A picnic with the grandchildren

Last Saturday our son left the children with Brigitte and me, and the idea for a picnic came up. Brigitte prepared the cooler and put the kids in the car. We got all the provisions we needed at the Hourtin Bourg market.

It was a really hot day and I was a little concerned the children might get sunstroke, but the fuss from the back of the car if we didn't go to the coast would have been overwhelming, so we decided to head for Contaut Lagoon. The freshness of the Lagoon and the shady willow trees, birches and oaks that surround it would be perfect for the heat of the day. I always have a great time showing the children all the birds I can recognise when they come to the lagoon to escape the heat, just like us!

A short walk to whet our appetites

We parked the car in the big car park and I unfold the pushchair for Max, the youngest of the boys. Off we went along the trail that circles the lagoon. It is much cooler here, and the children got terribly excited when we got to the bridge over the wooded marsh, amid all the royal ferns - it really gives the impression of being back in the time of dinosaurs. Even Brigitte was impressed. I knew I had the right idea coming here - if these ferns were creating such excitement, what would it be like at the end of the lagoon when they see the telescope concealed behind the wooden fence - my little explorers...

The lagoon and its wildlife

The particularly well-maintained footpath offers lots of different views, and many have information panels. Zoe enjoys getting the information out of them and matching it up to what she can see. It's a great way to improve the children's reading and language skills!

We arrive at the observation hide and the kids are all arguing over who gets to use the telescope first to look at the cormorants. They don't even notice the heron fishing just yards away. "Relax children, take your turns, and stop howling, you'll scare the birds!"

I have my binoculars to observe a small dark patch on a semi submerged trunk,"gosh, a turtle!" Undoubtedly one of the European cistude terrapins, which are protected here.

Friends have told me about a young otter that used to fish in the lagoon and was happy to be watched eating crayfish on the bank. How wonderful to have seen such a thing. I look for tracks in hope...

A delightful moment

After a little under a mile its time for lunch. Brigitte has prepared a lovely spread as ever, and even has a checkered tablecloth for the picnic table (no doubt she would have brought that too if there weren't already lots of them available!)

We have lots of fresh local produce to taste, and Max loves the sausages. We'll have to tell their parents how playing explorers seems to have knocked them out. And I'm glad they did recognize some species of marsh birds, they will certainly impress their teacher!

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