ChrisGFandango's trip to the Med

N 43° 32' E 04° 08'

Winter in Gruissan and our spring sailing plans

June 03, 2011

Winter in Gruissan was a rewarding experience, with sun most

days, sitting in front of the Boulanger’s in the village drinking coffee and

watching the world go by, we could forgive the strong wind blowing from the snow

capped Pyrenees. Protected from the wind by the building with a view of the

village square, it soon became a feature of our daily routine.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />

On market day the view of the numerous stalls selling olive

oil derived products, local goat’s cheese and vegetables, butchers (Charcoutiere’s)

unit and dried meats, it is a wonderful sight, sipping on a cup of ‘Cafe’.

With two frosty days and very little rain during the whole of

the winter, the wind was a small price to pay.

The wind did not blow every day, but when it did, it could be

too strong to stand up in, but it kept the rain away, the Languedoc Roussillon

region is known for its strong winds( amongst other things/wine/cheese) which

funnel down the Rhone Valley or off the Pyrenees.

Our choice of winter house was a resounding success,

conveniently close to the Zone Technique du Port, Fandango’s winter resting

place, the house was comfortable with  all our wish list addressed, satellite TV and installed

internet access, communication with loved ones and friends was gratefully

accepted, the Christmas Goose was ordered from the village ‘Epicure,’ copious quantities

of oysters(Huites), mussels(moules), bullots,(sea snails) lobster(Homard), King

prawns(Crevettes) sourced from the historic salt pans just outside Gruissan, you

may forgive us for being grateful for our circumstances,  surrounded by quality ‘Le Clape’ vineyards,

we were in heaven.( the name in English is unfortunate and has no link to our


Many visits to Centre Du Tri in Narbonne on the bus at 1 euro

per trip were enjoyed. (This is the main commercial area)

Christmas came and went, many thanks to Betty’s of Harrogate

who posted a Christmas pudding and cake to us. Our family kindly donated ‘Red

Cross’ parcels to us which arrived in time.

  New Year was celebrated with the ultimate

dinner at ‘Le Ferme’ a restaurant we had visited several times, the first time

with long time friends Keith and Carol Pendlebury.

We arrived at the restaurant at 1230 and left at 1730, a meal

to be remembered. The Chef is famed for his Pate de Foi Gras, and we were not

disappointed, having consumed a modicum of St. Jacques with local black

truffle, Duck, and a fanfare of deserts we retired home and did not eat for two


Our first trip home was in a hire car, we set off on the 6th

January for the 1200km trip to Calais, and the trip was broken by a delightful stay

with an introduction to Keith and Carol’s new home in Manot near to Angouleme (Bury’s

twin town)

Catching up with their news in front of their wood burning

fire and  enjoying some ‘Huites du St

Martin’, Beuf Bourgeon and a glass or two of local wine was a delight and long


Our plan was to stay with daughter and Son in Law Vicky and

bob, Ethan and the Twins Olivia and Erin in Ashford and then on up to Bury to our

younger daughter Caroline and son in law Chris, Meghan and Izzie and then to Brother

Pete and Rhian in Porthmadog.

However our plan was offset by sudden news of the death of

Bob’s Grandmother, which coincided with our arrival; with the funeral arranged,

baby-sitting duties were our order of the day.

Our visit with Caroline and Chris, Meghan and Izzie was met

with the news that we were to be grandparents again. This time a boy,

Our visit with Brother Pete and Rhian was much enjoyed, and a

visit to a deserted  PSC was made.

We were soon on the road heading back to Gruissan, satisfied

that family were well and that our affairs were in order.

‘Meggie’ (the cat) had been cared for by Cecile our French

baby sitter.

Our arrival home was greeted by a glance from ‘Meggie’ a

turned back as she snuggled back to her bed, apparently disgusted that she had

been abandoned for 3 weeks.

We soon settled down and started our preparation of Fandango

for the new season; plans to move east towards the French and Italian Rivera’s,

French Islands, Sicily, Sardinia and the Greek Islands were starting with the

purchase of cartography.

On the 14th. February, Saint Valentine’s Day, news

from home turned our lives upside down, it was unexpected and shocked us, our

45 year old Son in Law, Chris, had suffered a heart attack followed shortly

afterwards by a massive stroke, we were devastated, and so was pregnant


 A long, trip home was

hastily arranged.

We have been supported by Maryvonne co-owner of Nautiland who

are our boat yard handlers in Gruissan, she has been an absolute gem and our

thanks go to her, also to Avis in Narbonne who worked hard to get us a car with

short notice, and to Cecile our cat sitter who also did more than we could have


The following morning we were on our way, the 1200 km trip to

Calais was covered in a day, tired and anxious we stayed the night in the lovely

Cottage Inn in Calais and the following morning we made our way to the port

where we crossed and stayed the night with Vicky and Bob in Ashford.

We arrived in Bury in mid afternoon, Caroline was distraught

but coping surprisingly well, our duties for the next 8 days was to support

her, Meghan and Izzie and to help in any way we could. We resolved to source a

car so that we could avoid the expense of a hire car, Smith Knight Fay the VW

dealers in Bury obliged with a VW Golf which we arranged to collect on our next

visit to the UK in March.

We paid a visit to poor Chris in the stroke unit at Fairfield

hospital, he was very poorly and struggled to speak before lapsing into

unconsciousness, Megan and Izzie paid their first visit to their Daddy and were

both distressed, reassuring Meghan that things would be alright was difficult

as they clearly weren’t. 

With the pressure of the cost of the hire car snapping at our

heels we were forced to leave and return to Gruissan, and return the car.

The next few weeks were difficult, with almost daily contact

with home, Caroline was struggling to keep her family together, deal with

financial affairs and we were doing our best to support her from afar.

News that pressure was building on Chris’s brain and his heart

was in a bad state, surgery was not ruled out, and a high pulse rate would be


News gradually, became more positive and an action plan for

physiotherapy targets was set.

Our next visit home was much more positive, Chris was

improving day on day, he was now able to walk and his renowned sense of humour

was returning. We left much more positive. Caroline, Meghan and Izzie were

happier but wanted their husband and father home, but that was not to be for

quite some time.

At last news from home allowed us to start making our own

plans, Chris was due home in the last week of May, the adaptations to the house

had been made and all is moving on.

Chris is still not out of the woods, he has a long way to go

to full recovery, but the signs are good.

Chris and I spent the last two weeks of April in our landlord’s

apartment in Alcobresse, near Valencia in Spain, the rest was welcome.

Our arrival back in Gruissan was met with a busy few days as

Fandango was lifted back to the water, only to discover that the problem with

the auto-stream propeller continued into this year and we were obliged to crane

out again and fit the original fixed blade propeller without the rope cutter.

This year we have to be careful and avoid fouling the


We finally departed Gruissan on the 25th. May and

made for Cap d’Agde.

Our first day sailing felt really good, a glorious day with

hot sun and a 12 knot wind, from the South, the sight of the snow capping the

Pyrenees contrasted strongly with the day as Fandango sailed at a constant 4.5

knots, all is well.

We have chosen to delay our progress in Cap d’Agde, as heavy

wind is expected on Wednesday 1st June, our plan is to continue up

the coast towards the Pocquerolles and then on to Corsica.

We have to be back in Gruissan by the 9th July,

when we will drive home to support Caroline when she gives birth to our

grand-son, Noah.

Meghan will be joining us for her school holidays; we are

looking forward to her visit.

News from home is that Noah is currently in the breach

position and a section may have to be carried out.








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