Sunday, 20 March 2016

A short trip to France

Sunday 20th March 2016

After the excitement of finishing the Grizzly it was a hectic evening with loading the car, making sure we had passports etc for our short trip to France. The plan was to drive to Wimborne on the Sunday evening and stay at our sons and then drive to Portsmouth for the early 8:30 ferry to Caen.

It was a good greeting from Bramble the dog as we arrived at my sons, a beautiful drive over in the evening sunshine. We were away early for the drive to Portsmouth the M27 etc very busy for 6 am in the morning!! We arrived at the Terminal in good time and joined the queue of other vehicles. We were loaded quickly as there weren’t too many other vehicles. We set sail on time, and it was a bitterly cold morning as we sailed out of the port, passing the warships in dock, the hovercraft and other ferries zig zagging across the  estuary, as we passed the end of the harbour we went down to find seats and hopefully a breakfast.

Five + hours later we disembarked at Caen, still brilliant sunshine, I had to focus to ensure I stayed on the correct side of the road, we crossed Pegasus Bridge and headed to Deauville our final destination, to stay at the Hotel Intercontinental, we stayed there last year, a small pleasant 3 star Hotel in the centre of Deauville.
The famous boardwalk in Deauville each beach hut has a name associated with the movie industry

After checking in it was a stroll through the town to the ‘boardwalk front’ it was pleasant in the evening sunshine as we gained an hour in time crossing the Channel.
The next couple of days were spent, wandering around Deauville and Trouville, sitting in the sunshine over looking the expanses of the fabulous beaches of the area. A trip to Honflur coincided with a cloudy sky and a bitter Northerly wind, making our visit uncomfortable, despite the lovely old buildings, and pretty harbour, lunch once again was takeaway pizza.
Traffic island in Deauville

The lovely vast expanse of beach at Deauville

The visit passed all to quickly and we were soon heading back along the coast after our break, to spend our final day in Caen. A very busy town with lots of traffic tested my foreign driving skills trying to find somewhere to park. A visit to Caen Castle the residence of William the Conquerer in 1066 with Matilda as he ruled England for several years. A fine town, lots to see and we only scratched the surface, another visit should be planned for the future to explore more.

The weather continued to be bright and sunny as we drove to the coast for a picnic Lunch.
We overlooked Juno beach one of the landing beaches in the war, now deserted with the tide coming rolling in over the vast sands, difficult to imagine 1944 the landing craft etc spilling their cargo of troops over the beaches.
Les Hirondelles in 1944 at the D day landing
Les Hirondelles March 2016 the house shown in the Dday landings

The drive back to the ferry was a little fraught as we  had left it a little late, not allowing for slow French drivers and the winding lanes, arriving just in time as they closed one of the gates. An uneventful sail home, calm seas etc. the food on the ship was poor, particularly if you are vegetarian. Arriving at Portsmouth we were delayed disembarking due to extra checks on vehicles leaving the port. It was a long trip home ferry at 4:30 finally arriving home at midnight.

It was a lovely trip, with superb weather very much as last year almost ‘groundhog day’ like.

Friday I managed to get out for a 9 mile road run, feeling good, and enjoying the run, despite the bitterly cold wind on a very grey day, the sunshine having deserted us.

Saturday saw me finally getting out on my Vintage bike, my Gazelle Trim Trophy, I had changed the chain rings to give me lower gears. It was a lovely 26 mile ride, I found the bike responsive and comfortable, I need to make adjustments to the toe clips to make my shoes fit better. I was also getting used to the brake lever positions, changing gear on the downtube, by the end of the ride feeling quite comfortable. A nice ride on a nice bike I can look forward to the Eroica Brittanica in June.

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