Monday, 20 July 2009

Les vacances

We are back from our week in Normandy and, as is always the case with holidays, it’s already fading away amid the mists of the daily grind.

We had a lovely time and, whatever anyone else says about going away with one’s in-laws or parents, we didn’t have any issues. Rosemary adored having her grandparents to keep her amused, and keep her amused they most certainly did. She was so exhausted on Sunday evening, after they left that she fell asleep on the armchair at around 5.20pm, watching Wonder Pets.

One of the benefits of going with Grandma and Grandpa was that we had Grandpa to drive us around. The beautiful house where we were based, isn’t really hugely accessible by public transport (though not impossible). But having a driver with us meant we could go somewhere every day. We went to the beach a couple of times (once near Granville and another time near Bayeux), went to Mont St Michel (what an amazing place), saw the Bayeux tapestry, went boating on a local lake (not me, I just watched – have a phobia about small boats; scary enough just watching), visited a few markets, and even explored an Enchanted Village.

We ate lots of lovely food, though my pregnancy meant I had to forego many of the gorgeous cheeses. I made do with Port Salut, Tomme and Emmental, all of which are lovely, but would have liked some Camembert. Most of our meals consisted of salad with bread and cheese (and various cold meats, for those who indulge – i.e. everyone but me) and they were delicious and very substantial meals. We did have some cooked meals and we had lunch out a couple of times, the first time being pretty useless for me (I had a big bowl of frites, though did have a very nice dessert) and the second time being pizza, so very nice, with a very refreshing sorbet for dessert (it was an incredibly hot day).

The weather was pretty good for us. It rained in the morning quite often, but was usually very hot by the afternoon. We made the mistake of forgetting the sun cream a couple of times because it was so cloudy and wet in the morning. Thursday, when we went to Bayeux, visited some of the Normandy Landing beaches (Chris would be able to me which, but he’s out at the pub quiz at the moment) and then went to the beach, was absolutely scorching and was followed by a stunning thunderstorm later that evening. Friday was wet most of the day, but we still managed to visit the market in Brecey, the Enchanted Village and the waterfall in Mortain. Calmer weather would have been much appreciated on the ferry home, though. I don’t normally get seasick, but I found that being rocked about considerably at the same time as being danced on from within is quite a good combination for causing nausea. Luckily I managed to resist and Eleanor settled down about half way across.

Rosemary was pretty brilliant. She had a few smallish strops, but mostly was just really happy and loving. She really didn’t like being stuck in the car, though got used to it by the end and was quite good. She would say ‘I’m not going to cry in the car.’ whenever she got in – trying to persuade herself as much as us, I think. She really loved the swimming pool at the house (I did not manage to go in; tried once but it was too cold and was a complete wimp and didn’t try again; though did go in the sea on Thursday) and the ‘park’ next door (swingset, seesaw and roundabout in the owners’ garden, which we were allowed to use). She loved playing with her Grandma and Grandpa and especially enjoyed Grandpa’s stamina in letting her climb all over him (metaphorically as well as literally). She loved having croissants for breakfast and was particularly keen on getting to have hot chocolate or an ice cream whenever we went to a cafe. She loved the beach, especially on Thursday when she could go in the sea without shivering too much.

The house was lovely and I would definitely recommend it. The price was very reasonable, too (though we were treated by Chris’ parents, so didn’t have to worry about that side of things). I’m hoping we may be able to go back there again in future years, with Eleanor. They had some really beautiful pieces of furniture and had thought of most things a British family would need (the owners are British), including things like extension leads with multi-point English sockets on, a kettle, an iron and even Sky TV (though just Freeview unless you bring your own Sky Viewing Card). The garden was lovely and we ate outside on the decking overlooking the pool almost every night and sat outside on the swinging seat, reading into the evening. The views from the house and garden were lovely. In fact, the main adjectives I would use to describe the house are ‘lovely’ and ‘beautiful’. It was pretty clean and tidy, but not so perfect that you would feel uncomfortable taking your shoes off or eating pasta sauce. Just right, really.

Oh yes, and we saw extraordinary numbers of fields of corn. And lots of cows. I will never not recognise a field of corn again. In fact, we saw one on the journey home on this side of the channel.

I got to do lots of relaxing, too. I did some cooking (or chopping up salad), some washing up and hung the clothes out once. But I got lots of time to put my feet up and read and enjoy watching other people run round chasing Rosemary. It as nice to have a week away from work, and even away from the Internet (shock, horror). And it was lovely to spend some quality time with husband, daughter, and mother- and father-in-law, when we were all at our happiest and not stressed about Christmas or work or screaming babies or anything like that.


  1. Glad you had such a wonderful time, it sounds fab. So gutted for you though as camembert is my favorite cheese in the whole world....mmmmmm yummy x

  2. Glad you had a good time.

    France without soft cheese is a bit of a bummer, though.

  3. It sounds wonderful, glad you had a good time.
    After I had my babies the first thing my husband bought me was some stinky cheese!!

  4. Thanks all. The soft cheese embargo was indeed difficult. Chris has a list of food stuffs to get in/make for me when baby arrives - camembert and goat's cheese, fried eggs with runny yolks and we have a bottle of Kir Royal sat in the basement, so I can have a glass of that (another thing I usually have when in France!). I'm also thinking maybe I'll run off to France for a few days with Eleanor next year and stuff my face!

  5. Sounds lovely you have inspired me to be more adventurous for our next summer holiday.

  6. Ooh welcome home - just clicked on the link to that house and it's looks beauiful. I bet it was hard to pack up...Sounds like you all had a fantatsic time - well derserved. xxx
    PS - Renée loves croissants too!

  7. Just found you through Maternal Tales. Sounds like you had an amazing vacation. I've travelled with the in-laws too and had a great time:)
    Love your blog!

  8. Oh that sounds great. No holiday for us this year but worth it obviously.

    Pate and runny yolks. I am dreaming of both. Guilt free pear cider. Eggs mainly though, fried, poached and boiled with soldiers. Mmmmm.

    The cheese thing has been okay for me as I am not a fan of the soft stinky varieties!

  9. Quels merveilleuses vacances! J'aimerais bien t'accompagner la prochaine fois :)

    I love family holidays; we are lucky enough to have three this year, with different sets of parents. I love seeing the children build their relationships with their grandparents, and it's always nice to have a few extra helping hands...

  10. ouch - mixed genders. Vacances is masculine, isn't it? Quels merveilleux vacances - is that better?

  11. Zooarchaeologist: It has certainly made me determined to try to do something every year, if possible, despite always being a bit shocked at the idea of spending loads of money on a week or two that will be forgotten within a few days. It's worth it.

    Emily: It was a beautiful house. I could quite happily have moved in, except that I'd probably want to be somewhere a little closer to some shops.

    ModernMom: Hello and welcome. Good to know there are others who enjoy holidaying with in-laws!

    Dancinfairy: Yes, eggs are really getting to me. Especially as we have a Friday tradition of eggs, chips and beans and I have perfected the fried eggs so that the whites are perfect, while the yolks are just the right runniness to dip the chips in. Then I have to turn mine over and cook the yolks until they're hard. No doubt, I'll have lost the knack completely by October!

    MTJAM: Three! I am very jealous. Helping hands are definitely useful. I wonder how we'll cope the first time we try it just us. Quelles merveilleuses vacances, I believe. Chris saw your comment in the sidebar and said 'Someone's criticising your French on your blog!' then he realised you were criticising your own French. Was amusing to have him point out a comment on my blog to me from across the room, though.

  12. Sounds like you had a great time. We took my parents to the Isle of Wight this year and it was great. We were able to do our own thing and spend time with them, plus they babysat which was an added bonus!