4 August 2023


And so I am back in France after a week in the UK where the weather was terrible and my feet barely touched the ground.

The crossing from Dieppe to Newhaven was not as good as I'd hoped it would be.  I had booked a cabin so that I could get some rest during the four hour crossing and before the four hour journey back to home but it didn't quite work out.  The cabin deck is immediately above the car deck and, despite numerous announcements telling people to disable their car alarms they were going off every few minutes, lots of them.  On top of that a man in the next cabin had a loud cough, kids were running up and down the corridor and doors slammed continuously.  Sleep was not an option.

On docking at Newhaven, an hour later I was still in the queue for passport control whilst still on the boat!  It was raining heavily and on finally getting on the road I took the same wrong road out of town as last time, had to find a place to turn round in the dark and rain, head back to the port and have another go at it.  I arrived home at 2.30 am, which is 3.30 French time.

The picture above is not of our house but Mr Straw's house.

The weather forecast was not good but the day I arrived looked to be the best so I had arranged to meet up with my brother and visit a National Trust property called Mr Straw's House in Worksop which is not too far away.

Nick and I had been twice before and found it fascinating.  My brother had never been and found it just as interesting.

You can look it up easily on the NT website but in essence it belonged to a Mr Straw who was a grocer and married the butcher's daughter from across the road from his shop.  They bought one of these semis and turned it into a family home, soon afterwards buying the house next door.  They lived in one and rented out the other.  As the very charming NT guide said, grocers were very wealthy people in those days.  When first the father then the mother died the two sons changed nothing about it at all.  It stayed exactly as it was during the late 19th and the 20th century when the last of them died in the 1990's and bequeathed the contents to the NT and the property to the existing tenant.  It was already a living museum so the NT bought the houses from the tenant and now we can all visit.

It's full of such familiar stuff.  Many of the items were a part of my childhood especially in the early 1950's and 60's when we lived with my grandmother.  

As the NT guide said, it's a good job neither of the two sons were married as any wife would have gone through the house like a dose of salts and none of this would have been preserved!

My grandmother's kitchen was just like this.

The house we lived in as a child was a between-the-wars semi with fireplaces like this in the bedrooms.  One of them was still there when my father sold it in 2003.  

The bedrooms were just like my old childhood bedroom.

(Without the manekin!)

I wonder if picture rails will ever come back into fashion.

One of the brothers was a cactus expert.  Descendants of his collection are for sale.

After our visit to Mr Straw's house we popped over to Clumber Park, another NT property and one of our favourites, for a cup of tea and an excellent scone.  Then we went home, wrestled the outside chairs and table out of the shed and sat in the sunshine to enjoy a glass of rosé.  

That was the last of the sunshine for the whole week!

I spent the week hurtling about, seeing friends and  relatives, keeping appointments, dealing with post, gardening between the showers and generally my feet barely touched the ground.  Those were all highs but there were a couple of lows.

Number one was when I ran over a cat in the dark.  I was horrified as it ran in front of the car as I was nearing the end of a dual carriageway.  I braked and hoped to have missed it but I felt the sickening thump that told me otherwise.

I was distraught!  The cat was nowhere to be found.  I retraced my route and searched for it in the grass verge, much to the annoyance of other motorists as I crawled along slowly enough to try to find it.  I took the next turning into a road and walked along the fence, peering over but saw nothing.  The idea that an injured cat was out there haunted me for days and still does.

The other thing is that in the little cul-de-sac of old folks' bungalows there are new neighbours next door but one who have not made a good start.  It's a couple who have three cars, a van, two dogs, three cats, two chickens and a Harley Davidson.  Vehicles are littered all over the place, the pets are making a nuisance of themselves and there is a good deal of noise that was not there before.  How easily one's little oasis of calm can change.

And so I was glad to get back to the peace and quiet of rural France. 

Having left the ROP in the UK I flew back courtesy of Ryanair.  All went smoothly except for the weather.  The plane was mostly full of young families and with so many kids on board I was anticipating one and a half hours of hell but they were very well behaved.  They especially loved it when the high winds over France and around Limoges caused turbulence and the plane tipped alarmingly this way and that, dipped up and down and finally bounced on hitting the tarmac.  I had my heart in my mouth but judging by the squeals of delight a significant number of the youngsters really enjoyed it!


  1. I visited Mr Straw's house soon after the Trust acquired it. A friend of mine was the house manager. I remember there was a lot of discussion about how safe it would be to keep some of the pantry contents ie tins which might explode.

    1. Do old tins explode? I never really thought of that. I know that old bottles of pop do!

  2. Old custard powder scores highly on risk assessments! I've always wanted to go to Mr Straw's house. One day I'll get there!

    1. I wonder what it is about custard powder that's dangerous!
      You would love Mr Straw's house, I know you would. Visit when we are chez nous (UK) and we can catch up!

  3. Interesting post. Glad you got back safely but the weather here is not that good either. Summer will return next week so my forecast says. Cheers Diane

    1. It will be nice to see some sunshine again!

  4. Sadly moving onto a quiet residential street with a menagerie of animals and more cars than there are people in the household or spaces on the drive, seems to be commonplace these days. Glad you got to enjoy one day out though.

    1. The Harley is presumably in the garage and the short drive is just about big enough for the van and the older car, neither of which have moved since they arrived. The other two cars are parked with two wheels on the pavement wherever there is a gap, making it impossible for people with pushchairs or mobility scooters to get by without crossing the road.
      All very inconsiderate.

  5. Funny for me to see all those cacti. They look out of place. I walk outside and they are everywhere. On the other hand I am tired of sunshine so seeing your overcast photos were cheery to me. :-)

    1. It's been a odd summer weatherwise, much cooler and wetter than usual both in the UK and our part of France. But so much more welcome than the blistering heat waves of last year and that the poor folk further south have had to endure.