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Peter And Anne's Retirement Special

2nd of June 2004

First I must heartily congratulate Colin Plummer and Derek King for the brilliant idea of organising a holiday trip to France for members of St Paul’s and Holy Cross as a way of sharing the occasion of Peter and Anne’s retirement. What a meticulously planned and hassle-free journey it turned out to be.
On Monday April 12th at 4.50am at Burford House, Colin and Derek arrived to pick up the Chipperfield contingent. When sitting in our allocated seats we found a folder containing maps and details of the places we hoped to visit. The Sarratt group, including Peter and Anne, were waiting outside the Cricketers and dead on time we set out for Portsmouth. En route Colin produced breakfast and thanks to Derek’s expert driving not a drop of coffee was spilt.
As we sailed out of Portsmouth we passed the Queen Mary II, looking like a huge floating block of flats. On reaching Le Havre we started our journey through France. The first remarkable thing we saw was the beautiful cable-stayed bridge crossing the Seine between Le Havre and Honfleur. Once we crossed the bridge we travelled through the beautiful countryside with many features similar to our own but with subtle differences that confirmed we were in France.
We arrived at St Leonard des Bois to be greeted by Pascal Rivault the hotel manager and his English wife Penny. We had a little time to settle in our room before going down to a leisurely and delicious dinner. By the end of dinner and at the end of a long day we were all ready for bed and slept like logs!
The next morning we visited the family chateau at Carrouges. Building began in 14th century using brick, granite and slate. The moated chateau was approached through the impressive 16th century fortified gateway. We were shown the treasures of the chateau and all the lovely antique furnishings. Derek chose a scenic route back stopping on the way at St CŽneri de GŽrie where we climbed to the Romanesque church at the top of the hill. Renowned for the medieval frescoes in the choir, the church also has a series of fine modern pewter sculptures on the wall of the nave depicting the Stations of the Cross.
Wednesday and it was off to Le Mans, not to see the cars racing but to explore the old town and the CathÂ?drale St Julien. This was reached from the gardens beside the river Santhe via seemingly endless flights of steps that took us to the highest point of the city. The Cathedral, begun in the 11th century, has evolved through the centuries to become “the finest jewel in Santhe’s heritage”. The architectural features, its beautiful stained glass, its 16th century organ loft and many other features make it a building redolent of the years of love and worship that have gone into its construction.
Thursday came all too soon as we set off on the long journey home. Once again travelling through a lovely countryside dotted with small farms with their picturesque half timbered buildings, we came to Honfleur, a beautiful port, where we stopped for lunch and had a last look at France. Delicious seafood and wine and a wander round the marina completed our farewell. On the journey home from Portsmouth Colin produced champagne and we drank a toast to Peter and Anne. Thank you, again, to both Colin and Derek for an extremely enjoyable trip. Elizabeth Weedon

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