The sun was shining so it was time for the beach so we left Montreuil and took the road the short distance to nearby Berck sur Mer which was once a working class seaside resort that hosted mining families from northern France and the Low Countries while the well-to-do went to Le Touquet just up the coast. We followed signs to the beach but these it has to be said weren’t terribly helpful and after a couple of wrong turns we found it almost by chance and gratefully parked the cars.
At mid afternoon the tide was all the way out and after we had climbed over the undulating dunes with their energy sapping sand that sucked at our feet we found a flat expansive beach of hard sand and lagoons of water cut off from the retreating sea full of crustaceans and tiny fish now at the mercy of people picking over the aquatic debris left behind by the waves. There was plenty of beach for everyone and there were huge views one way to Le Touquet and in the other direction the town of Berck that were interrupted only by the sentinel rows of steadfast and sturdy gnarled wooden groins that lined the beach.
We found a perfect spot and spread our towels and then spent a couple of hours in the sunshine walking continuously back and forth to the shore line with Molly as she enjoyed herself in the shallow water of the lagoons but being unsure of the waves not really prepared to go into the sea with any real confidence. We built sand castles and collected shells and this was a perfect afternoon which reminded me of my own childhood holidays. I never went to France of course when I was young, our annual holidays alternated between Cornwall, Wales and Norfolk and I wondered if she had any idea just how lucky she was to be here.
After an afternoon relaxing on the beach, we took a scenic route back to the cottage through unremarkable but non-the-less quite beautiful countryside. I have grown to really appreciate this part of France and think it sad that that most people roar past it as quickly as they can on the autoroute from Calais heading to the south. Here there were soaring wind turbines, quaint villages, sun-dappled fields, tranquil streams gliding at their own gentle pace, and fields full of immaculate dairy cows all plump and sleek and so obviously completely contented.
We were becoming contented as well and beginning to feel at home now and the early disappointment had completely evaporated as we sat in the garden in the warm sunshine drinking beer and experimenting with unfamiliar cheeses as Molly played in her plastic paddling pool and Richard began to prepare for this evening’s food cooked on an impressive barbeque.
As the day tipped over from afternoon to early evening we walked through the village and went to see Camille’s poultry and after we had successfully worn Molly out and she had gone to bed Richard fired up the coals and he cooked a fine meal of kebabs, local sausage and Mick Dawson’s gammon steaks that we had brought with us all the way from England.
After the food Richard found some logs in the cottage wood pile and we put the barbeque to an alternative use as a log fire as we sat out under a clear velvet sky full of twinkling stars as Richard kept the fire going long enough to enjoy a trio of gins before finally calling it a day full of optimism about the weather for tomorrow as we abandoned the glowing red embers and reflected on an excellent first day.