There we were – sitting, drinking coffee at 03:30 Wednesday morning, having planned to leave with the five o’clock gate, heading to Ouistreham with a fair wind this time. But, what we forgot was that this fair wind, which had grown in strength overnight, would make it almost impossible to extricate ourselves from the berth without risk. After several cigarettes it was agreed that we would go back to bed – as it (bed or Fecamp!) is a very nice place (and cheap!!) – and stay an extra few days.
So, what have we done in Fecamp? Lunchtime whisky (for Steve) and beer for me with a pair of non-English speaking Frenchmen! This starts with Steve noticing a yacht heading to the berth next to us. As is usual he offered assistance and was told “no problems, no problems”. We are still unsure whether this meant yes please or we are fine on our own! However Steve noticed that they didn’t even have any lines ready (although he was fendered up – fortunately as he touched us on his approach!) so decided he would help anyway. With Michel (as we later discovered) on the bow looking for lines, and the owner whose name we never did find out, scurrying through his lockers looking for appropriate lines, Steve grabbed hold of the bow and I stood on the side of Shearmyste ensuring that the fenders acted correctly! Once secured the owner insisted we join them on board for a beer or whisky. Due to the fact that we had literally just finished lunch we accepted a beer as it would have been rude not to. However, after opening me a bottle of beer, all the men had a fairly large measure of Irish (Steve’s preference of whisky anyway). Then came one of the weirdest conversations you could ever imagine – our limited French, their limited English, even to the point where a bit of German was thrown in too! The boat owner was wearing an EDF shirt so Steve tried to ask where he’d got it from, meaning had he worked for them – but this was obviously lost in translation as he gesticulated, hold on, and disappeared inside and returned with, in his words, “un cadeau ” (a present) – a brand new, in its plastic wrapper, EDF polo shirt. Steve tried several times to explain that he didn’t need the shirt and I managed to tell Michel the significance of EDF to Steve but the chappy insisted Steve keep the shirt. Talk turned to food (fish and chips I think) and for some inexplicable reason, kartoffel entered the conversation. Now as everyone knows that is German for potato, so Steve says “pomme de terre “, a series of Oui, Oui, pomme de terre, en Anglais? I think I spent a good few minutes, in my poshest Queen’s English, saying po-ta-to with the chap doing all he could to repeat it! In the end he said frites and we all agreed! After a couple of Irish top ups we managed to take our leave, forgetting the shirt. However when we got back from our walk there it was proudly sat waiting in the cockpit, obviously having been thrown from the adjacent yacht!
Steve has been doing his best to kill me (or in his words make me fitter). Yet again we are in a valley and all the bits Steve wants to see are at the top of the bloody hills! Most scenic of these is Cap Fagnet with the Chapelle Notre-Dame de Salut which dominates our port-side view. According to the tourist map, there is a footpath route, so Steve decided that we would take the bikes and he would carry them up any steps if necessary. We passed the footpath sign as there were a few yachts going out the lumpy harbour entrance that we wanted to see and spotted a road that went in the right sort of direction – up, very up. For once Steve was the first to stop on the near vertical incline; however whilst walking up I stopped at least three times in about a hundred yards. We then zigzagged our way up the hill, some cycling, more walking and stopped on a switchback to admire the view from the perfectly located bench! What a great view along the coast!! Made it to the top and visited another place of worship (is there something he is not telling me). It’s not a sailing trip it appears to be a pilgrimage, although he’s very confused as to why we haven’t found a C of E church yet!! The trip back down made the long climb worthwhile, although we may need new brakes soon. I was very pleased to be on my bike coming down the final steep section, as I am pretty sure if I had tried to walk down, I would have given up walking and scootied down on my bum!
Monday means shopping (as France doesn’t have a 24 hour culture and even still closes for two hour lunch breaks in most places). Last week we had found a Carrefour half way up the other hill but had also spotted a sign for E Leclerc (our supermarket of choice). So this week we thought we would find that one. So after struggling up the hill to Carrefour, the sign said Leclerc 2 minutes – knowing this was for cars and not bikes it still didn’t phase me as it couldn’t be too far. After about twenty minutes (still uphill) we found another sign “2 minutes”. I couldn’t believe it but we carried on. Then in the distance appeared a supermarket sign – but not the one we wanted! By this time we were heading out of St Leonard and I was beginning to think we had missed it but Steve in his wisdom said, “let’s just check up here a bit further” and lo and behold a huge retail park with an E Leclerc!! Yay!! Wine and vodka stocks replenished and our second bargain of the trip – a waterproof camera for 29€, (70€ elsewhere) so we can check underneath Shearmyste without Steve having to dive under in his very buoyant wetsuit! As it was a nice day and nearly lunchtime Steve decided we could buy some bread and cheese and stop off on the way back for a little picnic in St Leonard as it looked quite pretty. Unfortunately it must be the only place around with not even a bench! So after riding down a dead end road we turned round and headed back into Fecamp where we could picnic on the beach. We found a quieter road to cycle down and it was lovely!!
You know it’s a small world when moored not more than twenty metres away was a Hunter Legend 42.6 Deck Saloon called Riding High. I was convinced that we had shared marina space with this particular yacht in Glasson. The owners (David and Teresa) arrived back two days ago so Steve had to ask if they’d been in Glasson and, of course, I was right again! They had left there in 2013 and have been to Scotland and Scandinavia and are on a similar life plan to us – slow journey south! Chances are we will see them in many ports to come!
Other than those couple of trips and a few walks around the town we have spent most of our time sitting on the back of the boat, enjoying the sights and tastes of France!
Our next attempt to leave may be at the weekend, but who knows!!!