I first visited Normandy in the summer of ’79. The weather was dismal, cold and wet. It was, everyone said, typical of the region. Normandy – from the coast to the “mini Alps” inland – is made of vast beaches, cliffs full of fossils, stud farms, dairy farms, cheese factories, and charming towns hidden in deep valleys. One of the seaside resorts made popular in the beginning of the 19th century, the town of Deauville, has been a fashionable holiday resort for the international jet set for many years, but it’s also a cozy family vacation spot with casinos, hotels, race tracks and polo fields. We usually stay either in the town of Deauville itself or with friends who own a bed and breakfast near the town of Lisieux – famous for the Basilica dedicated to St Therese.
Since I didn’t have much time this year – only a week to enjoy my favorite region in France – the sun decided to be on my side and the weather was sunny and dry. Mornings found me outside drinking my coffee with a view over the hills and cow pasture. The afternoon was for polo games. I did have fun helping out around the farm, (mostly lending moral support, as I know nothing about moving cows), but I could hold the gate open while they went from pasture to pasture. What I learned: cows require patience and calm. You don’t actually herd them like in the cowboy movies, you sort of coax them from one spot to the next. They are curious but not cuddly, like to be scratched on the forehead, have huge wet noses, and they attract millions of flies. They are very sociable and like to be pressed together like sardines in a tin. They eat just about everything, and Estelle rotates them with the horses to keep the weeds down in the fields.
My daughter came for 2 days and was a big help with the horses. She went to the stables at 6 a.m. to ride the polo ponies on the beach, but I preferred to sleep in and enjoy the garden! There was a concert at the Cathedral in Bayeux (of the tapestry fame) and we had dinner twice at the Drakkar restaurant, which I first went to in 1979! And of course there was drinks at the Brok café, and that was the extent of my being fashionably social in Deauville!
Especially nice was seeing my Normandy friends, and dinner with them at the creperie in Cambremer gardens was probably the highlight of my vacation. Now my vacation is over, and the rain has come back. Today it poured sheets of water, my dryer is broken, and so I had to go to the laundromat to dry my clothes. (Vacation is well and truly over, I thought, as I splashed through puddles; my wet laundry in my shopping trolley.) I got to the laundromat and put all my clothes in the top dryer – then closed the bottom dryer (there are only 2 there), put my money in the wall-box and pushed the button to start. The bottom dryer started off. My clothes sat in the top dryer and sighed. I caught my mistake almost right away. I’m quick like that – luckily I didn’t go shopping and come back to an empty dryer whirring merrily around while my wet clothes snarled their zippers, rolled their button eyes and told me how scatter-brained I can be. I know – believe me, I know!