Nasty we day today, and felt sorry for the people in the tent across the way who were packing up. Set off for Calais promptly (for us!) and drove through improving weather through Boulogne so that as we approached Calais we could see the white cliffs of Dover across the Channel, all bright and clear in the sunshine.
Parked in a side street in Calais (proper car park was a ridiculous price) and went to the bank first as the Crédit Lyonnais where we got about 8.60 francs to the £. Walked on past the town hall to Calais Nord and tracked down likely eating places. Decided a picturesque half-timbered place looked a good bet, with an 18fr menu. Changed our booking at the Townsend office to 3.05 on Saturday, then looked round the shops till lunch time. Still staggered by the prices of French toys.
Went for lunch spot on 12.0 and settled in happy anticipation. David and I had the 24 fr menu and the children the 18 fr – theirs included 1/4 bottle of red wine and service. D & I had moules provençale (garlic and tomato), A and S had oeufs à la Russe, Gareth had potage des légumes. So much of Gareth’s potage – they had left the tureen with us! – that David, Sarah and I also had a soup course… Moules were delicious. Then D & I had poulet Basquaise and frites, Andrew had 1/4 poulet, Sarah and Gareth had pork chop Provençale and frites. All enjoyed this, and ate with gusto. Then to follow, the children had ice cream, we had ‘Mystères’ which are meringue core, then ice cream, then praline coating, and delicious. Then coffee. It was a super meal, the place was full of locals (always encouraging) and indeed people were queuing to come in. Service was business-like and courteous without being obsequious, and it was fascinating to see what other people were eating – several people were having couscous which looks horrible! Bill came to 120 fr but we thought it money well spent.
Went on to the war museum which is a German bunker built with forced labour in the park, and used by them as a telephone exchange. It was a most moving place, with everyday things like the ration cards, etc. and, in a room devoted to the Resistance, profoundly moving memorabilia like photos of people shot by the Germans and most upsetting of all, copies of the last letters set by people about to be shot next day to their wives and families. We were all sobered by this, and there was less chanting of ‘Deutschland uber alles’ by Andrew since, I noticed.
Drove to the Continent hypermarket and cased the joint – it is much improved since our last visit a couple of years ago. Changed our gas cylinder and bought a nice leather football very reasonably, as the plastic ones keep going down we might just as well get a good one.
Left Calais for home via Auchan (no small plaice, alas!) so ate out of tins this evening – hamburgers, corned beef hash, tinned fruit. This year we have eaten far more of out tins that I remember doing before, but of course Gareth eats more now, and Andrew has an enormous appetite. Have also eaten large quantities of potatoes and jam and have indeed had to buy more jam for our breakfast.