Unbelievably, it is almost five years since we bought our little house in Le Grand-Pressigny.
The fifth anniversary of first standing on the little terrace and having that “this is the one” moment passed just before we set off for our recent holiday at the end of August. The anniversary of the day we signed the compromis de vente
passed while we were there and the anniversary of finally getting the keys
will be coming up in November.
As soon as we announced to my father in 2007 that we were going to buy a holiday home in France, he immediately got himself a passport. But no matter how much we tried, we could not persuade him to come with us. He was full of enthusiasm at first but as the years went by he became less and less inclined to make the trip. His main worry was being taken ill on the journey, or while we were in France, and ending up in a French hospital.
A few weeks ago, at the age of 83, he changed his mind and, at last, decided to come !!
The ferry port at Dover at 9pm.
We rearranged the travelling to include an overnight stay in Calais, breaking the journey and making it easier for Dad. We bought a top box for the car otherwise getting three adults, a large dog (that occupies all of the boot space) and luggage to France in our little car would have been.....challenging!
Having changed our car from a "standard" to a "tall" vehicle, there was no room for us on the Eurotunnel crossing we had booked so we deferred that and booked onto the ferry instead.
Nick settling Lulu down for the ferry crossing.
This is the first time we have taken Lulu on the ferry. I was very nervous about it and didn’t like the idea of leaving her in the car, by herself, on the car deck for more than 1½ hours. The beauty of travelling through the tunnel is that you stay with the car, so you don’t leave the dog alone, and it only takes 35 minutes. We need not have worried, she was fine.
Being the first on means you are also the first off the boat.
It was worth ticking the “needing assistance” box on the booking form, and paying £10 extra for priority boarding. This meant we were at the front of the line of cars to disembark and only a few steps away from the passenger lift – so we could get my dad up to the passenger decks without having to use the stairs.
The very comfortable lounge on the beautifully appointed ferry.
The ferry seemed to be brand new and we left the dock on time, arriving at the hotel at a sensible time to get a good night’s sleep.
Setting off on the second leg of the journey.
We were up bright and early the following morning. My dad wanted to make a detour on the way to the Loire, in order to visit the cemetery at La Neuville
, near the town of Albert.
His uncle Sam, who he never knew, died in the battle for Albert in the Great War in 1916, as did his mother’s first husband. She was only 24 and had three young children, my father’s step brother and sisters, when her husband died. The two men were both buried at La Neuville.
Nick and I made the trip to the cemetery in 2006 and I wrote about it here.
It was a moving experience for us at the time and today was going to be a big day for my dad.
The entrance to the little cemetery at La Neuville.
The cemetery was beautifully kept, just as the last time, and there had been a recent shower so the grass was fresh and green.
The raindrops on the roses on the soldiers’ graves could have been teardrops.
My dad pays his respect to his uncle, who he never knew, but has never forgotten. He lost two uncles in the Great War. The youngest was seventeen and he died just two weeks after leaving home to fight in France.
My dad signed the visitors book and left a message, just as we had done six years before.
It was an emotional time for all of us and my dad was glad he went. It was a big moment for him as none of his brothers and sisters have managed to make the trip.
After a solemn start to the day, we headed south towards Le Grand-Pressigny and we all cheered up as the clouds disappeared and the temperature began to climb. A great holiday was in front of us !!