Woke up at a quite unspeakable hour – 4.15am – and set off in the dark so that we could reach Portsmouth by 7.00am. Surprising amount of traffic about even at that dreadful time, but we had a very peaceful trip really, going over Tower Bridge and out on the A3. Began to get light as we got to Guildford, and was quite nice really once one woke up. The children dozed most of the way.
Arrive Portsmouth at 7.0ish and queued up to go on the boat – longish wait as usual, but we were on board by 7.45, on the Viking Victory, which was a surprisingly small boat, built in Oslo and full of Viking decorations which met with some approval from our Viking fan, AGH [Andrew]. Bought our duty free goods – gin, Dubonnet and Cardhu malt whisky + 200 cigarettes and moaned about the price which is extortionate.
As we went out of Portsmouth, saw lots of frigates and destroyers of the R.N. moored in the dockyard, and also glimpsed the Victory, looking very incongruous in the middle of the pale greys of the modern fleet. Saw the East end of the Isle of Wight clearly, and then settled down for a peaceful crossing. The children ate chicken and chips at the cafeteria and David and I ate the Smorgas bord in the Norseman restaurant, and enjoyed it very much, consuming a fairly disgusting amount!
Arrived at Cherbourg at 12.0ish, put our watches on an hour, and drove off down the switchback roads of the Cotentin peninsula. Made good progress, as the roads were not too busy, and we went through various sleepy little towns along the route followed by the armies in 1944. Joined the autoroute near Caen and sped along to Pont l’Eveque for 6 francs, then up the Normandy lanes to le Brévedent. M Mesnières showed us to a nice place under the apple trees (complete with wasp traps dangling) and conveniently place for such amenities as the swimming pool, the loos, the shop and the take-away food. After putting the tent up, we all went into the pool and it was gorgeously refreshing.
Ate a large tea of chicken from Hornchurch and chips from the kitchen, followed by little green grapes from Trevor [the greengrocer]. Felt very relaxed – the journey had gone well, the camp site as pleasant as ever, the unpacking had gone smoothly and we’d eaten well too. Children played table tennis and boules, we walked round the site and saw a black cat tethered by a rope and then later leading its owner a dance as it chased around the site. Lots of large family groups eating large meals outside their tents, or just drinking and chatting. For most it was probably a ‘last night of the holiday’ celebration as many of them will be going home tomorrow.
Went to bed early – it had been a long day after all, and went off to sleep very easily.