1976: September 3, St Hubert

Very blowy during the night and awoke to typical cold front weather – blue skies, clouds, strong winds. Still, the tent should dry out. Ate breakfast indoors and decided to go to Etaples in the morning.

En route there we followed the signs for the Rond Point hypermarché which have been beckoning us for days, and found it a very pleasant small scale hypermarket with some very interesting food. Bought some roast pork, wine and various odds and ends. Proceeded on to the poissonerie at Etaples and found the whole place buzzing as it was market day. Went for the fish first – it all looked delicious, and is landed straight from the boats into the market. Bought 5 plaice, 3 lemon sole and a little piece of hake for David, 12.60 altogether.

Went over the road to more fish market and bout a kilo of moules, 4.60, then some fruit in the ‘Covent Garden’ and then went on to the open market. This was large and fascinating with a wide variety of goods. Gareth very upset about the fate of the lovely gentle rabbits… Appalled also by the price of the pop records – a 45 is 11 or 12 francs which seemed very expensive. Saw lots of male handbags which David refuses to consider.

Returned to the site for lunch, and got down to peeling potatoes and scrubbing moules. Had moules marinières – super – and fish and sauté potatoes, then grapes. It was a very nice lunch, and Sarah and Gareth celebrated by trapping wasps in an empty wine bottle.

Weather now fine and sunny so decided to spend the p.m. on the beach at Berck. This is only a few km away, and we settled ourselves in a sheltered spot. Played with the kite and the football and Sarah dug a vast hole – this sand goes down quite a way, and she dug up to her shoulders before she got fed up. The sand is soft, white and even silky to the touch.

Had a look at the piscine, which is an incredible place with a sweeping curving roof, and containing two pools (one for learners, one for swimmers), a golden carpeted ‘beach’, very large, with table tennis, and then upstairs a large bar and café area. Admission to the pools was 4 or 5 fr and it seemed a wonderful idea – is obviously a sports centre for the locals as well as a tourist attraction, and a godsend in wet weather. Incidentally, a little train chugs along the prom at Berck with a ‘Western type’ loco, very attractive.

Ate out of tins this evening after our lunchtime excesses, had spaghetti bolognaise and froze seafood pancakes, and cooked pork. An odd meal but it seemed to go down well. Children played table tennis after, we washed up. Gareth is getting to be a fiendish little player, improving all the time. Sky very clear, weather quite cold once the sun had set.


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