When I wrote my blog post ‘Milestones’ back in May, we were celebrating the Platinum Jubilee of the reign of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II. Who could have predicted that she would live for only a few more months before dying on 8th September at the grand age of ninety-six? When people reach extreme old age their remaining years are numbered, but for those of us left behind who have known them for all of our lives, there is still a sense of shock and disbelief. Everything changes in an instant, and we will take time to adapt to a new regime and reign.
This has been and continues to be a year of uncertainty. Here in the United Kingdom life has taken some strange turns, many of them serious, worrying and stressful for ordinary people. In July my other half and I decided that after three years we could wait no longer, and booked a short break to France in the middle of September. Little did we know that we would be travelling on the day of the late Queen’s funeral: a Monday which suddenly became a Bank Holiday. Fortunately our ferry sailed into the Channel on an overnight crossing which was the calmest I’ve ever known. Including the night on the ferry, we were only away for four nights, returning on the Friday evening, but the amount of paperwork needed to enter France was laughable – and serious. I travelled with a wadge of documents for ourselves, the car, the insurances, the ferry and the hotel, fearful of being searched on the way out by Customs officers at the border (the car in front of us was fully searched) as well as on the return, with our pitiful bottles of wine, brandy and groceries.
I expect you are wondering whether it was worth all the hassle for such a short stay, and we pondered on this ourselves. I think it was, but it’s off-putting. We’d also had a week of silly ‘disasters’ prior to leaving, including two fraudulent transactions on our bank account, the final straw being the third time our rear number-plate fell off in the drive and needed to be secured with screws to take away the worry!
One of the best days, once we had settled in and done some shopping, was spent at a series of beaches along the northern French coast called Les Amiets. These are hard to find, and even the staff at the hotel were pushed to remember how to get there, one very kind lady called Caroline eventually writing down some key placenames on a map. My photos will show you what a treat the wide sandy beaches turned out to be, the unusual white sand interspersed at intervals with huge rocks and sprinkled with glistening shells.
I should also show you some glimpses of the town of Roscoff where we stayed including the wonderful view of the sunrise from our hotel bedroom window:
The gargoyle is one of several carved into the front of an old house further along the street from our hotel - which incidentally is situated close to the beautiful church shown in the other photo.
We arrived home late at night, having benefitted from another smooth crossing, and adapted to driving on the left hand side of the road again - at night!
We had missed a lot of politics while we were away, including a mini-budget from a new Chancellor and a lot of restlessness and argument amongst the Press, the broadcasters and the government. It's always good to 'escape' for a while!
Back in the garden, we are well into Autumn now, but this odd year of weather seems to have stimulated some of the plants which are still flowering strongly. Indeed, some of the Dahlias have only just begun to open their flowers and one which I had almost given up on will bloom any day.
We've also had record numbers of tomatoes, and last weekend I spent many hours in the kitchen making (a first for me) home-made tomato ketchup. It's not a simple task, but my goodness it tastes delicious!
I read a couple of very disappointing books earlier in September, and then took on holiday one which I'd saved up for then: Robert Galbraith's new 'Strike' novel 'The Ink Black Heart'. This is a very long book, and it's certainly not one that everyone will enjoy - but I'm glued to it and whilst there is a lot of pretty awful language (necessary, some might say, for the plot) I have to say I'm thoroughly enjoying it. Would I recommend it? Not to everyone, but if you like this series you will love this latest one.
In these times of uncertainty, unrest and confusion, where the whole world seems to be in turmoil, we need to stick together as families, friends and acquaintances, and hold fast to the good things in our lives - however small or trivial they may seem to be. That's it for now. Look after yourselves!