With the departure of the Cholseys we need to turn the house around for the arrival of Marian, Katharine and David. Their stay at 104 is a more or less annual event and we look forward to welcoming them and we know that they enjoy their down time in St Vaast. As in recent years we receive them and spend a night together, then Nick and I head for Paris where we can bed down in the apartment that belongs to our friends and good neighbours, the Tuttles. We love their little basement flat which is hidden in a gated and wardened complex of apartments on the edge of Pigalle. We have planned an itinerary which will take us north and south on train journeys to towns we do not know.
Meanwhile the Bradleys settle into their usual rooms and, I expect, look forward to some R and R since they are all working people. During their sojourn in St Vaast they will take time out to make their own journey of discovery and drive themselves to Versailles where, after their visit, they will spend a night in a hotel nearby. Towards the end of their holiday Nick and I return to St Vaast to spend a couple more days in their company.
On the day of our return we are treated to dinner at Au Moyne de Saire, the favoured restaurant of the Perrymans but which we have always placed second to dinner at Les Fuchsias. But the Bradleys ate at Les Fuchsias to celebrate David’s birthday the evening before and from their account of their meal Nick and I get the impression that fings ain’t wot they used to be at this famous hotel restaurant which is so favoured by visiting yachties. Its name travels before its reputation. Many of our English friends have heard of it. We will have to check it out when we return in October. As it is we have a thoroughly good meal at Reville.
On Monday, their last day we are going to have Anne and Francois over for a salad supper. Katharine will be able to practice her excellent French and Marian and Anne swap notes on crafty interests that they have in common. During the afternoon we decide to have an outing and visit the snail farm at Fermanville. Called Le P’tit Gris des Moulins it consists of a very basic compound within which the common Garden Snail is contained and reared. Apart from providing the snails with a bran mixture to add to their normal diet the ‘elevage’ is one of the most basic I have seen. However, before the big reveal in the small compound, we make a circuit of the woodland and glades. Painted boards carrying paintings and text expound the life history of the humble snail, its predators. There are verses, facts and myth. We end our visit in the small shop where assorted snaily preserves and condiments are sold. Time is pressing so I forgo the pleasure of buying a pot of something to wow or horrify a future hapless visitor until another time.
And so it is Tuesday and time to wrap it up. Our computers have received the Bradley health cure, a spring clean of the innards and all manner of tweakings and downloadings have taken place. Nick has probably learnt a new trick or two. We have had some good eating together and a catch up on each other’s lives and I think we all hope it will not be another year before we find an opportunity to convene.