La Rochelle

Aaaahhh! A holiday! A hotel! A nice one! Beautiful and clean and spacious, right near the old port and all the shops and restaurants! Cleaning ladies who come and blitz our room every morning while we eat huge quantities of delicious breakfast down in the gorgeous, greenery, glass conservatory! No washing up, no laundry, no hoovering, no contact with sponges of any kind! This is bliss. We are in La Rochelle, a pretty town and seaport on the Bay of Biscay – that’s the Atlantic coast, in case you weren’t sure. We have come to spend a week with L’Homme who is here performing with his company in the big theatre, La Coursive. “We” is Tommy (3 and a half), Léonie (2 months tomorrow) and myself. I decided the 8 hour journey across France on my own with the kids would be worth it for a week by the ocean. So yesterday we did a car drive, took a train to Paris, crossed Paris with the help of a brave and loving friend of mine, Uncle Goldy, and got on a second train to La Rochelle. I was prepared for the worst. Tantrums and nappies exploding with yellow mustard poo and screaming baby for hours and fellow travellers glaring at me, wishing me and my kids would be sucked out of the train and spat out onto the rails. I instead got the shock of my life, as everything went (reasonably) smoothly. There was just one exploding mustard affair and I dealt with it immediately so that Léonie didn’t end up with poo in her hair and ears. Tommy knocked a cup of hot chocolate flying in the waiting room of Montparnasse station but miraculously managed to avoid getting it on me or himself or anyone else. He whinged and cried a tiny bit because he wanted to play a game on my iphone (involving catapulting stones onto a herd of cows). But that was all. And then, on the second train, lo and behold, the two of them fell asleep AND STAYED ASLEEP all the way to la Rochelle. A miracle. Of course, this was the one time in my life when I would have loved my children to scream their head off for a good hour or two in order to make the snotty couple opposite us suffer (I could write an entire blog entry about that couple), but sleeping babies did mean I got to finish my book and have a pee. L’Homme was waiting for us on the platform and shuffled us off to Hôtel St Nicolas, which I highly recommend to all potential La Rochelle visitors. We left our stuff in our elegant room, Tommy set up his toys and animals in his own adjoining little bedroom, and off we all went for a walk round ye olde port which was bustling with people swinging pretty little shopping bags and eating sugery waffles.Tommy had a sugar pancake, I fed Léonie sitting on a bench facing the fishing boats, L’Homme grinned as wide as is grinnable, and all was well in the world. We went back to the hotel for tea by the big toasty woodburner, then the boys went to buy sushi while I gave Léonie her bath. We all slept well (Léonie fed just once in the night, hallelulah and how long will this last?) and this morning we had coffee and orange juice and scrambled eggs and bacon and croissants and hot chocolate and fruit and toast and jam down in the breakfast glass house. It was sunny. We trundled off to L’Aquarium which is the ocean museum here. It’s a really well thought-out place to take kids to see a zillion different fish, sharks and sea-horses (have you ever seen a sea-horse “swim”?) and the most beautiful swirly jelly-fish. What a lovely start to our holiday by the sea. Idyllic. And very dull for anyone reading this. Well, do not be put off by such bouncy la-dee-da tales of ease and joy. L’Homme just brought a glazed, grumpy Tommy back to the hotel room for a nap and before I put him to bed I took his temperature. 39° and rising. Ah. I counted back the days to last week-end when we were at a party. Three of the girls came down with measles the next day. So we saw them at their most contagious. I deduce from this, that Tommy is coming down with measles. I just had a look at the NHS site to see what’s in store for him, and in effect us, this week then … 4 days of soaring fever when the subject really feels ROTTEN, light sensitivity, diarrhoea, vomiting, coughing, followed by 4 or 5 days of rash all over the body. Hoorah. So that should make sure our little seaside break is well and truly pissed upon. Tommy may well see more of his little adjoining bedroom walls than he does of the sea. Well no matter how crappy he feels on Wednesday, I shall be bundling him up and taking him out on the technical director’s boat as promised.

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