On a wet and windy morning in December we drove to Newhaven to catch the ferry to Dieppe for an overnight trip of eating and drinking. We had ordered a cooked English breakfast before the ship left harbour so our food and drink was safely on a table before the floor began to pitch and roll. After eating we decided to ignore the tannoyed advice to remain seated during the crossing and rose to zig-zag our way to the comfy seats in the bar at the blunt end.
Soon beer, cider and or wine was taken. Enormous willpower was needed because it soon became too risky to put a glass back on the table, making too-frequent sipping a risk. Fortunately the entertainment provided by the weather was distracting. – watching the bucket chairs slide across the room, bouncing off tables like pinballs in a machine. Then the rack displaying assorted crisps hurled itself from the counter to the floor, quickly followed by unseen but clearly heard crashes of glasses and plates leaving their shelves for the floor. Most of the crossing there was little to see through the windows – the sky was cloudy down to sealevel – but every now and then we got a glimpse of the distant horizon climbing up and plunging down. We told ourselves that none of the staff looked worried, and ordered cheese and ham baguettes.
The tannoy announced that we would be slowing down as the weather was too rough to enter Dieppe harbour, so more alcohol was taken by all except Strat, the designated driver. When we finally tied up and lowered our steel ramp to the concrete quayside it was sliding so vigorously from side to side that we were asked to remain seated and not go to the car decks. Finally the captain asked us to go to our vehicles and we found ourselves at the very front – first to approach the big hole in the ship and look out at the ramp moving left and right as the ferry rolled. The many orange clad staff waved us forward, and signalled to stop several times, until we were halfway down the ramp. Then we stopped again until the balance of staff felt that the slowing of ramp movement was sufficient to wave us ahead – FAST, FAST, FAST!! All this adrenalin-rush excitement was provided at no extra charge.
Once ashore we quickly found our apartment in the heart of the old town just 10 minutes walk from the marina and cathedral, and as soon as decently possible we set out in search of wine for the later evening, and dinner. Dinner was more of a challenge because most restaurants remain closed on a Monday night, but we found a cosy place at the end of an arcaded row of shops between the cathedral square and marina.
Above is the doorway into the steep garden where our apartment is hidden.
We had the lower of the 2 apartments in the mansard roof, on the left the saloon, on the right the dining room.
Strat took this clever panorama of the dining room, hall and doorway into saloon. The place was full of fascinating things including lots of steel wire and bead African animals like these giraffe, below.
In the morning Strat went out to forage for food and returned with croissants, french bread, butter, coffee and milk. The flat provided jam. Coffee came in big mugs, complete with hot milk. The sun was streaming in so we headed into town with the car, finding a place to park near the marina and outside a small eatery where we returned for a long lunch after filling the car boot with food and drink from the nearby Carrefour.
We did find time to explore the streets and cathedral – both delightfully run-down, but apparently making a slow come-back.
Tracery on the front of St Jacques cathedral, which surprised me by being Catholic – I had temporarily forgotten our different histories.
Curious local activity available in Dieppe. On the return journey the Tannoy announced that it would be rough, but added that we could go out on deck – so we knew it would be plain sailing, and it was. Thank you Strat and Tamsin – good food, good company, a very different culture and so much excitement. A thoroughly immersive experience.