Wednesday, July 30, 2008

En Vaccances!

"No, I can't spell in French but I can order drink and food, so what else matters?"

A few days in France at the Centreparc just south of Rouen. A rest? A holiday? Well, a break, certainly! I haven't cycled so much, played tennis or done such generally sporting things for years.

We took the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe on Friday morning: a 3am start. The journey was long and slow (though my son and I slept nearly the whole ferry trip) and we got lost in Dieppe and then Rouen, but we arrived at the Parc in time to have a couple of games bowling (I won the first, Alex the second) and a meal (over priced, not very nice, but hey ho).

When Alex and I collected our bikes the heavens opened - we were drenched in seconds. Still, it didn't matter. Thankfully Saturday morning the sun shone and for the rest of the weekend the weather was lovely.

I could list our activities per day - including tennis, swimming, walking, cycling, shopping, drinking, eating and golf (you know, I didn't miss the ball once on the driving range? What's all this swiping with the stick thing? The ball doesn't move for goodness' sake... it just sits there. Hit it!). But listing what we did on what day might get a little tedious for the casual reader - so here's some highlights.

We played a round of mini-golf that took us so long we abandoned it at the 15th hole. The most entertaining part of the game was a young lad of about four years old with his plastic club and plastic ball so intently lining up each shot and trying very hard. He was most engaging, patient and good natured (how many four year olds do you know would wait 10-15 minutes before 'their turn'?) and then he'd take the ball, put it next to the hole and tumble it in.

I played quite a bit of tennis with Mel - something I'd not done for years. She is young and agile, so I had to run around quite a bit, but after about three turns I managed to start hitting the ball with the centre of the racket instead of the edge, the handle, my leg... (I'm much happier when the ball stays still).

Bryan hadn't cycled in years but - well - it's just like riding a bicycle, isn't it? No one fell off, no accidents, nothing but good fun, exercise and lovely French cider.

The small apartment we stayed in was, like the rest of them, surrounded by trees. I identified birch, oak and pine and saw a tree creeper (cute little bark hopping bird). The lake, a central feature of all Centerparcs, was perfect for the paddle boats. When we went out in ours I just lay back and the kids did all the paddling. A lovely way to while away half an hour in the sun.

We packed a lot into our two full days there. We had to leave at the start of the Monday morning to catch a mid-day ferry home. We left at 9.00am and got home just about 8pm. A long day! The ferry journey was smooth again and though this time I didn't sleep the trip seemed very long. Mel and I went for a sunbathe and got told we were on a forbidden part of the ship! Well - no signs, what did they expect? On the way we caught a puncture too, it wasn't much fun unloading the car and having to change a tyre in the ferry port UK end.

Home at last we were tired and ready for a rest. The neighbour had fed the cat, the grass had grown at least six inches, but the sun was still shining and we were happy after our exhausting but enjoyable break.
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