We’ve put together a slideshow of images to try to give a feeling of what it’s like at Le Gaillon. We spent ages trying to find an appropriate piece of music to have in the background, without success, and even when we did find some music which we all liked there was always the problem of copyright.

Then, out of the blue, our friend Henry sent us a sample of his new song that he wants Paul to play bass on his new album – and it was perfect, just what we were looking for! I asked him if we could use it on the website and having spent many happy times there he was delighted to be asked, and even renamed it “Tu reviendras au Gaillon”! (translation: “You’ll return to Le Gaillon”)[clearspring_widget title=”Animoto.com” wid=”46928cc51133af17″ pid=”4969341a6ea92c17″ width=”432″ height=”260″ domain=”widgets.clearspring.com”]

Today we finally visited the Theipval memorial to the missing of the Somme in the first world war. It’s only 1.5 hours drive to the North-East of us, but for some reason we’ve never gotten around to visiting it before now.

We couldn’t have picked a worse day for our visit – it was bitterly cold with a biting wind and the steps of the memorial were covered in sheet ice. But maybe that made it all the more poignant when you think of what the troops had to endure in those trenches in the winter.

The memorial is covered with over 72,000 names – these just being the names of the troops killed in the battle of the Somme whose bodies were never recovered so they have no graves… 

Theipval Memorial

The list of names is arranged in alphabetical order within rank within regiment. So the photo below shows not all the Smiths, just the private Smiths from one regiment…Thiepval Names

As well as the memorial, there are 300 French graves (all simply marked “Inconnu”) and 300 British graves (all marked “A Soldier of the Great War”).Thiepval Graves

Katie looking at Graves
Katie was very moved…
 

Happy New Year everybody! We had a great one last night – went to bed very, very late – and got up very, very late too!

I think the farmer must also have got up late this morning, because when Paul and Katie finally surfaced and went out to get croissants, the cows were very curious to see what was going on and came over to crowd around the fence to have a look. I guess they were hoping we were going to feed them!

Photo of cows taken from the kitchen window…

Hungry cows

Cows

We had planned to go to Bocasse, a theme park for children, but when we arrived we were dismayed to find out that as from 1st September it only opens at weekends!

Luckily, the Chateau de Cleres is in the same village, so we went there instead, and what a lovely place it turned out to be! Beautiful grounds and lots of wildlife roaming free – deer, peacocks, flamingos, monkeys (in a cage), and many others.

We will definitely be going back and taking our friends…

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Lovely (free!) dessert recipe…

  1. Take a bowl, walk to the end of our lane, and turn left onto the road.
  2. Fill the bowl with blackberries plucked from the bushes lining the road.
  3. Stroll home (trying not to eat them all on the way!)
  4. Put blackberries in a small saucepan, sprinkle with a generous helping of sugar, and heat gently until soft.
  5. Spoon into bowls and serve with a dollop of creme fraiche!

Mmmm…. Bon Appetit! 

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Club Med and Casino 
Went for a stroll around the lake near the Casino and Club Med.

It’s the closest casino to Paris: only 110km from the capital. “In this corner of Normandy where Parisians come to to have a rest from Paris, the gaming tables never empty, the shrieks of the players never cease” wrote Voltaire nearly 300 years ago.

Nowadays, little has changed: The Grand Casino of Forges-les-Eaux is one of the top ten gaming casinos in France.

People have been asking us about the open-plan upstairs sleeping arrangements. It’s so difficult to describe, so we thought the best thing to do would be to post some photos here in an attempt to explain….

This is the main bedroom, with its gorgeous views out of the window. When we stay at the house, we always use this room (the children sleep in the triple bedroom at the other end of the house). This photo is taken from the middle of the house, looking towards the bed. You can just make out the pine wardrobe on the left.
Main Bedroom

And these two photos are taken from the bed, looking back towards the pine wardrobe and the middle of the house. As you can see, we do have a screen which can be used to help privacy.
Upstairs Double without screen Upstairs Double with screen

Now we are in the triple bedroom at the other end of the house. These are two views looking towards the sleigh bed (note that they were taken on different days and just to confuse we have moved the dolls house and the rug! But in the second picture you can see the end of the sleigh bed to the left).

Sleigh Bed Upstairs Triple Bedroom

This next one is taken from the sleigh bed and looks back in towards the centre of the house. You can see the bannisters at the top of the stairs, behind which is the large central room which we use for reading and playing games (blind man’s bluff is a firm favourite!). Then looking further back you can just make out the main bedroom at the far end of the house…

Kids Room looking back to centre of house, with double bedroom at the far end
Notice that this bed has a pull-out “truckle” underneath which incorporates a fully-sprung single mattress, so when pulled out, this room in effect has three single beds.