Friday, August 9, 2013

Vacation with the Family

We joined the Husaunndee crew in La Rochelle for the first week of vacation. They rented a house not far from the port, closer to the east end of the park. If you go through the park from the east to the west, you have the swimming pool and gym at the east end and a nice meandering walk to the west end, where the animal meagerie and pony rides are. There are a few playgrounds on the way.
The house they rented is nice, with four big bedrooms and they've modernized it with bathrooms and an kitchen addition in the back. The old outhouse now houses the water-heater. The garden is long and narrow. The kids did not play much in the garden. I think I went out there the most -- to hang the laundry.
We weren't far from the market, and we could get ready-made meals at the market, too. Past the market, it wasn't far to the port. The Rue du Vieux Port has an ice cream shop, Earnest's, with some wonderful ice-cream. It was almost a daily stop. Along the port, on the yacht bassin, Claire's friend, Irene, has her café, the Café du Bassin (trip-advisor review). It's their first season, there. We didn't get to see R. and their son, Y., until the last day. Also, on the last day, I was finally able to see Laurent, a former colleague from KDS, who moved to La Rochelle a few years ago and has become a serious sailor as well as partner in a bar, Le Harmatton, (sorry, I can't find a web site for them or citing them recently, since they took it over) right at the intersection of the Rue du Vieux Port and the street parallel to the port (28 rue de la Bletterie), so a very busy part of town. We didn't have time to say much beyond "hello", because he had the accountant in and I was expected to meet the others at Irene's place.
Now that we've had the layout of the land, let's get to the family. We got in just in time for a late lunch. Claire, Geoffrey and the kids came in from their morning at the beach; showered; and we all headed down to the port for a late lunch at an unremarkable and unrecommendable place, followed by some wonderful ice-cream. We continued walking down towards the towers along the quai. The tide was very low when we started, but it came up quite a bit during our walk. On Monday, we all went to the beach. We packed a picnic lunch, but we ended up coming home shortly after eating because it was just too hot and we all took cover in the little tent. No sense staying at the beach, then. Back to the house, shower, and out for a walk to get some ice-cream.
Tuesday was a bit chilly and gray, so we decided to go to the Aquarium -- almost as nice as the one in Monterey and much, much less expensive, so much more crowded! But we didn't go there until after lunch because the line was so long to get in, we figured it was better to have lunch, first, then see what the line was like. Claire picked up the tickets at the tourist office, where the line for tickets was shorter, so we didn't have a long wait to get in, once we were there.
Another chilly morning, we went to the Natural History Museum, just around the corner from our house. This is an old-fashioned Nat. Hist. museum, with all the stuffed animals -- birds, snakes, small local animals and large exotic ones. There's also a floor of primary arts with some beautiful South American and African instruments, feathered headgear, printed fabric, and beadwork -- all showing how most civilizations came up with similar things.
The girls got to go on the pony ride, but Aurelia chickened out at the last minute, so Charlotte went by herself. They went on the merry-go-round, which is the oldest one still running, in France. We all went up on the ferris wheel to get some nice views of the city and port.
We went to Irene's several times for an afternoon drink. The girls were allowed to "help". They served our drinks and took the empty glasses back and wiped the tables. They earned their generous tips. They also got to drink their grenadines. They even got to meet Y. on Friday, but he was shy; so was Aurelia.
Friday was a glorious day and we went to Ile de Ré. We drove all the way to the end of the island to the lighthouse (Phare des Baleines, so called because it burned whale oil), and spent the end of the morning going up to the top and then visiting the museum afterwards. We had lunch in the nearby town and then hit the beach. It was late to go to the beach, but not too hot. The kids played in the waves and built themselves a little pool just above the high tide line. We left early enough to get our showers and do our Friday visits (Le Harmattan and Le Café du Bassin) before a dinner out at a nice Italian place just behind the Café du Bassin.
On Saturday morning, we packed up, cleaned and left the house before noon! (Just getting us all ready to leave for the beach took almost as long!) We stopped to pick up some groceries and lunch items on the way, but where we are now is really not very far from La Rochelle, so even with our grocery and lunch stop, we got here by 2. Plouf into the pool. This is a "gite". The owner has the big house and he turned the annex buildings into gites -- six of them. Ours can sleep 8. Others may be about the same size or a bit smaller, but it looks like most of the families staying are at least 4 or 5 people. So, if you figure 6 gites with an average of 5, that's 30 people! All English-speakers, except for Paul. So this hamlet has an intersection. The house and gite annexes are on one corner. Across the way, there's a big plot, just as big as the one with the buildings, but this one is a garden with a walled in section for the pools: a rather big wading pool and a fair-sized swimming pool. There's also a swing set and a big trampoline. On another corner, another plot with buildings that the owner is refurbishing as long-term rental properties. He does all this work himself and has been at it since 2004. It's quite an establishment. Down the road are some other houses bought up by other British families. We spoke to the farmer next door. The poor woman doesn't speak English, so having us speaking French is such a surprise for her, she talked on and on. She also took us into the farm so the girls could see the calves. There are two very small ones and others at varying degrees older. Speaking of animals, in the garden plot of "our" place, there's a fenced in area with a rooster, two hens, seven very recent chicks (only a few days old), a duck and a rabbit.
Today, it's a little cloudy and chilly, so we went to Surgères where there is a beautiful church, roman architecture. It's beautiful from the outside, but inside rather dark and you can see why Gothic developed. There are also some vestiges of the old chateau. We came back after lunch and it's been gray and chilly. We hope the evening clears up.Vacation with the Family
We joined the Husaunndee crew in La Rochelle for the first week of vacation. They rented a house not far from the port, closer to the east end of the park. If you go through the park from the east to the west, you have the swimming pool and gym at the east end and a nice meandering walk to the west end, where the animal meagerie and pony rides are. There are a few playgrounds on the way.
The house they rented is nice, with four big bedrooms and they've modernized it with bathrooms and an kitchen addition in the back. The old outhouse now houses the water-heater. The garden is long and narrow. The kids did not play much in the garden. I think I went out there the most -- to hang the laundry.
We weren't far from the market, and we could get ready-made meals at the market, too. Past the market, it wasn't far to the port. The Rue du Vieux Port has an ice cream shop, Earnest's, with some wonderful ice-cream. It was almost a daily stop. Along the port, on the yacht bassin, Claire's friend, Irene, has her café, the Café du Bassin. It's their first season, there. We didn't get to see R. and their son, Y., until the last day. Also, on the last day, I was finally able to see Laurent, a former colleague from KDS, who moved to La Rochelle a few years ago and has become a serious sailor as well as partner in a bar, Le Harmatton, right at the intersection of the Rue du Vieux Port and the street parallel to the port, so a very busy part of town. We didn't have time to say much beyond "hello", because he had the accountant in and I was expected to meet the others at Irene's place.
Now that we've had the layout of the land, let's get to the family. We got in just in time for a late lunch. Claire, Geoffrey and the kids came in from their morning at the beach; showered; and we all headed down to the port for a late lunch at an unremarkable and unrecommendable place, followed by some wonderful ice-cream. We continued walking down towards the towers along the quai. The tide was very low when we started, but it came up quite a bit during our walk. On Monday, we all went to the beach. We packed a picnic lunch, but we ended up coming home shortly after eating because it was just too hot and we all took cover in the little tent. No sense staying at the beach, then. Back to the house, shower, and out for a walk to get some ice-cream.
Tuesday was a bit chilly and gray, so we decided to go to the Aquarium -- almost as nice as the one in Monterey and much, much less expensive, so much more crowded! But we didn't go there until after lunch because the line was so long to get in, we figured it was better to have lunch, first, then see what the line was like. Claire picked up the tickets at the tourist office, where the line for tickets was shorter, so we didn't have a long wait to get in, once we were there.
Another chilly morning, we went to the Natural History Museum, just around the corner from our house. This is an old-fashioned Nat. Hist. museum, with all the stuffed animals -- birds, snakes, small local animals and large exotic ones. There's also a floor of primary arts with some beautiful South American and African instruments, feathered headgear, printed fabric, and beadwork -- all showing how most civilizations came up with similar things.
The girls got to go on the pony ride, but Aurelia chickened out at the last minute, so Charlotte went by herself. They went on the merry-go-round, which is the oldest one still running, in France. We all went up on the ferris wheel to get some nice views of the city and port.
We went to Irene's several times for an afternoon drink. The girls were allowed to "help". They served our drinks and took the empty glasses back and wiped the tables. They earned their generous tips. They also got to drink their grenadines. They even got to meet Y. on Friday, but he was shy; so was Aurelia.
Friday was a glorious day and we went to Ile de Ré. We drove all the way to the end of the island to the lighthouse (Phare des Baleines, so called because it burned whale oil), and spent the end of the morning going up to the top and then visiting the museum afterwards. We had lunch in the nearby town and then hit the beach. It was late to go to the beach, but not too hot. The kids played in the waves and built themselves a little pool just above the high tide line. We left early enough to get our showers and do our Friday visits (Le Harmattan and Le Café du Bassin) before a dinner out at a nice Italian place just behind the Café du Bassin.
On Saturday morning, we packed up, cleaned and left the house before noon! (Just getting us all ready to leave for the beach took almost as long!) We stopped to pick up some groceries and lunch items on the way, but where we are now is really not very far from La Rochelle, so even with our grocery and lunch stop, we got here by 2. Plouf into the pool. This is a "gite". The owner has the big house and he turned the annex buildings into gites -- six of them. Ours can sleep 8. Others may be about the same size or a bit smaller, but it looks like most of the families staying are at least 4 or 5 people. So, if you figure 6 gites with an average of 5, that's 30 people! All English-speakers, except for Paul. So this hamlet has an intersection. The house and gite annexes are on one corner. Across the way, there's a big plot, just as big as the one with the buildings, but this one is a garden with a walled in section for the pools: a rather big wading pool and a fair-sized swimming pool. There's also a swing set and a big trampoline. On another corner, another plot with buildings that the owner is refurbishing as long-term rental properties. He does all this work himself and has been at it since 2004. It's quite an establishment. Down the road are some other houses bought up by other British families. We spoke to the farmer next door. The poor woman doesn't speak English, so having us speaking French is such a surprise for her, she talked on and on. She also took us into the farm so the girls could see the calves. There are two very small ones and others at varying degrees older. Speaking of animals, in the garden plot of "our" place, there's a fenced in area with a rooster, two hens, seven very recent chicks (only a few days old), a duck and a rabbit.
Today, it's a little cloudy and chilly, so we went to Surgères where there is a beautiful church, roman architecture. It's beautiful from the outside, but inside rather dark and you can see why Gothic developed. There are also some vestiges of the old chateau. We came back after lunch and it's been gray and chilly. We hope the evening clears up.
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A few days later -- Tomorrow, we leave here, really the middle of nowhere, and stop for lunch with Gwen's parents on our way home. We'll see everyone, there, including Sacha, who now walks by himself!

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