France Day 10 - Catherine & Pornichet

Trip Start Jun 25, 2008
Trip End Sep 01, 2008

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Flag of France  , Pays de la Loire,
Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Went to bed last night at 2am, and we are awakened by the alarm today at 8am. Not enough sleep and too much to drink leaves us feeling a little tired, but not too bad ...

We get the bags packed and in the car and then head in to town to gas up (our first fueling experience in France goes smoothly) and I buy some Ray-Bans at a local eyeglasses store. The exchange rate hurts on the glasses purchase, but with the amount of driving I'll be doing in the next three weeks, its a must. And then we begin our drive on our longest road trip so far (roughly 2 hours)... to visit Catherine, Sandrine's mother, in Pornichet, a small coastal town reputed to have wonderful beaches.

After running in to a bit of traffic, we arrive and find that Pornichet has a wonderful small town feel ... and Catherine's home is only a five minute walk away from the beach! Unfortunately, as we arrive, the skies are very cloudy, ... it looks like it might rain so we may be stuck indoors.

We head inside and are warmly greeted by Catherine (who looks very young!) ... she is happy to see us, and relieved that we found her home easily. Catherine has two brochures waiting for us to browse talking about the local area, all in English! So kind! ... She tells us many times that she does not speak English, but we come to find out that she is very very modest. Her English is so good that we don't use the dictionary even once during our whole time with her. She also tells us that she is not a good chef, but believe me ... these photos don't lie. It was a treat to eat the food she prepared for us. The original plan was to arrive near 11am so I could help cook, but with traffic we are over an hour late and by the time we arrive she is already nearly finished cooking lunch. After the tour of her beautiful home (where she and her late husband raised all three children), we sat down and enjoyed a feast of skewers of a small fowl of some type with oranges and white rice on the side, and for dessert a homemade cake ... and of course, cheese and bread! After lunch, the children are thrilled to find that Catherine has a house FULL of toys. Its a great mix of older toys from when her children were young ... and more modern toys for the grandkids. You can tell in everything about the house and the way she interacts with Samuel and Ella that she is a wonderful grandmother! As a matter of fact, thats what the kids refer to her as the whole time we are there, "the Grandma".

After an hour or two, Catherine shows us how to get to the beach and we get ready to go. She has to run an errand, so she won't be joined us ... she has a jacket to deliver to her sister's clothing store in a neighboring city. As we prepare to go, Samuel has a little meltdown about something or other, and its obvious he is super tired. So tired, he actually ASKS for a nap! WOW! I lay him down upstairs and scratch his back until he falls asleep. Catherine volunteers to stay with him while Janice and I walk to the beach with Ella, with a plan for me to come back in thirty minutes so Catherine can run her errand.

Janice, Ella, and I walk down the street, through a field and viola! We are at the beach. The beach is fairly empty because the skies are cloudy, ... but its a wonderful scene. There are several large rock areas that jet out in to the ocean, and several people can be seen carrying buckets and rakes scavenging for mussels and longostinos. The ocean provides some small waves, and the sand is smooth and inviting. If only the weather was better ... but then, almost on que, the clouds began to open up ... and within ten minutes, it was a bright, sunshiny day! Just as I turned to head back to relieve Catherine from staying with Samuel, I see them both walking through the field toward the beach. He woke up! ... Janice, Sam, and I are in our pants, so I walk up to the house to get our beach clothes, towels, and sunscreen and we end up enjoying the whole day on the beach. I walk with the kids exploring as Janice works on her tan. ... About an hour later, I return with the kids and see some people playing volleyball. I stroll over to watch and it turns out they are pretty good, but the court is full with 5v5 and no bystanders look like they want to join me in playing, so I report back to Janice to tell her. ... As fate would have it though, a spot opens up on the court ten minutes later and for the last two hours of the day, Janice and I get to play volleyball with the locals. We both did pretty good, ... Janice got some All-American digs, and I brought the pain with some All-American blocks and spikes. USA, USA, USA!!!! ;p

As the sun began to slide towards the horizon, we cleaned up and walked back to our home in Pornichet, where Catherine was working on our dinner of artichokes! YUM! Over dinner, we learn more about Sandrine's family, about how Catherine's husband passed away just three years ago from cancer (very sad), and a bit about Pornichet and the surrounding area's history.

We end the night relaxing at the house. Janice goes to bed a little early while Catherine and I stay up looking at Franc and Sandrine's blog. A great day for all of us!
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