Friday, August 05, 2011

I see London, I see France...

Unbelievable but I am in France, and to be more specific, I'm in Mortain, Normandy. Bev, a good friend from grad school, invited me to visit her while she vacationed at her son's country home. I first met Bev in Brattleboro, VT, as students at the School for International Training. At the time, she was accompanied by two of her children, Steven and Paige. Bev hails from Pt. Elizabeth, South Africa, and while in school she had to go home to SA and I was called on to watch the kids. Me. Really. Mind you, Steven was in high school and Paige was in jr high so it's not like I would have seriously injured them. Ryan, the oldest, joined up in VT later in the year. Anyway, since our time in VT, we've developed a friendship that has continued on for 20 years. In 2000 (or thereabouts) I, along with Susan Schandl and John and Cindy Ridge, traveled to South Africa to visit Bev and company. An unforgettable trip.

Fastforward 11 years, and Bev is hanging out in France before returning to South Africa. Why France? Well, Ryan and Suzette (his wife) purchased an old mill property with a large home (5 bedroom, 2.5 bath, with a full basement), and 2 geets (smaller spaces - think of them as a home for one person). Bev is staying here, puttering around and soaking in all that is the French countryside. She (and Ryan/Suzette) extended an invitation to come, and I bought my ticket.

I got in on Wednesday, August 3rd after a direct flight from Seattle to Paris. I got excellent directions from the airport to Montparnasse train station in Paris. From there I took 2.5 hour train ride to Vire, the closest train station to Mortain. As soon as I got off the train, I saw a McDonalds. Really? Yes, really. And it's huge. Ignoring the sight of the McDonald's I headed to the exit of the train station and waited for Bev. They were coming, right? I'm at the right train station, correct? I'm not abandoned in France, am I? Bev did show up, and to my surprise, Ryan was there, too! It was so wonderful to see the both of them.

We hopped in the convertible VW and took off for Mortain, the long way. The countryside is stunning. It's rolling hills peppered with villages and hamlets. Oh, and cows everywhere! I am in cheese country. Literally. Camembert is in Normandy. Bev and Ryan pointed out all the fantastic things to see and I wanted to commit them to memory just in case I never came back this way. Along the way, we stopped at a local farm that was selling free range eggs. In this part of the country, it's all free range. We eventually pulled on to the property and to the house. While the rest of the area is hilly and farm like, Ryan's property is sheltered and very green with lots of trees. There's a stream that runs through the grounds with crayfish. There's a cascading waterfall near the house where the stream moves from the upper portion to the lower.

Above is taken from the property looking at the back of the house.

Ryan and Bev on a footbridge which Ryan made. The footbridge goes from the parking area down some rocks to the house.

The view from the kitchen window. Every once in a while, you'll catch a glimpse of Vicky the local water rat-like creature. Bev suspects Vicky of eating her lettuce from the garden.

Ryan bought a Land Rover, a real one, for the home. Since the property itself and the adjoining one is quite rugged, this vehicle is quite handy. And this is a real Land Rover used by the British Army. Ryan purchased it when the army discontinued this model. There were only pads for the seat so he put in proper seats in the driver and passenger slots, and then full padded benches in the back.

On my first day, we headed up to the next property to pick up Ryan's neighbor, Mark. While the properties are next to each other, they are so different. While Ryan's property has more trees and is quite cool, Mark's property is open and hilly with a lot of sunlight. Mark has a large main farmhouse, a barn with an apartment on it, and a geet (2 bedroom apartment), and a cabin on the lake. In addition, he has cricket field, recenty made, which hosted a game between two teams - one from England and one from France. Here's a shot of the cabin on the lake.

One more shot. Here's a pic of the kitchen, but notice the large beam and exposed woodwork. There's exposed woodwork throughout the house and while it may seem dark, there are a light of windows and skylights to brighten up the place.

One final note: I usually don't blog pics until after I get home and can do them in order but I decided to blog while I'm here. This means that the posts won't happen in chronological order from beginning to end. They'll be jumbled, but I hope that's okay.


Kobash said...

France? That is so cool. I love how you just jump on a plane and train and by yourself. CRAZY! But I guess for France. =)

Kobash said...

I thought your next set of pics was gonna be from Japan? You got me confused. hahaha.