|Here we are in Normandy, France during September 1996. My friend Patrice Neuveglise I have known since we were both 12 years of age. We took part in an exchange programme between our two schools, and have remained friends ever since. Patrice now has a grown up family and owns a pharmacy in Cherbourg. He went to university in Caen near his family home of Bernay.|
|One of my bigger financial disasters, of which there are many, was a modest investment in Eurotunnel. One of my better investments was marriage, but at least my channel tunnel shares give us one free trip a year in the car "sous la Manche". What the hec if you can get the same thing by collecting tokens from "The Times", and the tunnel gets put out of action for months because the flatbed lattice design of truck wagons could not prevent a disastrous fire? One of the prettier villages you can visit en route from Caen to Cherbourg is Lyons La Foret. Even the awful monotonous Ravel Bolero, composed in a house on the outskirts cannot blight its charm.|
|Winter is the best time to visit Monet's garden at Giverny. There is colour throughout the year, and a lovely water garden. Not up to the standard of that gem at Longstock, Hampshire, the finest water garden in Europe, and owned by John Lewis, but pretty nonetheless. In Winter, there are less Japanese tourists. Nothing against them, of course, but the views are better without people. Still, the few that were there enabled me to practice my Japanese, and caused merriment to two delightful oriental ladies, who insisted on having their pictures taken with me afterwards.|
|After walking over the bridges and admiring the many paintings of the garden displayed in the house (well, fakes actually) you can wander round the village of Giverny. OK it's a long car park with a few tea rooms, but in the middle if a museum of American Impressionism. Mostly the Americans studied under Monet or just wanted to be near the great man. The pictures are of variable quality, but the founder of the museum was keen to present American art in the best light, and very well done it was too.|
|Patrice and his wife Monique are ever hospitable, and have a wonderful house in the middle of Cherbourg. From the guest room windows you can see the ferries entering and leaving port. The town is not really otherwise worthy of note, and the hypermarket in the centre is truly awful. But climb the hill on the outskirts and there are wonderful shopping malls with enough to keep you amused for hours, and precious few lager louts with overloaded trolleys of grog.|
|Modern art in cathedrals usually leaves me cold, but this one in Caen was fun. Amongst sculptures and mobiles with missionary messages was this television screen. On it you could see yourself, and the wording is loosely translated "See yourself as a Saint". I did, and pointed a camera downwards to capture my image and I gazed upwards into the CCTV.|
© 1996 Photographs by Robert Wright. Kensington London England.
Last updated: 23/11/05