Thursday, 1 October 2015

Back from our Travels

My 'bucket list' for life outside the classroom is relatively modest - quality time with the people I love, time to learn new crafts..... and a September holiday!  We've just got back from two weeks holiday in France and it's been GREAT!

We took the overnight ferry from Portmouth to St Malo, then headed to the Gironde estuary for six nights.  This area is clearly a popular summer resort for French families and foreign visitors but it was blissfully tranquil out of season.  We stayed in gorgeous apartment overlooking the port at Mortagne.  It was a top floor studio apartment so the views were stunning and the sunsets were superb...

We've never been to this part of France before so we made sure that we visited all the main 'sights'.
Talmont - with it's dramatic medieval church by the estuary -

Pons - with the enormous castle keep in the main square -

and it's medieval pilgrim hospital on the road to Compostella -

and Saintes - with it's ancient churches and 2000 year old roman amphitheatre -

We also made time to 'seriously chill'.  We ignored the news, switched off Mark's work mobile, ate nice meals and drank lots of local wine (Bordeaux - the 'Haut Medoc' was especially good!)
At the end of the week we drove inland to Angouleme for the second stage of the holiday.  This was three nights in a small city centre studio apartment - so that we could attend this year's 'Circuit Des Remparts'.  Many years ago we promised ourselves that we would celebrate the first September of my retirement by watching this race.  As a result the whole weekend felt slightly surreal - but it was great fun.  The town centre is completely taken over by the event.  The cars were quirky and beautiful, and the atmosphere was lovely.

I'll certainly never forget the excitement of walking up to the old town at 7.15 am on the Sunday (in the dark), making our way into the circuit, listening to the cathedral bells chime 8.00 in the rising sun then watching the first cars make their way out onto the circuit for the first qualifying laps.  Fabulous!

On Monday we drove back up to the north coast of Brittany for the final phase of the holiday.  We spent the last four nights in a small hotel right on the sea front at St Malo.  This was the view from my pillow -
We walked for miles and miles along 'Grand Route 34' - which is a long distance footpath covering the Rance estuary and the part of the Breton coast line -
One day we started walking from the port at the bottom of the lovely 'Rue du Jerzual' in Dinan -
Another day we explored the headland to the north east of St Malo -
And on our final day we walked the coastal path from the Rance 'Barrage' to Dinard and beyond -

We ended the holiday with a day on the ferry from St Malo to Portmouth.  This was when we really noticed that we were travelling 'out of school holidays'.  The ferry was practically deserted and really quiet.  It was a lovely sunny day and the sea was really calm - a complete bonus at the end of September.

It's taken a few days to get back into routine.  Mark asked me to write an article for the Marcos Club Magazine about our trip to the 'Circuit'...which took up lots of potential blogging time.  I've also tacked the 'post holiday washing and ironing mountain'.  However don't feel too sorry for me because I've also been making the most of being able to read/craft in the garden in the afternoon sun...!  Hopefully we can hold onto the blue skies for a little longer.


  1. Look at you, making the most of being able to holiday out of school holidays. It looks fabulous and sounds like you both had a wonderful time. I've just been looking for an early holiday for next year before the school holidays start but even with one doing A levels next year and one finishing uni it doesn't seem possible. Graduation days and 18th birthdays seem to clash with any dates we can do so I think we'll still have to go away in the school holidays.

  2. Looks like you had a fabulous, relaxing holiday. I'm in my fourth year of retirement from the school board and I still get a little thrill from not having to go back to work in September!!!

  3. Hi Jan ... it's Jan!
    I've just come across from Jo's blog and loved reading and looking at your photo's here. Looks a lovely break.

    Happy October

    All the best Jan

  4. It sounds like a brilliant holiday. I really wish I could holiday during the quieter times!

  5. It does sound wonderful! I've never had a job where you can holiday in 'term' time as I worked in HE before being a teacher and we had to take leave when the students weren't there and since it was a music college,holidays were short!x

  6. It looks and sounds idyllic. I'm so jealous of those lovely places you've visited. Its on my list now for net year! VISIT FRANCE! I don't speak French but I'll take a phrase book and make the effort. It is a beautiful country.

  7. I am so glad the holiday was everything you had hoped it would be. No crowds and lots of sun for traveling-good for you. You were missed on line, so welcome back.

  8. That sounds wonderful and I've only ever seen a bit of French countryside from a coach and a day and a half in Paris. Thanks for the beautiful photos. Enjoy autumn and take care.

  9. My Goodness! You two certainly know how to travel and have a wonderful holiday! I love the photo of the amphitheatre with the grass growing in the seating sections AND the view from your pillow..

  10. What a wonderful holiday! Lots to see and do, and time for R and R too.
    Isn't it great to travel 'out of season', not having to compete with hoardes of people for restaurants and attractions. It's one of the things I enjoy about being retired.

  11. What a super holiday you have had it all sounds and looks wonderful. I love the coast around St Malo but haven't been for ages. The first thing I enjoyed after my husband stopped teaching was the being able to travel in the quiet times:)