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Thursday, 11 August 2022

Pleasure achieved

The forthcoming “pleasure” I worried about three weeks ago (Knowing vs. guessing, July 18) was a very expensive, two-week villa rental for eight at Marseillan, a French port on the Mediterranean coast. So many natural disasters (Covid, forest fires, trade union strikes, my illness, political arguments, etc) suggested it wouldn’t happen.

In the end it did happen although the start was hardly propitious. We set out from the other side of England much earlier than usual, as some sort of guarantee, and this led to a frustrating and lengthy delay of several hours  in the Eurotunnel car park waiting for our 35-minute under-the-sea train ride from Folkestone to Calais.

Throughout the fortnight the temperature was continuously in the thirties (Celsius) and although we ate out some half a dozen times, our main activities were limited to the pool. Daniel, granddaughter Ysabelle’s partner, forced the others (VR and I were reckoned too old) to play aquatic volley ball and it was interesting to watch skills develop as time passed by. One thing I’d never noticed when making the reservation was that the villa – an impressive manor-house building – was air-conditioned and this may have saved our two oldsters’ lives.

My French was rusty and it took time to get it up to speed. Tone Deaf was always intended to be a “written” blog but, as a change, here are some captioned photographs.

NOTE: If I seemed coy earlier about this "pleasure" in the previous post it was to deflect the attentions of burglars while we were away.

RR and VR playing Lord of the Manor and his
Ladyship as dusk brought cooler temperatures

A static view of aquatic volley ball

RR (in sun-protecting tee-shirt) floating; VR reading

Daniel (on right) said Smile and so we did

Anne, the villa owner, lived nearby and brought us fresh
vegetables. Converted into ratatouille by expert cooks

The eye was a bit of a turn-off but this daurade (sea
bass) is firm fleshed and delicious. One of my favourites

"Faux amis" (false friends) are one of the hazards of the French language,
words that look familiar to Brits but aren't what they seem. This example
was spotted by daughter Occasional Speeder, whose French is coming on


  1. I'm happy to hear you had a good time, and thanks for sharing some pictures so we can all see what we missed. I have to wonder what it would be like spending 35 minutes driving under the sea. I'm afraid I'd get claustrophobic.

  2. Colette: The alternative Channel crossing would be to shuffle the car through the crowded docks at Dover, inch it into the ferry where it would be crammed like a London commuter, endure a 90-minute crossing, and take what would seem like ages to disembark. Emerging in a thoroughly bad temper.

    At Eurotunnel, loading the train takes mere minutes; one drives into what is, in effect, a continuous tube. The departure is so smooth the only evidence of movement is a few passing details of the Folkestone terminal through the windows. There is no sense of being underground. One eats a sandwich, re-sets one's watch to one hour ahead and lo, the impedimenta of the French terminal becomes visible through the window.

    The whole journey from my house, near Hereford, in England, to the villa at Marseillan, on the Mediterranean, is 835 miles and takes about 16 hours. We do it in two days. The Tunnel saves valuable time and is not subject to bad weather in the Channel.

  3. Great place you had there. The 30 plus temps are always so much more enjoyable when on holidays.

    1. Sabine: Apart from paying for the holiday VR and I did absolutely nothing. We were shopped and cooked for, served to, and chauffeured throughout; not that - at eighty plus - we could could have offered much in the way of assistance even if the weather had been temperate. The only active role I played was that of Francophone but even this has started to diminish - all the extended members of the family are starting to learn (and use) French for communication. I delight in this.

  4. Glad your holiday was so pleasurable. Enjoyed your photos and account of the experience. I can appreciate the wisdom of not broadcasting your absence as those of us who live alone, especially, do the same. I'll never get to experience the Eurotunnel which my daughter and granddaughter appreciated some years ago much as you describe.

  5. Joared: At our previous house in Kingston-upon-Thames, 12 miles out of London, we were burgled four times in a comparatively short space of time (less than two years). Each time the insurance company recommended four quite separate protective measures and each subsequent burglary employed a different method of break-in not covered by the insurance company. The last recommendation was to install an alarm system which we did. No break-ins from then on and subsequently we moved to Hereford. I had an alarm system installed PDQ and so far (ie, 22 years) there have been no burglaries. But it strikes me the estate we live on is getting quite lax and may be ripe for a raid. Typically a gang from Birmingham (a large city about fifty miles away) followed, three-to-four months later, by another raid, when the burgled residents have replaced and re-installed all their treasures. Crime, thought be in some ways romantic, turns out to be wearisomely routine.