Our trip to Ile d'Oleron was marked by the highs and lows which emanate and imitate that of the ebb and flow of high tide and low tide.
Marée basse et marée haute :
Our séjour began in the beginning with the tiring journey to the island culminating in a pétage de fuse because the owner in his attempt to demonstrate to Shrek what he should do when the power is temporarily out managed to blow the fuse out resulting in no hot water or electricity. He promptly contacted EDF (aka Electricité de France) and as it was a Saturday and we were on an island relatively isolated accessible only by a bridge we waited and waited in vain for a couple of hours. It was becoming worrisome because I was scared we might be powerless and sans electricité for the week. The owner had to leave on Monday for his childhood friend's funeral and could not be reached for a few days. As the wait prolonged I was more and more on edge when another phone call to EDF came back reassured that someone would come eventually. Finally the electrician from EDF came and the problem was fixed. Soulagement !!!!!!!!! We were unaware that the power had been timed to automatically cut off in the middle of the night so Shrek having endured a cold cold night pulled a muscle on his back which affected his right arm, shoulder and side which lasted several days but thanks to my magic fingers and soothing massage it got better...
The highlights came in the form of dégustations d'énormes plateaux de fruits de mer et en particuliers les huîtres, endless verres de pineaus : une spécialité de Marennes, les moments fort sympathiques when we played 'Tabou' or 'Ta mime' or just had meals we had prepared ourselves involving the freshest fish.
We also had the misfortune of culinary disasters in a restaurant...
eating at a restaurant not digne d'un nom de resto : the food we had there was by far the worst of our entire trip. Shrek's côtes d'agneau was dry beyond belief and barely edible, I forwent the opportunity to taste how bad it was, just taking one look at it confirmed my suspicions and I trust Shrek's judgment because he is by far the easiest in terms of food and he proclaimed it 'beurk'. My gratins de fruits de mer was dripping with oil and cream and not in a good way, just bogged down by crème and liquide. Enfin bref it was the most forgettable meal and one of the worst meals we have ever had the displeasure of déguster. I almost laughed out loud when the waiter asked as is their habit : 'Est-ce que ça a était ?' to which Shrek had the sly to say 'Oui alors on peut avoir l'addition SVP? in order to evade answering the question without resorting to lying or being brutally honest.
The restaurant behaviour of the kids were abominable as they were forever fidgetting and screaming or being on their worst behaviour which culminated in an ultimatum : if they kept up their misbehaviour they will be left at home with grandparents and we will just go on our own next time . It would be better for our pockets as it will be cheaper and our sanity because we don't have to deal with rambunctious and unruly kids who wreak havoc in restaurants and give the whole room a spectacle. The ultimatum kind of fell on deaf ears because after about an hour they would begin to fidget and continue their merry way. They are still too young : Baby Taz and Lil Miss Feisty to be able to sit still for hours on end and enjoy a meal tranquilly. The older they become the easier it will be. We might have to skip going to restaurants whilst they are still going through the transition period. They are a cheeky bunch and smart alecs to boot.
The disasters were capped by two incidents of pipi au lit by Baby Taz which resulted in the washing of bedsheets, bedsheet protector and blanket and one pipi sur le canapé by Lil Miss Feisty. We also had baby Taz the cheeky one soiling his pants with caca and preferring to keep it hidden from us he took to leaving traces of caca partout. I found him sneaking into the bathroom in order to clean up his bottom and to dispose of the soiled evidence. I discovered his soiled trousers amidst a flurry of traces of caca. I was horrified to say the least and proceeded to clean up the mess with heavy sighing. Our trip would not have been complete without the presence of a few pétage de plombs. Les économies de bouts de ficelles would invariably incense Shrek and consequently end up with pétages de plombs. This is one of our differences as Shrek would insist I was saving shreds of string which are worthless and hence should be discarded immediately. I insist that he is wrong and authoritarian and dictatorial. I will attempt to compromise a little but Shrek definitely needs to let go of his dictatorial instincts ingrained within him. I have noticed this trait resides within Baby Taz and Lil Miss Feisty as well. Like father like son/daughter/kin. It might be an expression in one of their genes that is a force stronger than them : chasser le naturel, il revient au galop.
Kids were on their best behaviour when we had the fortune of being on the sand and they had the opportunity to play with sandcastles. The possibilities were limitless and they were creative : making canals and fortresses and so on and so forth. We also visited a fortress : Fort Louvois which is only accessible during low tide/marée basse because the chemin leading to it is submerged in water when les marées montent. We spent a day on Ile de Ré which was wonderful because the sand was fine and not grainy so sandcastles were the order of the day. There were also playgrounds which delighted the kids and fulfilled their needs of climbing etc. We saw the island Boyardville from a distance...maybe next time we will visit it via a motorised boat. We also stopped by L'aquarium à La Rochelle. The entrance fees were comparable to those at Sydney Aquarium but somehow the experience at Sydney Aquarium felt superior and worth the inexorbitant entry fees unlike L'Aquarium de la Rochelle which fell slightly short of expectation.
Our return journey was punctuated with cries and bruits fortement mouvementé. Kids were restless and the journey being especially long winded got the better of us all. So we fed them all the food we had, invented games such as who can spot and count the number of cows on the endless fields, who can draw the longest linger with their tic-tac will win half a tic-tac (because we were running short on supply). We then gave them milk bottles and play the same 'who can drag out the caramel the longest will win another morceau de caramel'. I managed to break a tic-tac into four parts in order to distribute to the four little rascals evenly. The disagreeable factors was topped by the insistent crise by none other than Lil Miss Feisty. Her wails lasted a good half hour as we had to endure the incessant whines of 'so ti voi bu sua' which means she wanted a bottle and to fiddle with my téton : a habit Lil Miss Feisty has yet to break. Shrek with all the noise, yelling, whining and screams of 'are we there yet?', 'how far have we still got to go?' and the blaring sound of the radio missed a critical highway exit leaving us no choice but to make a detour of 50kms prolonging our already long and tenuous journey by approximately 50 minutes.
And a good time was had by all...
We made it safely home and that ultimately is all that matters and despite all the lows the trip was punctuated with highlights and we had a frolicking good and memorable time.