Another day dawned bright and we were up and about soon after 7:00 am to see blue sky outside with just a scattering of clouds. We had no firm plans for the day other than to visit the Monday markets in Buchy, about 16 km away, and be at home to greet Marie-Françoise and Roland in the late afternoon or early evening.
Because we have an abundance of eggs supplied by our hosts it seemed a good idea to add some eggs to our breakfast menu. With a bit of twiddling I managed to get the induction hotplate to heat a pan of water to boiling and demonstrate my ability to produce decent soft-boiled eggs. While I was doing that, Majella’s phone rang with a Facetime call from Judith, Vince and Dulcie. She chatted while I monitored the eggs and joined in occasionally. We had not found an open supermarket on our way home from CDG yesterday so we were lacking the yoghurt we normally have with our cereal and were restricted to milk.
We pottered about for a while after breakfast before setting off for the market at Buchy. The trip was a little slower than expected because a long stretch of road had recently been resurfaced and speeds were restricted to 50 kph to limit stones being thrown up. A little before 10:00 am we arrived in Buchy and I managed to find a parking space not too far from the centre.
Our first impressions of Buchy were of the variety of creative approaches to construction with a mix of bricks and stone. Some buildings had alternating layers. Others had panels of stone work enclosed by brick verticals and horizontals. Ornamental brickwork was a feature of many. We spent a bit less than an hour wandering the markets and making some purchases of saucisson, minced pork, cheese, fruit and vegetables. We also bought bread at the boulangerie. When we had done that we visited the local supermarket to buy essential groceries before heading back to Croisy sur Andelle.
Coffee had been on our agenda in Buchy but the crowds deterred us and we waited until we got home where I used the grounds we had bought to make plunger coffee. We enjoyed that with biscuits and then relaxed for a while until we decided it was time for lunch of the saucisson, bread, and salad vegetables.
After lunch we walked along the track we had seen passing beneath the bridge just outside the front gate of La Ferme du Manoir. On the far side of the bridge there was a track that led down to the lower level so we took that and headed roughly north-east. I had checked earlier on Maps and could see from the satellite image that the track met the river Andelle a little way along and then followed it to Elbeuf sur Andelle, the next village, which we had passed through on our way to Buchy this morning.
Sure enough, the track met the river and we walked along a bit further admiring the swift flowing clear water. Some way before Elbeuf we crossed a bridge to the other side of the river as a young woman came from that direction. We decided to risk that track instead of the other, at least for a bit until we saw where it might go. It led along a fence beyond which we saw what looked like a small set of cattle yards and a well worn track. An illustrated sign informed us that the area beyond the fence was an attempt to restore wetlands that had environmental value.
Some way further along we came to an open gate designed to allow people through but restrict any form of vehicle. There were parking bays and more signage indicating a walking circuit in the wetlands. It was boardwalk circuit of about 1 km so we headed off to make the circuit, pausing periodically to take in the sights indicated by signs. Soon after we started on the boardwalk we heard the sound of a small crowd nearby. It was evident that they were fishing in ponds and Majella thought it might be a fishing competition. Investigation was added to our excursion.
After we had completed our circuit of the boardwalk, we walked on to investigate the fishers. The gateway was not barred so we walked closer to one of the ponds to look and Majella got into conversation, mostly French, with some of the people there. It was a ‘pay to fish’ arrangement operated by a fishfarm. The people we spoke with were from a village further up the Andelle valley. Around the other ponds there were several family groups that appeared to be enjoying picnics along with their day of fishing. The group that we spoke with showed us their considerable haul of fish. The boys were keen to show us where the fish were bred in the farm so we walked up there to see how the young trout were held in troughs with running water from the stream. They explained that for a price of 7€50, you weighed a bucket full of trout fingerlings, took those to restock the pond, and then had the rights to fish for the day. The group we chatted to had certainly caught their money’s worth.
We walked on through Elbeuf and then down to the Andelle which we crossed on the road bridge before walking back on the track we had originally planned to follow. Just beyond the bridge we spotted a disused railway station labelled as Croisy sur Andelle. It was at that point that we understood the path below the bridge on which we started was actually following the path of a railway line that had been long removed.
Back at La Ferme du Manoir we relaxed and made ready for the arrival of Marie-Françoise and Roland from Switzerland. We had seen that M-F posted on Facebook this morning as they were leaving but their arrival time was sheer guesswork. Depending which navigational aid we consulted the estimated time for that drive of about 750 km varied between 7.5 and 9 hours.
By 5:00 pm Majella was becoming impatient for their arrival and jokingly suggested we go down to the gate to wait. I suggested we might go for a walk into town for a look about. We set out around 5:30 pm. I had noticed from a Facebook post this morning that they were driving a red car and we could see one through the gate as we approached. That was not them so we walked into town, past the pharmacy (to our surprise it was operating) to the end of the town, crossed by the medical centre (we had not been aware of it previously) and walked past the bar, all the time watching for red cars. At the top of our street there was a seat by the village boules strip. We sat there for a rest and to watch the passing traffic. A few minutes later the red car appeared with Marie-Françoise and Roland. We waved, they stopped, and we greeted each other warmly.
Back at La Ferme du Manoir we showed them around, exchanged gifts, and then sat outside for drinks and snacks. Majella had worked through the afternoon to prepare dinner – spaghetti with sauce based on the minced pork we had bought in Buchy served with salad followed by cake supplied by our hosts topped with blackberry sauce and cream. We shared a bottle of red wine to wash it down.
The evening went on for a while as stories were exchanged. Eventually we were all tired enough to settle for the night.