather and Celia’s reduced mobility we were happy to sit and talk shells, conchologists and tuck away delicious seafood. John has always been adventurous in the kitchen and especially with such delights as the sea can deliver. One evening he presented us oysters three ways and he also served ‘Praires farcies’ – Venus clams dressed with butter, garlic and parsley and eaten out of their shells.
Excursions were made by car as well as short walks around our neighbourhood. One day popped into Maison Gosselin and I took the opportunity of a nearly empty shop to take some photos. Even so it was not easy to capture the Aladdin’s cave feel of a store overflowing with beautifully displayed goodies of every kind.
It is rare for John to fail to capture a shelly treasure wherever he goes. On this occasion he visited the small Musee run by another Gosselin individual and persuaded its owner to part with the distinctive scallop shell lamp which has graced his window certainly since we have lived in St Vaast, and probably for much longer. It was a snip at 20 Euros.
At the end of our very agreeable week John and Celia crossed the Channel, homeward bound and we followed a couple of days later for an important appointment.