Warning: Epic post with loads of pictures. You might want to fetch a cuppa. Or just give it a swerve altogether, I won't be offended!
We've been lucky this year and had two really lovely holidays. We went off to Spain (blogged here!) towards the end of June and then we went to France at the end of July with my family.
It was my Dad's 60th Birthday this year and he wanted to have a holiday with us all to celebrate. (I think he'd had a bit of a health scare - that he kept secret from us - but he's definitely getting a bit soppy in his old age!)
|The front view. To the right of the photo is the main outbuilding - the bit you can see is a little games room.|
|Said games room: pool and table tennis. There was also badminton and tennis equipment if you wanted it.|
Dad booked an amazing gîte in France for the week. It was one of the best holidays ever, made all the more special for being able to spend quality time not just with Drew but with mum, dad, sis, bro-in-law and niece. Of course we see each other a lot - we all live within a reasonable driving distance of each other - but it's rare that we get the chance to just be quiet in each other's company, share a bottle of wine or a pot of coffee and enjoy the sunshine without any time pressures.
|Drew sprawled out on a blanket in the garden. By the swing seat, there, is a delightful babbling brook.|
|Cross stitch in the shade. Heaven on earth.|
The gîte was gorgeous. It was huge with five big bedrooms, four bathrooms (all luxuriously kitted out) and an enormous kitchen/diner with the most heavenly scrubbed pine table to seat about 14 people. It was decorated completely to my taste and had a kind of faded grandeur about it. I spent the first hour of our arrival wandering around room to room exclaiming over the furniture and the objets d'art everywhere!
|The entrance hall. Made me go 'oooh!' immediately!|
If I could have sneaked this whole cabinet and its contents home, I probably would have, I won't lie. I was besotted with it:
The kitchen had folding french windows which opened right out onto the decking and swimming pool area. It was seriously lovely and the perfect place for some downtime en famille.
|Swimming pool and pool house. Loads of loungers and a huge table again. Lush.|
The gîte was in a hamlet near the small town of Trun. We chose the Normandy area because my Dad and Drew have a fascination with WWII and wanted to explore the Normandy beaches. Trun was the nearest town in which to pick up our daily baguettes and whilst there we'd have a coffee at our favourite little cafe to watch the world go by:
The little cafe was right next to the boulangerie and it was lovely to watch people of all ages popping by to fetch their bread. Children as young as 6 or 7 wandered past with great long baguettes!
Apart from several days spent at our home for the week, we did make a couple of trips out. Our first trip was to Caen to visit a Commonwealth cemetery and war museum.
Caen was beautiful, with lots of quaint little buildings, a beautiful cathedral, pretty shops and restaurants.
I've obviously seen the cemeteries on TV and in films but you cannot comprehend the enormity of it until you are standing right there yourself. Nearly 5,000 graves at this one alone; imagine each grave is a uniformed man, standing to attention. It was indescribably emotional.
My favourite day of the holiday was a day spent with my mum and dad visiting the trenches and the beaches. We were out from 8am until 8pm in glorious sunshine. My dad and Drew especially had a whale of time but mum and I found the trenches interesting too. There were hideouts, guns and shiz:
|Beach fortifications, part of the Atlantic wall built by the Germans on Omaha beach.|
|Big gun. :-)|
|The Dakota's pretty but look at that sky! :-)|
|Drew and me.|
We took a tiny detour inland to find somewhere nice for lunch and found the lovely town of Douvres-la-Delivrande where we took our time over pizza, salads and wine in the shade.
|My two favourite men ever.|
We drove back to the coastline to explore more beaches and before heading home we decided to find somewhere for a drink. I had been telling my mum just that day that I wanted to buy a wicker basket for shopping at the local farmers' market. As we drove past this little shop in Beauvron en Auge I literally squealed at my dad to 'stop the car!'.
He performed a perfect almost-emergency-stop, swinging the car into the nearest parking space. Turns out it was a good move. Mum and I spent the rest of our holiday money in the Epicerie, we all had a wander round the town and then stopped at a little bar opposite the Epicerie for a glass of wine. It was delightful.
|A gorgeous row of shops including an antiques store and a small art gallery.|
|This little shop was closed. It looked amazing. Fromageries rule!|
|SO MANY lovely things in this shop. Was sorely tempted by a polka dot scarf.|
|Our view as we quaffed ice cold white wine (the boys drank beer).|
Of course one of the highlights of the holiday was to have a whole week with my gorgeous niece. I got cuddles first thing in the morning and lots of splashing in the pool with her too. My favourite moment was a bit of quiet time after we'd been in the pool together. I was lying on a sun lounger drying off when she trotted over to me with her mum's ipad, sat on my tummy, pinched the hat from my head and made me sing along to 'Bingo the Dog'.
|B-I-N-G-O and Bingo was his name-o!|
A moment I will treasure forever - the holiday was full of them.
Thank you, Dad, for an amazing holiday and happy 60th Birthday. We love you loads.