‘Crist and alle his sayntes slept.’

Today I headed up to Barfleur. This is the port where the “White Ship” ran into rocks and sank with the loss of all 300 souls on board including the legitimate and sole male heir of Henry I. The result of this was twenty brutal years of civil war. This is also the shipwreck that starts the epic novel by Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth. This is a must read for anyone interested in medieval cathedral building and life in general in the Middle Ages. The research this man did is prodigious and the book is one I dare you to pick up. You won’t put it down till you’ve finished it. 

It was another beautiful day. Again blue sky and quite mild although I didn’t think it was as warm as yesterday. Maybe because I was so close to the sea. The drive was lovely, very rural, and heading north west so I drove by the American beaches. I spotted this statue. It was quite impressive. Many museums and there must have been a place to rent old army jeeps as I saw several driving around. I stopped at a random 13th century church. No information anywhere, just the sign out front that it was 13th century. The tourist office was closed too. I wandered the church yard and this was the oldest grave I saw. Doubtless there are older but perhaps the bodies are disinterred to make room for newer ones. I also noticed an odd custom of numerous plaques places on the graves. They look like they come from different family members, perhaps in lieu of flowers and a permanent addition to the grave. Something personal reflecting the person buried, a hunter, farmer, beloved uncle. I thought it looked very nice. I ate one of the pears I bought the other day in the market. Perfectly ripe, juicy– none of that horrible grainy texture you get with pears at home. These are picked ripe. Then I continued on to Barfleur. It’s just a sleepy little town now, only fishing boats, but several lively restaurants on the wharf. I chose one, only to be told they were complet by the snooty waiter. You get these ones everywhere, I’ve had them in Canada. No problem, I just carried on to the next restaurant, a real bustling place. I was seated next to a very nice couple out on the patio (but under a shelter). They had their little dog with them as everyone does. You take your dog everywhere–it’s your kids you leave behind. (Actually, everywhere I went was very child friendly too–very well behaved these children–but everyone is accepting of kids and dogs. Maybe not tourists.)

I had a pot of mussels and a bowl of frites. Yummy!! With a quarter of rose to wash them down with. Then a wander up and down the wharf. Another old church, and a lovely beach. Loved the tile floor in the old church. The tallest lighthouse in Europe was just down the road so I headed out to have a look. 22 stories high!! On the way I spotted a windmill but it was surrounded by trees so pictures were almost impossible. Then time to head home. I didn’t want to drive in the dark and packing up all my treasures was starting to weigh heavy on me. I hate packing. But once home I made a cup of tea, and having hauled everything upstairs this morning, I set to work. And wonder of wonder it all fits. The suitcase weighs a ton but it rolls and I haven’t got far to go. Onto the train then onto the subway then into the hotel. The hotel doesn’t have a lift but I can go slowly. Almost over, my Normandy excursion. Two days in Paris and then home. 

Canadian eh??

Today was an emotional day. 

Time change last night so it was bright out by the time I went down for breakfast. Blue blue sky. It promised to be a great day. There were actually quite a few people at breakfast, two couples and a family. I didn’t speak much, shy in the company of many people to speak French but my radar went into a frenzy when talk turned to markets. There was a Sunday market. All shyness disappeared and I asked questions and made our hosts show me on a map exactly where it was. Then everyone wanted to talk to me, where am I from, why am I there, how do I speak such good French. I always like this last one. I don’t think I speak very well but I like to hear that others think so. And most important they say I have a good accent. I was always horrified at the bad accents my kids’ French teachers had. Especially the kindergarten teacher. Honestly, they sounded terrible. And then we got into the topic of Québécois french. Ooh la la. When I was in Moncton teaching English to the first year French students I was kinda sorta pleased their grammar wasn’t any better than mine till I realized it was their first language. Then I was shocked. Their accent was so anglicized. But they didn’t speak English. Especially from the Gaspe region and the Acadians. Terrible French, with every second word some bastardized English word–for example: j’ai hookee mes speakers hier. Or: j’ai parkee la char la bas. But in high school my teacher took pride in his accent and studied every year in France. So I hope I speak well. I can tell you I’ve had lots of practice this trip. 

 I had to stop on the road to take a picture. There was no traffic and I love these roads. 

Anyway, market!!And was it great or what. Look at these leeks!!  Have you ever seen such beautiful leeks?!?Lots of veggies, and cheese, and meats–but the fish!! Of course it was a small port village and every one and their dog was out. Seriously. They all had their dogs, from Heinz 57’s to grey hounds and whippets and other blue bloods. And the cooked foods. I don’t know where these huge couscousieres come from but there were many and all filled to the brim with all kinds of yummy looking things. The only dish I was a little iffy on was the seafood sauerkraut. Yeah, that’s what I thought too. But it was the first pan to be emptied. I wish I had bought some roast chicken for supper but I wasn’t thinking ahead. Anyway, up and down the market then into town. Usually on Sunday everything is bunged up tighter than a frogs what’s it but all shops were open today. There was a line up down the street for the bakery and a man was playing his accordion for change. Lots of families and old people and dogs. It was great. I wasn’t hungry and the next little town was just minutes away so I headed out on my way to Juno beach. I stumbled across this little restaurant and was I ever lucky. I was the last person allowed in. Everyone else was turned away. Can you believe, the end of October and I’m eating outside en plein air. Unbelievable. Hot and sunny, I had pommeau and a scallop dish. They are in season now and judging by the feeding frenzy of the locals at the last market, very popular. There was a couple with a bathtub full of still in the shell scallops loading them into the back of their car. I asked if they had a restaurant. No, Monsieur said, looking at me like I was crazy. For the freezer!! Then as I had a good parking spot, after lunch I walked along the beach. This was by Arromanches where the Port of Churchill was built. A sectioned wharf constructed in London then sunk into rivers so as not to be seen by the Germans, then towed across the channel to set up a harbour. The largest harbour in the world set up in a matter of days and many sections are still visible off the beach. I read in my book about a 360 degree movie which was behind me but only a few kms away so I headed back. This is where the day gets emotional for me. Vintage reels put together to form nine screens of moving images of the days leading up to the invasion and the invasion itself. So many killed. It’s hard to think that my son is now older than my father was when he was conscripted and that my father grew up as a soldier. They said that they were mostly young, late teens. 25 was already old. And all volunteers, the Canadians, that is. Then back up the beaches to the Juno visitor centre. This was very interesting too. On the outside they had some bizarre beehive things that only after I walked by them a few times did I realize they were a display of names. Hard to read and grouped the way they were, were not very impressive. Sort of looked like some kind of air conditioning units. I’m not sure why this shape was chosen. And then it was getting dark and I wanted to get home. The sunset was stunning but driving at dusk on these narrow winding roads was pretty stressful. I was glad to get home. Now this is where the chicken would have come in handy but I had bread and butter and cheese so that was supper. I was still full from lunch. There’s is a kettle in the room so I had a nice cup of tea and after I write this it will be time for bed. I have to bring my suitcase up tomorrow and all my goodies and see about packing. I think I will head up the coast tomorrow to Barfleur and see another little fishing village. Enough death and destruction–my goodness it’s a wonder the beaches aren’t still red with blood. What a sacrifice. 

Market day

I had the best sleep. It was supposed to be time change last night. An hour back so an extra hour of sleep. I slept right thru to 8:10. I hurried to make my 8:30 breakfast and had another nice visit with Madame and Monsieur. I packed up and headed out to Avranches. Market day today and I needed to get to the Orange shop. I found it no problem and had a wander around the market. The market was just sort of strung out along a few street off the very small town square. 

These are bottles of “lait cru”, raw milk. And the famous raw milk cheeses. I’m not allowed to bring these back into Canada.  I just love French markets. I wish I could have bought things to cook or better yet gone home with some of the patrons and let them do the cooking. So many wonderful things. I bought a belt cause my pants are falling off me. Not sure why, I’m eating like a pig. But walking lots too. I found the Orange store no problem and got some more time on my phone. I didn’t ask what was going on. It seems to work just fine outside of the house so I think it was just thick walls. Anyway, I’ll be home soon. I just have to limp thru a few more days. Then back on the road to Saint Lo. And it was market day there too!! Those were very alive and angry crabs. In fact all the seafood was alive except for the fish which was probably very alive up until it was displayed. So I got to wander around a bigger market. People were lined up about twenty deep at two different sausage stands and it was getting to be lunch time. I had thought to find some mussels but the thought of missing out on a sausage in a baguette made me cue up too. I wasn’t disappointed. It was juicy and flavourful and the baguette was just enough bread. Lots of smoky flavour from the charcoal. I walked along the city walls while I’m munched. You can see the smoke from the grill behind the tower. They had a funny display in front of the church. The flowering kale were amazing and something with water and pianos and chairs. Very colourful. Then back on the road to Bayeux. I spotted a sign for a scenic route along the river so I turned off the bigger road–which was also pretty rural, and took the scenic route. But the signage wasn’t great and I zigged when I should have zagged but anyway I got to Bayeux around three. I found a parking spot and headed in to see the tapestry. It was fantastic. No photos allowed!! The colours were absolutely vivid and there was a real effort to show movement and depth with hair flowing in the wind to suggest speed and the insides of the horses legs a different colour to suggest depth and shadows. An audio guide was provided so there was a running commentary as you walked the length of the tapestry. When it was over I went back and did it again so I didn’t miss anything. Amazing that this length of cloth is one thousand years old. Unbelievable!! I’m almost thinking I should go back tomorrow and see it again. Then I did some wandering while looking for some place to eat. I was thinking mussels. But the lady at the bnb emailed and said they were going out for the night and I should be there by seven so I packed up and headed out. Amazing how you go from complete urban area to fields in just a few minutes. This bnb is an old farm, it was getting dark already when I pulled in. I was shown the breakfast room, laundry room and bedroom. Very nice. Then the young couple headed out to their soirée and I did laundry. No tv in the room–just as well. Just background noise anyway. I pulled out my Normandy guide book and read for a bit. It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow so I think I’ll head out to the beaches and check those out. 

It’s a small world

I was awake this morning at five. I don’t know why. I just woke up. The darned seagulls go off about this time, right outside my window which I kept wide open and the heat turned off. I notice here in Europe everywhere the heat is turned up high. Impossible to wander a store without breaking into a sweat yet I see the locals all suited up in their winter gear seemingly quite comfortable in the heat. It was just bearable with the window open but still too warm to sleep really well. Anyway, every morning, the darn seagulls. Maybe they put the garbage out at this time, or feed them??
I did most of my packing last night. I did buy one or two things. Fitting it all into my suitcase is the perennial problem. I checked out but sat in the lovely reading room in the hotel and read my book after breakfast. I had too much gear to wander with and it was too early to go down to the ferry. I really quite enjoyed the comfy wingback chair with a great view over the gardens and ocean. I sat for a couple hours then figured I should start moving towards the terminal. I stopped at the little Italian deli on the way and had a good coffee while I read one more chapter. Then to the terminal. And guess who I found there?!? This lovely young lady from home!!! What a coincidence!! Of course I knew she was in Paris working as an au pair but to run into her here, in the middle of no where. Quelle coincidence!!! So we visited and made the crossing back together. She said she thought she recognized me on the ride over but wasn’t sure. But I recognized that pretty smile right away. It’s too bad. We were there for the same week. We could have gone for supper together. Anyway she was on her way to the train station and when we arrived in St Malo I gave her a ride to the gare. I made it back to my b&b and Monsieur was out washing his car. He showed me the old Citroen he had in the garage. Tres chic!! We had a nice visit till bed. Polished off the last of the booze I was carrying around.  They were such a nice couple. Reminded me of my next door neighbours, Fred and Madeline, from when I lived in town. Except le Monsieur isn’t so grumpy 😜. They are retired farmers, used to working very hard and everything in the house (and outside) is just so. God forbid a blade of grass is out of place and the house has no clutter–but also no character. Not that it needs as much character as my house but something that shows who the people are that live there would be nice. 

My phone worked all the way here but now has stopped again so I’m thinking it’s maybe the house?? Maybe the walls are too thick? I don’t understand. But hopefully it works en route tomorrow or it could be a long trip to Bayeux.

Fresh air and exercise 

I had such a great sleep last night. Up early and down to the day dining room where I polished off a full English breakfast. Only one egg, one sausage and I asked for my tomato raw!!  I can’t believe I ate the whole thing 😋😋

I had full intentions of going cliff walking. The lady at the folk museum yesterday said she thought the south cliffs were the nicest for walking and as I came here to walk, amongst other things, I thought I should give them a go. But once down town I thought I would poke into a few shops to see what kind of souvenirs I could pick up tomorrow morning before I catch the ferry. But I stopped here and there and bought this and that…I mean it might not be there when I went shopping tomorrow and anyway, I never have luck finding things a second time. So before hiking, I filled my back pack with purchases. How crazy is that!!!!!

At the bus station I met the nicest woman. She had come to the island just after the war. People always ask when they hear I’m from Canada, why have I come so far?  I always tell the the truth , that my father had been here during the war as part of the occupying force and they have always been so generous. They all say, well it didn’t matter what side you were on, they all had families. She said that the regular German soldiers were very nice, mostly homesick young boys and they were good to the locals, always warning them when the brass was coming (Gestapo, senior German officers, or the SS) so they would keep an eye on the kids so they weren’t getting into trouble. Then once on the bus an older gentleman told me how he was evacuated at one year old to go live with grandparents in Lancaster. He said he met his family again when he was six. How sad. He said they didn’t have it too bad during the war but when he came back he was always made to feel bad that he hadn’t been there during the war by his cousins and the other kids in school. Kids are cruel. And I met a lady cab driver who said her family was German, her dad had come back after the war to marry her mom. Anyway, very nice people. 

I got off the bus up at the trail head and began to walk back along the cliffs. It was gorgeous. 

I stopped part way for a couple of smushed mince tarts (Marks and Spencer) delicious!! And such a nice view!!  But it was hard walking, lots of ups and downs and ins and outs. Definitely not a straight line or simple path but oh so pretty. It could use more signage but I really enjoyed it. I didn’t get as far as I wanted to–after about three hours I figured I should get out while the getting was good. I was close to civilization and a gentleman on the path said their was a bus stop about 20 minutes away. It was a long twenty minutes. I rambled on the way home and was lucky enough to catch the bus. I had supper here at my hotel and it so hit the spot. I was STARVING!!  A king prawn salad spiced with chilies and ginger. Just excellent. And then I wanted pasta and they had one that was just perfect. I’m always amazed at how hot the food it. The plates are heated which keeps the food hot–so civilized. Now I’m watching Rosemary and Thyme–a British detective program that I’ve seen at home. The remains of the current roll I bought are calling my name. I’ll just make a spot of tea and indulge. Back to France tomorrow. It’s been a lovely stay here in Guernsey. 

When I was a kid we’d go to the Safeway on Fridays to do our grocery shopping. Mom always bought smoked kippers and tossed them in the oven on our return. We were allowed to eat in front of the tv on this night as my favourite show was on. Batman!!  The one with the kapows, and Adam West, and my favorite cutie pie Robin, with his “holy (fill in the blank) Batman!!”  We sat at the coffee table and ate our kipper with our fingers while mom and dad ate in the kitchen while putting the groceries away. I don’t remember that many bones. But the flavour was so good. We loved these smoked kippers. I have purchased them every now and then but I don’t think they are the same as all–I don’t think they are really smoked, perhaps just marinated in a smoky flavouring. Of course none of our friends ate kippers. It was just one of those weird foods we ate in our house. 

This morning I had a kipper. It was perfectly cooked and smoked but sooo many bones. Are you supposed to just eat the small bones?  I think it just a labour of love, meant to be savoured and enjoyed slowly, picking out the bones the best way possible. Anyway, it was enough for breakfast with my bowl of prunes and another of grapefruit. 

Then I was off to the far side of the island. When I took the bus around I had seen a section of beach I wanted to walk. It also happened to be close to the folk museum. It was a lovely walk on the beach, I found some cool shells and a few pieces of sea glass. Then I found the trail head to a nature walk which lead the mile or so to the folk museum. What a lovely walk down narrow twisty lanes. And the museum was fascinating. My favourite part was the pig pen. I know, weird right? But it was just so perfect, stone walls, stone floor and a stone chute thru which you could pour the food into a stone tub on the inside of the pen. A drain in one corner, easy to clean, the liquid waste draining out the corner. I wish I had one. I’d raise pigs in them. And then I walked back to the main road. I wanted an afternoon tea, with sandwiches, dainties, scones, cream,  jam and tea. My poor waiter. He just couldn’t understand what I wanted. There was an afternoon tea on the menu but it was for two people. I asked if they could just make one for me as I wanted some savory with the sweet. He said he would try. But it was just too complicated. He kept trying to sell me a cream tea, just scones, cream and jam. But he said he would check then came back and said, yes, the chef could do it for me.  Well he came back with scones, apple cake, and a couple of cream puffs. Sigh. He tried. The scones and cream were to die for. So good. But really, cream puffs are my least favourite thing unless I make them, so they got left. But I inhaled everything else. Then I got back on the bus to town. I did a little shopping on the way to the taxi stand–after a day traipsing around the ocean I can NOT  climb all the way back up to the hotel.  Supper is smelling really good in the hotel but I’m stuffed to the brim. Just having a schnapps now as I’m writing this and off to bed soon. Maybe a little English tv. 😊

A proper cup of tea

North Americans take up a lot of space. Not just literally but I think because we are so used to having so much room all the time, the bubble around us is huge. When I was in Japan there were of course many many people. But no one bumped into anyone else. I went into many stores and in moving around, the Japanese people, their bubble, was so small they never got in each other’s way. I did but they never did. Not like us at Walmart–running into each other, stepping on toes or heels, knocking carts. In Europe the bubble is not as small as Japan but certainly smaller than North America. My room is tiny and the bathroom is minuscule. But really. I’m just sleeping here. I don’t need much room. But I would like a bigger shower and hotter water. Details of previous trips sometimes disappear–but this morning I was very much reminded of the three weeks my sister, her son and I spent in England in the mid nineties. The showers all tiny and the water never hot. We are on a totally difference land mass yet these features remain constant. How?? 
It rained during the night. I could hear it hitting the glass roof of the courtyard. But the sky was blue blue. Anyway, before breakfast, to work up an appetite I went out for a brisk stroll in the park adjacent to the hotel. Lots of early morning dog walkers and the mornings no couldn’t have been nicer. Fresh from the rain and the sun was already warm. It was a lovely walk. 
Breakfast was amazing. I love stewed prunes and they had a big bowlful. There’s just something about the Brits and fiber. The other fruit, which I also love, was sectioned grapefruit. Yellow, not red but I had a big bowl of each fruit. All the cereals were some sort of high fiber hay and straw mix. And then the main event. Please note the perfect cup of tea. A full English fry up. I asked for a smaller portion–one egg instead of two, one sausage instead of two–but it was still a healthy serving of protein. It was all delish. There was also a kipper option which I will have tomorrow. Then I headed downtown to catch the bus to the German Occupation Museum. It was very interesting. I spoke to the owner of the museum which is his private collection. He wasn’t really very helpful, but after I’d been thru the museum I tried again and he seemed to warm up a little. There was a section on horses and a photo that I thought looked like my father. A very poor photo but maybe? The owner said I would need much more information and I will try over the winter to track down my fathers’ service record. I don’t even know if he was on this island, or Jersey. The way he spoke about it I always assumed it was both. Then I walked to the “little church”. Walking on the main roads is definitely not for the faint of heart but walking in the small lane ways is beautiful. A birds’ eye view into back and front yards. There are many free range chickens and often an honesty box out front with eggs for sale and a box for the money. This a small chapel built by a French priest out of shells and pieces of broken crockery. It was all covered in scaffolding for cleaning and repair but the inside was open and completely stunning. 

From here it was just a short walk to the underground hospital complex. This was quite an eerie and solemn place. Built by slave labourers imported to the islands to do this labour intensive work. They were mostly Eastern Europeans imprisoned by the German army, treated badly, and then thrown into the sea when no longer useful. After all there were many more to replace them. They were not fed, often turned loose at night to “forage”, and expected to return to continue work the next day. Many islanders fed them, risking their own freedom. The work they did here, to built this hospital complex, among many other projects is just amazing. The tunnels are cold and damp and haunted I’m sure. The guide said that last week he’d had someone in who’d had a medical procedure done here and another man in a previous year said he’d had a metal plate put in his skull here. It was used really only for those injured during the D Day invasions. 

So from here I was really done walking and caught the bus that goes around the island. For one whole pound you can hop on the bus and ride for an hour around the island. I saw many things I will go back to explore but tomorrow I will take my jacket. It had been a warm day but it cooled quickly in the early evening and I was quite chilled by the time I was done. I had a quick bite to eat in a pub–a beef Guinness stew–perfectly delicious but nothing special. I treated myself to a taxi back up the hill and then had problems with my email again. But all is working now. Think I’ll watch a little telly and then bed. 

Island life

This morning I slept in. I forgot to set my alarm and slept till 8:00. Lots of time to get ready. I made arrangements with madam to sleep here Friday in my return from Guernsey (if I made it onto the ferry). Then a quick pack up and on the road to St. Malo. My phone wasn’t getting signal again this morning although it did work long enough to have a video chat with my sister. So I headed out the wrong way till I got signal but got turned around pretty quick. A nice detour thru a rural area. St Malo wasn’t that far and I found the ferry terminal right away. I had been hoping to also find an Orange store too but as I’m heading for Britain now there’s not really much point. I’ll try to find one on Friday. I found the long term parking and threw a few things in a bag. I don’t want to hump my suitcase across the channel. And just like that I was on the ferry. I wouldn’t have wanted to be any later. I had just enough to time to park, collect my things, buy a ticket and wait ten minutes for the shuttle to the boat. I had such good signal I loaded a few pictures before it crapped out. On board I found my seat, beside an older couple from Alderney. They wanted to know why I was travelling and I told them I was on a pilgrimage to find out about my fathers’ war service. The man seemed to have connections and took my name, my fathers’ name and my email. He thought he could find out a few things. I moved to a window seat as the boat is not full, hoping there was wifi on board but of course not. And now I’ve had my picnic lunch, am caught up on my blog so I’ll just enjoy the view. A two hour ride and I’ll be there. I did find a few possible hotels but made no booking in case I didn’t make the ferry. 
So now I’m here and well settled in to my hotel. It is as British as is possible–a rabbit warren of hallways and levels, half levels, twists and turns. Very Mr Bean. A charming little room. God forbid I have to try to find my way out in a fire. And importantly a window that opens. I stopped at the tourist office and made the booking. Then I took a cab up the hill, because of course, this being a port town, most of the town is situated on the steep hills behind the harbour. And I realized that of course they drive on the wrong side of the road here. I just couldn’t figure out what was going on–the traffic was all over the place and so fast. I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. After I checked in I got organized and made a supper reservation. There is a food festival on here in Guernsey and this hotel is part of it–a set menu showcasing the islands’ chefs and specialties. Then I headed downtown. It was easier to walk down than it would be to walk up. First thing was to get drink. I had a cider at the White Hart Pub. Then I just wandered around. I did find a phone shop and picked up a SIM card so now I have good signal again. I caught the bus back up the hill and had a nice walk to my hotel. Then the luxury of English television for half an hour before supper. Supper was very good. I started with a dark ale. Pumpkin soup, a Scottish filet steak with peppercorns and creme brûlée for dessert. Coffee was awful. I should have known better. Will stick to tea perhaps. I think before my full English breakfast tomorrow I should go and have a brisk walk around the park. Plans for tomorrow: I want to get the Museum of the German Occupation first thing after breakfast and just see what there. Must digest now…

Hand of god

Actually the finger of the archangel Michael. The bishop of Avranches had a dream that the archangel Michael spoke to him, telling him to built an abbey on the island in the bay. He ignored this vision twice and the third time, to get his attention, the archangel touched the bishop on the head. And he built the abbey. Small at first then larger and larger till it became what it is now. The proof is in the skull of the bishop, a finger shaped hole where he was touched by the angel. His skull is now a relic in Avranches. 

I have been having problems with my phone service. I couldn’t connect last night and can’t connect now. I got connection for part of the day but there wasn’t enough oomph to load pictures for my blog and again tonight I can’t do anything. It is frustrating to say the least. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. If not maybe a wifi connection will work and failing that I’ll just have to go back to the Orange store and see if they can fix it. 

My eye is so itchy. If my sister was here she would have had her medical kit out and forced me to take Benedryl. I have an antihistamine with me but I never take pills so I never even thought of it till this morning. I should have taken one last night. But I took one this morning and another one just now. It’s feeling better already. 
Today I had breakfast with the couple I’m staying with. They are retired dairy farmers and the wife misses the farm a lot–the husband not at all as it was too much work. Their house is massive and specially built to be a bed and breakfast. They have not much furniture, it seems to be more of a show home than a home home. The rooms are so empty they echo and they keep the heat very low in the downstairs. It’s great for sleeping and even though it’s in a busy road, it’s quiet in my room. I couldn’t manage any breakfast. It’s just too early for me but I had a couple hot chocolates. The coffee was not agreeing with me yesterday. But I took a couple pieces of bread and a croissant for later. 
I headed out to Mont St Michel and found a parking spot close to the shuttles. It was blue blue sky and really quite nice. The shuttle was quick and we arrived at a point on the causeway where we had a great view of the abbey. When I was at the abbey last it was when we traveled as a family thru Europe. I was thirteen I think. We were driving by and my mom spotted the sign and made my father turn around. I have very few memories. I remember black stones. Lots of stairs. An ice cream cone. I think we parked on the sand right at the base of the abbey and there weren’t many people. Huge difference to today. I stopped at the tourist office for a map. It was a really shit map. For a world heritage site you’d think they could do better than that. But off I went climbing the million steps to the top. I wanted to go to the mass, today being Sunday, so I had to buy a ticket. But this got me access to an English language tour which was even better than the mass. Our guide was personable and knowledgeable and very French. Tres chic. We toured the abbey and the crypts underneath. Amazing the way it was built. It was begun in the ninth century and thru the years improved upon many times. Supplies and building materials were raised to the top levels by the use of a wheel and a sledge on rollers on a steep ramp. Several men, like hamsters in a wheel, would walk in the wheel, winding up  a chain that pulled up a sledge loaded with goods. From one level to the second then to the third. The monks performed the work as part of their duties and prisoners of later years did it as hard labour. It was a prison briefly after the revolution and the prisoners did a lot of damage. The upper levels were built on the vaults of the lower levels and these “crypts” became storage areas and sometimes chapels. They periodically collapsed under the weight of the upper stories. Lightening rods are everywhere as the abbey is a frequent target and victim of lightening strikes.  It became a religious community once again in the late 60’s. This is one of many of the huge fireplaces that cooked food for the inhabitants and prisoners. There were not so many people on this tour and not so many up on the top level. It was quite manageable. But after the tour I felt like a salmon swimming against the sea trying to descend against the mob that was ascending. It was perfect time to leave. The lower levels were a gauntlet of touristy souvenir shops filled with junk. Total Disneyland. I bought a drink from a vending machine and as I left it started to rain. Thankfully I had put my umbrella in my backpack. Once back at the car I put the picnic box of goodies in the back seat and had a picnic. It was really raining now but I was warm and dry as I ate my jambon beurre sandwich with pickles. The backseat of the car is massive. I could sleep back there. Then after I headed to a nearby town where the guide said there was a scriptorium. But of course it was closed. So then I found a coffee shop and had a really good coffee while I tried to load pictures to update my blog. I loaded some but so slowly and finally it just quit. Sigh. Back home I headed, stopping to see the American cemetery but it too was closed. So I just came home. It was raining and I wanted to crawl into bed and watch tv. But the couple wanted to visit so I pulled out my bottle of Picon and we had a few drinks and a nice visit. I’m improving my French. Then a friend of theirs popped over so we visited till almost 8:30. Now I’m just typing on my notebook hoping I can load this tomorrow sometime. I’m still thinking I might make the crossing to Guernsey but there are days that the ferry just doesn’t seem to run. Anyway I’ll go to the ferry terminal and just see if there is only one ferry company or more and do they together run everyday or just what the schedule is. I find it very confusing. Now a bit of tv and then bed. 

Long day

I’m so tired. I got off to a late start this morning. There were two other ladies staying at my bnb last night and this morning at breakfast they were talking about an exhibition they had seen. They are in town for an art exhibition and it was very interesting  listening to them. They are both artists, one in glass and the other in clay. The clay artist showed us photos of her work and she’s very talented. Anyway they got me interested in going to the mosaic exhibition and I stopped in on my way out of town. I spend half an hour there or so. They were right, it was very interesting. The venue was an old church. Really a nice place. Edit
This one is for you Viv. There was even a Canadian exhibitor. I could vote for my favourite, people’s choice in other words. I chose this one. She is so calm and her smile made me smile too.
It was foggy this morning so I was in no real hurry to get on the road. Finally I had to go but thankfully there was not much traffic. It was just starting to clear when I saw these guys. What beautiful animals. They are a very special sort of donkey. Some of the largest in the world, used for making huge mules. They are called Poitou donkeys and the more wild and overgrown their hairy coats, the more valuable they were. Mom and baby on one side, the boys on the other. It took me a while to coax them up and the little one teased the big ones all the way. Anyway I dallied here and there taking pictures and exploring small towns when I realized I had to make some time. Three hundred Kms and all day to do it doesn’t sound like much but this is not like driving in Canada. It takes all your concentration to keep one eye on the Navaid and one eye on the road. I stopped for diesel too. More expensive than Canada. I bought a quiche Lorraine in one town and ate it several towns later. It was delish. The countryside was gorgeous with leaves turning color and all the farmers out working their fields. The fog burned off and the sky was a glorious blue. But there were no places to stop when I wanted to take a picture and the rest stops were very unscenic. This bottle of Ricard is for you Viv. Obviously very popular. Anyway I finally made it and found my gites. It’s an older retired farming couple who built themselves a new house. I just checked in with the Missus and then headed out again to go to Mont St Michel. With the sunlight and a few clouds it looked like it could be a pretty spectacular sunset. I cruised around the various parking lots but when I found a spot,the sunset really didn’t materialize. So I headed home, looking for a simple restaurant for supper. And I had the worst meal ever. I didn’t think it was possible to have a bad meal in France, but I did. If I die of food poisoning tonight you’ll all know why. I can’t even talk about it. Anyway I drove home in the dark relying on my phone. It just works so great. I had a brief visit with my hosts and now I’m ready to fall asleep as I write this. I don’t understand why I’m so beat. Oh and I got bit by something last night I Chartres. I think it was a bed bug. Hard to believe in such a sparkling clean house but the big bite was under my eye. I had a smaller one on my forehead and one one the back of my neck. Breakfast, lunch, dinner–the tell tale marks. My one eye was swollen shut this morning and I thought I just slept with my face smushed into the pillow. But no– it’s swollen and itchy–something bit me. It went down a bit during the day but now it’s throbbing. So now I’ll die of a combination of food poisoning and some strange bug bite. Any way IF I wake up tomorrow I’m off to go to mass in the abbey. It’s supposed to rain so I may just spend the day in the bar after mass. And I’ll take my hosts advice and have pizza in their small village rather than risk food poisoning again. Aaaarrrgh.