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Stocking up in England for the First Fabulous Summer in France!

Updated: Nov 19, 2021

The Easter holiday ended abruptly on Easter Day, as A’s heathen school started back on Bank Holiday

Catching the Ferry from France to Plymouth

Monday. To my great unhappiness, we spent Easter day travelling half the length of France (well, nearly) and catching a ferry back to the UK that I had booked without realising it was Easter Sunday. The sea was calm the sun shone and we were rapidly back in the UK, where the wait for customs at Plymouth in the dark was particularly tedious, the forward journey being a long one. The sat nav sent us off in the diametrically opposite direction to the one I would have taken and by this time, after thirteen hours travelling, I was tired and getting desperate to arrive. I wanted straight, main roads. I got single track lanes and potholed roads. When we finally arrived I couldn’t find any where to park and was particularly grumpy and exhausted when I finally humped all the bags inside.

Easter Monday proved particularly tedious for Alice. Curry’s was offering 10% off in addition to sale prices and as I had a big list, we hit the shop early. A went off into town to do her last minute pre-return to school shopping whilst I negotiated the intricacies of smart 55 inch TV’s, American style fridge freezers (to plumb or not to plumb proved the big question), hoovers, kettles, toasters, Kenwood chefs, i-pads and the various other things we need to let the house in the summer. Three hours and much negotiating later, the deal was done, the out of stock items ordered and a collection of goods that were in stock gathered and piled in the manager’s office. The ordering system proved complicated and long winded and poor A, by this time sitting in the car, sent texts asking how much longer I was going to be. She went off to get us lunch as by now it was after two and we were both very hungry. Excusing ourselves, we sat and ate our wraps and drank our coffee in front of the sales chap who had been serving me since eleven and who was, I am sure, as hungry as we were.

A safely deposited back at school, I started the rounds of friends I wanted to catch up with. It was an action packed week, travelling all over the south west, seeing H who is in the middle of working on his finals at university, meeting the current owner of the Priory, organising removal dates, getting goods delivered to the removal men, seeing friends, organising the buying of bedding and fabric for bedrooms and kitchens and trying to suss out the best bargains to be had.

Visiting friends across the south west of England

The week was fun, but really tiring, packing so much in. I saw my friend and former gardener from a previous life at High Bickington and arranged for her and her husband to come out and join me in late June. S had very kindly collected lots of plants together for me to bring back and A took me around her garden and she has made a note of what I love. She also is going to put together a mini nursery for me to bring back. I was convinced this time, that we would be stopped by customs as some of the plants in the car had weird and wacky leaves that I was sure would be looked upon with suspicion, but we sailed straight through, past very young looking soldiers sporting very large guns. They looked way too juvenile to be sporting such firepower. I really must be getting old!

The holdup came at the gate out of the port, which was mysteriously closed and which failed to open despite the instructions written clearly on the wall for car drivers. The queue, headed by two elderly chaps on bicycles with, judging by the size of their panniers, a toothbrush, toothpaste and a change of underpants with them, waited patiently as only the British can. The signage showed the gates to be automatic, which quite obviously was not in operational mode. Finally two women arrived in two different cars, each toting a walkie-talkie and wearing high-vis yellow jackets. Much discussion ensued but none of it resulted in the gates opening. Some time later a chap arrived and suddenly the gates were moving and the row of cars followed the bikes out to the main road. Therein followed a five hour journey back to what I have now called ‘home’ three times. I must be feeling very settled here!


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