Friday, October 4, 2013

Filling the Gap

bird seen along the way  (falcon? hawk?)

Have been away from here for so long!  So much to catch up.

In order of events that I have neglected, are:

1. My visit with Amanda and Rob to Normandy Beaches.

2. A trip to the beaches on the south coast near Vannes, with Lucile

3. My visit to Paris with Jo, Gloria and Gail!!

4. And my visit with Jay all over the place!!

So, this post is #1.   Normandy with Amanda and Rob

The American portion of the Normandy Beaches memorials are closed right now due to the Gov't Shutdown in the US.   Seems strange as this is in France, but the ground is "owned" by the US and falls under the Parks Dept.  

When I was there with Amanda and Rob, it was hot summertime. July 31.  A 3 hour drive up from Josselin.  We went directly to our B&B to check in early.  That way, we could have an evening dinner out before a late return for the night.  The B&B was really lovely.  In Lamberville, Normandy.
Down a tree lined "avenue" we came to "La Beauconniére", which is an old farm with stone mansion and another stone house to the rear outfitted as a B&B with 5 rooms, all with separate baths.  Our host, Dean welcomed us warmly and gave us lots of interesting and useful information.  The next morning, after a scrumptious breakfast we met the kids, on horseback and also the family pets.  A pair of labs and an adorable cat, Jesse.  Dean's wife Karen, is an American from Glens Falls!!  Of course we had a good chat!  Also, Karen made the most delicious cake and I am still wanting that recipe.
Jesse the Cat
this pic really belongs at end of the Normandy pics
Add caption
 Amanda and Rob with our host, Dean

 A 40 minute drive north to the Beaches.....

 At the Normandy Beaches
while standing on the path overlooking the bluff this plane did a was spine tingling! (Amanda took this pic)
great pic! 
 Cemetery, Omaha  and Utah Beaches
10,000 American graves
a gun bunker (battery)
Normandy itself, the beaches, were overwhelming.  There are few words to express the emotions felt for events which took place before we were born.  But the facts and legends of WWII are somehow ingrained in the American conscious for a couple of generations past that time.  D Day was 2 years before I was born.  But it was fresh in the minds of my family and my teachers during my growing up years.  It was "taught" in High School.  We knew people or knew of people who had been in the War. Family.  It mattered to us.  To be there, to stand and look over the scene and imagine the brutal horror that took place there is very humbling.  We are thankful and grieved at the same time.  It is a huge contrast to see the now peaceful and elegant setting preserved with dignity and natural beauty.  I feel enormously proud of those who saw fit to build and consecrate this memorial.  It was a great honor to visit there.
huge craters everywhere on the bluff of Utah Beach made by bombs
After the Beaches......
Boat in Grandcamp-Maisy 
When we left the D-day beaches, we traveled along the coast to the west to find a small fishing village called Grandcamp-Maisy.  This is where Amanda had her Moules-Frittes.  We ate at an outdoor bistro overlooking the little protected harbor filled with colorful fishing boats.  This is also where Amanda discovered her favorite Normandy brew.

 Then we went back to La Beauconniére for the night.  Next morning, we left for Saint-Malo.  A city on the coast back in Bretagne. (Brittany).  A fortress city with old town within the walls.  On our way, we drove on many country roads, narrow and windy with hay bales in all the fields along with many cows.  Whenever we came to a docile cow setting, we took pictures.  All the cow pictures are great.  I know Rob thought it was funny and we had a lot of laughs.  Amanda and I share a love of cows.  Especially their faces. 
a country house we came across in the middle of nowhere on a country road
Amanda took these
(I think I took this one)
that bird taking motion, but feet are still on the post   

A charming medieval city, largely reconstructed after WWII.  Lots of shops and bistros. A good time was had by all. 
                           And back to Josselin that evening.  
                      Rob reading in my Josselin house on rue Beaumanoir
The Breton dancers on the square, Notre Dame, in Josselin  

See you at the next post: Beaches at Vannes

Saturday, September 14, 2013


How could I have forgotten the lovely visit we made to my dear friend Sue!!!  She is about 4 miles outside of Josselin in the countryside, past the cows and in a little hamlet. La Gree St. Laurent.  We had a short visit on Thursday afternoon, just before heading over to the gendarmarie but I was so glad to have my USA friends meet one of my British friends in France.  The girls got to see all the work Sue put in on her renovated "barn" house. It's so charming.  Though these photos were not taken that same day, they are of Sue's home and garden.  And doggie, Gus!  Once again, Jacques was with us.  Like the force. 

Bienvenue å mes Visiteurs!!

"My Americans are coming, my Americans are coming!!"

That is what I was saying to myself while waiting for Jo, Gloria and Gail.  Days leading up to their arrival I was scrubbing, laundering, bed-making. etc.  I was ready and boy did we have plans!  Poor Skippy got sent off to the kennel as he had to go anyway while we went to Paris. But I took him early so I didn't have to worry about walking and feeding him during the days here in Josselin,  (he has since come home and is just fine!!)
                                                here he is at Sue's a few days earlier......

                 Jo, Gloria and Gail in front of the oldest house in Josselin.  circa 1538 ( the house, not the girls)

While waiting out in the street (so they would see me and the house driving through the main street of town).....I noticed a big dent in my car!!  Uggggrrraahhh!!!  So of course I was fretting over that and wondering what to do about it.  The girls were late.  I was pacing.  When Amanda and Rob came they got here right at 4pm.  Jo estimated 4:30-5:30.  I gave them till 5:31. By that time they STILL weren't here and I had to answer Ray's email to that effect. (Gloria's husband)
I sat in a chair out in the street cause I was tired of pacing.  Yes, I got "looks", but so what!
Every thought you can imagine was going through my head.  You know, the usual awful imaginings. So, I went back inside to call the gendarmerie (police) to make my report. About the dent.  What to say?? I don't know when it happened. Or who did it.  Or if there were any witnesses,  All I could say is when I parked the car in the space near the house and when I first noticed the big dent the following day.  I was on the phone about 7pm with the gendarmerie Lady trying to describe what happened when the front door opened and in walked Gail!!!  "Kathy, is that you?"  "OMG!! GAIL!! YOU"RE HERE!!".  I quickly postponed my phone conversation till later.

Believe me, I was so relieved and so were they.  We quickly settled in to hear all about what happened on their way here.  They had a GPS but it was set in the wrong mode.  So they were traveling in exactly the wrong way!  Gail finally got it working properly and they made their way here adding a couple of extra hours to the trip.  It was really all Jacques fault.  He's the guy in the GPS.  With the voice.  Speaking in indecipherable French.  I came to know him well.

That night we had dinner at Luc's Bistrot and enjoyed it very much.

Later I lay in bed so keyed up I couldn't sleep.  I kept hearing someone tossing and turning in a squeaky bed upstairs and was so worried about the liklihood of an uncomfortably thin camp style mattress.   Suddenly I reaized there was the extra twin bed in my room I had moved up there months earlier and that the good mattress on it would make for a better night for whomever was in that room.  So, without announcing anything ( I think I was really half asleep)  I jumped up out of bed and grabbed that mattress (light as a feather) and dragged it upstairs waking everyone up in the process.  Everyone was astonished but it seemed such a normal thing to do at the time.
HaHa AND it made a huge difference for Gail.  I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it earlier when I was making up the beds.  That mattress was right there the whole time!  So the girls were in the 3 bedrooms on the top floor.  The middle floor has my room and another guest room which Amanda & Rob, and Amy & Dan all have blasted as unfit. ( like sleeping directly on the slats, no offfense, Brigitte!)

The next day we walked all over Josselin, to see the oldest house, the canal and over to Saint Croix.(the little mostly British village across the canal bridge)

  Also, the girls went up the 100 steps of the Basilica tower to take pictures over the rooftops.  The town was prepping for the weekend Pardon festivities.  The Pardon is a church tradition of a processional through town carrying the crowned Lady aloft.  A very big deal here.  But we left town early on Saturday before all that happened.  Still, the town decorated with all the banners  and garlands was so pretty.  A trip to Super U  (pronounced "ooo") to get our groceries and browse around and then back to the house to rest up for home cooking!  Jo went with me to the gendarmarie to finally finish my police report.
I had to get that report in the mail to the ins. co. before leaving for Paris. The young, rather hunky officer inspected the car and made his report.  He said there was no impact with another vehicle.  The dent was caused by a pounding or instrument or something.  The paint is not cracked and he thinks it will pop out ok.  Jo and I really wanted to take his picture but neither one of us had the nerve.  (You know, to document the situation. )

That night, we had some light, fluffy, fresh cod cooked at home with broccoli and a nice salad with our baguette and wine.  Then there was the tarte.  Berry   

Gail, Gloria and Jo at the Chateau du Rohan, named for the family that has lived there since the 12th century.  (they're still there)  Only 3 of the towers remain, 6 others destroyed by Henry II. 
(You know, Peter O'Toole in Lion in Winter)

This walled garden is in Vannes, in the county of Morbihan (on the Bay of Morbihan, pronounced: Mor-bee-ahh) We went to Vannes on Friday, Sept. 6th
In Vannes, Bretagne
Giant Soap Cakes!!  by the slice
Celtic bookshop in Vannes (Brittany or Bretagne is a Celtic area)

On Friday, we traveled about an hour south to Vannes to see the old town.  Gloria found the  roundabouts very exciting.  There was one about every 1/4 mile.  (or kilometer)
We meandered around the old town and had a lunch of crepes!  Yum.

We took the picturesque way home (with Jacques) and went out for dinner that night at the Pizzaria.  Really good pizza!!!  Thin crispy crust, loads of good cheese!  Glass of wine, Good friends, Perfect!!!
We packed up that night for the big trip to Paris and first thing Saturday (7am) made our departure from Josselin.  But first, a stop at the Super U Gazola station!!!!  

And so off we went to the big city!!!  Gloria driving, Jo riding shotgun, Gail & Jacques on navigation in the back seat with me.  In between interpreting Jacques' garbled pronouncements such as "turn right on bblournabotre".....Gail could be heard singing strains of "How Ya Gonna Keep "Em Down on the Farm After they've seen Pareee??" 

                              Get Ready Paris, Here We Come!!!  stay tuned for the
                      next installment>>>>>