Sunday, 20 June 2010

Back from Normandy

We were _supposed_ to be going to Oxford last weekend for a couple of days. We'd booked into the Malmaison on a very good deal for Sunday and Monday night and had intended to leave the dog with my folks in Maidenhead. Well, the second part of that plan worked out.

A week before we left we were talking about what to do for my 50th Birthday next year and got down to two choices. 1. New York for a few days or, 2. A drive round Europe to take in the Italian Lakes and the Millau Bridge (see blog post from last year about "Bucket List"). On one Thursday evening, Ann suggested that we could go to Millau _that_ weekend, i.e. in the morning. (It's only 900 miles from where we live...)

But, that got me thinking on the way to work the next morning, and so the Mal was duly cancelled and the ferry and a hotel/b&b in Normandy booked. We had been let down by Expedia, as it turned out. The place I had booked on the Friday lunchtime had become full by the time I got home, but they were very good, and found us a fabulous b&b at Chateau Flottemanville nearby. €80 per room, including breakfast - and it was superb. Here's a photo of the front on the Chateau, which has been in the family, thick and thin, for around 700 years. Our room was in an annexe over to the left, but a very short walk into the main house for breakfast. Very quiet, very comfortable, very reasonable. Will definitely go back next time we want to visit Normandy.

We'd never been here properly before. I visited with friends from school while on a tour of France about 30 years ago, but we didn't do the beaches (only Bayeaux, which is about 10 miles from the coast - stupid boys!), and this time we went with the intention of seeing all the D-Day beaches.

These are really moving. Omaha Beach, with the huge American Cemetery on the cliff above, and especially Pegasus Bridge, where the British Paratroopers first landed.

Highly recommended to anyone who hasn't been.

On the Monday, we toured the north and west coasts of the Cherbourg peninsular, which is both very beautiful and interesting, even the nuclear reprocessing plant which seems to be about 2x the size of Sellafield. We did find (following a tip in one of the guides) a fabulous small restaurant called  Le Moulin a Vent right on the north coast, about half an hour west of Cherbourg, where the €23 set menu was fantastic. Excellent value for money, even with the poor £/€ exchange rate.

Got back home on Tuesday night, ready for another session in the chair on Wednesday.

There is now a large light at the end of the tunnel, with the final session (before maintenance) coming up in 2 week's time now. It's actually going to be quite odd not having this series of events to "look forward to", and having my life back as my own again. On the other hand, subject to the sleep deprivation and other chemically induced issues, it will also be strange going back to work "full time". I know what I'd rather be doing though...

Started looking round for a new car today. BMW and Mercedes were interested in selling me a car. Audi weren't even bothered whether they spoke with me or not. Thos first impressions make all the difference. guys... Mine has now done 76,500 miles, in the two years I have had it. It will be interesting to see what MB come up with.

The Leica Book has now sold around 130 copies and there should be some very exciting news to report about next time (which will not be as far away as this time was ;-) )

So, things are looking up for the Summer.

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