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Normandy Honey

Relais Style at Le Clos, Normandy

LVerneuil d'Avre & d'Iton is the location next to the "Parc National of the Perche" and situated along one of the most scenic driving routes of France.

Enchanting, exotic and in the heart of a beautiful park and I’m not staying here!

A Humbler Abode

8 p.m. Brosville Ferme, Normandy.

A great welcome by the entrepreneurial farmer ...beekeeper ...artisan ...and happy host, The price for the night (£79) includes b&b and dinner, served in the lavender garden.

Denis, mon hote, is keen to sell me some of his honey and points toward the jar on the table. 'les gens viennent de partout pour ça’.

He looks at me expectantly, ‘Well I’ll have to try it before I buy!’

‘Mais oui!’

‘I like honey and must say I've never tasted any this good …it's nectar! What’s in it?’

‘Qu'est-ce qu'il y a là-dedans ! Bien sûr, le miel et moi avons un petit secret mes amis!’

‘Do tell!’ Denis refuses, yet I still end up buying 6 jars at 10 euro per jar, in the process nearly doubling the cost of my stay here. Still, not bad considering that it includes dinner, breakfast and freshly ground coffee along with the excellent accomodation.

A Digression

Dunkerque, 15 June 2020

Taking the exit off the A16 I reflect on dad’s impromptu visit 80 years ago on 3 June 1940.

A Brief Reminder. Operation Dynamo: one of the most momentous episodes of World War Two.

10 May 1940. Three panzer corps charge through the Ardennes driving northwest toward the English Channel.

21 May. The German armies trap the British, French and Belgian forces along the French northern coast. BEF commander General Viscount Gort recognises evacuation across the Channel as the best course of action, and begins planning a withdrawal to Dunkirk, the closest good port.

23 May. The Luftwaffe attack the stranded soldiers on the beaches, before rescinding on 26 May, giving Allied forces time to construct some defensive works and pull back large numbers of troops to fight the Battle of Dunkirk.

28 to 31 May. 40,000 men of the French First Army fight to delay progress of seven German divisions at Lille.

Evacuation ...the eighth day

338,226 Allied soldiers are rescued by a mis-mash fleet of over 800 vessels. The fortunate are able to embark from the harbour onto 45 Navy Destroyers (British, French, and Canadian. Others wade out from the beaches, waiting hours in shoulder deep water for any civilian ship to pick them up.

Conscription of all sea going vessels Many soldiers are ferried to the larger ships by these ‘Little Ships of Dunkirk’ [a flotilla of merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft, yachts and lifeboats).

Extract from ‘Another Time’, a novel by Richard Isles

A Brief Encounter

[...On board an underage cadet prepares to confront his first taste of action when a pressing unofficial evacuation abruptly protrudes onto the young man’s roster.

Mademoiselle Brigitte Bartholomew crouches on a prominent crest of ‘the Digue’, an age-old dune on the port’s coastline, ‘Si je pouvais juste gagner l'attention des forces armées …Allo, allo, au secours! au secours! Zut alors, je suis ‘avin’ bébé’.

Johnnie is the navy rookie on hand with ‘the language skills par excellence’ though ‘nil point’ for ‘accouchement’. Despite the minor handicap he cajoles junior medic Phil Potts along with four beached soldiers and their purloined MP40s (1). and together they climb the dry bank toward the maiden in distress, their feet sinking deep into the accumulation of tiny granules along the way. ‘I say, I hope the baby comes out easier than our feet do from this sand!’ cries the young seaman.

(1). The MP40 is a Nazi manufactured machine gun.

Alongside the grateful lass, John and Phil dig out a makeshift delivery room before commencing their own frontline action. A mortar chooses the moment to explode causing the two men to jump out of their skin. John though shaken remains sufficiently calm to sooth the young woman, ‘Vous êtes entre de bonnes mains, miss!’ Brigitte, beyond care simply wishes the baby would jump out of hers, ‘sortez-le maintenant, garcons!’

Another explosion this time only feet away sends clouds of the yellow granules toward them. ‘Ca arrive! Ca arrive!’ she cries amongst an array of ‘jurons francais’. Young Johnny responds, ‘It’s a girl and she’s smothered in blonde powder.’

‘So are we, that was some exit eh bud?’

‘Yes, now let's get the hell out a here!’

John ties up the loose ends and calls out for more muscle from the beach.

Absorbing flack from the German aggression a band of British forces encircle the navel midwives now carrying mum and baby toward the water. Capricious’s captain promptly offers the two femmes safe passage to Portsmouth.]

I leave Dunkerque along the coastal road, crossing an invisible border into Belgium.

Next blog Hamburg to Hans Christian

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