This weekend, Campbell De Salis (aka Fiona Campbell and Rodolph de Salis) had the pleasure of a weekend sojourn to Barfleur, Normandy at the kind invitation of artmonger JH who resides in a beautiful house on the harbour front packed with curious treasures and artworks.
A charming and dare I use the word ‘unspoilt’ harbour village that was the principal port of the medieval Anglo-Norman Plantagenet Kingdom. Point of departure in 1066 forthe Normans to the Battle of Hastings and in 1120, The White Ship carrying Prince William, the only legitimate son of Henry 1 of England went down outside the Harbour causing chaos in the monarchy. According to reports (possibly from the only survivor, a butcher from Rouen named Berold, the crew had imbibed rather alot of Calvados).
Artist, Paul Signac(1853-1935) had a house in Barfleur. In a letter to his friend and art collector Gaston Lévy, Signac wrote: ‘The port has enough hustle and bustle about it, and is lined with houses of a handsome and pure architecture. The countryside around is magnificent and very wooded, and the terrain is rolling. It’s one of the high spots of France: the sea is beautiful and the gardens are full of flowers’.
Indeed Barfleur was to provide a cornucopia of delights, from the glorious residence and inside knowledge of our host and his trusty companion Clemmy the sheepdog, to the flea market, fishermen, medieval buildings, fruits de mer, the ferry journeys (of course) and visit to the Chevalier in Cherbourg…
The ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg provided plenty of entertainment before we were picked up by our host, JH and Clemmy for the short (25K) journey to Barfleur.
Departure from Portsmouth, a passenger ferry crosses our wake.
Rodolph sporting a fine tabard. He takes his health and safety on board seriously.
Clemmy (r) and chum
JH taking photograph of Campbell de Salis from outside his residence.
JH collection of crucifixen (jcs carved out of bone hence upright arms) with stapled together plate in background ‘Dans un amoroux delire. On peut tenter, tout dire’…
Saint de Salis (r) in JH residence
As luck would have it, the Barfleur ‘Vide Grenier’ (literal translation ’empty attic’, flea market, car bootie) set up on our doorstep. The next Vide-Grenier is on Sunday 24th July 2011.
Vide-Grenier on the harbour front.
Campbell de Salis in Action.
The Belgian, Jacques Brel wrote and recorded his songs almost exclusively in French.
The item on the right was on sale for 1 euro…
Barfleur’s principal resource is its fishing. The Barfleur white mussel is one of the most sought after in France.
‘Mini cuisine vapeur’…
Rodolph looking resplendant in French chapeu.
Chopin, the bassett hound.
Bassett hound, name unknown.
The church of St Nicholas, Barfleur. It took 223 years to build starting in 1650.
Once the grenier-vide finished there was time to explore the local environs.
Clemmy, our trusty companion.
Before the war this used to be a sandy beach.
Entrance to the harbour.
A handsome potter resides in Barfleur which is renowned for its house plaques and roof tiles known as ‘epis de faitage’ or roof statues. If you are favoured by said potter you may be lucky enough to have a custom made statue often a bird on your roof.
No. 26. This one bears a striking resemblance to our dear Prince Philip…
Les fleurs de Barfleur.
The pink house.
Back at the residence…
JH and Rodolph discuss preparation of the fish purchased from the harbour.
Sole on mosaic table, creation by JH.
The aftermath of the artichokes.
On the way to our return ferry JH kindly took us to the Chevalier where I purchased some horse steak and horse sausage on order from my friend Craig Hunt who has a superb food blog. Here’s a link to his entry which has a good explanation of the history of horse eating. http://maddogtvdinners.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/horse/
Fiona outside the horse butcher. Photograph by Rodolph de Salis.
Certificate awarded to the Chevaline de Cherbourg by the Confrerie Cassine des Chevaliers de Saint-Jacques.
The steaks are cut by our friendly butcher.
We were kindly offered some of the red horse sausage, a bit like liver sausage . Just in case you’re in doubt of the provenance of the meat there’s a picture of a horse on the label.
Horse sausages or chipos / short for chipolatas.
Rodolph was rather envious of this couple with their travel scrabble, very practical for those bumpy journeys.
We did however have plenty of things to keep us occupied on the sea voyage.
Rodolph found himself a prime seat with a superb view.
Rodolph masquerading as commuter back in the smoke. Waterloo Station.
On return to London I took one of the horse steaks and sausages to my chef friend Charles Merrington who was celebrating his birthday with a barbecue. Hot debate ensued and some party goers thought I was ‘taking them for a ride’… Alas I did not get to try the horse as Charlie’s fellow chef, Ruben put it to one side for concentrated degustation the following day. He had never tried horsemeat before.