Today we took a break from packing. Off we went for lunch at The Needles Eye Cafe in Milford on Sea. This took us past our prospective new home outside which stood a furniture van into which items were being decanted from the house. This made us feel optimistic that we may be able to collect the keys fairly early on 31st.
Obtaining cash in the small town was an interesting experience. There was no bank. We thought there might be an ATM in the Co-op. There was. But it wasn’t working. The shop assistant directed me to a beauty parlour, on the outside wall of which I would find a cash machine. You see, the building used to be a bank. Quite handy if you needed cash for a make-over.
At the cafe, as I was feeling rather peckish, I treated myself to a perfectly cooked light snack while Jackie enjoyed a baked potato filled with cheese and beans. My fry-up should have been followed by toast and marmalade. By the time I realised this had been forgotten, I informed the staff that I would be quite satisfied without it. With it I would have been sated.
Jackie then admired the view whilst I wandered along the beach. A boat was visible against the pale sea and skies merging in the weak sunlight.
This was the first time the tide had been low enough here for me to walk along the strand. It wasn’t long before I realised that I could neither continue hopping over breakwaters nor reach the footpath above. My way to the bank was blocked by hundreds of yards of metal barriers erected on either side of what had once been long terracing of beach huts. A dog owner, whose pet was anxiously wandering along the barriers with that tell-tale tail wagging, told me she was ‘keen to get down to her favourite beach’.
Shingle still covered the concrete steps.
These holiday venues were much more substantial than the wooden ones we had seen at Hordle Cliff Beach. They were built of breeze block with roofs of some kind of aggregate. The storms had destroyed some, rendered others unusable, and the whole area unsafe to enter. Entire buildings were now just gaps in the rows; others had lost walls, roofs, doors, or windows. A notice announced that ‘the work’ would be finished by April 11th. Men in hard hats wandered along the devastated stretches.
Through one space where a hut should have been, I had a clear view of the now calm sea with The Needles in the background. The fortuitous notice warning of ‘the gap’ was nothing to do with that created by the so recently raging ocean. It was akin to those similar signs painted on tube station platforms where the bend in the rail cannot be fully adjusted for by the train carriages, thus leaving a wide gap to be leaped over on entering the transport. Here there is a gap between the edge of the made-up footpath and the backs of the huts. I imagine it is possible, if you are really determined, to lose your leg down it.
The early morning rain had set in again by the time I, later, walked down to the postbox and back, passing Castle Malwood Park Farm.
Having seen what I had for lunch, Jackie really should have had mercy on me this evening. But, no, she presented me with an irresistible plate of her delicious chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice and peas. I didn’t quite manage to eat it all.
Yesterday’s mid-day meal at Le Code Bar consisted of a noodle soup, ham salad, and plentiful roast chicken and chips followed by a Paris-Brest dessert, of which a welcome second helping was, with a smile, placed on my table by Fred as I worked on my blog post.
Later, I watched Prime Suspect Two. The first production had dealt with sexism. This one has racism as its sub-plot. It is as tense a well-acted and directed drama as its predecessor. I then began reading ‘Keeping the World Away’ by Margaret Forster.
This morning I undertook a bit more clearing up. A wasps’ nest had been found in the attic and eradicated by Renov Conseil 24. With a dustpan and brush I transferred the corpses to the garden. Like the survivor of a massacre protected by a screen of deceased comrades, the largest of all the vespas staggered from the heap and crawled towards the lip of the pan. I gave it its chance on the earth outside. I do hope it doesn’t create another home inside.
On leaving the house to make my farewells at Le Code Bar, I met a two year old and his grandmother. I had some difficulty in communicating with the little boy who was dragging his cart over the steps to No 6. Grandma spoke clear northern French so there was no problem there. I explained that I had equal difficulty understanding such small children in England. She identified with this, saying it wasn’t easy for her either.
The ATM at Credit Agricole told me it couldn’t give me any money and I should contact my bank. I had only attempted to withdraw 20 euros to pay for my taxi. There was plenty in my account and I had entered the correct PIN. Taxi Eymetois would, I know, have been happy to wait until next time, but that wasn’t the point.
I telephoned Barclays in Paris. I have previously written that they transferred my account from Bergerac without telling me. This time I was told that my card had been blocked in September. The very helpful woman who spoke to me did not know the reason for this, but she freed the account and told me I could use the card again from tomorrow morning. When I explained that that would be too late, she was most apologetic, but could do know more. As I said to her, thank goodness Taxi Eymetois have become friends.
It is because I came away in September with enough euros to see me through until today that this was the first time I had attempted to withdraw cash on this trip. Had I done so earlier in the week, one day’s delay would have been manageable. Having relaxed after resolving this problem, I drew out 20 euros with my NatWest card. The transfer fee on such a small sum will be minimal, but I had opened the French account in order to avoid such supplements. Unfortunately my English bank does not operate in France.
Sandrine arrived early to collect me and drive me to Bergerac Airport. When I told her the tale of the card she said, as I knew she would, that I should have waited to pay them next time. The plane journey went smoothly and Jackie was waiting at Southampton to drive me home.
My iMac happily accepted my Sandisk photos and I was able to upload them to the last week’s posts.
This evening Jackie and I dined at Curry Garden in Ringwood, and enjoyed the usual good food and efficient, friendly, service. We both drank Kingfisher.