Monday 7th December 2015

And yet another Birthday!! Happy Birthday Alison x Today would also have been Dorothy's Grandmother's Birthday but sadly she never knew her as she died before Dorothy was born.

We arrived in Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët in the late morning. This is a larger town than some that we have visited. We find the Aire in the centre of the city beside the Church overlooking the lake.

As soon as we go outside for a little walk around it is very noticeable that all the buildings are of the same style, built with the same stone, nothing here is old. A little walk around the main square and then to the Tourist Information Office and we find that during two months in 1944 the town was completely destroyed and subsequently rebuilt.

The translation from the town website says "In 1944, the city is in the middle of the American breakthrough and attack against Mortain. On Wednesday, June 14, the centre is bombed and destroyed almost in its entirety. The city was later rebuilt. Revitalise, relocate, rebuild, those were the watchwords for this new era that was beginning; a renaissance for the city".

The only surviving part of the city was the Tower.

The view of the Church from the Tower......

We decide that as we haven't done anything for Dorothy's recent birthday we would have a midday meal at l'Hôtel Restaurant de l'Agriculture. A very nice meal but as we don't usually eat midday it left us feeling very full for the rest of the day.

We then took a look at the Church and were moved by the colours reflected all around the inside of the Church by the sunlight coming in through the stained glass windows.


Amazing how this light shone onto the stone wall (separate photos of the wall and window)
The Rose Window was not easy to photograph but you get the idea

Preparing for Christmas - the stable is empty


During the evening Dorothy makes a phone call to her Mum who is going into hospital tomorrow for an operation on her arm. Dorothy's Mum is still adamant that we do not come home early so to do so, against her wishes, would probably upset her too much which is not good before her treatment. So our thoughts are now going to be back in England with her until she is safely out of theatre.

Later in the evening we saw the Church steeples lit up through our roof window and just had to go out to see it. Truly stunning.

This city promises to have a very good Wednesday market and that is also the day when the Christmas lights are switched on, so we are really looking forward to that. Also we hope to go back to the Papilon Restaurant for Dorothy's Birthday Meal and we will then move on to a nearby town where they have a very famous Christmas Lights Display. This is looking to be a good week for a change!!

Tuesday

In the early hours the phone rings. It's James to explain that Frankie has been having contractions again and they are monitoring her in the hospital. We decide that we have been there before so lets wait a while to see if this is really it as she is not due until 10th January. So we lay there watching the clock!!! At 6.30 am James phones again to say baby is on the way and should be born sometime soon! So up we get, have a coffee, make a quick call to Dorothy's brother so that her Mum can be told before her op and make the motorhome safe for travelling. We are on the road by 7.45 am to drive over 200 miles back to Dieppe. Of course, it had to be pouring with rain and very dark. France time is an hour different to England. Our (French) mornings are much earlier and darker made up with more lighter evenings than the English have. Whist driving at 9.30 a.m. the phone goes off again and YEAH we are new Grandparents. How can someone as young as Allan be a Granddaddy?. Dorothy makes a quick call to her brother and he is able to tell their Mum that she is a Great Grandmother just before she is taken into theatre. What timing!!

Huge congratulation to James and Frankie on the birth of their baby girl Scarlett Louise. Mum and baby are doing just fine and Scarlett weighed a healthy 5lb 10oz!!

So, yet another Birthday!! Happy Birthday Scarlett from your very, very proud Grandparents xx

Following the long morning drive, we arrive in Dieppe in the early afternoon and drive straight to Ferry Terminal to see if we can get on the next ferry boat back. We are informed that it's fully booked but if we go on the waiting list and come back just before it sails at 6pm then there may be a space, otherwise the morning ferry does have spaces and although will be back in England by 9 in the morning we will not have a good nights sleep as we will have to be up at 4am.

After several texts to Dorothy's brother we now hear that her Mum has come through the operation without any problems and Dorothy's brother is on his way to see her.

So we are now off to Auchan, Dieppe for some quick shopping - not the big shop as planned!

On entering the store we are surprised by the size of the animated Christmas displays in the three main entrances.

Our heads are all over the place but we do manage to pick up some items to take back.
Did we buy this? or 10 bottles of Gin and some wine????

Returning to the ferry terminal at 5pm we find that there is space after all and at a further payment of €43 we are on the 6pm ferry, so we will be home tonight and hope to get a good nights sleep.

It always annoys Allan that the Ferry price is not a done deal and will change (usually upward) quicker than the weather. If you phone and get a good price then phone back later in the day, then the price will have risen, just because you show interest then that is sufficient to increase the price. Get on a bus and the price that you pay is the advertised price, rain or shine, day or night and even on Sunday and Bank holidays. Bus fares are fair, ferry fares are not. (Allan has had his rant now!!)

The weather is calm in Dieppe, not a breath of wind. Dorothy is so pleased!! When we parked up on the lorry deck of the ferry the staff start to anchor the lorries to the deck and place chocks under our wheels. Allan gave the hand break a further tug and puts the engine into gear. Tonight is not going to be smooth crossing (Don't tell Dorothy methinks!).

A very tired but happy Dorothy about to leave Dieppe port. (Little does she know what she is in for!)

Thankfully although the sea was rough there were no problems during the 4 hour ferry trip and we arrive in Newhaven at 9 pm with our stomach's intact. The security has been stepped up and we had our under bed storage checked for people smuggling, twice, once in Dieppe and again in Newhaven.

After calls again to James and Dorothy's brother to check all is well, we finally made our way to our stopover for the night and had a good night's sleep.

Wednesday

So here we are again in Seaford, East Sussex. This starts the next phase of our retirement life.

We woke up to the tractors moving shingle from one end of the beach to the other. This problem of beach movement is called "Long Shore Drift". The reason is because the area is subject to a dominant wind in one direction and the waves break on the beach at an angle, the only way to prevent the shingle drifting from one end of he beach to the other is to use groins to make many, but smaller beach's. The local council thinks that it is better to use (waste) the residents money each year to pay contractors to bring the beach back from one end to the other.

During the morning we make our way to Dorothy's Mum's house to do some laundry and wait for her Mum to return from hospital. Everything is OK and the "poor old dear" (Allan's words!!) looks as if she needs a good rest.

Then in the late afternoon we travel over to Hailsham to finally have Dorothy's Birthday dinner at The George, a Wetherspoon pub and one of the best around. We are there on our way to see James and Frankie and of course our first Grandchild.

So what a beauty. Not just saying this because she is our granddaughter but she is truly, absolutely, wonderful. Frankie is so lucky to have our son James and they are both so lucky and enchanted to have our Granddaughter, Scarlett Louise. Allan thinks that she has been blessed with his good looks.

What a perfect day.

We overnight in Hailsham so that we can visit James again tomorrow.

Thursday

Awoke to another English day, only made better by Croissants and coffee that we had brought from France.

We were so lucky to be able to visit Scarlett again this morning and then we were off to Seaford to visit Great Nanny (Dorothy's Mum Barbara) and to spend the rest of the day with her..

Friday

Again we visit Dorothy's mum and stay for the day. She is progressing well and although the she is suffering mildly from the soreness of the operation, she is no longer in the constant pain that she was before her operation. In the words of her Consultant, "she is a tough old nut" !!!

During the afternoon, as a surprise for Great Nanny, James, Frankie and the little bundle of joy Scarlett, come to visit her. And this noticeably does her a power of good. Scarlett has lost a few ounces of weight which is quite natural. She has lost her chubby little cheeks but she is looking quite beautiful. It will not take too long to recover her original weight and laying there in the arms of Great Nanny with 85 years between them, who knows what the future might hold for little Scarlett. We certainly don't know what will happen from one day to the next!

Saturday

After everything Dorothy's Mum has been through, she is still determined to go to the Theatre today!!! So we collected two of Mum's friends and all of us went to see the Rattonians at the Congress Theatre in Eastbourne where they were performing A Christmas Spectacular. Our nephew Damon Willer and brother Tony are members of the Rattonians. After dropping everyone off at the theatre Allan parked the motorhome as close as possible (a long way away) and ran back to the theatre.

The show was excellent and we all had a wonderful time. It did Dorothy's mother a power of good to see her grandson Damon and the rest of the company putting on a tremendous show. And also to know that Dorothy's brother was in the stage crew and also taking the show photographs.

After the show while collecting the party again, Dorothy's nephew Damon spotted us in the motorhome and joined us complete with chips and mushy peas! where he was photographed in what his co-stars called (his Tour Bus)!

Photo credit D. Redmond................... Our Mohawk is now Damon's Official Tour Bus!

After dropping off Mum's friends we went back to Seaford for a fish and chip supper.

Sunday

As Tony was still at the Rattonian show for another performance we visited Mum. Her shoulder is progressing very nicely and her stitches are out next week.

 

Well that certainly was quite a week.

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