Tuesday, August 07, 2007

And we're off

Day 1: 29 juillet, dimanche

We left right on time, at 10:00. The weather was a little rainy and still cool, perfect driving weather. Our destination was Pas de Calais, in Northern France, where Stéph's parents rent a gite every year to visit the area where they grew up, as well and family and friends. We stopped at the usual stopping place, and thanks to the bad weather, ate our packed lunch in the car. Since the bar we usually go to for a coffee and to stretch our legs was closed, we drove on to the next village, where we stopped into a bar/fishing shop. The people were nice, although it was kind of a surreal experience, with the woman running the bar carrying on a loud conversation with her regulars and some guy that literally ran in and asked for a glass of water with a beer chaser, "to replenish his electrolytes." He had either lost or was born without hands, and had a curious contraption strapped onto one wrist, which helped him to pick things up. They were all quite friendly but a little odd, and we left before we could catch any crazy.

By the time we reached the gite, the weather had cleared up and it was suddenly sunny and gorgeous. The gite was pretty small, and we were sharing a really small space with Stéph's parents and his younger sister, her partner and their gorgeous little girl, our niece C. C is only 10 months old and this was her first overnight stay away from home, so it was kind of a rough night. I did manage to finish Harry Potter before going to bed.

Day 2: 30 juillet, lundi

Stéph slept on the couch, so he wouldn't wake the rest of us up when he and his father left early to go fishing. He still came upstairs and woke me up anyway. With the menfolk gone, I took my MIL to the local grocery, which was actually the nicest grocery I've ever seen. Not the biggest, but really nice. Anyway, we picked up a few things and drove back to the gite. Then my SIL, BIL, baby C and I went to see how the menfolk were doing. The fishing camp is really huge and thanks to the good weather, it was pretty packed. We found them at the very last pond. Stéph hadn't caught very many but he was enjoying himself. They had another hour to fish so we came back and had lunch. Once the guys came back with 14 trout, pretty much everyone except me and my MIL had a nap. She cleaned the fish while I started a new knitting project.

We had hoped to go to a local craft store but C was catching up on some much needed sleep so we let her rest. Instead, we went to say hello to Stéph's aunt and uncle, who live two villages over. They have a beautiful home with a nice big yard and lots of space for Uncle to indulge in his hobbies. He is a master woodscraftsman and his latest passion is restoring old cars from the frame all the way up to restitching the interior. Once we said our goodbyes, Stéph and I packed up our things and most of the fish and headed to our next destination - Stéph's older sister and family were renting a gite only half an hour away. We arrived just in time for dinner - barbecued trout. We enjoyed a great dinner outdoors and watched an old movie on tv while Stéph worked on the inflatable mattress.

And that is how we spent our third wedding anniversary.

Day 3: 31 juillet, mardi

After the cramped space with the MIL and all, we slept very well on the inflatable mattress. We had to keep our staying there kind of hush hush, since the place was only rated for four people, but we managed. In the morning, Stéph and I took our two nieces to check out the museum at Azincourt. (Yes, Squishy, THAT Azincourt!!) For those of you that are not quite up on your French/English/Shakespeare history, this is the place where Henry V and his army beat the snot out of the French in 1415. There is a very small interactive museum which covers the history leading up to and including the battle, the weapons and armor of the period and a short show in both French and English. Then we got in the car and rode around the battlefield, pausing at a memorial before heading back for lunch.

the battle of azincourt
click on the picture to go to the flickr site, where you can read the board in the large size.

the battlefield
the battlefield

For lunch, we had MIL, C and her parents over to join us for a barbecue. After fattening ourselves up on some sausages and pork chops, Stéph and I and the four we were staying with went to the beach to walk it all off.

berck sur mer

Berck-sur-Mer is only about half an hour away from where we were staying. It's a wonderful beach but it can be really crowded. Last time we were here, the weather was lousy and the beach was nearly deserted, but this time the sun was shining and the weather was perfect, so I wouldn't say it was packed, like I imagine beaches in the South of France are right now, but there was a good crowd. The six of us headed directly to the water and walked along the beach for a good hour before heading back up to the boardwalk, where we reversed all the good we did walking by enjoying some nice big ice cream sundaes. On the way back, we stopped at the big shopping center to pick up supplies for yet another barbecue for the next day. Another movie and a few more rows of knitting finished up the day.

Next time: Stéph and I head out on our own.

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