Saturday 4 July 2015

For Julie

Saturday 4 July 2015

This blog is dedicated to our lovely friend Julie.  Her mum - Lily - died today at the grand old age of 98.  She was well loved by all her family, but especially by her special daughter Julie.  Love and thoughts to you, Ray and the family. 

It's just turned 2300 and it's still lively outside the van.  It's been another hot, though windy day and turned a tad cool this evening.  So Cathy retired early, while I sat outside the van, nursing my glass of rosé.  I can see and hear families laughing as they pass by and groups of old friends sat outside their caravans and campervans, having a good natter and the odd drink.  The campsite resto/bar was still full and lively as I washed up and ditched the gash.  And there is still a little, purple-tinged light in the sky even at this late hour, with a small breeze and the sound of the surf as the tide ebbs.  This is what makes France special.  They know how to make the most of the day and evening as a family, without resorting to TV, gadgetry, heavy drinking or drugs.  Even the little children wish us "Bonsoir" as they pass by or run around the van.  And I realised today that I've not seen any tattoos - none on the men, never mind the women.  Plenty of suntanned skin, the odd cigarette, but no tattoos.  How refreshing.

It was warm and still last night, although it turned a little chilly towards day break.  I was up at about 0815 and went to fetch our bread and croissants for the day.  While Cathy had a little lie-in, I sat outside with a pot of coffee, reading my Tour de France magazine.  Today is the Tour Prologue, starting in Belgium and skipping into Holland before settling into France.  I hope to witness Stage 7 - from Livarot to Fougères - next Friday, my 52nd birthday.    Breakfast was the usual lazy affair, sat outside as the families around us came to life, prepared their own breakfast, washed up, went to the loo and wished us a pleasant 'Bonjour'.  The French are a very social, community group.  They have few hang-ups about nudity or bodily functions, with shared heads and bathrooms.  Having said that, we're thankful for our own onboard loo!  

We needed some food so walked into the town.  The local market was in full swing, everything from a stall selling nothing but mattresses, to fresh, almost wriggling seafood in the small covered market.  We bought fruit and vegetables for dinner, plus a couple of fresh swordfish steaks.  We enjoy walking around these markets - no pressure from the stall holders and they don't mind if you feel and smell the goods.  Back at the van I realised I forgot fresh milk, so walked back into town, while Cathy prepared a simple lunch of rillette, yellow tomato and red pepper salad (with some very hot chilli pepper we though was benign!), saucisson, chorizo and bread.  After lunch we sat and read in the shade - it was turning into another hot one.

We walked down to the beach at about 1500.  We put up our beach shelter (for the first time) and I left Cathy reading while I went for a walk along the beach as the tide came in.  I walked just above the water's edge, searching for and picking up stones with holes through them.  Apparently if you string them together with an old key they ward off evil witches.  Stones with holes are lucky, but keep the witch from the door with a key! (so my very own white witch tells me!).  We had a swim but the waves were quite lively so we didn't stay in too long.  Not long after some old 'Charlie' was rescued from the rolling surf by a couple of young chaps - he looked most unimpressed by this and his young grandson gave him a right bollocking for getting into trouble!  I returned to the van early (enough sun for me) leaving Cathy on the beach.  I emptied the loo (then washed my hands!) before chopping the veg and marinating it in olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cathy returned and went off for a shower as I started to cook the veg on the griddle in four batches, then chopped it up and left it to cool.  I cooked some rice, rinsed it in cold water and mixed it with the griddled veg.  I left Cathy with a G&T while I showered, then laid the table while the BBQ griddle heated up again.  The swordfish steaks, cooked with the help of some olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice, were delicious with the veg rice and some rosé.  Dinner done, Cathy sat inside the van for a while before turning in and I finished off my glass of wine. Cathy would like to say, she also does jobs, including all the interior cleaning, although this blog sounds like she sits around all day!

So another relaxing day with good food and wine.  No doubt on our first long trip we'll not be able to afford such extravagant food on a regular basis, but the sun, sea, warmth and ambience should make up for this.  I'm tired now and ready for bed.  It's cooler this evening so sleep should come easier.  It's Sunday tomorrow (I think!), a day of rest, so we'd better take it easy.......  á bientôt.  And - Lily - thanks for the Lily which grows as well in Barnton as it did in Gosport.  Bless you and Rest in Peace xxx

Fish market where we bought our swordfish

Part of the daily market in St Denis

Mini Citroen!

Another 'light' lunch!

A pretty takeaway pizza sign

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