A couple of days after the ‘Roux’ departure we fetched up on French shores. It was no surprise to find a garden in need of some attention, and a crop of budded leeks which we uprooted and I processed in various ways. I made a curry base with them, adding peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes and the usual spicy suspects. I also cooked up a pot of poireaux fondus which I divided into portions to freeze. I had to cut out the central stem from the larger leeks but there was still plenty of leaf to use. We also had rhubarb pickings and I stewed the most tender and made rhubarb, apple and ginger chutney as well.
On Saturday it was Anne’s birthday and she cooked a meal chez eux for us, the ‘Roux’ and the ‘Osmonts’, and afterwards the men entertained us with games of pool.
The Martins arrive the following week. They have already spent a few pleasant days in Brittany and whilst they are with us the beautiful weather persists. On the afternoon of their arrival we sit in sunshine on the terrace and drink tea and eat cake. We exchange family news and think about how we will like to spend their time with us. Friday is excursion day starting with lunch at Grandcamp Maisy where I discover that the dilapidated Maison de Maitre that I had much admired during our house-hunting days in Normandy has apparently been sold and has certainly been rendered beautiful again with a sympathetic renovation to the exterior and one hopes the interior as well.
After lunch we stroll down to look at the house we were at one time considering, and find this is in much the same condition as when Charlotte and I viewed it, and it appears uninhabited and probably remains unsold. The town generally looks well, there is much evidence of new paving, paintwork and planting. It looks as if it would be an agreeable place to live although I am not sure what social opportunities would be on offer.
We drove to Pointe du Hoc to find it populous. Since our last visit to the site of this famous artillery battery there has been much improvement in the form of a small museum and excellent information panels on the approach and return route to the firing command post, shelters and casemates. We press on to seek out the house at La Cambe that we nearly bought too. The house looks sad, and saddest of all for me is that the dark and brooding garden at the rear of the house where there was a stand of mixed conifers and a ground flora of cyclamen has been hacked back. We conclude that nothing much has happened here either.
A visit to the German Cemetery at La Cambe is sobering. It is very different from the Allied cemeteries, simple but powerful. Over extensive grounds where 22,000 war dead are buried in pairs, there are clusters of black Maltese crosses. The site is dominated by a tumulus flanked by two statues and topped by a large dark cross in basalt lava, which marks the resting place for 207 unknown and 89 identified German soldiers, interred together in a mass grave.
The next day was spent in a very different way. We went to the market which was very busy and was sporting some new stalls, notably one selling some amazing nougat in large wheels reminiscent of cheeses.
After the market we met in the bar for a midday drink with friends, staying in town for a sandwich before we attended the Baptism ceremony of the new Lifeboat. In the evening we went to a short musical play based on the evening of June 4th 1944. With friends in the cast it was fun to watch and after the show we enjoyed a ‘repas campagnade’ in the Salle Polyvalente at Barfleur.
On Sunday our new English friends, the Daniells, invited us to a BBQ at their house in Crasville. It was a beautiful sunny day and we sat outside chatting to their other guests, Caroline and Georges da~Costa. Early afternoon drifted into late afternoon and before we knew it we were dropping Georges off at La Pernelle where we saw the lovely garden Caroline, who had driven home earlier in the afternoon, created in a sloping field 20 years ago.
On Monday morning the Martins took flight after much hugging and expressions of shared enjoyment during their stay. I went to yoga. On Tuesday Francois and Fefe Taille came to lunch with the Lerminez and we made plans for 14th July when we will be back in France. On Thursday we crossed back to England with a busy weekend ahead.