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“Canard Rodney?”

July 1, 2013

The early morning panic was exacerbated by That Nice Lady Decorator, discovering 10 minutes before we were due to depart for the ferry at Portsmouth, that she had forgotten to clear and clean out the fridge. A frantic whirling dervish of a Decorator dispatched much that was fresh and some that was not into either the bin or the dogs, there was a great deal of very fast scrubbing, polishing and language which is not appropriate for a Sunday in fact any day and so 20 minutes after the last safe time to depart in order to ensure we made it in time, we left in something of a hurry, and that is an understatement. The car, which looked half full the day before when we were packing it, was crammed full of loads of detritus including two dogs, one of whom was welcome to travel in the foot well, the other of who was (for me) an unwelcome travelling companion, looking at me malevolently from his cushion atop some suitcases.

As it turned out, there was sufficient time but only due to the absence of speed cameras and traffic police on the A27 and M27. The murky misty low cloud stayed with us for most of the crossing but then mercifully, within sight of the French coast, pictured today, the inevitable happened. The skies began to clear and glimpses of the sun soon became evident.

Caen and able to set foot in France

Arriving at Caen

On the voyage over, whilst sitting in my almost non reclining luxury reclining seat, I overheard a fascinating discussion amongst people of what I assume was a similar age seated nearby. It centred around iTunes, although these old codgers could not decide if it was either eTunes or iCon. There was a great deal if confusion about how it actually worked, with one of the old farts complaining bitterly that he had downloaded some tracks but could not get then into iTunes (or eTunes). His compatriot, who at least knew you had to pay to download, was patiently explaining that without a credit card, he would not be able to download his music. He was adamant that he had managed to put all his old cd’s on his iPod, and that there were other records he wanted and that was where the problem lay. When the more knowledgeable one spotted the obvious reason for failure, and pointed out in excruciating detail that he could not have them without paying, he was adamant that he was not going to pay for records he could hear on the radio. Amusing at first it became irksome and eventually it helped me drift off to sleep dreaming of more customers for Currencies Direct.

Embarking at Caen, it was time to start the migration south towards the warmth of the Mediterranean. Caen is famous as the birthplace of Guillaume Le Conquerant, better known in England as William the Conquerer. It is a matter of undying shame that this famous conker-playing champion is French. Conkers is such a truly English game I am upset by that old (horse) chestnut that it is not an Englishman who is renowned throughout the world for smacking his nuts together.

Three hours to the south we found a town called Bourges , and a hotel close to a golf course and a lake and then the first real touch of French life, dinner in shirts outside. My choice was a delicious slow cooked confit de canard. As Del Boy Trotter in that TV series Only Fools And Horses , once remarked when Rodney when was speaking about the difficulties of learning French and ducks said “canard”; “you’re not wrong Rodney”.

Chris France

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