You know that you wouldn’t think twice about going on holiday to the south coast? Sussex by the sea. Bournemouth and Portsmouth – all those ships. Portland Bill, the Jurassic coast. Lyme Regis and the strange woman in a black cape about to be swept out to sea. The inlets of Devon and the raggedy coastline of Cornwall. Take your pick. It’s all fabulous, if a little kiss-me-quick and uber busy in the summer. You know, the tailbacks into Dorchester. The A303 merging into a single lane by Stonehenge and then end-to-end bumpers until you murder the children and drive off the end at The Lizard, leaving everything to the cats’ home. That’ll teach them.
You know what it’s like. And you love it.
And yet, the thought of going to the north coast of France on holiday … think again, buddy. If it’s anything like Calais and the hinterland with all that industry and one, main street villages with those awful red-brick houses, discoloured further by huge trucks trundling along Le Route Nationales to avoid paying the autoroute tolls. No way. Nope. Not us. Anyway, the sea would be cold, and greasy in a ferry-fart like way. All those ships polluting the waves. And the weather. It’s always gloomy. Always.
Castles and everything
But let’s get our facts right. First, it’s the same busy sea. In fact, the further south you go, even just into Normandy, the coastline steers south and the container ships are a distance memory. It is warmer. It must be, because the moment you cross The Channel, your geographically further south. And very soon you’re parallel with The Channel Islands, where rich British people with pointy boats, oily blue jumpers, gardens full of tropical flowers and not a care for people like you and I live. It is warmer. And the coastline is fabulous. High, sandstone cliffs falling dramatically to beautiful coves – and some long crescent beaches. Small holiday villages with no Butlins. Beautiful Cotswold stone-built houses, rolling hills, long Norfolk-like beaches, estuaries, lighthouses, mussel beds, and, when you touch Brittany, scenery straight from the south of France with the same sand, the same pines and the same white-so-it-hurts-your-eyes sailing boats, although not quite the same footage as the richer-than-yow from Monte Carlo. It’s quiet, clean and French. What’s not to like?
As good as it gets?
And, seriously, you get that all from Wissant which is just 15 kms west of Calais. Why bother trying to find somewhere to park in a grubby, grassy carpark to look at Corfe Castle – along with 15,000 other people – when you can take your pick of 15,000 castles (ok, so I exaggerate) just across La Manche? We have been converted. It’s lovely.
I almost forgot! You also have the whole D-Day invasion thing going on. With tanks, and display boards and extraordinary cemeteries (the US one at Omaha Beach is not to be missed). The kids will love it.
I write this just short of Cap Frehel. It’s one of Brittany’s many pointy bits. We’ve parked up in a free aire, walked 10 miles along coastline that’s as good as anything we’ve done in the southwest, with just a few people for company. We’ve seen a huge lighthouse, stacks of stacks, an estuary, an 11th century fort on a peninsular, had lunch on the beach, envied people in yachts enjoying the coves and made it back in time for tea and medals. What’s not to like?
We spent the first half of the walk reminiscing. I’ve just been invited to the 25th anniversary of an army course I completed, well, 25 years ago. It was a defining time for me, the course a venturi for all of us ambitious officers wanting to make our mark. The event is next summer (the military are always prepared) and I will attend. But it sparked a reflective couple of hours. Our life moved away from the Army 15 years ago when I left. It was a fabulous time and we had fun reminding ourselves what it was like. But, with 8 years as teacher and a houseparent next, and then 4 years of vagrancy, we still have no regrets. But it was fun to reminisce.
Books? Well, I’ve still done nothing about anything. I’m v clear (and v excited) about the plot for book 5 and do need to start writing. And sales continue to potter. The last three days have been 6, 4 and 2 books sold in that order. I’m still waiting for a couple of marketing opportunities to come my way, and I really should get on with being more systematic about the marketing – but, do you know what? I’m struggling to sell myself. I really am. So let me share this review with you (if you don’t mind – and I have no idea who the reviewer, CAC is; does anyone?):
5.0 out of 5 starsSo good I’ve read it twice.
10 August 2018
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A thumping plot with many a twist and turn that draws the reader at a breathtaking pace down all manner of unlit trails to even less expected destinations.
Would the principle character, Sam Green be easy company? I doubt it. Does she tantalise and beguile – absolutely – which way will she turn next? A contradictory and Gordian character; on the one hand resolute and professionally skilled, on the other hand grappling the demons that threaten to overwhelm her. She’s crying out for help which so richly deserves, something I sense Mr Ladley won’t countenance in the near future.
I’ve read all of Ladley’s books, they get better and better. In terms of narrative quality his style has moved from that of an amateur athlete to one who is fighting hard for a place in the Olympic team, the style is tight and deeply readable
For those delight in good thrillers ‘For Good Men to do Nothing’ is great read which I strongly recommend
If you feel anywhere close to the same way, please tell your friends. All of them. Go on. Or stick something on Facebook, or Instagram. Or, at least, please pen a review on Amazon and Goodreads.
Something will happen. It will. I’m sure of it. It may just happen a bit quicker if you lot spread the word …
Have a good Sunday.