Thursday, May 24, 2007

Oompaloompas à la plage

A chocolate cathedral - as Homie would say, "Mmmm... sacreligious"

The splendours that are Hardelot-Plage


Hanging at Hardelot



Today was my day off (yes, they're somewhat scattered...) but I decided to go out on tour with a group anyway. I mean, why not get a free visit to a chocolate factory and a trip to the beach instead of hanging around the 'chateau' (oh, and here's as good a time as any to clarify that it's not a fairy-tale castle by any means, more of a manor house with a couple of other buildings scattered around for good measure).

So, accordingly, after a brief trip to the Arques post office (the Chosen Ones will get postcards in due course, all the rest of you can assume that I hate you) while the kids toured a French school (I actually would have found this quite interesting, but guess we weren't invited), it was off for an hour and a quarter drive across northern France to the chocolate factory. When I say 'factory', it's really more of an artisan chocolate workshop. The first thing that hits you is the heavenly smell, hullllllll.... Then there's the tempting gift shop, where the kids managed to spend vast amounts of money, but I was good (and exceedingly poor) and restrained myself - good thing too, since as tour leaders, we got a bag of freebies at the end, score! Then we got to see the chocolate making process - cue big vats of creamy melted chocolate, mini chocolate waterfalls and so on, tasty and educational, it's edutasteic! Did you know that if you have chocolate with coloured white chocolate accents (a milk bunny with white whiskers etc. for example), they paint the coloured bits on to the inside of the mould and then pour the chocolate in? No, you didn't, did you? The question of how chocolate centres are put in was also answered, but I'm not sharing it with the vulgar hordes...

After that, we had a half hour drive to Hardelot-Plage, a lovely golden-sand beach on La Manche - the English Channel to you Anglocentrics. Or possibly it's the Atlantic, I'm not too sure where one ends and the other starts. It was pretty sparsely populated, and the perfect place for Ben and I to lie down and sunbathe/read/sleep while the teachers looked after the kids. As Ben remarked "we're getting paid for THIS?!?" (technically, of course, it was my day off, so I wasn't getting paid, but I will be getting paid for such things in the future which is not fecking bad at all!

Then tonight I finally hit the chateau gym, something I've been promising myself I'd do since I got here - I mean, if you have a gym at your home, there's really no excuse, except for the excuse that I've been working bloody hard since I've been here, physical work most days, but after a day lazing on the beach and eating chocolate I felt the need, so here's hoping I'll keep it up. If I say I will on the blog, I'll have to, right?

One more thing: the French Marge Simpson sounds less like she has a frog in the throat than that she's suffering from demonic possession, it's disturbing.

C'est tout, hope you're all having as good a time as me! xx

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