What To Do

If I’m going to review the third instalment of the 2011 series of The Blanchetière Summer Visitors, I need to get on with it, before episode four begins on Thursday, (with the arrival of my offspring, and my offspring’s offspring). The third instalment, completed yesterday morning, was brought to us courtesy of Simon’s brother, and his two youngest children.

They arrived, somewhat surprisingly, exactly when they said they would. Marcus, flying recklessly in the face of his conservative preferences, had purchased a new satnav especially for the trip, but it transpired that his trouble-free arrival was not entirely attributable to the triumph of technology. It was, in fact, considerably assisted by Robyn’s capable navigation skills, and a map – both brought to bear on the issue when the satnav insisted on believing that they were driving across open fields, when, quite clearly, THEY WERE ON A VERY BIG ROAD.

Their sojourn with us was planned to precede a week’s stay in a gite in Swiss Normandy, during which a lively schedule of visits to various local (and some not-so-local) attractions will take place. After reeling off a list of must-see places within a 60 mile radius of their holiday accommodation (Mont Saint-Michel… Bayeux…), Marcus asked if there was anywhere else they should go, or anything particular they should do during their stay in Normandy. Simon and I looked at each other. We thought. We thought some more. We have both been to various bits of Normandy in previous lives with previous partners. But we are both also a bit sort-of-crap when it comes to visiting tourist destinations.

“Um… well… you should definitely eat some galettes” suggested Simon.

“Oh, and drink some Calvados.” I added, enthusiastically (whilst remembering the numerous bottles of the stuff that had found their way back to gather dust on many a kitchen shelf over the years, and whilst also wondering if – surely – galettes weren’t more a sort of Brittany thing). “Yeh… and the river’s pretty – the… um… the Orne, is it?.”

Twenty-six-year-old memories of ant-ridden forest picnics, feeding Petits Filous to my twenty-month old daughter sprang to mind. I recalled finding the key to our overnight hotel room in my pocket 30 miles after we had checked out. I remembered reading ‘Mr Rabbit and The Lovely Present’ at least five times in a row, in a failed attempt to get my daughter to sleep before dinner. I recalled her lobbing her full drinking cup at the posh waiter’s nose, and proceeding to further delight the indulgent clientèle with a charming, stumbly dance brandishing a cocktail umbrella. I remembered a lot of crows on the tower of some old castle or other. Such is the nature of my Normandy memories. They are from Normandy, but not of Normandy, and they do not serve well as general recommendations for possible holiday activities.

I was aware, from his previous visit to us in 2008, when we lived in Roquetaillade, that Marcus likes to see notable sites. He came then with four of his children, and the holiday activities were chosen to strike a balance between his desire to visit places of cultural or historical interest, and his childrens’ desire to walk llamas, splash about in rivers and eat ice cream.

We're going on a bear hunt...

...we're not scared

Fun at the river

Who's that lurking drily in the shade?

I'll do this...

... and this...

... if I can do this

Reflecting on their previous visit to us, I began to fear that Marcus and his three-year-older youngest daughters might find our new corner of the French world a little uninspiring.

In an attempt to rise to the challenge, we sprinkled the customary Blanchetière holiday activity of Doing Nothing with a variety of exceptional and oh-so-exciting escapades. We visited Le Montet (our nearest village avec commerces) to purchase bread and cakes, to not-purchase postcards, and to cool down with a drink in the shade outside the café. We visited Le Montet a second time to eat a slow-and-tasty lunch in the shade outside the café, to watch wasps carve meals the size of their own bodies from the remnants on our plates and ferry them heavily away, and to once again not-purchase postcards. And, on the last evening, we topped off the whole enthralling caboodle with a dog-and-insect-accompanied circumambulation of the plan d’eau on the edge of our actual village of Saint-Sornin, and a bit of cloud-spotting.

And in between these excitements, we played cards, and word games, and throw-and-fetch games with the hounds, and did a bit of sitting-and-reading, and a bit of sitting-and-watching, and a bit of just sitting. And overall, and afterall, it turned out that quite a lot of what we did could, in fact, quite reasonably be ascribed to the well-loved category known hereabouts as Doing Nothing.

What shall we have?

Mmmm chocolate! Mmmm ice cream!


Off to...

... the lake,

Time to run

Time to think

Time to head back

A skiing mouse and a teddybear

Alex and Rufus...

... two red-haired waifs

A Stubbs Moment

A Lenny Moment

A satnav moment

A doggy farewell

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4 Responses to What To Do

  1. Rachel says:

    Missing my girls terribly. This has helped!

    R xxx

  2. Colin says:

    Hi Crasher!

    Great blog again and lovely pictures! Where was that bloody big lake? See – not all Sat Nav’s are foolproof – I was right not to trust mine….. well, er, sort of… 🙂 !!!

    • Val says:

      If you look at the map on the contacts page of the site, and zoom in by ten clicks on the +, the lake is the heart-shaped blue thing to the right of the big A that points to our house. It’s not really very big lol, and you can’t swim in it or owt, but if you come again and stay longer we can show you some really big ones 🙂

  3. Robyn, Alex & Marcus says:

    Thank you for a lovely stay with you! We enjoyed doing nothing. Would like to come and stay with you again some time in the near future maybe when its a bit less hot 😉 .
    Robyn x

    Thank you for letting us stay with you and all your animals. I enjoyed most playing with the dogs. I hope we can come and stay again.See you soon!

    Alex xx

    Thanks for a lovely time. Normandy was lovely (clearly the wealthy end of France?) and not a single petit filou (although Robyn managed to eat her way through a Hyper U supply of Liegeois and Alex tackled the entire milk output of the Normandy herd!) Thank you for a memorable holiday.

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