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Published: June 24th 2013
Starting with a quick heads up before getting into everything. While I love that people are reading what I have to say, I’m actually more so writing everything as a way to retain the wonderful memories I’m living. So if it ever seems as if I’m ranting on about things that are either uninteresting, strange, unrelated, please just bare with me or skip a bit (it won’t hurt my feelings (unless you’re related to me!) In other words, this post is long. Enjoy!
The last time I wrote something I was being rapidly propelled across the French countryside in a T.G.V (Train à grand vitesse (a.k.a really fast train (the French are known for acronyms, not creativity))) on my way back to Dieppe from a weekend in Paris. Well I’m still traveling, though this time by a slower and somewhat less conventional method, a ferry. And I’m delighted to inform you that I’m NOT one of those
people who get seasick. But before I get into why I’m on a ferry, let me catch you up to what’s been going on the last couple of weeks…
The week after Paris flew by much faster than we would’ve
liked it to, as we went from not having a kid whining because he wants to hang on your leg (or even the inverse, crying because he doesn’t
want to hang on your leg (we just can’t seem to properly gauge moods with these little…angels.)) But what turned out to be a really great experience was the following weekend at Guillaume’s parent’s house in Dozulé, a small city 15 minutes from Cabourg. Rachel and I were both a bit hesitant to join up on this weekend retreat for a number of reasons: 1-
A weekend without kids plaguing
your every footstep is quite a joy. 2-
Augustin had his first Clarinette recital and thus the parents would be leaving us with the people there for the larger part of the day (whom, at this point, we would’ve just met.) 3-
When you conjure up the image of a typical French residence, you tend to imagine a small residence with walls you can potentially touch when testing your wingspan and perhaps also a fair bit colorful as far as smell goes. You may even picture some particularly slimy creatures. Okay, that last part is either a stretch for
snails or a perfection finish to my Star Wars concoction. Either way, this is what you picture and we were expecting 13 people to be in attendance not counting kids.
The trip started out as they always do, with a car full of kids and informative Guillaume (Gui) telling me everything about just about everything while I just try to keep up. Some large and beautiful bridges were crossed and a huge amount of information was exchanged, of which more than I care to admit was lost. We arrived and not 10 seconds later Zoé is throwing up a very large amount (remember that choice verb I used back in my reasons for hesitation? A sick kid is a sick kid though, and the situation was quickly handled.
So the people we met… well listing them all would show a lack of dedication to memorizing names. But they were incredibly nice and really easy to talk to! Rachel and I both felt a bit silly on this part, because of course they’d be like that since they’re Gui’s family. We were shown into the house and this place was simply amazing. There were 9 bedrooms in
the three stories of the main house, after some exploring we found our there was also a side apartment they’re renting out and some old stables in the garden (which included an authentic well.) But that wasn’t all! Next door was another equally sized house owned by Gui’s great grandma, which had a unique section being leased as a flower shop, as well as an authentic motorized flower mill. Anyways, our first night was great. We had a light salad with camembert and goat cheese covered toast while we got to know the family. Gui’s sister had actually just gotten back from a three week high school field trip to China (because apparently that’s a thing?) So everyone finished the night looking at her pictures that we put up on a wall with a projector.
The next day was fun as well, Guillaume left to go see Augustin’s recital so his brother (Matthieu), sister (Pauline), and sister-in-law(?) brought us to neighboring city Cabourg, which happened to be having a film festival. There wasn’t much special about the town itself, but it was really fun talking to them the whole time. I can’t vouch for Rache on this one, but my inner nerd got a kick out of listening to his sister-in-law’s French which (like his mom’s) had a chti accent. It was really cool because not only was I able to hear it (hearing accents in other languages is hard!) but I realized I’d heard it multiple times and just written it off as a lisp.
The next day we woke up early and went to mass (no linguistic nerdiness presented itself, I’m not a fan of going to church in French either.) Afterwards though we had a really big lunch to celebrate Guillaume’s godson being confirmed. This was really great because Pierre and Élizabeth came down from Caen. These people are the entire reason that Rachel and I were here, so we made sure they knew how incredibly grateful we were. However this whole dinner ended up being a lot to handle linguistically speaking. There was so much French being thrown around all the time, a lot of technical vocabulary from specific conversations and jokes. Rachel and I were soon lost and had to excuse ourselves to nurse our bruised and battered brains.
Not long after that we left with Laure, Augustin, and Gauthier. Where more fun ensued, this time in the form of a 2 year old throwing up! However he’s not exactly at the level of being able to warn us, so for the first 50 minutes we were stop and go, pulling over, Laure wiping him down, changing him, wrapping him in Gui’s backup work clothes, then doing it all over again, even stopping ringing the bell of a random person to ask for a bucket/sponge. You can imagine that this was a highly enjoyable trip. Both Zoé and Gauthier ended up staying home the next day from school. The Augustin the next. The Rachel got sick the day after that. Then myself on Friday, the day of Rachel and I’s departure for England.
We decided to go to Brighton, England, which Guillaume, in his infinite knowledge, informed us was famous for being “A Gay Friendly Place.” I’m really glad he gave us a warning, otherwise I would’ve associated all of England as a haven for gay people (30-40%!o(MISSING)f the people I remember) with drag queens, cross dressers, and, deterring from the gay realm, sexually open youths dressed in superhero costumes (I wish I had a picture of this last part, they just went so fast!) People who know me know that this kind of thing doesn’t bother me in the slightest; it’s just not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you think of England. Perhaps Bangkok (minus the superheroes?)
While the trip itself was originally intended to make up for a visa stupidity I committed, it ultimately proved to be prevention from having to be committed (there wasn’t really much downtown all week.) The ferry over was really enjoyable and relaxing. 60euro round trip for both of us seemed like a good deal, then we got inside the ferry and realized it was an amazing deal (it looks like a cruise liner.) 4 hours later we were in England, where we made our way to Brighton. We stayed in a guesthouse that was the cheapest possible and it ended up being pretty great. A Ferris Wheel right down the street, 5 minutes from the famous pier, and, best of all, right next to this amazing bar where they served authentic SPICY Thai food and yummy rum. I had a suspicion I liked rum after going to Jamaica for spring break, but it wasn’t until I was telling Rachel about wanting another rum & coke at 9:30am that she pointed out I might be quite a fan.
The weekend was perfectly uneventful, littered with Thai food, rum, walks along the pier, and a couple movies. Ultimately it was a great rest from linguistic stress that allowed us just to be us. Which is great, because we find ourselves quite lovely, despite our lack of glottal stops. Now we’re heading back via ferry, having left at 11:00, we won’t be getting in until 4am (1 hour time difference,) so tomorrow should prove to be fun! Rachel’s already making a very valiant attempt at sleep, precariously poised among a few chairs. Things to come: 9 days inAvignon in 2 weeks, the Jura for a week 13 days later, maybe a weekend trip somewhere one of empty weekends. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this far! Cheers
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