Wednesday, 1 August 2012

English?...Morgan?...Thank goodness we've found you......

......our handbrake has failed and we've run into the back of you!

This was the situation we faced about an hour after landing in Cherbourg, but more of this incident later.

The weather forecast was not good, at least for our drive to Poole, a distance of some 270 miles. Sure enough it was looking threatening as we set off, with the hood up to lessen the road noise from the traffic and varying surfaces of that motorway from hell, the M6, the promised rain arriving at Warwick and the M40.
Manoir de Rigourdaine
Fortunately we keep pieces of towelling in the car to ram into the leaking orifices as we drove through torrential rain. No light shower this and my right trouser leg was soon saturated, why on earth the Company cannot address this inherent problem in the traditional models I don't know. Amusing and quaintly eccentric it may be, but it's damned annoying when touring seriously over long distances.
From our window at Manoir de Rigourdaine
Our original accommodation for the night in Poole was to have been the RNLI College but sadly, due to our ferry cancellation we had to re-schedule our trip, the RNLI were full on the new date and we ended up choosing the Premier Inn, about which I shall write in a separate post.

Our Brittany Ferries High Speed Service set sail at 7.00am into a worsening sea state. I was beginning to feel rather ill as the ship pitched and tossed in a troubled sea and finally my wife succumbed along with many others on board to the dreaded sea sickness. Smaller than the conventional ships, sailings are often cancelled due to the weather and we did hear that on a previous recent occasion 60 cars were damaged! We shall not travel high speed again!
The River Rance
Driving down the ramp, on landing at Cherbourg, we spotted three Morgans waiting in the queue to board, and this resulted in frantic pipping of horns and flashing of headlights that must have alarmed the other motorists and dockyard staff. Perhaps it was fortunate that the Morgan drivers didn't know what a crossing they were going to endure. We then had a 124 mile drive south, down the Cotentin Peninsular, to our hotel in Langrolay-sur-Rance.

All was well, the weather had improved and top down we stopped at a little town called Villedieu-les-Poeles, just off the A84. Parking in a lay-by and facing slightly downhill we toddled off for a light lunch, beginning, as we ate our galettes, to savour the ambience that is France.
The beach at Cap Coz
Walking back to the car we spotted two smartly dressed ladies walking towards us and apparently taking a keen interest in everything around them, as if they were searching for something or someone.

Sorry to bother you, they said in impeccable English, but are you English and do you drive a Morgan, because our handbrake has failed and my husband has run into the back of you and at this moment is sitting with his foot on the brake, not wishing to release it for fear of damaging your lovely car! They turned out to be a doctor, his wife and a companion who had been on the same ferry as us and as we walked back to the cars they insisted there was no damage.
The beach at dawn
As you get older I think you become more philosophical about things and I have to say that both my wife and myself were quite calm about the whole business. In fact, the damage to our rear wing was almost imperceptible and will require just a light touch-up, but the plastic crumple panel at the front of their little Japanese machine was crumpled....strong stuff these Morgans!

We bade them farewell, they, full of thanks for our understanding and we, grateful that the damage was extremely minimal and headed to our hotel for two nights, the beautiful Manoir de Rigourdaine . It is superb, the owner having restored it over a period of twenty years and is especially ideal for fellow Morgan drivers, being quiet and secluded with excellent parking, he even lent me a bucket and water to wash the car.
Towards La Foret Fouesnant at dawn
Friday dawned beautifully and we set off to explore this lovely area, that borders the River Rance in Northern Brittany.

What an attractor our little Morgan is! In the space of around two miles we were collared by two couples, one who has a rather beautiful house in the area and another couple from Guernsey who live on board their yacht during the summer returning home to the Channel Islands for the winter. Poor souls!

In our room that second evening I made some notes for my blog, noting as the sun went down, its rays glinting on the hulls of the yachts swinging at anchor on the opposite shore, the swallows in spectacular flight catching flies, a hot air balloon overhead and the birds singing an evening chorus. Utterly magical!
The inland side of Cap Coz
Saturday morning, after an early breakfast, we set off on the 139 mile drive to Cap Coz, near Fouesnant in southern Brittany and our apartment that had been booked via Homelidays UK , the accommodation number is 230953 and the owners, M et Mme Goalabre are delightful and hospitable hosts.

As we were unloading the car we were approached by a very nice chap who asked if he could take some photographs of the car. It turned out that he hailed from Cherbourg and had restored a 'Tiger Moth' that he had bought in bits from an old gentleman, who had made three requests, that he built it to original specification, that he kept it in France and finally that he could have a fly in it when completed! A very clever fellow, who apparently visits Duxford Airfield in Cambridgeshire frequently.


Soon got settled in this glorious spot, which is a spit of land with the sea on one side, lined with Pine trees and on the other a lagoon with views across to La Foret Fousenant, where I would on the following day lose my temper with an impatient Frenchman!

Ghastly and massive speed humps, the ones that straddle the road, were much in evidence and as all drivers of cars with a low ground clearance know, they have to be taken at very low speeds. The stupid moronic French driver in his Audi 'shed', you know, one of those big 'eco friendly' lumps, starting sounding his horn and gesticulating with his hands in classic french fashion but soon found out that the English can be equally as passionate with their gesticulating! 'Her indoors' had to seriously calm my fevered brow otherwise there would have been an arrest! There really are some cretins around and not just en Angleterre!
The beach at Cap Coz our apartment behind the pines

Our youngest daughter and family were spending a week nearby in Benodet and on their first day we agreed to meet in the centre of Fouesnant. We were parked at the side of the road, being photographed as usual, when they arrived and my little granddaughter was prompted to enquire whether I was famous. I have not had the heart to destroy that illusion!

The benefit of our accommodation was that we had the benefit of both swimming pool and a beautiful beach and both were appreciated by our grandchildren.
As you will have gathered by now, interest in the car was incredible as usual and on one occasion while we were eating our evening meal on our terrace, the word Morgan (with a french accent) and Royaume-Uni was heard drifting down from one of the apartment balconies above. Clearly the car had been spotted on the car park.

We had a splendid drive to Quimper, the beautiful cathedral city, our visit coinciding with a Gaelic Music Festival and then a pootle through lovely countryside where we stopped at the local PMU Bar in the village of Combrit. The bar adjoins the little church and a plaque on the wall noted that the graves were tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, this obviously prompted a visit to both church and graveyard where we found the lovingly cared-for graves of an RAF pilot and co-pilot who had been killed in September 1944. Very poignant indeed, and Rupert Brooke's poem immediately sprang to mind,

                                  "If I should die, think only this of me:
                                   That there's some corner of a foreign field
                                   That is forever England"

It made us contemplate just how ridiculously lucky we were to be in this village 68 years later, very much alive, enjoying the glorious weather and wandering freely along the roads of France.

The morning of our last day was spent in a very busy Concarneau, followed by lunch with our family in La Foret Fouesnant where we said our goodbyes, as we had packing to do ready for our departure at 4am and the 168 mile drive to catch the 10.30am Saint-Malo to Portsmouth ferry.

As I finished loading the car in total darkness, good job we had brought a torch, there being no interior light in Morgans, I looked up to the heavens, on what was a clear starlit night, and saw a sight that I have not seen for years, the Milky Way.

On predominantly unlit roads we headed for the N165, narrowly missing a deer, whose eyes shone bright in the headlights and with dawn breaking turned on to the N24 to Rennes and then north on the N136 towards Saint-Malo. Arriving with plenty of time to spare after a fast drive we finally boarded the ferry home.

After two nights in Camberley, Surrey with our eldest daughter we once more headed north.

Dawn approaching Rennes
Our total mileage was 1280 miles of which around 600 was spent in England. Oh, how we envy those lucky Morgan drivers living in the south of England where a short drive gets them to the ferry and the gateway to the fabulous driving roads of France.
Homeward bound.

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