Saturday 20th August
Another good nights sleep in Rosie though we both had to have our duvets on as it was rather chilly; this is the third night in a row, we’re not used to being cold at night; still we’re acclimatising for our return to the U.K.🤭🤭
Our plan was to leave no later than 0900hrs, and as our hosts are not early risers, we said our goodbyes last night but to our surprise, they were up so we all enjoyed a hot drink before leaving as planned.
Toulmelin, the hamlet where Sandy and Wendy live is serviced by minor roads so leaving and heading to Roscoff cross country did worry Christine a little but fortunately being fairly early and a Saturday, no problem. What we have found keeping off toll roads and using the “D” roads, we have seen much more of France and this morning is no exception. We drove through some very attractive countryside, but the one thing we have noticed most days is the spectacular colour of the trees; it appears Autumn has come early in France. No doubt this is also global warming and is all to do with the heatwaves we’re all suffering!
Overall our 2-hr drive finished as a 4-hr drive but this time it was down to us. We stopped for breakfast and later had a coffee stop; this is what Rosie is all about😁😁😁😁 and arrived in the port with time to spare so after checking in and joined the queue, Christine knocked up some scrambled eggs for lunch. The time taken to cook, eat and clear up was just right as our queue was called. To our great surprise we entered the ship and kept driving and finished up right in front of the exit doors; this hasn’t happened for a long time, just have to hope we come off this end!!!
An uneventful crossing and like a mill pond, but the ship was full of families with little or no commercial vehicles. The down side to so many families, all returning from their holidays were the screaming children running about the ship. Today we were early enough aboard to get to the tables looking out over the bowes of the ship so settled down for the 6-hour crossing. We had the self service restaurant close by for later, toilets within easy walking and a good view. Unfortunately our all are various table neighbours throughout the crossing we’re families with screaming kids!!!!
After docking we headed back to the car deck and waited with baited breath for the doors to open, and once open we were the first to be waived off; perfect. We dutifully followed the instructions from the port authorities but to our horror were directed a different way to the rest behind us; naturally we thought this was a penalty for being so lucky to be first off!!! In front of us was a “unmovable” looking gate with a very “serious” looking border control / customs officer with his hand up telling us to stop on the white line. Our thoughts then turned to how much booze we had, naturally “over-the-top”, but to our dismay he just took our passports for scanning and sent us towards the “big” gate, saying it would open as we approached, and it did, we were the first to leave the docks; amazing, a definite first for us. The strange thing was an announcement prior to leaving the ship saying the port was congested and running late; they got that one wrong!!!!
Being fairly late we were soon clear of Plymouth and ‘batting” up the A38 towards Exeter where we pickup the M5 heading towards Bristol. We made good time and soon arrived at junction 22 where we left and headed to Hope Farm arriving about 2230hrs. To our surprise there was a light on in the kitchen so headed inside to find Dave and Jane closing down and heading to bed, well that was until we arrived, any idea of an early night went straight out of the window!!!!
Sunday 21st August
Arriving fairly late last night we parked in their cottage guests “car park” so first thing we needed to park it in their field, away from the house, I wonder why!!!!! This morning we also carried out maintenance, cleaning Rosie through and sorting water tanks etc. after lunch the 5-of us got engrossed in the guests games room; table football being the most fun with minor “riots” taking place and accusations of all sorts being banded around, but good fun had by all.
The weather wasn’t the best, overcast but not raining, so Dave did an excellent bar-b-q rounded off with strawberries coated in milk and white chocolate, delicious. After Mia retired to bed, the four of us played Mahjong.
Monday 22nd August.
Today we head down to the Portsmouth area to catch up with Christine’s sisters and for Dougie’s funeral tomorrow.
There was a delay in leaving as Jane had very kindly put us on her car insurance but hadn’t realised I had a Spanish driving licence and had told the company my licence was a U.K. one; this needed to be corrected before we headed off.
Our first stop was Kathleen and Tom for tea and cake. Tom had just come out of hospital and didn’t look well at all, he just sat in his chair having lost all his “sparkle” and his enthusiasm for his garden was also lacking, hopefully the NHS will resolve his issues before too long.
After tea we headed to Bill and Jenny’s; they very kindly offered us a bed for two nights we’re in Portsmouth, and tonight they are cooking us a meal. After an excellent meal we had a very nice evening chatting and catching up with news etc.
Tuesday 23rd August
Dougie’s Funeral is at 1500hrs so firstly we headed back to Tom and Kathleen’s for mid morning coffee as their daughter, Amanda, was staying overnight and it has been some time since Christine has seen this particular niece, now was her chance to catch-up, but unfortunately no. Amanda had left at 0830hrs to catch her train back to Cornwall, still it was nice to be able to visit Tom and Kathleen again.
Our next port of call was to Christine’s eldest sister “Pat”, firstly for lunch and then somewhere to change into our funeral clobber!!!! Pat put on a good spread but unfortunately we couldn’t do it justice, probably due to being pre-occupied by the funeral. Anyway dressed and booted we headed to the Oak Crematorium, we needed to be there early as there were going to be lots of people attending.
The cortège arrived and after the family left the cars we all filed in behind the coffin, and as we thought the crematorium was bulging; Dougie had many friends both in the navy and in his retirement, he was very well liked and respected, larger than life man. His brother once said that “Dougie didn’t join the navy to see the world, Dougie joined the navy so that the world could see him”. That just about summed up this remarkable character. Christine knew Dougie for approximately 37 years, and though I only knew him for less than half that time, I had got to know him well and his stories will be told for many years to come. To Jill we offer our heartfelt condolences but are happy knowing she has a large family and many of Dougie’s friends around to support her. The funeral service ended with a member of the marine band playing the last post on his bugle and followed by a two minute silence, then reveille; it was very moving..
Following the funeral we all went to the Brookfield Hotel for a celebration of his life where many of his “retired” fellow “shipmates” recounted stories of his escapades both in the navy and when sailing around the Solent in later life. The bottom line is Dougie had a very full and eventful life.
Having said our goodbyes we headed back the Bill and Jenny’s and especially pleased to get out of our “funeral clobber”; hope we don’t need to bring it out again too soon🤞🤞. Our evening was uneventful and we watched a film before having an early night.
Wednesday 24th August
We left our friends reasonably early as we had to stop in Fareham to sort Christine’s ‘phone out. We both have duel SIM card ‘phones but are struggling, and as her’s is supplied by a company based in Fareham, she had an ideal opportunity to get it sorted, and they did, with no fuss or bother bearing in mind we just “turned up” at the office door. Maybe when my contract expires I’ll go to them.
Being midweek our journey back via Salisbury was reasonably clear and un-eventful so stopped en-route at another Butcombe Pub, and again enjoyed their faire.
Back at Jane’s and after Christine cooked a superb and hearty roast dinner, the four of us played Mahjong before retiring at a reasonable time.