Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ile d'Oleron Dec 2011

In December 2011 Chris and Sharon Gibbs allowed us to visit thier wonderful beach house Ile d'Oleron on the Atlantic coast of France, roughtly half way down the country. We go back a long way - Nickys first job after graduating in Jan 1986 was house officre at Edgware General Hospital - Sharon was the previous post holder and was senior house officer for Nic's first 6 months.

After the disappointment of getting a flat on Friday 17th, we missed our ferry. Mazda, in thier wisdom, dont put a spare wheel and tyre in new cars nowadays, and the dodgy punture repair kit didnt work. This is a car Mazda, not a push bike. So we were towed to a quickfit place, left the car and stayed with Jane Young, and the kids Ben, Alice and Suzanna, who were all home. It was wonderful to see the guys.

On Saturday we got the car fixed up with new tyres then shot to Portsmouth, and got the ferry over to Caen before staying overing just South of Caen. The following day we did the 5 hour drive South to Ile d'Oleron.

The island is fantastic - jutting out into the Atlantic, it must be hugely popular with the locals in peak season. It was pretty empty when when we were there, but still a wonderful place to visit. We cycled round the paths to get the feel of half of the island. Its full of mussle and oyster producers, and lots of birds interested in the former! Chris and Sharon's house is fantastic - the garden shed had suffered a little in a recent storm, so we ended up trying to patch the roof felt, most of which was in the garden!


We took a day out to drive down to Bordeaux, on the first of what was to be a series of wine tours in France. Readers of this blog will not be surprised to hear this! Bordeaux is a big region, with sub appellations spread over a large area. We decided to focus on the Left bank of the Gironde, the Haut-Medoc, and specifically the Margaux, St Julien, Pauillac and St Joseph appellations. One of the aims was to learn more about French wine, which can be a bit of a mystery. For example three wines in Pauillac are premier grand crus, the top drawer of the 1855 classification, and they are Latour, Lafite Rothschild and Mouton Rothschild. In good years these go for over 1000 euros a bottle! Just across the creek, there are some 2me crus, which are arguably just as good, in neighbouring St Julien, and they sell for a fraction of the price. Leoville Barton is one of our favourites - so it was great to see the vines, the chateau, and to stock up on some serious clarets!

I hate to say it, but however rude we Brits can be about the French, we really are very fond if thier country and its produce.


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