Boats, Harbours and Relaxation

Water is generally accepted as being a relaxing feature.  If it is calm, running slowly past, or as part of a pond, lake or harbour then this can be very true.    If its tranquility and peaceful nature appeals then you may enjoy a French town called ‘Honfleur’ in Normandy.

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I think that this idyllic harbour has a lot going for it.  Boats on water create a lovely view, covered seating provides shelter from the weather so you can comfortably eat and drink outside admiring the view and there are lots of little shops to buy exciting things in.

As I walked around the harbour the smell of French food being served by the local cafes was welcome and pleasant, the occasional cry from the seagulls above reminded me I was at the coast and the whole atmosphere was very relaxed, but there was a great buzz in the air.  For me it was an excitement at finding such a gem, a combination of the weather, others enjoying the harbour, the general hustle and bustle of life, and from my experience, friendly folk.

There are many great harbours though, one such place that is always a personal favourite is Portscatho in Cornwall.

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There is the lugger (jetty) in the picture that people jump into the sea at high tide.  The harbour where people keep their boats mostly during the summer months.  The village is friendly with a great pub ‘The Plume of Feathers’ where I’ve been lucky enough to have enjoyed good food and a pint or two!

The two pictures above are very different, one is a town, the other is a village, but both have friendly people, a great atmosphere, and feel welcoming.  If I had a boat, I can imagine this is the sort of place I would come down to, and when the water has risen at high tide take it out and enjoy some sailing or fishing…

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If you get the chance to go to Clovelly, Devon though I thoroughly recommend it.  If you stay in the town, and take a walk down at night under a moonlit sky, the view can be breathtaking.  The sound of the water lapping at the shore, or the ropes pinging the masts if there is a little wind I find incredibly relaxing.  It helps that this particular place is a 16th century harbour and steeped in history, it just oozes character and even if just have an afternoon to visit and have a Devonshire cream tea, it is well worth it!

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Food and location

One of my favourite things is to eat good food!  If you know me, you know I enjoy quantity too, but actually its the quality that is most important.  When I’m at home I don’t pretend to be a master chef (ok I do pretend!) but aside from producing meals that others politely tell me they enjoy, I prefer to go out to eat.  I will eat almost anything and want to impress how good the food was here, I do eat meat and so if you are reading this and don’t for whatever reason, then please don’t be offended…

Recently, I was in France and had a tasty meal in the town of Caen which was good, but in my experience if you drive away from the big towns and cities and find a nice quiet rural restaurant, you can find a really superb meal waiting to be served.  I discovered this when I went to Sainte Marie Du Mont, in Normandy, France.  There was a lovely restaurant with welcoming staff, and a relaxed friendly atmosphere (and no I’m not on commission!)

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I’ve always found french food very tasty, there are many famous Chefs that are household names over here in England such as  the Roux brothers and Raymond Blanc.  However, this quaint little gem delivered good quality food, at affordable prices and tasted great.  The starter for me was a slightly nostalgic affair since it was ‘Delice du Perigord’ (Delights from the Perigord region of france) and I’d enjoyed a family holiday in that region years ago.  I thought the plate looked amazing with pan-seared duck liver, foie gras, and smoked duck breast, and tasted so good!

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I was happy that the starter was a decent size too since I always get disappointed if its gourmet food and half a tomato on a lettuce leaf turns up!  As you might expect, the foie gras (goose pate) is rich, but as a delicacy was fantastic.

The main course didn’t let me down either, I always enjoy a steak and this one was  8oz char grilled and was ‘melt in your mouth’ juicy and tender, just how I like it, with fries, and the perfect amount of peppercorn sauce.  In my book it scores very highly, especially as it’s something I wouldn’t normally cook at home, so its a pleasure to enjoy when out.

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For the dessert I quite often go for something heavy, with sauce but for a change I opted for something a lot lighter, a creme brulee, and I could tell it was freshly made.  It was light, creamy and had a beautifully glazed melted sugary top which cracked apart with the spoon allowing for the lovely crunch as the spoon cracks the top and you eat it.  Served with ice cream and a ginger flavoured biscuit, really good.

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After the meal I looked around me and saw the village was a place where the Tour de France had come through a week or so ago and so bicycles were everywhere!  A really nice friendly little village and I recommend it thoroughly.

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