A Travellerspoint blog

April 2008

Arcachon

Quand meme

sunny 27 °C

Had an amazing week! As much as I've enjoyed seeing as much of France/Europe as I can in the last few years it was really really great to just have a chilled-out week, sleeping late with no rush to fit 100 museums, tours and sights into every day, and yeah just generally having a really relaxing time. Got on really well with Hari, Eddie and Cat, enjoyed our little caravan life and we had some funny times (plus Rachy and Cecile both made it in for a little while). The campsite was lovely, set in pine forest, very quiet with a swimming pool, although annoyingly shop/bar etc not yet open. From there it was about a half hour walk I guess down to the beach/town. Arcachon itself was lovely beachy place with tons of seafood restaurants and surfy shops, but not "tacky" at all, and in the surrounding area (of the "bassin") there was lots of forests, the biggest sand-dune in Europe, and some really expensive villas owned by the French elite. We were amazingly lucky with the weather; the first few days were a bit changable with a bit of rain and often slightly overcast, however the last 4 days have been AWESOME! Like properly properly hot, bikini, ice-cream, prickly-heat weather! Have got a pretty decent tan going on and it was just sooooo cool, Swam in the pool and sea and sunbathed, and ate dinner outside at 9pm. Lucy likes that A LOT. It totally feels to me like this is it, my French summer here to stay, but the forecast says otherwise, so we shall see.

Ok, so, a quick run-down of what we did:

Saturday
Get train 8.30am from Perigueux, picking Rach up en-route. From Bordeaux it was under an hour to ARCACHON!
All have stuff with us, so find our way to the beach and set up camp there for a couple of hours, dip feet in sea etc.
Lunch at cafe on sea-front, yummy chicken salad and chips.
Bit of a long, uphill walk to campsite, check out carvan etc.
Discover bus/lift into/back from town, easier for future journeys!
Back down into town, first of many ice-creams from Sorbet d'Amour. Walk along front to Port, get a bit wet! Stop for a coffee.
Walk back past Casino, take lift up to park where the old Casino was.
AMAZING dinner! At "Hippocamp" restaurant: fish soup with rouille http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rouille (yummmy, so rich), best salmon ever, and perhaps the nicest white wine I've ever had...damn it though, I've lost where I wrote down what it was called!
Back up to caravan, Cards: Lexicon (giving birth to "woolscar" and "umtwine") and JUNGLE SPEED (to become game of the week!)
First glimpse of Hari's Powerball before bed.

Sunday
Lay-in
Cereal for breakfast, Rach offers Hari salt in his tea!
Swim in the pool! Bloody cold! And slide kinda uncomfortable but fun all the same and Rach, as always this weekend, is "well up for it"
Back to caravan for a great hot shower
Down to town, Mie Caline paninis etc for lunch. Sun out!
Meet up with Cecile and get out billets for the "Grand tour du bassin" par bateau, 2 and half hours on-board, get to see:
l'Ile des Oiseaux
Cabanes Tchanquees
Dune du Pyla
Cap Feret
Expensive, very nice villas
And then it gets slightly bumpy...very fun at first as Rach slides across boat in her plastic chair, but then start to feel kinda queasy.
Hang out on the beach...duck, duck, goose, bulldog. Meet Tony (a real dog!).
Back up the road, stopping off at the playpark.
Dinner de Cat et Lucy, pasta followed by cheese and vino, of course. Sit outside, lovely. It's the eve of Hari's birthday and Eddie sings an AMAZING song his written for him, gauntlet is laid down for an Arcachon song by end of the week.
5 minutes before midnight I suggest Hari should do something "crazy" to celebrate end of his boyhood....before we know it he has stripped and is running around outside caravan. His adulthood is welcomed in as we are told off for being too loud...oops.

Monday
Just about roll out of bed at 6am to say goodbye to Rach :-( but will hopefully see her soon. It's raining, poor her.
Roll out again, very quietly at 8am, with Cat. Head down to the supermarket and stock up on stuff for bacon sandwiches and BBQ for Hari's birthday. Wake the boys up with the smell of frying bacon. Nice breakfast, Hari opens his presents.
Seriously lazy morning, reading, playing games etc...basically don't do anything until lunchtime, BBQ and beers, followed by self-constructed Strawberry Birthday Cake.
After that tiring morning (ahem) have a little siesta...but woken up by boys breaking through a certain wall.
Boys go out to get some necessities for the shot glasses I gave Hari. Cat straightens my hair! Really weird, but quite like it, makes a nice change...like it with the layers, sexy! he he!
We make ourselves pretty.
Jungle Speed, The Drinking Version. Very funny...general misbehaviour.
Leave to go and get dinner...starts to rain, take cover in phone box, then get lost in the forest. General tipsy ramblings.
Eventually arrive in town for dinner at about 11pm...obviously this is late even by French standards. Eventually
the, really-quite-posh, Casino offers us steak! Totally random meal...we're the only people in this smart restaurant, they eventually tell us they're closing up. Check out the casino...don't really get very far.
Taxi home.
Cereal time...random conversations.

Tuesday
Bit of a lie-in.
Tidy up caravan. Run out of gas, just as reception is closing for lunch, but boys save the day.
Bit overcast, head into town. Get the bus to the Dune du Pyla where we meet up with two of the teachers from Eddie's school.
Dune in seriously impressive....MASSIVE. Amazing views of forests, bassin etc once you get to the top. Walk most of the way along it, then all the way down to the sea and back up again, very hard work indeed!
Eddie's friends drive us to a little port and then to a little cafe for a drink in the sun, very nice.
Boys cook dinner tonight, very yummy salmon pasta.
Chill-out to Eddie's guitar accompaniment, lovely.
Jungle Speed... "Why are the cards like that?"
"...because someone thought they should go in the washing up last night..."

12 hours sleep.

Wednesday
Breakfast, tea.
Hang around by pool.
Potato salad etc for lunch, wander into town.
Hire a 4-person Chucklebrother bike! Hilarious, if slightly terrifying, hour along the coast and back.
Ice-creams.
Beach....long-jump to keep warm. Somehow Cat ends up kicking a load of sand all over me, the boys almost die laughing expecting a fight I think!
Dinner on the sea-front. Try mussels (in a cream sauce)...soooooo yummy, followed by the best duck confit EVER. Hari has a massive sea-food platter.
Cold walk home...dressed for day-time.
Jungle Speed, of course.

Thursday
Get up and head right down to beach, get ferry across to up-market Cap Feret.
Hire bikes...slightly wobbly at first, haven't ridden in ages, but get into it...although always at back of group!
Cycle to lighthouse and then back for some lunch, steak.
Back on bikes across the island, very peaceful and nice. Quickly lose the boys but find a really cool beach...pretty deserted, massive and awesome waves, proper North Devon/Cornwall atlantic waves. Boys track us down and we go in sea! I'm the only one prepared with bikini so it's underwear for the rest. Weird "creme brulee" sand. Dry off in the sun. Cycle to the point and then back to return bikes and get boat home again. Little nap on the way.
Good dinner chez nous: rillets, terrine de campagne, pasta salad etc, and best cheese EVER...tome de basque....mmmmm
Showers, Profiteroles for dessert.
ARCACHON SONG! So cool, I'll have to try and get words off of Eddie.
Jungle Speed.

Friday
Lazy morning, poor Hari is ill.
Read/lay outside. Seriously good weather.
Cat, Eddie and I head into town...wander around some shops, do a pharmacy trip for Hari, lunch and ice-cream.
Laze by pool. Little sleep and then a swim, I'm the first one in!
Nice warm shower and down into town for out last dinner, Italian, followed by sangria on the front watching some hilarious "jumper fashion" from the middle-aged couples enjoying the summer's eve (hard to believe still only April!) and entertained by Victor.
Jungle Speed.

Saturday
Up earlier. Pack up and clean caravan. Very, very warm today.
Head down to beach with all our gear. Sunbathe for a few hours, and Mr Umbrella comes in handy as a parasol. Paddle in sea, eat lunch, sunbathe a bit more and then a kinda uncomfortable walk back up to the station with all our stuff, too hat.
Train journey home and back in the Gueux in time to upload photos before bed.

This morning I nipped out for half an hour in the sun, need to keep this tan topped-up for ball next Saturday. Oooo, on other news, Ben Folds, The Zutons and Groove Armada are among Glasto confimations, :-) . Washing, lesson planning etc for a couple of days now and then it's off to Angleterre. Sooo excited to see Oxford mateys, realised I'm gonna be there for May Day and the ball should be awesome. And, of course, really really really can't wait to see Joe...been like 8 and a half weeks...

Quand meme...pas de soucis, hein?

Posted by LHsugarsugar 03:40 Archived in France Comments (0)

HOLIDAYS!

WOOOOO! Vacances have officially STARTED! yeah!

Last couple of days teaching were fine, just tidying stuff off, telling them about English money, few evaluations, some singing. Had our last group meal at Lou and Lynn's last night, pizza! Was really sad to say goodbye to Lynn...he he but on the upside she donated some clothes to me that she couldnt carry home, score!

And now here we go! Vivement les vacances! Leave for Arcachon tomorrow morning and there will be a mega entry to come when I'm back in a week's time.

Posted by LHsugarsugar 05:57 Archived in France Comments (0)

Another few days in a "Funny Country"

Really weird week, kinda feel a bit in limbo or something. Am, tonight, very tired after 3 hours sleep yesterday (we'll come to that), and kinda sad as the goodbyes have begun, it really seems way to soon for our little group to be broken up and really not liking having to say ciao to the Americans who I may not see again for a loooooong time. Work has been tough, the kids are suuuuuper chatty and stuff, they need a break too I guess...in fact on Monday I had the worst lesson I've ever had, my CE2 class were just awful. In fact I don't even wanna really go into it now because there has also been some really happytimes going down and the weather, at last, seems to be looking up.

So last night we had a little Leaving Party for Rachel, Lynn and Katie who are leaving and Hari, Eddie and Patti who are hanging around for a bit but have finished their contracts now. We headed first to Cafe de la Place for an apero, and JP, our responsable, came along which was really cool. Then 17 of us headed to a Chinese Restaurant and had an AMAZING meal. SOOOO yummy and the staff were really good. At 11.30ish the hardcore in the group moved on to the Irish Bar (nightclub closed on Tuesdays...of course) and ordered a few "giraffes", then later headed to Eddie's for a few rum and cokes and morris dancing (Molly went in a bin and a skip on the way!) and before we knew it it was 4am! Was very fun, tres good times...amusing.

However, had to be up again at 7.45 this morning, so yeah not an awful lot of sleep.

This morn me, Rachel, Lou and Stu did some more recording for JP... "I've got guinea pigs and a fish" etc and a funny song. My singing voice hadn't been treated very well yesterday night I guess and it was scary having to a sing a song we'd just learnt in front of people and the first time I tried JP said I sounded "like I was dying" when I got the "Miaow, miaow, miaow" bit, but nailed it the third time.

Then this afternoon I went back to Montpon with Rachel and Molly and Catherine. Very probably my last visit to the funny little place :-( We had a lovely afternoon. Took Rachel's table outside and had BBQ food which was loooovely. Enjoyed the sun and had some good chats. Later we went down by the lakes and had a really lovely peaceful couple of hours chilling out, gouting and playing frisbee. Delightful.

Here is a funny story:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7350193.stm

Oh I'm tired I shall have to save my tales of French customer service for tomorrow... a demain

Posted by LHsugarsugar 12:45 Archived in France Comments (0)

Dordogne en voiture avec mes parents

all seasons in one day 14 °C

Oh dear these tired weekly updates are getting a bit of a regular thing...but for all the very best reasons, has been another excellent one. Parents have been here and we had a really good week, great to see them, weather a bit changable but could have been worse and they hired a car so got to spend lots of time out in the countryside around me which was really cool! Am tired today, have felt a bit down, really looking forward to seeing Joe now and just seems quiet here for a day or so, and doing washing was a bit of a pain as machine was broken and, being a Sunday, getting change was a right old cuffufle...so anyway yeah just going to try and write a quickish overview of a really good week.

So yeah worked on Tuesday morning and got the superduper 2eur bus to Bergerac to meet them. We did the tour of the town...old square, little shops, Cyrano de Bergerac statues, Maison de Vin etc, and then timed it just right to jump onto a boat tour aboard one of the traditional gabarre boats. Was really nice to go up and down the river, and got to see a heron and lots of black kites, really enjoyed it. I managed to navigate our way home in the car later. We found all the driving pretty easy actually, roads in France are really well signposted etc and all the roads were lovely and quiet. We cooked dinner at my place and had a realllllly yummy selection of cakes.

On Wednesday we headed South in the car (after a nice breakfast at their hotel), a lovely journey through the country and little villages, going through the Les Eyzies area where all the Dordogne prehistoric caves and stuff are centred. Sarlat is the cutest place evvvvver! Can imagine its absolutely heaving in the summer, just really picturesque little squares and roads and sooooo many cafes and restaurants. We arrived intime for the market which was full of the local walnuts...covered in chocolate, made into cake, oils etc etc etc, free samples! Was one of the nicest busiest markets I've come across. We checked out the Lanterne des Morts and the church, wandered around and stopped for a nice lunch in a little cafe. In the afternoon we drove back through Les Eyzies and stopped at one of the many caves, Les Grottes de Grand Roc, which was really cool. Firstly a nice little French lady took us into a darkened room and showed us a video all about the excavation of the caves and stuff which was interesting. Have found my French really good this week, like not doing anything complicated but can really feel a big difference just ordering food, buying tickets etc from the beginning, people generally understand me exactly the first time now so I guess my accent or whatever has improved a bit. Anyway, after the presentation we got to look around the prehistoric living "shelter" and see the various levels of rock formation, and then went on a half hour tour of the caves which were full of staligtites, staligmites and 'eccentrics', very cool.

Thursday I had to work in the morning, which was fine and made better by the fact my last lesson was cancelled. Mum and Dad had a relaxing day in town and reading etc, then when I met them we had a wander around a few shops and got an ice-cream. After a drink and a siesta we went out for a yummy dinner.

On Friday (after a good morning's teaching) Dad gave me a lift to Lidls and L'eclerc which was really useful and meant I could stock up on all the essentials and also got to show them my Trelissac school. Mum cut my fringe for me and I packed up a little bag of stuff to send home with them...yup have started the homeward transportation of "stuff" now, wooooo! We had another hour sat outside having a holiday drink, spent a couple of hours reading which was lovely and chilled-out and then cooked a chilli at mine for dinner.

And then Saturday another really cool day out in the car...it was like the world had died and we were the only people left in the Dordogne, all the little villages were just soooo quiet. Excideuil first which was very cute with a nice church and interesting restored chateau. Through another couple of little villages. Unfortuately the apple museum was closed and we got absolutely soaked at one point, but otherwise was really nice to be out in the fresh air...can't believe there's so many miles of beautiful countryside so close to me really, all the little houses and farms...
Then onto the highlight of the day, Hautefort. It's another lovely little town, with a funny old garage and museum of medicine in an old hospice, but the highlight is it's castle and beautifully sculptured gardens. We did the "visite libre", was just a shame the weather wasn't a bit better to do all the gardens, but the clouds make for some impressive photos. Back via a stop at a very closed-up old monestary, check out the road they needed for their early flight back to Berg this morn and finished off a lovely week with an excellent dinner at their hotel.

Posted by LHsugarsugar 23:24 Archived in France Comments (0)

A happy weekend

sunny

Hey hey hey!

Wow, that was such an awesome weekend. The sunshine was out (snow at home!!!) and Saturday was really really warm, proper tanning weather at last. So, first things first, Friday afternoon Lou, Eddie and I went to an "English in Dordogne" expo thing to see a talk by Stephen Clarke. He's a really entertaining author who has written the series of "merde" books about an Englishman in France, as well as "Ten Commandments for living with the French" which is really funny. Had previously read and enjoyed them and was well excited! He did a cool talk with some funny little anecdotes which were soooooo true and, as there were only about 10 people there, we got to have a little chat and get his signature after.

Friday afternoon I had a lovely time chilling out in the sunshine with the 2eLLes (Lou and Lynn) and Molly. We had our first ice-creams of the summer and Lynn took us to this random, run-down building where she thought we could get costumes for the carnival on Sunday...err not quite! But was a nice couple of hours and we got some face paints.

Saturday morning I did a few jobs and stuff which needed doing and then we all headed to the park for a BBQ! It was Molly's awesome idea and was such a good time. We had to hide the BBQ behind a wall because it wasn't exactly allowed but all worked out fine. Had amazing burgers with cheese, onions, gherkins, salad, crisps, potato salad (which I made and was pretty proud of!) and Lynn turned up 2 hours late (as always!!!) but with an amazing fruit platter and melted chocolate. We all ate and sat around, the others played frisbee and I had a good chat and some sunbathing with Lynn, Katie and Helen. When the sun eventually started to go in at 7ish we dropped our stuff off and grabbed jumpers for mine and headed to the fair which had set up in town. But got there at 8ish and, as we're in France, it was just closing for dinner! So we ended up just hanging round for an hour taking silly (but very cool) photos. Was just sooo good to chill out with these guys and not have to worry that there's essays to be written or work the next day or whatever, was happy. But also sad that it's almost the end for our little group...only a week and a half left for 7monthers. :-( We went to our local, Cafe de la Place and sat outside with a plate of frites listening to the really cool local band then hit up the re-opened fair. The crazy people went on this ridiculous ride and we did silly techtonik dancing. Then we all went on the bumper cars, Lou and I, the non-drivers, shared! And I went on The Octopus, singing Mika all the way around.

Talking of Mika, Lynn has made a Youtube channel with all the songs that have accompanied our time in France: http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=198A2331E0C883F8

The girls came back to mine for a cup of tea, being rudely interrupted by Heddie (The "Hari and Eddie show") on the intercom, and then Rachel stayed at mine...we stayed up later then we should have with a random religion conversation I seem to remember!

Sunday morning it was all fingers and eyes on the computer for Glasto tickets, and Joe, Me, Katie and Tom all got them! WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so excited, gonna be amazing again methinks. ;-) :-) :-)
Next job= booking final flight home :-)

Then the others came back round and we got face painting! Katie, the artiste, is mega-talented and did me a really cool sea-horse. When we are all ready and joined by Mary Poppins (Cecile) and Heddie we hit up the Carnival. Was really cool...like the floats weren't exactly amazing or anything and the French crowd lacked the party spirit at times but the Anglo-saxons did a good job cheering and stuff. Was some "wicked" techtonik and some genuinely cool bands, love the old samba. I think the tonnes of confetti which were thrown aroud really added to the atmosphere and was just cool to see so many people out and the roads closed and stuff.

It got really windy late in the afternoon so we popped into Cecile's for a gouter. Then at 6ish (and with some warmer clothes) we followed the floats down to the river. Was a bit random, they have a "trial" for the Petassue guy and then burn him. He's supposedly represents all the bad stuff of the city and burning him brings good luck, but the trial involved claiming he'd raped a load of women and stuff...not really very family friendly and let's not even mention the health and safety of the fire! Was all good fun though.

AND Parents arrive tomorrow! :-) so, err, yeah better go clean!

A bientot

Posted by LHsugarsugar 07:53 Archived in France Comments (0)

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