After seeing the start (well, nearly) of the Normandy Channel Race, we were able to follow the race online. They used a similar system to Yellowbrick (which was how we had managed to follow Alex’s exploits in the Fastnet). This gave us our daily fix for a week of how the race was progressing. For most of the race the lead yacht was Imerys skippered by a Brit from Jersey – Phil Sharp, closely followed by two Spaniards in Tales II. We had actually seen the Spaniards in the Carrefour in Caen when we had visited the race village on its opening day. They were very short (probably no taller than 5’ 2” each) and therefore created themselves a special place in my heart!! So we really wanted the Spaniards to win although patriotically we wouldn’t have minded if Imerys won!! As it happened the Spaniards overtook the Brit with approx. 36 nautical miles to go and finished 2mins 49 secs ahead – after over 900 nm, this must be one of the closest finishes! Unfortunately the day they finished it was chucking it down with rain so we decided against seeing them through the lock. However we were able to spot them as they made their way along the canal heading back to Caen.
We decided that we would cycle to Caen again on the Sunday to see the presentation and also to have a walk around Caen market. This was the biggest we had seen so far, lots of fruit and veg stalls, cooked food stalls, clothes and other tat but still sold the obligatory mattresses – thank goodness, I think I would have been upset if they hadn’t been there!! The presentation was one of the longest I have seen, each competitor (whether they completed the race, pulled out or were yet to finish) were announced and awarded tee shirts and hampers – luckily there were only 27 competitors! Afterwards Steve admitted that he had known what to expect as he had previously sat through many hours of French presentations in his previous (that is – work) life! The final competitor to finish, Simple Ve (21st place), eventually finished some five days after the winners but don’t worry, the wife of one of the crew had collected their tee shirts and hampers!
The cycle back allowed Steve to redeem himself with his wildlife photography with a couple of obliging water voles waiting patiently for us to notice them, get the camera out and take several photos!!!
Whilst cycling back I was finding it increasingly difficult and assumed it was just because of how unfit I really am. But when cycling slowly I noticed that my back wheel was wobbling rather dramatically but Steve thought I was just making it up! However a few days later we decided to go to Colleville Montgomery to the Brico and the supermarket and to placate me Steve pumped up my tyre and messed around with the suspension setting. Off we went – my word was it bumpy! I told Steve I would have to stop and he watched and agreed. When I stopped I realised that my back end wasn’t clipped properly – this was due to the fact that we do not have an adjustable suspension setting! We sorted that out and off we went again. We walked across the first footbridge and Steve then had a proper look at my back wheel and it transpires that the rear tyre is trying to give up the ghost. Now knowing that what I had was a genuine issue we had what is probably my best ever cycle on my Brompton! The only issue on the trip being when I asked Steve if we were going to cross over and stay on the road at one point (on a previous trip we had crossed the road and taken a small footpath). He said yes and headed across the road with me close behind to discover that we are in France and they drive on the wrong side!! So a quick retreat the way we came with just a shaking head Frenchman in his Citroen our only witness!
Not sure if we’ve mentioned it before but we bought a small underwater video camera from E Leclerc in Fecamp. Steve had used it successfully twice in Fecamp and decided to try it out here in Ouistreham. He donned his rubber kit and goggles and disappeared with the camera attached to his wrist and surfaced very shortly afterwards with water dripping out of the waterproof (!!) case. This has led to our first experience of trying to return faulty goods. Apparently within 15 days of purchase you can return it to the store from whence it came. If, after the 15 days, there is a technical issue you can return it to any store where they will perform an after sales service – unless you pick the most recently opened E Leclerc store where they tell you that you have to take it back to Fecamp! This meant several emails (all in my best French?!) to the Fecamp store with them finally managing to arrange for us to take the camera to the newly opened store even though it doesn’t have an after sales department yet! So now we wait the mandatory 10 days to receive some form of communication from them explaining whether we can have a repair, replacement or reimbursement. Watch this space!!!
Talking of communications – I found (online) a local bike shop – Riva Loisirs – velos et motocultures (bikes and lawnmowers!!) so Steve set off on his own to see if he could buy me a new tyre. As could be expected it was a special order item and when Steve got back to the boat he told me I had to ring the shop to give him our phone number as Steve doesn’t know it. Apparently the conversation in the shop went along the lines of:
Shopkeeper: “give me your name and phone number”
Steve: “pardon, I don’t have one – ma femme does, don’t know the number”
Shopkeeper: “ok, your name? Or don’t you have one of them either?”
Steve: “je m’appelle Steve”
He had managed to order two tyres (he thinks!)
I plucked up the courage (having written and practiced my phone number in the French style several times) to ring the store and began my own bizarre conversation! I think the chap in the shop said it was better to talk to me than Steve – funnily enough he’s not the first to say that!!!! I think I got the phone number across to him and hopefully we will be receiving a call in a few days to say that they are ready for collection! This has put a bit of a damper on our cycling trips; I can use it but if it gives up completely I don’t want to be too far away and have to walk home!!
One afternoon whilst sitting, watching the world go by, we noticed that the old fella along the pontoon was getting ready for a fishing trip with a couple of his buddies. One of them looked as though he enjoyed good food and was struggling to get into the life preserver offered to him, a piece of rope was being used to secure it so Steve thought we should offer one of our life jackets and after yet another gesticulated conversation said life jacket was handed over and fitted nicely. They seemed concerned about returning it as they would not be back for a few hours. However, when they returned we were still in the same position – watching the world go by! Maybe having partaken of one or two glasses of wine. Steve went to help them berth and was rewarded with a “sh, sh” moment of the old fella going to his catch box and handing him two pre-gutted and cleaned mackerel. Steve tried to return one but the chap would have none of it!
Steve was well chuffed as this meant he could finally use his smoker (bought as a Christmas present two years ago and not used yet!!) and subsequently decided to make an item on his “haven’t done, need to do” list – smoked mackerel pate. He set up his smoker in the picnic area and, apparently smoking food is like cooking on a barbecue where one hand must always be occupied by a glass (although on this occasion it was a Thermos cup!) especially on one of the hottest days of the year (if not the hottest day in September, ever!) The end result to my untrained eye looked horrible, yellow and smoky – just as it is supposed to I have been informed!! To enable the production of the pate a number of store cupboard items were required that we didn’t have – crème fraiche and horseradish or as Steve thought it was going to be called “radis de cheval”. Sorry to disappoint him but it is known as either radis noir or raifort so it was just as well I was with him in the supermarket! The plan was to reward the old boy with a portion of said pate upon completion. Shame we forgot to take photos of either the smoked fish or the pate – maybe next time! For those interested in Steve’s special recipe and method it is as follows:
Two hot smoked mackerel (you can buy pre-done if you don’t have a smoker or a Frenchman to supply the fish)
Horseradish (Steve used jarred but you could use fresh)
Salt and Pepper
Place the crème fraiche, horseradish, lemon juice, salt, pepper, paprika, and half the fish in a bowl, then wizzy wizzy woo woo (blend). Add the remaining half of the fish, flaked – refrigerate and serve.
We placed said pate into two individual sized ice cream tubs – one for Steve and one for the old boy! He arrived that afternoon and Steve duly handed it over. (There was some confusion because of the label on the tub but fortunately I had primed Steve to say pate de macquerau fume so we think he understood!!) Steve did start to worry when after 4/5 days the old boy had not been back to his boat (we had been used to seeing him most days prior to the mackerel moment!!) and was concerned that he might have killed him off! I can honestly say that we were very relieved the day he reappeared, smiling and then while mimicking eating, said “bon”, “good”.
Our change of eating habits has meant a little bit more thought being placed on meals as a number of our regular go-tos are no longer available to us! Some have been successful, and some less so! The least successful was the stuffed aubergine from our Italian cookbook. The finished dish looked exactly like the photo in the recipe book – however it appears that I don’t really like aubergine – although the potato filling was very nice!! And so were the sautéed potatoes Steve did (as part of his meal – but then he did extra for me as I didn’t eat all my aubergine).
Having bought a larger tub of crème fraiche than required for the above pate, it was decided that another foray into quiche making was required. Having extremely hot hands most of the time I was dubious about making pastry – although it appears that it doesn’t matter anymore! I had cheese and onion and Steve had pretty much a Quiche Lorraine. My blind baking worked and, even though I had had to use Pyrex dishes as I don’t have loose bottomed flan tins, amazingly they both came out of the dish intact and no leaks!!!! And best of all they even tasted good – thin buttery pastry and a tasty filling!!!
Having previously made falafels but only cooked them in the oven and then seeing them deep fried at Caen market we decided it was time for a do-over! Even Steve agreeing to eat them – before they were even made. I used the recipe I usually use – from Toriavery.com – and made sure that there was enough spice in them to keep the carnivore happy. Steve agreed to fry them for me (I’m scared of frying on the boat!!) and we made hummus and minted couscous to go with them. It now transpires that this is the only way to cook falafels on board this boat – they were like armadillos – crunchy on the outside, soft in the middle. Little pillows of heavenliness! They still maintained their crunchiness when used in our usual falafel meal with couscous, harissa tomato sauce and grated cheese (a la Diners, Drive-ins and Dives!!)
As I still had some pastry left it was time to come up with another idea – cheese and onion pasties! However, whilst rolling out my pastry I decided that there would be too much for that so went for a cheese and potato pie. This time I used a loose bottomed cake tin and the pie came out of that perfectly too! Perhaps I can make pastry after all!!!
We have had a few comments made towards us regarding “Brexit” but I think the best was delivered the other day by The Belgian (two boats down). He had been out for a sail and Steve went to help him berth. When he was positioned he commented: “We don’t want Brexit – we need you!!!” Just about summed things up perfectly I reckon.