For concerned readers who worry that we are never at home, we are back now, and apart from a weekend in Bristol, we are here until the end of June, when we go to Turkey. Yes, this latest little trip came very soon after our Cornwall holiday – but that is when the Coronation was arranged for… so, off we had to go. Had a very good time. Dieppe has lots to offer, we had a nice little apartment and a trouble-free ferry trip from Newhaven and back. Also in this post I say a little about a WI walk to see the bluebells in the wood behind the Two Sawyers pub in Pett.
So, we set off for Dieppe last Friday. We had to get up earlier than we expected because in the old days you could get to the port around 45 minutes before the boat sailed. Post-Brexit, quelle dunnage, quelle surprise, they say 1.45 to two hours… The boat was very full. I didn’t ask anyone else if they were Coronation escapees – met a few in Dieppe though. Then, more post-Brexit rubbish, instead of driving straight off the boat into France, you have to wait in a car queue for ages to have every passport checked. Still, it was much better than Dover would have been. I know the ferry journey is longer, 4 hours, but the journey to Newhaven is easy and short, and the port hassle much less stressful.
We had a nice apartment, on the little island in the middle of the town – Le Pollet. The island is quiet, slightly run-down, but very close to the main bits of town. You access it via a couple of lift/swing bridges. Of course, the bridges get plenty of use, and we hadn’t bargained for the fact that the roadways would be sporadically closed for long periods while boats chugged through. This was a slight problem to us on Saturday night and Sunday. Daniel, the apartment owner, told us (he scarcely spoke any English but our schooldays French got us through) that street parking on the island would be banned on Saturday evening and Sunday morning because they were holding their annual ‘Braderie’, aka fleamarket. He told us to drive across one of the bridges and park on the mainland. We did that OK but worried a bit that the bridge might be closed when we needed to go and get the car to get the ferry…. to get out of our temporary parking place we had to drive through a market area where vehicles were banned, running the gauntlet past furiously gesticulating French stallholders. Zut alors. What else could we do?
Daniel is an artist, and the apartment was somewhat quirkily decorated. His large abstract pictures were much in evidence. However, it was very comfortable.
There was an Italian restaurant right next door. It looked good, so we went there on our first night. Big mistake. The service was hypnotically slow, the food was unexciting and cost us £67 quid for one course and a couple of glasses of wine. How often does one get ripped off in restaurants on the first night in a place? We seem very good at it. Fortunately, we were not caught again – this yummy mussels mountain was on the following day.
Dieppe has a truly massive market on Saturdays, so spent Coronation Day happily wandering around, sitting in cafes etc. (And despite what people said to us about everyone watching on TV in France as well, so there would be no escape, in fact nobody seemed to be taking the slightest notice. Phew).
Painter Walter Sickert was very fond of Dieppe. We used to have a handsome oil copy of this one – the Cafe des Tribunaux. Our friend Roz has it now. We found that the cafe still exists, but looked somewhat different on a busy market day!
Last time we came to Dieppe was 2007 – on the way back from a holiday. It had scarcely changed at all. A nice mixture of historic, picturesque, seaside, waterfront, loads of shops and interesting grot… Battleaxe would recommend.
Finally, quickly, to the bluebells. It surprised me how few of the WI women had ever seen this particular little wood, which Philosopher and I found a few years ago, I think during our early Lockdown walks. It was almost heartwarming to hear the gasps of surprised pleasure as we rounded the corner into the wood and were confronted by a wonderful sea of blue. Fabulous wood anenomes too. After, we had lunch in the Two Sawyers. Battelaxe would recommend the outing. Even for anyone with mobility difficulties it is a short, easy walk from the pub car park. Here are a few pictures: