Est 1983 - ON PRES: Robin Low
France 2003 - 5th year
Robin, Mary, Jiro and myself arrived at Solange and Patrick Ferte's, farm House on Friday evening at 7.30pm French time after a long drive down from Calais, through the lovely countryside. Graham and Pru had arrived an hour earlier. We spruced up and headed for Vic sur Ainse for a meal. We went to the Golden Lion Hotel/bar in the square and had a lovely meal, slow in coming but boosted by the help and guidance from the rather rotund chef, ( bit like me ).
Saturday morning after breakfast Robin and I went off to suss out a trail in the forest of Compienge. It was raining. We had bought some flour and large bin liners from a local super market on the drive to the forest. After a false start and not finding the trail I had planned, we eventually found the start and donning our blue bin liners with holes cut in them for head and arms we set off. It took us just under 2hrs to walk the trail arriving back at the car around 12pm. We then drove to Pierrefonds to find somewhere to eat and use for sunday's apres lunch. We went to the Le Chalet du Lac a nice place that we had eaten at last year after the Fiasco over the road. Robin & I had the same, a nice one course two dish meal for 12 Euros, consisting of a potato layonnaise and a smoked ham salad drizzled in oil washed down with a bottle of Rose. We paid the bill, the rose was 22 euros ( a trifle steap ) it was nice though. We were satisfied and decided to book the venue for Sunday Lunch ( menu ranged from 11 - 28 euros per dish ) and we could check out the wine more thoroughly the next day.
By now it had stopped raining so Robin and I went back and laid the trail up in the woods in more comfort than we had walked it in the morning. We laid it in just over the two hours making use of the multi way carrefours, ( cross overs ) a lovely hill and a regroup. Even a short cut for Pru and I to use on Sunday. Did I mention the slugs and snails. We then headed back to join up with the others at the farm house to hear stories of where and what Graham, Pru, Mary and Jiro had been doing during the day.
They had been to Laon a town North east of where we were staying partly perched on a cliff top and could be accessed via a hillside tram or by car. Evidently they were having a festival and many of the towns folk were in Medievel dress and events were taking place, spit roasts, jousting etc.
The David's arrived with wives but no sign of John and Louise. We headed on down to Vic sur Ainse again after leaving our whereabouts with Solange for J & L to find us for our evening meal and used another restaurant Le Don Jon. We had eaten here in previous years and had not been dissapointed, this year was no exception. Well refreshed I for one slept well that night.
I awoke on Sunday morning and Jiro told me that someone had come looking for me late the previous evening, I was dead to the world. At Breakfast John and Louise appeared arriving late the previous evening, hold up at the Channel Tunnel. With time on our hands after breakfast I took Robin, Mary and Jiro down to show them the mine workings under the farm house. One of the tunnels is 160 yards long with lifting opperations to ground level and further tunnels not accessible beyond.
We left the Gite at 10.15am and we drove in convoy to Pierrefonds and left the Ladies ( non runners ) to explore the town and the remainder to the run site 3 miles away. After a photo call and a brief message from the Hares, Robin Low & Michael Brown, we were off. Robin kept pace with the pack ( 7 ) and fatty here bought up the rear. Coz of the checks with no trails we had laid and some with multiple trails I managed to keep up with them. It gives a hare a great deal of satisfaction seeing others looking out trails from checks even though you never laid a trail there in the first place, I had to call ON Back several times. The trail the day before had been littered with orange slugs and brightly coloured snails who loved our flour. David Barclay even found a false trail only marked with two blobs coz the other one had been eaten. I saw where a blob had been only to find so many snail trails criss crossing it , it shimmered. Oh and some blobs had been scratched out by the fleet of wild boars that there were about. We arrived back at the cars, I did in 1hr 20mins, the others 1hr. 10 mins. I think all enjoyed it, but no one told me that. Graham also said he might run out of petrol so Robin loaned him his spare half can. ( I believe later in the day it came back full ). After changing we headed back to the Restaurant in Pierrefonds. Where we met the ladies outside. The table Robin & I had booked the previous day near the door was no longer available and we were shown upstairs ( I did not know that they had a room for use up there ). Which gave us a lovely view of the Castle and boating lake. Out came the menu's, Oh no !!
What they had failed to tell us yesterday that Sunday ( today ) was Mothers day and there would be a fixed menu meal for 28 Euros and nothing else. Robin went down and asked, but to no avail and as we all wanted a light meal only, washed down with a few bottles of wine and lemonade ( as we were going out in the evening ). We got up and left. Robin, Mary, Jiro and Michael the last to leave and trying to explain to the manager why had he had not told us of fixed menu the day before. He was non too pleased and told us go and don't come back. Robin tried to give him a euro note (10 ) I thought it was a fifty but it was not accepted. Eventually the waiter gleefully took it. Not a bad tip for handing out the menu's. Now that's two restaurenters we have upset in this small town in 2 years. At this rate by 2010 we will have upset them all.
On arriving outside Le Chalet du Lac all the other hashers had gone, So much for support, so the 4 of us walked up to a small restaurant up near the castle, the one with the carousel in the garden, it looked like an ice cream parlour but they had a very reasonable menu outside so we ventured in. We were ushered into a dining room with other diners in it and was approached by a man who had just looked as if he had come in from working in the garden. He gave us a menu. The 4 staff there were very friendly and helpful. The meal cost between us 51. Euros, including half a bottle of red, a bottle of white and a coke. The two course meal was 8 Euros each. We might try this place again ?? If there is a next year.
In the afternoon the four of us went visiting Blerancourt where there was a Museum of the national cooperation between France and America during the Great War 1914 - 1918. Very interesting. On the the way back we saw a German cemetary to try to find the grave of Crown Prince somebody or other.
Sunday evening all 12 of us went to our favourite restaurant at L'Abbaye at Longpont and enjoyed a lovely meal again. Having paid our bills at breakfast in the morning and said our good byes we headed for home.. Stopping for lunch at Perronne and visiting another very interesting Castle Museum to the 1914 - 18 war. We enjoyed our drive through the french countryside and only did the last bit on the toll road from Arras.
We arrived back on the ferry from Calais to passport control and had a problem trying to get Jiro back into the country. The over zealos lady officer could'nt find the visa in his passport and after Robins words of wisdom we were on our way home. Jiro came too.
I would like to thank all who came and made it a memorable week end.
To Solange and Patrick Ferte for looking after us again in there lovely old farm house.
Robin Low for his help in laying of run and his conversing to the locals in French
To Jim & Jan for loan of there forest map.(I still have not bought my own copy)
To Pru for using her people carrier to ferry us around Friday and Saturday evening.
To Louise and John for E-mailing there thanks to Bruce ? for the week end.
To Mary Low for allowing me to drive her lovely Mercedes in France.
If anyone is interested in organising this event again please do it !!
Michael 'Treefeller' Brown