As long as I can remember Tim has adopted my father as his own, so to speak, and he was as excited as we were to embark from Portsmouth at dawn Saturday morning. The crossing on the giant ferry was a pleasant five hours of reading, chatting, walking the deck, and napping. Looking across the horizon dotted with freighters I thought of the pilots of the 379th Fighter Squadron flying many missions along about the same route, approaching France with far different prospects than ours.
When we docked at Cherbourg, Tim (fortunately) quickly adapted to driving on the right side of the road (though his steering wheel was still on the wrong side of the car), and we set off for Bayeux (pronounced Bay-yoh by the Brits and Bye-yuh by the French) about 60 kilometers away.
The tourist office in Bayeux helped us find just the B & B we wanted, a 17th-century converted farmhouse within a 10-minute drive. We were amazed at the inexpensive rates, especially after pricey Dublin (all big Western European cities seem expensive). The owner of the B&B spoke enough English to spare us from depending on my dormant college French.
Linda, Tim and I went for a long walk down a country road and then drove back into Bayeux for a fantastic meal at the Lion D'Or, a hotel plus restaurant that we stumbled onto by chance. It looked pretty classy, so Tim went in to see if we were dressed well enough. Pas de probleme! It turned out there was only one man wearing a tie in the place. I guess California informality has infiltrated the world. We spent four and a half hours there at a luxurious continental pace. The third-generation owner showed us pictures from the sixties of President Eisenhower and Ethyl Kennedy, who ate there - not at the same time, I should add. She pointed out that one of the small Kennedy children in the photos was the same one who was killed skiing this past winter.
In the morning we went out for a quick look at the Bayeux Tapestry. It's a spectacular 70-foot-long embroidery detailing the battle of Hastings in 1066 when the Normans pulled off the only successful invasion of England in history. It seemed oddly appropriate - an invasion across the channel in the opposite direction from the modern invasion that we were there to commemorate. In a way it reminded me of George Rarey's wartime art - cartoons depicting the progress of a historically significant war - though without his wit and personal touch.