When the car pulls out of the drive at 6 a.m. I have my two young passengers in the back with their breakfast jam sandwich. We are bound for Ouistreham, Caen, a journey that will take us about one hour twenty minutes. They chatter away and occasionally engage me in conversation. Ruby out of the blue tells me that sometimes she tries to imagine what nothing would be like if the universe were not there. Wow!!
We park up outside the ferry terminal and check in and wait to board the Normandie. This is a larger vessel than the Barfleur having two small cinemas and a small stage in the bar where entertainments are staged during the passage. On this day there will be a quiz, a magic show, face-painting and pumpkin-carving. It is, after all, October 31st.
Arriving in Portsmouth and disembarking we come through passport control to find waiting parents. It has to be a quick handover as I will need to check right back in for the return crossing during which I am able to sleep in the very comfortable recliners. We are half an hour late docking and I am a bit apprehensive about the drive back to St Vaast, not being a great night driver. But it’s fine as I tune into a French radio station and try to follow rugby final babble. It is 11.30 p.m. when I pull back into the drive.
We are only going to have 4 days in St Vaast before it is time to travel back to the UK for a couple of fixtures. I am booked for an AEA conference at York University, an archaeology meeting to mark the retirement of Terry O’Connor. And in the week that follows there will be meetings of my bridge group in preparation for our class with Barry on the Friday. For the time being however there is a yoga class in Quettehou on Monday morning, a brief visit to see Fefe who faces a hip operation in the next couple of weeks and a brief catch-up with la Poulette. My friend Bibi delivers the galet which I have commissioned her to paint using a photo of Fefe’s Siamese cat, Rachel. It has turned out really well and I hope she will like it. The tulip, daffodil and iris bulbs left over from my Winterborne K planting are potted up and I plant the Fritillary corms deeply around the bee orchid plants which have re-appeared, leaving just a few of these to plant with the ‘bees’ in our Dorset garden. I take a few photos of the colour we are still enjoying, including the raspberries which continue to ripen and sprays of the fragrant lemon blossom.
We are weary peeps when we board the ferry on Thursday. I face a day of scurrying before I must board an early train at Wool bound for York. I enjoy the meeting very much and renew some connections with former ‘clients’ and associates. Despite my hang ups over bridge, when the class with Barry is over I don’t feel too wrung out although I cannot stop yawning my head off. On Saturday Nick and I join the village walk followed by a pub lunch. After a very long nap I make a batch of Indian pickle and start to think about readying ourselves and the house for our departure for France, storm Abigail permitting, on Monday morning.