14 August 2018

the third return

IT IS QUITE WITHIN THE BOUNDS of possibility that we will be sitting ourselves down at this waterside's edge in La Rochelle again this autumn, just like we did in the summer.

That's because we are booked in to an hotel there for our second overnighter this September, whereas we could usually have been expected to transfer here, from Roscoff, in one hop: it is most readily doable, and without straining the tachometer beyond our preferred ration of daily miles when pottering down to the Vaucluse. But this time, y'see, we are conveying a passenger, guest, friend, and risk taker with us, so compelling and persuasive have been our descriptions of our voyages. It's a first, if we don't count the son-and-heir, which we don't as he is cabin crew when he is with us, which he will be on our way back in November.

I flatter myself that our eloquence in these matters of blogging and our clearly expressed enthusiasm for our experiences thus far has proved the tipping point to our third party. So it came to pass that we received an application from this friend, to not only sample the renowned levels of distinctive hospitality at our Sablet residence again, but also to mop up a bit of La France by travelling through it with ourselves, instead of flitting over it in an aeroplane.

Inevitably, this has caused us to solemnly reflect upon our route this autumn, slow it down a bit, add in possibilities of the odd diversion or two, and book stop overs accordingly.

So here's the plan. Subject to variation, adjustment, deviation and correction, as ever.  I will report no doubt on how well it panned out; I can confirm that our travel companion has wisely invested in The Michelin  (2018 edition, whose pages luckily conform with our older, 2014 edition) so that she can preview our proposal shown here on the left . . . but almost inevitably, for someone who can assimilate what an atlas can portray, there is some reluctance to miss out that area of gorges or this stretch of coast, let alone that magnificent cathedral or those singular lighthouses,  that study of an atlas, in association with appropriate Green Guides, what-have-you, will reveal.

So it has ben stressed, as gently as possible, that this plan is weighted in favour of the more north-western portions of France, whilst still addressing our companion's desire to pass over the Viaduc de Millau, and tick off a visit to the Med at Marseillan. We can't do everything, after all, this is but a taster…. and anyway the hotels are booked and paid for … so think on.

An unusual view of an iconic object, revealed by deviating from the straight and narrow . . .

The return, which is likely in due course to attract a descriptive post of its own, is now planned to take us back to Ouistreham*, after many years of neglect of this crossing (to Portsmouth) in favour of more westerly transits. We shall have with us the son -and-heir, as this last journey of the year is planned specifically to coincide with the centenary of Hugh Melling's death in WW1. We will visit Ors Cemetery where Hugh is buried, – one hundred years to the day since he and others were killed nearby, just one week before the Armistice… to pay our respects and keep his family memory alive.

Maybe there will be other Mellings there: we know for sure there are organised visits to pay tribute to the poet Wilfred Owen who died at the same time and place, and lies close to Hugh. So we want to be there early. I refer you to this year's edition of my marmalade, marking this centennary.

*And I get to scoop two more phares that we've seen before but not managed to snap hitherto…

Ouistreham and Cap d'Antifer captured here by Jean Benoit Héron, the master.