I Went To France And It Was Closed

29 Aug

Some things I learned on holiday

Six Word Saturday


French People Take Holidays, Too

A Jock-in-the-bush

A Jock-in-the-bush

I went to visit VivinFrance and her lovely Jock – as in Jock, her delightful Scots husband, not jock, her meathead athlete; though he could have been a meathead athlete in his day, I suppose: he did once play ice hockey in Canada.  

The trip was organised fairly last minute but Viv had some ideas to entertain me: a poetry workshop with two of her writer friends; a meal at the excellent restaurant in the village; shopping on Saturday.  

Unfortunately (for me, not them; I have nothing against the South of England, honest), her friends went to Cornwall as I arrived in Europe; the restaurant closed so the owners could take a holiday (at the height of the summer season: the French have their priorities right); and Saturday was a public holiday, therefore many shops were closed.


My hosts are lovely people

I didn’t really learn this on holiday but I need to shoehorn in the fact that when I went to bed, I found a box of fudge under my pillow, called Mrs Tilly’s.  

I was too tired from the drama of flying alone to take a photo of my delight that night, but here’s a dramatic re-enactment from the next morning:



I like to go with the flow

France being closed didn’t bother me – I was with my dear Viv and we read poetry (some), talked poetry (more), critiqued poetry (a lot), wrote poetry (a little).  We managed visits to a supermarket and a hardware store that I thought was a supermarket (schoolgirl French never covering le tool shop), as well as the fulfillment of a childhood dream when I entered a pretty boulangerie-patisserie straight out of a French text book drawing.  I bought elephant ears, a French biscuit.  First introduced to me by blogger Laurie, who sent her home made version from the States, I have long wanted another go at them.



Nostalgia is weird

On our daily walk into the village – There was fighting on this street during the war, Viv casually threw out; as if the French also have lots of history.  I thought it was only us Brits – we popped into a corner shop and I spotted and had to purchase a box of Maizena!

If you don’t know, I lived in South Africa for fourteen years and learned to make gravy with cornflour – Maizena, a popular brand.  If there was any other brand of cornflour, I never saw it nor bought it.  Even now, nineteen years later and back in the UK, the grocery list often says ‘Maizena’ instead of ‘Corn Flour’.  Of course I had to buy a box.  Probably the oddest souvenir I’ve ever had.  But I don’t care – Maizena!


French folk are funny

DSCN3782Viv, her lovely friend Annette and I rested during a trip to the seaside (I don’t think France wanted to meet me – even the tide was out).  A man on a bike shouted as he passed, A kebab of old people!  It was funny once translated, until I realised that I was part of the kebab.

I wouldn’t mind, but I don’t think he was really French: he was on a bike but he had no garlic, onions, beret, baguettes or striped shirt.


Goats and lemurs get me going

DSCN3828We had a trip to the zoo: Zoo Champrepus.  Say it aloud; it’s fun, especially with the French rising inflection.  I haven’t stopped saying it since I got back. It’s up there with ‘giggle’ and ‘hitch’ as one of my favourite words.

Our first stop was to feed popcorn to the goats and I was chuffed when a goat stood up against me to make sure he got his fair share i.e. all of it.  It was the highlight of my day until we visited the lemur enclosure at feeding time.  The animals wander around amongst the visitors, who are not allowed to touch them. However, they are allowed to touch us.  One cutie pie, deciding he hadn’t been given enough, stood up against my leg, wrapping his adorable little paws around me and giving me his best Puss in Boots from Shrek impression (previous post refers).  I’m in love.  I haven’t felt that aglow since my wedding day.  In the zoo shop afterwards I bought a lemur cuddly toy, lemur keyring and whatever lemur else I could find to remind me of my new favourite animal.


The little fellow who won my heart

The little fellow who won my heart

French food is the best

Viv and Jock fed me well, including Jock’s homemade Waldorf salad and Viv’s (drool) garlic lamb; but the culinary highlight had to be a trip to their favourite restaurant with some old friends and a bottle or three of good French wine.  

Viv translated the menu (which had no prices listed; need I say more?) but I had no clear idea of what I was ordering; I just trusted it would be good and it was, more than good, viz. photos below:


DSCN3800DSCN3806Talking of wine, I couldn’t drink when I first arrived in France (surely a crime against nature?) because I was on antibiotics for an abscess, but I made up for it come Saturday-Wednesday and spent a lot of my time tipsier than the hour before a flight.  I don’t think my hosts noticed, apart from the night I sprawled across their couch, giggling uncontrollably at re-runs of M*A*S*H.


Flying ain’t so bad if you know the pilot

I’m terrified of flying.  Mostly, I’m afraid of take-off; once I’m up there, I’m committed and, as a pragmatist, I relax enough to loosen my seat belt to Victorian corset strength.  Due to the aforementioned antibiotics, I was unable to have a fortifying beverage on either of my outward flights (to Exeter and then Deauville).   I compensated for my unusual sobriety by taking deep breaths, praying really hard, and singing hymns quietly (don’t want people to think I’m nuts; terrified is enough) in the spirit of Whistle a Happy Tune and I Have Confidence.  Musicals are good for more than Saturday nights in bed, you know.  I could have sung Nearer My God To Thee but I opted for Lord I Lift Your Name On High; it seemed appropriate.

It wasn’t so bad coming back because I still had my pickle on thanks to Jock’s single malt; and on the Exeter-Manchester flight I was delighted to find myself sitting next to a FlyBe pilot (one of six dotted about) who had been on a course, and who flew the route regularly.  I bombarded him with questions – How can this thing even take off?  What happens if one engine fails? Why don’t we crash?  When you’re a passenger, do you judge the actual pilot on his technique? – and he gently slapped me about the head with facts, figures and common sense.  He added to his goodness by pointing out landmarks I’d never have spotted, such as Blackpool Tower (you know, that great big pointy thing with delusions of Frenchness) and allowed me to enjoy the first flight I’ve ever almost enjoyed.  And I was sat by the window – not a matter of choice; I always ask for an aisle seat so I can be one of the first off the plane when we inevitably go down.


Families suck

TB: Did you miss me?

Hub: No, not really.

TB: Why not?!?

Spud: We didn’t have one cross word while you were away; and everything got done.

Hub: Yeah.  We came to the conclusion that you’re a stress head.


I was going to tell you about the romantic thing the Hub wrote to me while I was away, but I don’t think I’ll bother now.  Suffice it to say, I’ll pay my own way to the moon, thank you very much.  When it opens.

27 Responses to “I Went To France And It Was Closed”

  1. slpmartin August 29, 2015 at 19:27 #

    Sounds like a most pleasant visit and entertaining to read of your adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. judyt54 August 29, 2015 at 19:42 #

    Id say youve made up for your disappearance, Tilly. What fun to read, and what fun you had. I am turning a healthy shade of green…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lizzie Koch (@Lizzie_Koch) August 29, 2015 at 19:44 #

    What a fab time you had. I can’t get over the fact the lemurs can touch you and are in close enough contact to do so. Must have been one of your highlights in an exciting time. x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. laurieanichols August 29, 2015 at 20:08 #

    What a lovely time you all had, I am so happy for it! 😀 Your gaggle of men are very funny 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com August 29, 2015 at 20:38 #

    On behalf of Jock, may I ask you to tell us about “meathead athlete” – a term we have never come across.
    We’re both so glad you enjoyed your visit and didn’t suffer too much trauma from being forced to fly. In fact we had the happiest week in a long time, and you were a model guest, welcome to return any time.
    ViV xox

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Laughing Housewife September 5, 2015 at 10:58 #

      Meathead = all brawn, no brain. It’s an Americanism.

      As for the rest of your comment…looking up flights right now 🙂


  6. McGuffy Ann August 29, 2015 at 20:44 #

    What a great trip! And it made for a really enjoyable post, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Elaine - I used to be indecisive August 29, 2015 at 21:05 #

    Sounds like you had a lovely time though, despite France being shut. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. colonialist August 29, 2015 at 23:49 #

    I hope you enjoyed that visit half as much as I did your account of it!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Patricia August 30, 2015 at 03:37 #

    You should write for a travel agency. I want to go to France or somewhere and I hate to travel. In fact, I never go anywhere and I have been quite happy, thank you. Now I want a visa.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ron. August 30, 2015 at 10:03 #

    Well, TB, if you MUST stay away from blogging for such extended terms, then so be it; but as long as you return with just endearing and entertaining writing as this, I’m willing to wait. As far as your visit to my OTHER favorite blogger, it’s clear that it was everything one might expect from such a wonderful person, living in such a wonderful place. J.E.A.L.O.U.S !

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Laughing Housewife September 5, 2015 at 10:59 #

      It was!

      You know, there’s nothing to stop you crossing the pond; and you could bring Sandra. Just sayin’.


  11. emmasouthlondon August 30, 2015 at 13:28 #

    What an experience! I love France – must get back there one day soon! Emma 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. SchmidleysScribblins August 30, 2015 at 16:28 #

    Actually, sitting with your white haired pals makes you look like a kid. Great photo of the three of you. Must be nice to pop across the channel like that. Every time I watch Scott and Bailey, I think of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The Laughing Housewife September 5, 2015 at 11:01 #

      I can’t think why! I have no deductive reasoning and my accent is Scouse. But if I look half as good as Suranne Jones, I’ll accept the (what I hope is a) compliment 🙂


  13. Kathe W. August 30, 2015 at 18:52 #

    I’ve learned that one never goes to Europe during the summer; too hot, too many tourists and lots of places are closed for their vacations. So we go in mid-spring or early fall. However it sounds as if you had a lovely time and enjoyed yourself! Thanks for all the photos! Cheers!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. thehutts August 31, 2015 at 08:14 #

    The Laughing Housewife at her best – it was worth the wait. I can totally empathise with you on the flying but I don’t drink so have to resort to your breathing techniques all the time. Whilst you were with Mum we flew off a tiny island in a 15 seater which made the holiday for everyone but me. I hate take offs and landings in big planes but it isn’t so bad in a little one. I love spotting for things out of the window but due to stress I can remember admiring the silhouette of the little plane on the beautiful blue waters below and promptly falling asleep. Apparently I woke up briefly as we bounced over Dunoon and then went back to sleep. The main views I got were of the Clyde as we came into Glasgow – not what you pay all that money for. The chances of a repeat trip with such clear skies is virtually nil. The husband is making a photo book of the views I missed. Here is a taster:


    Liked by 1 person

    • The Laughing Housewife September 5, 2015 at 11:05 #

      I’m glad you shared this; I have the post email somewhere in my must-read pile but short cuts are better 🙂

      I’m like you about flying (as you know), but I really enjoyed the one helicopter flight I took; and a sightseeing trip around Joburg in a JU52 (a war plane). I know jets are safer but they terrify me. Why don’t they crash? They’re like the bumble bees of technology – they just shouldn’t be able to get up there in the first place.


  15. Tonya September 5, 2015 at 17:38 #

    Sounds like you had a visit to remember. You will have to go back when they are open and see what you missed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. sarsm September 6, 2015 at 10:32 #

    Glad you enjoyed your holiday!!! Germany closes too. A couple of summers ago we thought we’d go to the local theatre for a night out, but no, it closed for the whole summer holiday period?!?
    I am also an anxious flyer. Anxious is actually an understatement…

    The food looks delicious!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. beeblu October 3, 2015 at 03:51 #

    “A kebab of old people”?! Consider yourself well and truly skewered.

    Glad you had a great time in France, Tilly, and that you are brave enough to overcome your fear of flying to go there.

    I experienced lemurs climbing all over me, including my head, in Madagascar. They are strange little creatures.

    Liked by 1 person

I welcome your comments but be warned: I'm menopausal and as likely to snarl as smile. Wine or Maltesers are an acceptable bribe; or a compliment about my youthful looks and cheery disposition will do in a pinch.

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