Thursday, 19 May 2011

Not a bad life really

As we head into yet another Bank Holiday weekend and towards the end of May – it has been a great month for us, when we have enjoyed both work and play. Despite running a busy B&B Les and I do get the work/life balance right sometimes, and May has proved to be a good example for us. Although as we go forward into the summer months we know there will be more work than play! But that’s the beauty of our lifestyle choice and we so enjoy meeting all the new people who come and stay with us from around the world. Our visit to Bodnant Gardens last Sunday was spectacular and we always feel so privileged living so close to such a great place. Gardening has featured heavily this month with still so much to do but we did manage a trip to Chester for some shopping and dinner too.

We recently got back from a long weekend in St Grégoire in Brittany. We went with the Holywell and District Twinning Association and a group of about 35 went by coach from Holywell catching the overnight ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo. It’s a wonderful weekend and starts off well on board ship with a fabulous meal and a good night’s sleep. Arriving in St Malo refreshed on Friday morning we drove to St Grégoire a small town just outside Rennes. There is much kissing and Bon Jouring when we arrive and we quickly head off with our host families to renew friendships and in some cases make new ones.

We had the first of our three hour lunches in the garden of our hosts house and starting practicing our bad French as they in turn practised their English. It’s amazing with just a little effort and a good dictionary the range of topics we covered over the weekend. Off to another hosts house for another meal in the evening with 24 of us sitting in their lovely garden - the Champagne flowed, the bar-b-que was lite and we all had a great time.

Saturday we had a trip to Fougéres, a very pretty town with a magnificent Castle which we toured in the afternoon. We spent a lovely time here and had a great lunch in a local hotel. Sunday we spent with the family and they took us to a Fois Gras farm in the middle of nowhere. Which was a bit strange as we had a tour of the factory and even met the poor old ducks who were being fed corn and whose livers would eventually be the Fois Gras. We then had lunch with 130 French people in a huge barn – obviously we started with Foir Gras and then had Duck Breast as the main course! They sold everything in their shop; from every part of the Duck, the wine they served with lunch and the cheese. Only the French could turn such an operation into a commercial enterprise. It was enough to turn many people vegetarian I am sure.

Sunday evening we had a farewell get together with all the hosts and guests and enjoyed another buffet, more wine and some really good Folk music, and plenty of dancing. We always sing a few Welsh songs and the Breton national anthem is sung to the same tune as the Welsh National Anthem so we always sing it together at the end of the evening.

We left on Monday morning with more kissing and a few tears with promises of seeing every one again next year in Holywell. It will be the 10th anniversary year and we will need to put on a good weekend for our Gregorian friends.

Because our ferry wasn’t booked until the evening we travelled to Bayeux and had a look around the British Cemetery and all felt emotional reading some of the 2nd world war grave stones – so many young people died so we could be free. A really emotional visit for everyone. We had lunch (did we really need more food?) and then a trip around the Tapestry – an incredible thing of beauty and colour still after all this time. We then drove up to Arromanches and had a look at the Mulberry Harbour and went around the museum. It was a lovely day and after a picnic we drove along the coast to Caen for our overnight ferry back to Portsmouth.

Twinning is a great experience and having been part of the Holywell one from the beginning we have made so many friends both in France and locally through the Association.

In fact tonight we are hosting a party for everyone who came on the trip with us so I really should stop typing and start preparing for the Soirée.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

May already - but what a week!

Easter was a busy weekend - lovely guests, lots of cooking and lovely weather and the countryside looking beautiful with all the spring flowers. Then just as the beds had been changed and the sheets ironed along comes another Bank Holiday weekend. Les and I did manage a day off in between (although sitting down watching the Royal Wedding all day must count as nearly a day off).
Back in February we had enjoyed watching a Channel 4 programme where a group of modern day craftsmen built a Roman Villa using traditional methods. Based at Wroxeter (Britain’s 4th largest Roman City) we decided to have a day out to see the finished building. It was a cooler day than we had enjoyed lately but it didn’t spoil our fun. Although a little worried when we paid our admission charge - we were advised not to touch the paint work as it hadn’t settled yet - we set off to inspect the building. Bearing in mind that everything was made from scratch using 2000 years old building methods it was an impressive sight and helped paint a picture (no pun indented) of how the whole city would have looked centuries ago. It was well worth the trip and although a cold day the hot chocolate provided much needed warmth after walking around the site. Dogs are allowed and although we took our two with us they stayed in the car as it was a cool day. The lady who sat next to us with her little white and red dog wished she had left hers in the car too. Yes I did say white and red - the dog didn’t heed the warning of the ticket seller and obviously did touch the walls!

Friday came, the sun came out again, we put out the flags and the bunting and sat down and watched the Royal Wedding from the start. We ooowed at the beautiful dress and arrrd when the vows were spoken. We smiled at the crowd and laughed at some of the silliest hats I have ever seen. The crowds were amazing and it was truly a great day, and when it counts we really put on a good show, no wonder people love coming to the UK.

Straight into another Bank Holiday Weekend with more guests, cooking etc. ….