June 03, 2011
Winter in Gruissan was a rewarding experience, with sun most
days, sitting in front of the Boulangerâ€™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 goatâ€™s cheese and vegetables, butchers (Charcoutiereâ€™s)
unit and dried meats, it is a wonderful sight, sipping on a cup of â€˜Cafeâ€™.
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, Fandangoâ€™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 â€˜Epicure,â€™ 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 â€˜Le Clapeâ€™ 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 Bettyâ€™s of Harrogate
who posted a Christmas pudding and cake to us. Our family kindly donated â€˜Red
Crossâ€™ parcels to us which arrived in time.
New Year was celebrated with the ultimate
dinner at â€˜Le Fermeâ€™ 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 Carolâ€™s new home in Manot near to Angouleme (Buryâ€™s
Catching up with their news in front of their wood burning
fire and enjoying some â€˜Huites du St
Martinâ€™, 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
Bobâ€™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.
â€˜Meggieâ€™ (the cat) had been cared for by Cecile our French
Our arrival home was greeted by a glance from â€˜Meggieâ€™ 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 Riveraâ€™s,
French Islands, Sicily, Sardinia and the Greek Islands were starting with the
purchase of cartography.
On the 14th. February, Saint Valentineâ€™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
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 werenâ€™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 Chrisâ€™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 landlordâ€™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 dâ€™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 dâ€™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
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.