Week 337

  7th June, 2015

Sometimes life is really ironic. We are booked to go through the Eurotunnel tomorrow morning. Suddenly, last night Pauline was feeling unwell with post operative pain and discomfort. We were up at 1.00 am, drinking cups of tea and discussing whether to call out a doctor. We chose not to on balance and she is decidedly better this morning but I set off for the Health Club alone while Pauline completed the packing. I did a strong hour’s workout, walked out into the sunshine in the car park and promptly collapsed – falling headlong on to the tarmac. I suspect I was rather dehydrated although it was a bit disconcerting.

If that wasn’t enough, the BBC is reporting:

Two unexploded World War II mines discovered near the port of Calais have led to the cancellation of a number of cross-Channel ferries. The bombs, which are more than 70 years old, are of British origin and were found on the beach near the port. One, thought to be booby-trapped, cannot be moved. The operation to defuse the bombs will be carried out by divers from the French Navy. Roads into Calais have been closed and drivers are being diverted to Dunkirk.

We will see what happens. Maybe Calais won’t exist by the time we get there!

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However, if all goes ahead, there will be a hiatus in the Blog for a few days.

8th June, 2015

A leisurely start this morning as we set off for Ashford and the Tunnel. It is warm and bright. Our train was delayed by an hour because of an ‘earlier incident’ but we were soon on and off and driving down to our hotel in Cocquelles.

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We’d booked a suite for the week so that we could drive out to places of interest.

9th June, 2015

Our trip out today is to Lens. It has a thriving open market on a Tuesday. Unfortunately, after an unusually large, buffet breakfast and an hour recovering with out digital newspapers, we didn’t set off for the 60 mile drive until about 10.30 am. We arrived at just after 11.30 am to find the market traders just packing up after a hard morning sitting on stools, drinking strong coffee and smoking Gauloise.

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They take me back to my smoking days in the ’70s & ’80s. It is thirty years since a cigarette touched my lips. I still have the cigarette box which had been my father’s, the cigarettes and the nearly new lighter I had when I finally gave up on November 14th, 1985.

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We had intended to go on to the Lens Louvre but a fit of apathy overcame us and we did a ‘drive-by’.

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10th June, 2015

Our second buffet breakfast in as many days and we are beginning to regret ordering them. Today we are going to Boulogne. We have been many times before but it is an enjoyable trip out – only 40 mins. from Cocquelles. The weather was hot and humid and rather tiring. We parked on the quay near the Fish Market. It was full of the most wonderful produce. I had my eye on a huge turbot (more accurately, he had his eye on me.) and there were crabs the size of dinner plates, langoustines and lobsters to die for.

Checking out the daily catch at Quai Gambetta's fish market in Boulogne. Photos © hidden europe

The whole thing was very frustrating because we weren’t in a position to buy any because we had nowhere to store it over our stay. We did have a fridge in our suite but not suitable for a lorry load of fresh fish!

We mooched around the open market which is on Wednesday in Boulogne but it looked more a tourist trap than a proper market. Pauline popped in to a few clothes and shoe shops without finding anything she really liked. Ironically, we then went in to Carrefour to buy some food for a snack meal and Pauline found the summer shoes she had liked last year in lots of different colours and bought five pairs.

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Last year she bought two pairs for Elerania and sent them to Sifnos because she had admired them.

We went back to the hotel and enjoyed the grounds which were being tidied up by a huge army of gardeners.

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It really is an enjoyable and comfortable place to stay. We have been using it for thirty years or so when it was originally a Copthorne Millenium hotel.

11th June, 2015

We got up for breakfast (again!) to the sound of torrential rain. It was very hot and humid. By the time we set off for Le Touquet – Paris Plage, the sun was out and the skies were blue. During the day, the temperature reached a sticky 28C/83F. We walked the sea shore and then the wonderful open market.

I was so moved by the beauty of the sea front that I snatched up my iPad to take a photo. This is it:

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Realising that I hadn’t quite caught the core magic of the place, I took a second:

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The problem with iPad screens in bright sunlight is that they are useless. By the time I got a grip, Pauline was using her phone:

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After a long walk at the sea front, we explored the centuries old market full of enticing goods I’m not allowed to eat:

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12th June, 2015

Throughout the week, I had been buying bottles of red Bordeaux to ‘try’ prior to buying ‘in bulk’. A couple of my absolute favourites were bought in Auchan – A St Chinian and a Buzet. You’ll notice that I was pretty Buzet by the time I photographed the second one – so buzet that I forgot the third one which is a Minervois.

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Today we went out and bought fifteen cases of the stuff along with a freezer-full of duck, pork, beef steaks, rabbit joints plus olive oil, mustard and fresh fish including cod loins, whole salmon, crab and langoustine. Should keep us going over the weekend!

We drove back to the Tunnel with the car laden down. A lovely journey home apart from the M25 had a 2 mile hold-up because of an accident. After unloading the car, everything had to be put away neatly because estate agents are conducting a viewing of our apartment tomorrow.

13th June, 2015

We had to get back yesterday because Pauline has a hospital appointment with a consultant at Ashford hospital this morning. We had to be there for 10.30 am as we drove through Runneymede where they were gearing up for Magna Carta celebrations for its 800th anniversary. The hospital at Ashford is new, shining and almost fully automated.

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You check-in by machine, sit in front of screens which flash up when you are to be seen and where. Only then do you meet a human. In Pauline’s case, she has to have endoscopy which won’t be pleasant but will reassure her ultimately. We hope!

As we drove home, the estate agent called to say the viewer of our property had tried to open the lounge windows and had knocked a table lamp over smashing its shade.

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Pauline was very upset. She bought this lamp in the early 1970s and had brought it with us to every property we have lived in. It featured in our wedding photo cutting the cake. It is probably worth very little financially but a huge amount emotionally. We are trying to source a replacement for Foxtons to buy for us. I have a feeling that it will be very expensive.