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La Chasse au Snark

We have arrived en France after some annoying weather delays which saw us stuck in Littlehampton; for a few days longer than it justifies. Our first port of call is Dieppe. We had hoped to make it at least up channel at least as far as Boulogne but we are too big for their marina and too small for their port; all very Alice in Wonderland!

So we sailed from Eastbourne, in the wake of Turner, who painted the Dieppe harbour in 1836 (above). Amazingly some of the buildings are still there, notably the Greek facaded hotel on the right and the dome and tower in the distance. The sailing ships have been replaced by yachts and motor boats and the sewage (bottom right) is no longer discharged into the harbour; unlike in the UK!

This is a proper French port with ships and ferries, yachts and fishing boats, great restaurants with reasonable prices (3 courses for 32 E is so refreshing). It's all a bit run down but then that's what gives the French domestic architecture its character; pealing communist party posters and fading shop signs, pavement cafes and apartments. Its some years since I was in France and I had forgotten the quality of the bread, the well stocked food shops and the general relaxed cool of the evening streets; though these are no longer scented by the all prevailing pawl of Gauloises.

We have stayed a couple of days, out of a strong NE which sends an annoying scend into the harbour, creating a forest of swaying masts, creaking mooring lines and bumping fenders. Tomorrow, after an early morning visit to the fish market to stock up, we are off down the coast to Fecamp, then Honfleur and Caen, where we will stay a couple of days to get back onto schedule.

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