Our journey began on a 12 hour overnight ferry ride from Portsmouth to St Malo where we indulged in the amazing food at the buffet. We spent hours in the buffet eating prawns, crab, pasta, and the main course of roast beef along with drinks and eventually we shut the place down. We even had some champagne to toast to a few celebrations, including my successful interview!
We were so exhausted by all the good food and company that it was time to head to bed. We had a cabin for two with a bunk bed. Other than feeling a bit claustrophobic in the room, I was pretty impressed because it had an ensuite shower!
As we arrived in France and embarked on our two hour drive to the cottage, I was a bit weirded out on the roads in France because my SO was driving his British car on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the right. It was strange but it felt so much more comfortable and I was noticing that I felt more relaxed…finally we were on the right and proper side of the road and the motor way was so spacious!
What we experienced was four days of bliss and it’s amazing what a little peace and quiet does for the soul. The weather was in our favour and it was blistering hot. Minus the day we made it to the beach and the storm approached an hour later! French bread, wine, cider and crepes…oh the crepes!!! Our friend had described his cottage as “rustic” but he slightly underplayed it. The photo of the cottage I have shown is the original cottage they bought and it really is just one big sitting room on the main floor with a massive fire place. It was beautiful. The top floor was another plain space which they had filled with beds. The larger cottage (which you can just barely see in the photo with the garden) was more spacious and had a very relaxed and homey feel to it. We relaxed, laid out in the sun, went to the beach and even went to a French music festival. Elton John was supposed to be playing at this festival but he had cancelled due to illness. Many people were saying that he would never had showed up anyway. It was mainly French singers and shockingly the drinks were reasonably priced. It was also my first exposure to one communal urinal for the men. Yup…it was one long continuous trough, and while the ladies were waiting in line to use the loo, the men just came and did their business all around us.
I had learned basic French in school because I am from Canada, of course. I attempted to communicate in French, which was fun, but the difficulty was when they spoke back in French. They talk just too damn fast! I could pick up a few words here and there and got the gist of their response, but I really wished I was more fluent in it.
We really didn’t want to leave but everyone had to go back to work and well…I…had to go back to doing nothing! Before we boarded the ferry, we had lunch at a restaurant called Les Bruyeres…the food was amazing and so was the service! And I actually tried the escargot which was delicious! We didn’t manage to get any grocery shopping done although I desperately wanted to take some pre-made crepes home with me.
We came back on a different ferry that was a 6 hour journey from Caen to Portsmouth. I really didn’t think about dealing with immigrations when we came back, but as soon as we hit the immigration line…I became incredibly nervous. The officer went through my passport page by page and asked if I had been questioned at Heathrow upon my arrival in April. We had to pull over so that he could ask more questions. I was so nervous and was recalling my traumatic experience at Heathrow! This difference between this experience and the one at Heathrow was that this officer was actually nice and transparent. He told me not to worry but that he has to ask me questions to understand what I am doing in the country. What he explained to me was that I had been granted a 6 month visitor’s visa in April, but since I left the country and came back, I would be issued a new 6 month visitor’s visa. The concern was that many people leave the country to extend their visitor’s visa and end up staying in England continuously and illegally. I hadn’t even thought about that and just assumed that I would carry on with my original visa. He expressed concern that I had done a lot of travelling in the past (as shown by stamps in passport) and could possible keep extending my stay in England. I was asked if I was working in the UK, how I am being supported etc. I explained that I have interviewed for jobs and am well aware that I have to leave the country to apply for my visa. I had provided him with a copy of my return flight for September and was advised that my passport has been flagged and that I had to be on that flight back to Canada in September. This might have been a scare tactic but I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize my stay in England. The unfortunate part is that it means we likely won’t be travelling outside the UK before September because again, I don’t want to risk anything.
So here we are…back in England…and we can’t wait to go back again! I’ll be dreaming of other fantastic places to visit in Europe…once I start working…and start getting paid…