Then Through The Tunnel To The UK

8 Apr

It was clear and cold, about 2˚C, and frost lay in shady areas along the A13 as we drove to Rouen. We left the hotel in Versailles at 9:30am after the manager insisted that we have a complimentary coffee first. Got to Rouen about 11am and headed off to find the cathedral. The wind made it feel very cold out of the sun. Stopped at a café near the Joan of Arc cathedral and there was a little fracas between some local lads and a chair came flying through the doorway.  Colourful.

As we left the hotel in Versailles on Monday morning we spotted this display of old cameras in the reception area.  Various models of 'FOCA' cameras dated between 1945 and 1966.

As we left the hotel in Versailles on Monday morning we spotted this display of old cameras in the reception area. Various models of ‘FOCA’ cameras dated between 1945 and 1966.

The cathedral in Rouen.  Lots of interesting information here… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rouen_Cathedral

The cathedral in Rouen. Lots of interesting information here… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rouen_Cathedral

The detailed stone work on all parts of the cathedral are amazing.

The detailed stone work on all parts of the cathedral are amazing.

The pedestrian mall between the Joan of Arc church and the cathedral.

The pedestrian mall between the Joan of Arc church and the cathedral.

Detail of the clock.

Detail of the clock.

One of the building styles we now started to see in Normandy was this half-timbered look.

One of the building styles we now started to see in Normandy was this half-timbered look.

Here is a quote from Wikipedia: "The church of Saint Joan of Arc was completed in 1979 in the center of the ancient market square (in French, the Place du Vieux-Marché) of Rouen. This is the same location where Joan of Arc was burned alive for heresy in 1431. Prior to World War II, this site was occupied by a church of Saint Vincent, which was heavily damaged in battle in 1944. The stained glass windows of the old church were not destroyed and were incorporated into the design of the new structure, where one can admire them today."

Here is a quote from Wikipedia: “The church of Saint Joan of Arc was completed in 1979 in the center of the ancient market square (in French, the Place du Vieux-Marché) of Rouen. This is the same location where Joan of Arc was burned alive for heresy in 1431. Prior to World War II, this site was occupied by a church of Saint Vincent, which was heavily damaged in battle in 1944. The stained glass windows of the old church were not destroyed and were incorporated into the design of the new structure, where one can admire them today.”

Right next to the church were a couple of lads practicing their trials skills.

Right next to the church were a couple of lads practicing their trials skills.

It looks pretty hard on rims and tyres!

It looks pretty hard on rims and tyres!

And another one caught in mid-leap.

And another one caught in mid-leap.

The building on the corner is a listed heritage site that functions as a hotel.  I can tell you its GPS coordinates but I can't remember what it was called.

The building on the corner is a listed heritage site that functions as a hotel. I can tell you its GPS coordinates but I can’t remember what it was called.

Streetscape in Rouen.

Streetscape in Rouen.

Got to Hurpin’s in Caen at 3pm and by 4pm we were on bikes with René off for a tour.   Part way through the tour we called in unannounced on friends of René’s called Pierre and Claudine.  We had a cup of tea with them and they ended up joining us, chez Hurpin, for dinner later on.  Dinner was very nice and we also met another member of their extended family –  Tugba who is a German Turk staying for a year to promote German language in French schools as a part of a bilateral programme sponsored by Bosch.

As soon as René got home we were on the bikes for a pre-dinner tour around the outskirts of Caen.

As soon as René got home we were on the bikes for a pre-dinner tour around the outskirts of Caen.

We didn’t get up early on Tuesday morning but when we did we headed to the landing beaches.  Ended up at Omaha Beach for quite some time before continuing along the coast to Saint-Vaast-la-Hogue.  It was far too windy and cold to go wandering around as we usually would so it was a short visit before heading back to Caen for dinner and an evening of conversation, albeit in English!

Omaha Beach: At low tide this is what it looks like with the water at your back.  Can you imagine what it must have been like with the beach covered in obstacles and enemy fire raining down from the slopes?

Omaha Beach: At low tide this is what it looks like with the water at your back. Can you imagine what it must have been like with the beach covered in obstacles and enemy fire raining down from the slopes?

Inside the American Cemetery at the Omaha Beach Memorial there are lots of mature pine trees.  We saw more than 40 like this one that had toppled in the last few weeks.

Inside the American Cemetery at the Omaha Beach Memorial there are lots of mature pine trees. We saw more than 40 like this one that had toppled in the last few weeks.

Like this row here...

Like this row here…

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.  Passersby were stopping this veteran to have their photo taken.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery. Passersby were stopping this veteran to have their photo taken.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery exhibition centre.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery exhibition centre.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery.  This water feature was part of the exhibition centre.  Ample evidence of the strong wind coming off the sea but nothing to tell you just how cold it was.

Omaha Beach Memorial American Cemetery. This water feature was part of the exhibition centre. Ample evidence of the strong wind coming off the sea but nothing to tell you just how cold it was.

Saint-Vaast-la-Hogue - a sunny but bitterly cold and windy day on the Normandy coast.

Saint-Vaast-la-Hogue – a sunny but bitterly cold and windy day on the Normandy coast.

A fishing vessel coming in to port.

A fishing vessel coming in to port.

Saint-Vaast-la-Hogue maritime Chapell.  Only tiny but there were plenty of recent memorials to young local men lost at sea.

Saint-Vaast-la-Hogue maritime Chapel. Only tiny but there were plenty of recent memorials to young local men lost at sea.

It looks like it is meant to be a gate but I can assure you that it does not open.

It looks like it is meant to be a gate but I can assure you that it does not open.

I told you it was windy!

I told you it was windy!

This little ferry shuttles between Saint-Vaast-la-Hogue and the island in the background called Tatihou.  The ferry looks a bit like a duck to me.

This little ferry shuttles between Saint-Vaast-la-Hogue and the island in the background called Tatihou. The ferry looks a bit like a duck to me.

It is a duck!  It has hydraulically lowered wheels with hydraulic motors on them so it just drives up the ramp.

It is a duck! It has hydraulically lowered wheels with hydraulic motors on them so it just drives up the ramp.

Even the propulsion system is raised, lowered and driven hydraulically.

Even the propulsion system is raised, lowered and driven hydraulically.

On Wednesday morning we did get up a bit earlier so we could say farewell to René before he went to work and so we could get on the road towards Calais.  We said our farewells to Ulrike a bit later and arrived at Honfleur at 11am.  The place was just as lovely as we remembered it in spite of another day of that freezing northerly wind.  We stayed for lunch at a restaurant with views right down the harbour and then hit the road again about 2:30pm.

A very deceptive photo of the harbour at Honfleur - there was a bitter north wind blowing that totally sapped any warmth the sun was trying to provide.

A very deceptive photo of the harbour at Honfleur – there was a bitter north wind blowing that totally sapped any warmth the sun was trying to provide.

A fishing boat in the calm of the harbour.

A fishing boat in the calm of the harbour.

It was 5pm by the time we got to our hotel near Calais and there was the slightest bit of snow falling – not enough to settle, it melted as soon as it touched the car or the ground, but it was snowing.  And it was still windy so it felf really cold.  Again, once we went to the room we stayed there.

The EuroTunnel checkin was only 10 minutes away from the hotel.  We went in the self checkin queue. It said you just needed the credit card used to purchase the ticket in order to check in. But the machine would not accept my card and then Leanne noticed that our details were already on the screen – I had not looked up at the screen, I was trying to get my card into the machine. So they must have read the car registration automatically. Very slick. Next it offered to put us on the 8:49am crossing instead of the 9:49am that we had booked. It was now 8:14am so we accepted. We knew from the website that they would put you on a crossing up to two hours earlier if there is space.  Next was French customs then a 100m gap then English customs. Then the signs led us all the way to the shopping centre, through the car park and back in the direction of the tunnel. There were still more maze-like weaving before we drove on to the carriage.  The departure was spot on time and before we knew it, about 40 minutes later, we were in the UK.

I don't normally follow quite this close but he was maintaining a steady speed without braking.  The scenery was a bit boring.

I don’t normally follow quite this close but he was maintaining a steady speed without braking. The scenery was a bit boring.

And it was ever so lightly snowing here as well!  Just tiny dots blowing around and melting quickly.  Went through the Dartford tunnel – that was a trap. It has a £2 toll and they don’t take cards.  I knew there was the chance of hitting tolls somewhere and I had my card ready never considering that cards would not be accepted.  I managed to stop back from the gate a little between two lanes with the hazard lights on. Was able to reach back to my camera bag and get the cash quickly, even before any cars went passed us. Phew!

We also managed to negotiate all the interchanges using map snapshots on the iPad. Before we got to the house sit we wanted to find a Tesco and buy a SIM for my phone.  We got to our exit off the M25 and noticed a big Tesco building beside the ramp. Our lucky day!  We wound our way around the streets and into its car park only to find that it was an e-commerce distribution centre. Got directions to Ponders End and found a proper Tesco there. Got pre-pay cards for both our phones then had a coffee. Also bought some basic supplies and some sandwiches for lunch at nearly 2pm – a long time since dinner last night and we had only had an apple and two small biscuits since, plus the one hour time difference.  We had expected to have time for breakfast while waiting for the crossing but we took the earlier option.

We eventually got to where we were meant to be and spent the evening getting to know Sara, Richard and the four cats whose care would soon be in our hands.  It was still very lightly snowing and the weather generally was a bit filthy.

This is the village we are in.

This is the village we are in.

And that's our car parked outside lowering the average tone of the street!

And that’s our car parked outside lowering the average tone of the street!

Spent Friday mainly about the house and getting to know the needs of JB, Murphy, Pretzel and Pip.  Sara and Richard departed at 7:30am on Saturday and again we stayed close to home.  The cats are very distinctively individual and no trouble at all.  Often very amusing.

Meet Murphy, one of the four cats we are looking after for a couple of weeks in Hertfordshire.  I think he looks a bit like Garfield.  He is actually a very big and solid cat but is very placid.  This is his smiling face.

Meet Murphy, one of the four cats we are looking after for a couple of weeks in Hertfordshire. I think he looks a bit like Garfield. He is actually a very big and solid cat but is very placid. This is his smiling face.

Pip is the smallest of the troupe.  Being so dark, not quite black but very dark brown, she is difficult to photograph.  She is lovely but things can only be on her terms - if she doesn't want to be patted she is more slippery than a fish.

Pip is the smallest of the troupe. Being so dark, not quite black but very dark brown, she is difficult to photograph. She is lovely but things can only be on her terms – if she doesn’t want to be patted she is more slippery than a fish.

The weather on Saturday and Sunday was a big improvement over Friday even with the light frost in the mornings.  It is possibly the best weather they have had around here for months.  On Sunday we were picked up by Dave and Carolyn for a great lunch at a nearby pub.  They are working just 10 miles away from us so we plan to be catching up with them several times over the next couple of weeks.

I have just reviewed all the responses to my little challenge laid down in last week’s post about a deliberate error, and… well, there were none!   The error was in this caption, “The back wall of the Roman Theatre in Orange.  The protruding blocks at the top are supports for poles that suspended an awning over the inside.  We saw some photos from the time showing them in use.”  Some photos from the time?  Let me think about that!

So that’s it for another week.  No deliberate errors, just the accidental ones.

2 Responses to “Then Through The Tunnel To The UK”

  1. Jeff April 10, 2013 at 04:51 #

    Foca cameras were sort of a french attempt at imitating early Leica rangefinders. Actually they are quite good cameras built more by engineers than accountants.. 😉

  2. Marzipan and Marmite April 7, 2013 at 22:17 #

    You will find Tesco’s pretty much everywhere in the UK!

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