Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Wow! Joseph and eleanor then home to hospital!

19th – 24th July
Hooray! The children are coming today and Joan and I are already at the site all set up and waiting. Having had a text from Andy to say they are off the ferry and on their way we reckon as it is only about 90 miles they will be with us in a couple of hours. 4 hours later we are beginning to become alarmed, where are they? It turns out that Andy has taken a slight detour/ taken the wrong turning, and is still about an hour away! But eventually they arrive and as all of you who have grandchildren will know, just bounced out of the car and hit the ground running, wow. So this is what it’s like living through a hurricane, exhausting but wonderful.

Right first job put up their new tent which has not been erected by them before because it is too big for their back garden, unless they want to put it over the flower beds. Fortunately Andy did have the instructions as I had never seen a tent this shape before. To be honest we never did quite get it perfect and Andy kept adjusting bits the entire time. Unfortunately it was immediately apparent that although the seller said it had only been used a couple of times it had not been looked after and had in fact been put away damp, plus a couple of fixing points were broken. It did the trick though of giving them shelter for sleeping. We had already arranged that all cooking etc would be done in the van so it all worked fine. We would all rather have eaten outside as it is such good fun, plus it does not matter if you drop something but the weather was not really good enough with often a stiff breeze so we ate inside. Although we had picked a pitch near the toilets so the children could nip in if they needed, after the first night we realised it was a mistake. It was the meeting point for all the teenagers on the site, carrying on and with music playing on their mobile phones. Although Andy protested, Joan and Carole decided we would move in the morning and I have been married far too long to argue, so we did. The children really enjoyed being in France and as they had money to spend in the shops they were equally delighted and delightful with their “bonjour & merci”, plus Joe was our official bread buyer for breakfast. Every morning a van came to the site just near us and he went with our order of Pain au chocolat, croixants and baguettes, ooh I'm feeling hungry just thinking about it! They really enjoyed the camping experience and I will be surprised if they don’t go again.

One fairly amusing thing to happen was the peculiar smell. a couple of days before they arrived Joan and I were sitting having a drink and I said to her gosh I really must wash my sandels as I think they are very smelly. So having done so I thought that would be the end of it until having put the children to bed we were all sitting in the van having a chat and a glass of wine I noticed it again so when they left I told Joan and we thought I should wash them again. However the next morning I was standing over near the cooker, the smell was putrid and my sandels were outside! You know what Joan, I think I know where the piece of cheese we lost is, it's in this cooker. Immediately we started to empty the oven which we only use for storing vegetables and found the cause of the problem. It was a rotten potato and boy was it ripe! Later the next day having totally aired the van we asked Carole if she had noticed it and she said oh yes I just thought it was Bryan's feet and didn't like to say.

Some nights we had really heavy rain and Andy was quite worried as they did have a couple of leaks. One night/early morning about 2am I awoke to hear a huge downpour and suddenly thunder and lightning. I leaped out of bed and rushed out to make sure they were alright only to be greeted by cheery greetings from the tent, yes we are fine said Carole, but I was worried so I nipped back in and put up our lounge bed, which is enormous, just in case. In the event next morning we found they had all gone back to sleep and all was well.

Sadly our weather could have been better, after all it was the end of July, but the children did go on to the beach every single day. Joe was fearless and straight into the water as soon as possible but Eleanor at 4 years of age decided she preferred the pools some of which were quite big. The beach here is pebbles when the tide is in but very soon after it starts to go out there is sand, so apart from a couple of hours when it comes right in it was always fun. Most of the time we were there the tides were favourable but on the last full day as it was not out early on so we took them to St.Valery en Caux (mentioned earlier), parked on the Aire and all climbed the cliff and then enjoyed lunch in the town square. After a visit to the Patisserie for some wonderful cakes it was time to return to the campsite where the tide had receded enough for them to spend the rest of the day on the beach.

So all too soon it was the last day but as their ferry was not until the evening we suggested breaking the journey at Le Treport. This is a very nice little place where Joan and I had spent a few days last year. Andy and Carole really liked it and the children were pleased as they got another chance to shop with the holiday money they had left. We all enjoyed a very nice meal and then Joan and I left them to go on the funicular railway up to the top of the cliff while we headed for our ferry at Dunkirk. We had decided to return a few days early as we wanted to see Jamie before he went on holiday, spend a bit of time with Stephen and Reena and we were also anxious to get home to see Jacqueline who’d had an operation the week before. I am a great believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason and so I am convinced we returned early because of the pending disaster with Joan ending up in hospital. Whatever it was I am so glad we did come home when we did.

So there it is another 3 months holiday in Europe during which time we have met some wonderful people and stayed in some lovely places. We have enjoyed all sorts of weather and seen some outstanding scenery. So thank you to all the people who helped to make it another memorable holiday.

Lots of love
Bryan & Joan

p.s. Hello everybody,

First may I apologise for making this a sort of round robin but I have had my plate a little full of late and now I expect to be fairly busy with the patient.

So the story is that the day after we returned to England from our holiday Joan became very ill. Because of the world wide panic about swine flu she was wrongly diagnosed on line as having it. This happened while we were stating in London at my sister’s house and it was really impossible to get any sort of medical help, plus the fact that it was a Sunday did not help. So we returned to Gateshead on the Monday and first thing Tuesday I got the Tami flu which was prescribed, this has apparently caused Joan some liver damage but hopefully this will regenerate itself. Joan had spoken to a doctor and they were reluctant to visit because of the flu scare but we decided enough was enough. So I phoned and insisted that the doctor visited her as she was in a lot of pain and had a very high temperature plus her breathing was very shallow. Within 20 minutes the top man at the practice arrived took one look at her, had a quick listen to her chest and her back and called an ambulance. He told us he suspected she had pneumonia and was very ill indeed. The ambulance came within a very short time and admitted her to hospital where because of the flu she was put into isolation. By now she could not have cared one way or the other as she was so ill, they had her on oxygen, a saline drip and huge amounts of antibiotics. Having assessed her she was moved to another ward and started to feel marginally better.

One of the things getting her down was the total isolation as everybody who entered the room had masks, aprons and rubber gloves on and spent as little time as possible in there, plus they did not talk to her. I had always tried to tell them that she did NOT have swine flu but to no avail, then I spoke to one of the doctors. He said well her swabs said...............oh she hasn’t been swabbed yet! He promptly did it and that afternoon when it showed negative they opened her door took the RED sign off it and started treating her like a human being. Finally she was beginning to feel a bit better but still had excruciating pain when she breathed or moved. Finally they said all the treatments were working and that she should go home as she would get better sooner there. That night she had a horrendous night and next day they said she couldn’t go home. However on Monday the head man arrived and told her it was quite normal and that it would take at least a month for the pain to ease completely maybe longer and a full two months to full recovery. So there we are, this of course is a prĂ©cis of the last 14 days, she is home and has had the best nights sleep she has had for ages, and hopefully her recovery will continue now.

She has asked me to say thank you to all of you for your prayers, kind thoughts, flowers, chocolates and cards.

Lots of love
Joan & Bryan

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Sea? What sea? How many millions of gallons?

14th to 18th July
Well now we know it definitely is Bastille Day and everything in France is closed. Fortunately we have loads of food so no need to worry and of course the boulangerie (bakers), are open first thing every day. We are heading for the “best aire in France” according to the book. This aire is reached up a single track road running alongside the port entrance. The main problem with this is that it is not straight but curves fairly sharply around so you cannot see if anybody is coming the other way, we have seen some huge vans having to reverse out of the way. On our arrival it looks absolutely packed and we park at the side of the road and are about to look for somewhere else nearby when the Dutch chap in the van next to us says, just stay there, nobody will mind, so we did. Then about 2 hours later we saw a van leaving a prime spot and quickly nipped in there. The weather is amazing so hot and sunny, having wandered around the village and along the pebble beach, plus of course a visit to the lighthouse we just chilled out on our chairs. This is one of the nice things about aires you tend to sit at the back of your van and chat to the people either side while sipping your drink. We saw a really good sunset at around 10pm and made our plans for tomorrow.

Somewhere along the line we got our lines crossed with Carole and Andy and headed for Le Crotoy some 50 odd miles further up the coast towards Boulogne. This seemed like a very good idea as the children would not have to sit in the car for hours on end. We went to check out the place and stayed on the biggest aire we have ever seen. It holds some 70 vans and so we could not imagine having any trouble getting on, which was the case. As soon as we were set up we got our bikes off and cycled to find the campsite we thought we were booked on for Sunday. We were soo excited as Joseph and Eleanor were coming with a tent to spend some time with us in Normandy. Carole says they are very excited and it is very difficult to keep them calm but I reckon Joan is worse, we keep stopping at shops and she says I think I should get this or that for them.

Anyway having cycled for several miles we arrived at the seaside where there was no sign of any sea? Still we cycled back to the two campsites we had passed and inquired if we were booked in, and received a negative answer. So we returned to the town and enquired at both the campsites there and received the same answer, strange? Having returned to our van we were just chilling out with a drink when there was a very loud noise from a siren. Gosh I said to Joan there must be a factory near here, I wonder what they make? About 20 minutes later Joan who had been reading a booklet from the tourist information shop suddenly exclaimed, “my God!” That’s not a factory siren, 5 hours after high tide they open the flood gates over there and release millions of gallons of water onto the beach. We had this picture in our heads of us all being on the beach happily playing and suddenly this siren goes off and we grab everything and run like hell, weird. What was worse was we could see us hearing it seeing people running and thinking it was some sort of dinner bell! The leaflet also explained that the sea went out for 9 miles!!

Fortunately about now we got a text saying, we are not going to Le Crotoy but a place called Quiberville plage, which was about 5 miles from where we had been when we set of to Le Crotoy! However we had enjoyed the trip and our main concern was to ensure the site was good and we could get a couple of pitches adjacent in the hope that Carole and Andy could go out for a free evening and enjoy a meal or at the least a couple of drinks. On our arrival the site was very nice and the pitches were enormous. It very soon became apparent that we could all get onto one pitch, great. As the lady had no booking although Carole had emailed her we went around and picked one which seemed perfect and booked us all in, then went off to Veules les Roses a free aire about 5 miles away. It was amazing it must be highly recommended in a German book of aires as everybody else had a ‘D’ on their number plate. We had a quick look around to see if possibly our friends Joe & Ingrid were among them but we were pretty sure they had gone home by now. Most of the van’s seemed to be full of children and this raised our excitement levels as we anticipated Joe and Eleanor’s arrival. Sadly we did not go very far as it rained more or less continuously shame for the kids. Next day we went back to the port aire at St Valen Caux which was only a couple of miles further on so we arrived pretty early and explored the area, which was to prove useful later in the week.
To be continued..................................
Joan and Bryan xxx
p.s. As many of you know we are home now and Joan is very ill with pneumonia so I will add here that she is much improved and apart from difficulty breathing is much better. She is receiving antibiotics and very good care. x

I should also explain that this has NOT been veted by management so the grammer/spelling may be iffy.