The One Where The Sandlans Go To France

For the following I make no apologies. As with all holiday posts your going to get bored unless your me within the first paragraph or so!

Sunday 13th June 2010. The beginning of the end maybe? We were due to leave at 8pm that night and I don’t think we’ve every came close to hitting our leaving deadlines on any of our trips never mind our holidays. Before we left I had a two hour driving lesson, a birthday party to attend, clothes shopping to sort out as well as actually packing our bags. When I say we managed to get be out the door by 10pm and that we were doing really well I mean it!

Vonnie managed to get through most of the drive with no sleep and so we made it to Portsmouth just in time to park up and get a little rest before checking in and boarding the ferry. I’m still trying to work out whether the six hour ferry crossing was a wise thing. All that time trapped on a boat trying to keep the kids entertained? It would have been a breeze if it wasn’t for the fact the boat had something like six school trips on board. I’ve never seen so many kids running wild without adult supervision.

A quick ‘detour’ through Caen, and by that I mean I can’t read French road maps and so rather than get us onto the ring road and straight onto the motorway we ended up getting lost driving around the town centre, and we were on track. We arrived late afternoon which meant we had been on the go with virtually no sleep for 32 hours by this point. I think I ended up going for something like 40 hours without a single minute of sleep and felt fine.

Tuesday was our first real day here and so we spend it revisiting the supermarket after I’d almost ran screaming from it in a sleep-deprived panic after being unable to read a single product label in the dairy aisle. This time though we ended up spending stupid amounts of money on BBQ-able meat without being sure the BBQ provided for us is actually capable of staying warm long enough to cook the meat through. The afternoon was spent throwing ourselves down waters hoots at the camp sites indoor water fun pool type place. We would be burnt to shreds if this place wasn’t indoors but i get the feeling we’re going to have to get photographic proof or folk back home are going to thing the weather was just rubbish going by the lack of serious tans we’ve got going on.

Wednesday was mostly spent the same way except that myself and the boys didn’t go to the supermarket and we went to the park in the morning. This whole ‘No Swimming Shorts in the pool’ thing really got to me. It’s actually an offence that can see you thrown off the camp site so we were chancing it with the boys but I ended up having to get a set of proper speedo style swimming shorts. I have to say though that on the first day I kept stopping when I went down the slides when I was wearing my normal swimming shorts but with the speedos it was as if I was an Olympic water luge competitor or something given the speed I was getting up to! I know you don’t really need or want a picture of me wearing speedos in your head but I had to put that out there.

It was just past 10pm and everyone was asleep or in bed. I’d not long finished watching the most recent episode of Dr Who with the boys and I’d settled down for a few beers to watch episode six of Luther. My first handful of crisps seen me lose a chunk of tooth the size of a mini-D6. I wasn’t in pain or anything like that but that may be because of the tequila and lime flavoured beer I’d just drank.

Thursday was supposed to be a trip to the local beach and then a drive out to Mont St Michel but it ended up being another day with the kids running around the park and taking them to the swimming pools. They loved the two inflatable bouncy castles until Findlay decided doing a dismount from the space rocket on one of them and landing on his neck was the best idea in the world. Five minutes of tears was how long it lasted but I think it was more a fright that he got than the actual pain that caused it.

On Friday we did the dummy run through to St Malo to find out how to get to the ferry terminal and just how long it would take us. On paper I think we worked it out that it should take us something like 50 minutes as it was about 100km away and most of it was on 130km roads. I’m sure we were still driving about 2 hours later though! We clocked the aquarium on the way into town and decided to get somewhere to sit in and eat lunch. A choice of a million sea front restaurants was before us and we chose a pizza place in a small shopping mall inland. Despite the staff barely being able to speak English and our own french not being being up to scratch we managed to get some food and get a laugh from the staff. The pizzas the kids had we’re fantastic. They had been shaped into a face with the veg being the eyes, nose and mouth and the kids loved them. I on the other hand went for the calzone. Vonnie pointed out that I might have missed the fact it had egg in it but I thought nothing of it. I then cut into it to find they had basically cracked a raw egg over the insides and the cooking process melted the cheese and heated the meat up but the egg was still raw. Tasted damn good though.

Back at the aquarium we wandered around the various displays feeling a little spoiled after our trip to the one in Bologne two years ago. The place is nice and looks really good but as we came to the end of the displays we remembered something the ticket clerk mentioned in passing. There was apparently a submarine ride included in the cost of the ticket. The aquarium was inland so I couldn’t work out how that one worked but sure enough right at the end was the entrance to the Nautibus ride. I still chuckle at that name like I’m a big kid. Naughty Bus. Anyway it wasn’t so much a submarine ride as a giant walk in barrel that you climb into. It’s taken round a route in a pool that has various other tanks looking into it and with it being water on both sides it looks as if the glass isn’t really there. It was a great way to spice up what might have been only an ordinary display if you were to just walk past it in the main building.

We stopped off in Mont St Michel on the way home and like most picture postcard resorts it doesn’t live up to it’s appearance. I should have learned my lesson visiting Carcasonne all those years ago but I didn’t. Everything costs a fortune but added to that your surrounded by a smell i can only describe as centuries of poo and Dettol. And if you want to learn anything about the place you need to fork out even more money. It was nice to visit it though.

Saturday was spent packing and going around the local supermarket seeing who could buy the strangest thing to buy for themselves. The kids bought books in French that they can’t read, Vonnie bought a plant pot and I bought a light azada for the garden. That was going to be fun if customs decided to have a wee look in our car.

Early doors on Sunday we left just in time to make it to St Malo. Despite never actually finding the ferry terminal on the dummy run we got there just as the queue started. This time it was an eight hour crossing but the weather was fantastic and there was no school buses full of kids! Two hours in the car in France and eight hours in the boat and the kids were fine. Fifteen minutes on English soil and Erica was sick all over the back of the car. We still had 8 hours of driving to go at this point but we got home safely in the end.

We didn’t know it until we got there but we really needed that holiday. Not having to be anywhere or do anything by a set time was great. We never really woke up before 10am though and almost everyone except for myself was asleep for 10pm. A well earned rest is what I think you’d call it.

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1 Comment

  1. Andras says:

    Your photos are excellent! and a well written article…

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