Thursday, 30 May 2013

Brittany Ferries - the Bretagne

Or, a night on the ocean waves...

In my previous post on Brittany Ferries I left you climbing the steep stairs from the car deck to find your cabin. I would always advise that you book a cabin. There are reclining seats in an area that is provided for passengers to  snooze, and showers for when they wake all stiff and groggy, but really, if you want to enjoy your crossing then a cabin is a must.

So you locate your cabin and drop your overnight luggage by the hanging space, place your book on the little metal table between the bunks, grab the pillows from the spare bunks if you have a four-berth, pop your toiletries in the little ensuite shower/toilet, grab your handbag and, remembering to take your cardboard door key, set off to explore the ship....

You'll notice that the Bretagne has, of course, a very Breton feel to it. And if you're unfamiliar with Brittany then the pictures at the top of the central staircase on Deck 6 will be your first introduction to the culture of this region of France.

The locals do not generally sport such elaborate lace hats, not as they go about their daily business, but you will see such costumes at Breton festivals.  

Music features very prominently in the lives of the Bretons. The Fest Noz are wonderful evenings when everyone gets together to dance.

Even if, like me, you have two left feet and can really only perform well to old Rolling Stones and Saturday Night Fever music, you'll still manage to dance at a fest Noz  because you all join hands, form a circle and stomp in time to the music.

The shops are located in the central part of the ship.

On board you can buy perfumes and skin creams, I do recommend choosing a new fragrance for your holiday, because when it's only a distant memory wearing the scent will provide you with Proustian moments and remind you of the lovely time you spent in Brittany.

There's a little kiosk where you can buy continental adapters, battery chargers, headlight adapters all of the useful items that you often forget to pack. Also books. One day perhaps my fledgling novel, 'Flies in the Ointment', will find a publisher and be on the stand on Brittany ferries ships and you may like to select it and read it and recall how you first heard of it on a stranger's blog.  A nice thought.

Of course you can also buy wines and spirits, cigarettes, chocolate and gifts...

This shop sells handbags, purses, chunky bangles and necklaces. It's a little pricey but the brown leather 'Lollipop' bag that I bought for the Ragazza is lovely and we share it from time to time. She fills it with make up, her  mobile phone and girlie stuff, I fill it with books, pens, a camera and half-written letters to friends.

à chacun son goût

Now to eat.

There are several options, sandwiches and snacks on Deck 8, which is where you'll also find the children's play area and the bar/entertainment...
A self-service restaurant that does salads, hot dishes, desserts and drinks....
Or, for seasoned travelers who like to dine well, The Restaurant.

You need to book a table, or turn up early because The Restaurant is very popular and you really don't want to delay and arrive to find that your fellow-passengers have snaffled all the langoustines.    

I recommend the buffet option because you can chose your favourites and eat as little or as much as you please, but do exercise a degree of moderation when faced with those langoustines and save room for the desserts...

My fishy first-course on a crossing in November 2011...

That crab claw was absolutely delicious.
Well, it was all absolutely delicious. 

My main course on that same crossing...

The chocolate sauce that was served with the beef features in 'Flies' when the main character is fleeing to France. They do say 'write what you know', don't they? 

I don't have pictures of the desserts, the fruit salads and cheeses, the rich, creamy concoctions. I'll leave them for you to discover for yourselves. 

 Now that you've eaten I recommend you go up to Deck 8, walk through the bar and to the outside seating area where you can sit and admire the sunset as the ship sails past the Isle of Wight...


Perhaps indulge in a cocktail from the bar....

You are on holiday, after all.

This is the bar where there may be a magician performing, perhaps a singer, and then later music to which you can dance.

I danced once, with a group of over-excited children whose parents sat smiling indulgently as they slid around the polished wooden floors and I worked off some of those langoustines...

Some pictures that adorn the walls of the bar

A Breton horse, solid, sturdy and sensible...


A Breton lady, solid, sturdy and sensible....   


When the Ragazza and I moved to Brittany in 2006 we were disappointed to discover that we'd missed the local annual onion festival.

No, really, we were. We're that kind of family!

So, you've eaten well and indulged in a few drinks...
You've treated yourself in the shops...
You may have listened to the piano player in the bar by the restaurant...
Perhaps you've enjoyed the entertainment and danced a while...
Or maybe you've been to one of the two cinemas on Deck 5, and enjoyed a film...

Now it's time for bed. Buy a nice cup of tea/coffee/chocolate and take it to your cabin. Enjoy a nice hot shower. Curl up in your bunk. Switch off the lights and prepare to sleep well because...

Tomorrow you will really want wake early

To collect your breakfasts, on a tray if you want to treat your daughter to hers in bed... 

so that you can be out on deck in time to enjoy the approach to St Malo  

I don't know how they manage it, but each and every time that I have traveled from Portsmouth to St Malo with Brittany Ferries they have arranged a sunny-skies, blue-seas, bobbing-boats arrival. 

With grateful thanks to the crew of the Bretagne, the Brittany Ferries team, and to St Malo for such a lovely homecoming each time I cross the Channel...

Practical Info and Tips:
You should arrive at the port an hour before the boarding time. The last time we sailed we were eighteen hours early but only because I broke the car and wanted to be sure we made it, even if we did have to turn up on a breakdown truck! (St Malo has some lovely hotels)   
You need a breathalyser kit, a fluorescent jacket, a warning triangle, spare headlamp bulbs and all of your car's documents to drive legally in France
There are kennels on the Bretagne for your dog. Do arrive early in order to complete the formalities for taking a pet abroad and remember that a vet must apply a tick and flea treatment within 24 hours of your return to England. A rabies blood test is no longer mandatory but the vaccination is 
Currency - Euros can be bought on board from the desk near reception
Seasickness pills can no longer be obtained from reception, French law now forbids it
Book early for dinner in the restaurant
The pina coladas are delicious
Ditto the 'sex on the beach' cocktails, not to be confused with on-board entertainment
Prepare yourself mentally and your car physically for The Ramp. Seriously, foreign breakdown cover is a good idea for your car and in future mine will be serviced and checked before I leave the country, and no I will never again break the clutch on a beach in Brittany
Remember to drive on the right, really, I have followed English cars as far from the port as Lannion, who were merrily driving on the wrong side of the road. Best to have a French car that knows its way home!
Join the Brittany Ferries club. It's £90 a year but you get a reduction on the ferry price, plus discounts in the restaurant and shops, free breakfast and a day cabin for £5. Even if you only go once a year you can easily save more than £90.

and above all

Bon voyage!

Tuesday, 28 May 2013



Sheltered in a deep cove at the north of the Bay of St Brieuc Paimpol is a quaint but not quiet little port.

In years gone by the fishermen of Paimpol set sail across wild and stormy seas in pursuit of the plentiful cod off the Icelandic coast.

It was a dangerous occupation.

Just along the coast from the town, at Perros-Hammon , there is a chapel that lists the names of those lost at sea and the Widows Cross marks the spot where the women of Paimpol would stand gazing out to sea in the hope of seeing the sail of their menfolk's boats. But fishing was a dangerous occupation and many of the men failed to return, they were simply swallowed up by snarling seas, tossed hither and thither by torrential tides, drowned, sacrificial lambs on the altar of the high seas.

Today pleasure craft outnumber the fishing boats in the harbour at Paimpol and the sea must seek her victims elsewhere.....

Each August Paimpol celebrates her sea-faring links with the Fesitval du Chant de Marin, here's this year's description:

Come along to a unique festival, and enter a world full of surprises and overseas discoveries in a welcoming, spicy and friendly atmosphere...Every other year, the quaysides of PAIMPOL host a major gathering in honour of traditional seamanship and seamen:the old docks are filled with fully-rigged vessels, and a lively music rises up and reaches even the remotest recesses of the port, whether it be sea chanties, traditional Breton music (festoù noz, bagadoù...etc), brass bands or world music...

For this eighth gathering, Africa and its warm, colourful sounds will be celebrated, from the shores of Maghreb to the Cape of Good Hope, from the banks of the Nile to those of the Senegal River.....

A hundred bands, a thousand singers and musicians, among which you will find some of the great names of both African and Breton music...But also dozens of exhibitors as traditions and local products will be an essential feature of Paimpol 2007...You will have the occasion to taste seafood, grilled tuna, sardines...etc. Last but not least, Paimpol will be busy with street artists, various displays of water sports, exhibitions...etc.

Have I mentioned before that Bretons adore music and never miss the opportunity to get together to sing, dance and make music?

On Sunday we woke to a steady downpour. Correction, I woke at 6am to cloudy skies and managed to fit in three hours of gardening before The Ragazza appeared and the rain started.

When it rains in Brittany it really rains and so we decided to set off for lunch in Paimpol. So, it seems, had a great many other people. Paimpol was packed. 

Down by the water the town is a tourist-trap of twisty lanes and cobbled streets with, bien sûr, many opportunities to part with some holiday money...

Sometimes, if you time it just right, you can avoid the crowds and wander almost-empty streets.

But you have to pick your moment and savour it.

The omni-present boulangerie perfumes the air on this petit coin with the scent of baguettes and croissants and the most mouth-watering pastries.

Of course it is open on a Sunday morning, this is France...

Past the quincallerie where, if you look closely, you can see one of the carved wooden figures that stand under the eaves....

This one sells the best oyster knives in the area as well as providing a wonderful photo opportunity!

This picture of an advertisement on the side of a shop shows an unexpected reflection of the stone building opposite, a leaded glass window that I hadn't noticed and the photographer, a shady character standing next to a motorbike...

Who'd have thought I'd catch so much with one click?

The lobster pots traps that lie on the bottom of the bay wait to catch those hapless crustaceans who are lured into their one-way only depths by the tasty bait

This stylish tourist trap that sits on a street in the town waits to catch those hapless visitors who are enticed into it by the interesting window display.

I was attracted to the wonderful fishmonger's shop by the old wooden rowing boat that sits outside the shop and the collecton of lobster and crab pots that surround the doorway

Inside I found this marine mouth-watering display of fishy flavours...

captivating crabs
luscious languostines
perfect praries

 We ate lunch by the harbour.
Not shellfish, the day was chilly and damp, we opted for a large plate of steak and chips, 'French fries' as the charming owner told us with a smile when we ordered. The restaurant was full of French folk enjoying lunch en famille, so very different to how the English spend their Sundays.

And then we left in a downpour and headed for the Pink Granite coast so that I could indulge in a little trip down memory lane.

It did not look as pretty as this picture, taken six years ago on a sunny November day, but the parking area for trippers to the Ile de Brèhat was packed with cars and the little ferry was crowded as it set sail.

The Ragazza sat in the car listening to music and watching the raindrops racing down the car's windscreen but I ventured forth to walk a little, to admire the pink rocks, to idly kick at the lumps of seaweed lying stranded on the shore, to indulge in a little nostalgia.

To wonder if next year I will finally be ready to turn my back on the corporate cage and return to France...

And then back to the car, to get stuck while trying to reverse on too-wet grass, and to damage the clutch cable, which would lead to a rather 'challenging' few days driving and a somewhat anxious return to St Malo the day before we were due to depart. But that's another story... 

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Brittany Ferries - Boarding a Cross-Channel Ferry

This last crossing has been my twentieth with Brittany Ferries.

The first time that I took The Rags to France was as a newly-single parent back in 1999. I'd recently returned to work after ten years as a full time mother, and was busy supporting my company's mainframe clients as they prepared to face the Millennium Bug which, contrary to popular belief, did pose a high risk to the I.T. infrastructure that supports our modern lives. I was dedicated and hard-working to the extent that while the whole world partied on December 31st 1999 I worked through the night and into the new millennium at my office.  I digress. In August 1999 we took our first trip to France courtesy of Brittany Ferries and that was to be the start of a long relationship.

So, let's take a cyber tour of a ferry crossing from Portsmouth to St Malo aboard the Bretagne, starting with the Art of Boarding.

It is a fact well-known to ferry passengers that no matter at what time you arrive at the port, no matter how early or how late, a strange, illogical law decrees that you will be summoned to board the ship in a completely random manner. Thus those that are first will often board last and vice versa. This can be quite frustrating, especially if one has arrived early and spent an hour and a half sitting in one's car. It can also be stressful if one is thinking anxiously of The Ramp that must be mounted in order to park on the car deck and, trust me, if it's The Steep One to deck five, then it is a nerve-wracking drive which I have, once or twice, almost failed to complete. (A note to the nervous, if you do stall on the ramp and if the handbrake on your old car fails to hold, simply experience a full-blown panic attack, at which point a nice man in an orange jumpsuit will probably appear and place blocks behind your back wheels thus ensuring you do not roll backwards like a bowling ball and skittle the cars behind you. Yes, it happened to me in 1999, and also in 2003, and almost in 2005 and 2006).

My colleague at work once recounted how she had witnessed a late-arrival at Portsmouth being forced to reverse up the car ramp. This tale still features prominently in my nightmares and is the reason why I am never late. In fact, this time I was a whole day early, not wishing to take any chances.Well, no, I was early because I had broken my car on the beach at Paimpol and didn't trust the slipping, damaged clutch not to cause us to breakdown during the drive to St Malo, so we set off a day early and stayed overnight in the town. Just in case...

So, once you have arrived on the car deck you may find the cars packed in as tightly as sardines in a tin, thus necessitating the adoption of a few yoga-like positions as you attempt to exit your vehicle. I recommend Downward Dog to avoid finding the neighbouring car's wing mirror in your lower abdomen, if you're flexible a nice limbo should also do the trick, at all costs, remember to expel all of the air from your body, hold your breath, close your eyes and pray you don't get stuck.

Please note that were Brittany Ferries not to pack the cars in so tightly the cost of the crossing would be a great deal higher and so this is not a complaint. :) And some crossings are less-busy than others in which case you will have the luxury of plenty of space.

If you have an overnight bag it's best to pack it in the boot, since boots open upwards you'll have more room to remove it than if it were on the back seat. There is also a tendency to over-pack the car when going to France, especially if you have a property over there, and opening the back door of a car can lead to an avalanche of items such as cases, picnic bags, pillows, containers of weed killer and mouse poison, gardening equipment, small items of furniture, mops and brushes. So best not to risk opening the back door until you are at your destination, and I mean your final destination and not the car park at your local Carrefour.  Yes, this also happened to me, on the last trip actually, when the contents of my back seat escaped and no, I never did recover the loose, last-minute-addition-to-the-pile deodorant which rolled under a car with a Finistere registration plate.      

If the ferry people try to persuade you to park in the corner, facing the opposite direction to the other cars and surrounded by mesh, resist at all costs. This is the spot on the deck that will, on arrival at your destination, become the exit and so, as you sit in your car waiting to depart and thinking, "How nice to have a special spot surrounded by mesh and facing the other way"  you will find the floor beneath you suddenly raise alarmingly until you are on a steep incline, and you will watch with growing despair, as everyone else drives under you until you are the last one of your deck. It is then that you will realise that you are incapable of reversing your car from the mini-ramp without hitting the back of the ferry and you will be obliged to cast the last remnants of your pride overboard and ask a nice ferry employee to extricate your vehicle from its cage. Yes, this also happened to me in 2008, and I was obliged to kiss my Knight in an Orange Jumpsuit on both cheeks as a thank-you, which was actually rather pleasant. 

So, you have successfully scaled The Ramp. You have managed to park your car in the sardine tin. You have remembered to leave it in gear in case of a rough crossing. You have managed to remove your overnight bag, your laptop case and your handbag. You have remembered to take your cabin ticket. All that remains is to collect the card from the helpful lady who will approach you when you switch off your engine. This card will remind you where, in the vast bowels of the ship you have left your car. This is an important piece of information. When you arrive at St Malo, over-excited, bleary-eyed after a night of fine dining, cocktails, perhaps a little seventies-style cavorting on the dance floor and a few hours of snoozing interrupted by frequent checks on your watch lest you over-sleep and are forced to flee your cabin in your PJ's, you do not want the humiliation of wandering the car deck vainly searching for your car. Especially in your PJ's.

All that then remains is to check that you have not left a pile of DVD's on the roof of your car as happened to me in 2010, because they will not be there when you remember them and return a few minutes later (thank you whoever took mine, I hope you enjoyed watching my favourite films), to pick up your bags and to climb the steep stairs to the deck on which you have been allocated a cabin.

A word to the wise.

For safety, security and common-sense reasons, you will not be permitted to return to your car until you dock at St Malo.  Do not, therefore, forget those PJs. 

So far, so good...

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Went Fishing...

I'm just back from a week in Brittany.

As usual there were adventures, exploring and catching up with friends
Posts will follow once I have recovered from The Food Poisoning Incident that almost necessitated a visit to the hospital in St Malo, caught up with laundry and housework, collected the dog and shopped for essentials...

Life is most definitely An Adventure!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Les Septs Saints Dormant - Vieux Marché

I admit to feeling rather reflective today...

Twenty five years ago today I left my career as a mainframe systems programmer to await the arrival of my first child.

Fifteen years ago today I was drawn back into the world of I.T. and so ended my ten years as a full-time mother, a role that I adored.

Seven years ago today I quit and prepared to swap the corporate cage for a new adventure in France.

Five years ago today my home computer was infected with a malicious piece of code that wiped out the operating system, and that led me to research internet security.

I always expect something life-changing to happen on May 12th each year....

So, while I wait, and wonder, and finally realise that change comes from within, here's an account of the first ever place that I explored alone in Brittany. Incidentally, I first wrote about this on a blog that I began in 2008, when I was considering running a B&B in France, and that I'd totally forgotten until today, so I am stepping back in time seven years while re-writing this post.       

Les Septs Saints Dormant - Vieux Marché

Near the small Breton town of Vieux Marché is a chapel dedicated to The Seven Sleeping Saints.

To reach the chapel I set off west towards the coastline where, in the fifth century, Irish monks - les moines navigateurs - arrived in flimsy crafts, set foot on rocky shores and gave thanks for their safe delivery.

Towards the coast but not quite that far

You drive through a spectacular September countryside, through dark and brooding forests where occasional shafts of sunlight cast golden rays across damp earthy paths and red squirrels scamper in front of you, down steep single-track roads with dangerous drops into crystal-clear streams, emerge from the darkness to discover small stone villages of flower-clad houses clustered around a church... fields of maize whose drying leaves and ripe cobs rattle in the breeze and sound like aboriginal musical instruments, small gardens filled to bursting with tomato plants, cabbages and beans, trees heavy with apples, chestnuts and acorns... and then plunge once more into the depths of a verdant green undergrowth.

So much beauty, and peace and tranquility... timeless and solid and enduring

The Sept Saints Dormant are not sleeping in Vieux Marché itself, you have to go through the village and pick up the signs and then follow a trail that twists and turns and sends you round in seemingly ever-decreasing circles as if to test your resolve, before permitting you to arrive, finally, at your destination which is the small and plain chapel.

You can park right outside, parking is never an issue in France., and wander in through one of two open doors or, as I did, walk around the outside to get a feel for the land and to read the sign on the gate that describes how Louis Massignon, the celebrated French orientalist made a connection between the Breton Sept Saints Dormants and Sura Eighteen of The Koran, the one that tells the story of the seven early Christian martyrs in Ephesus, Turkey.

The Muslim story relates how, in the third century, seven brothers, Maximilian, Mark, Martin, Dennis, John, Seraphin and Constantine, early followers of Christianity, were ordered by the Emperor Decius to make sacrifices to his pagan gods. When they refused Decius ordered them to be cast into a cave and entombed alive. One hundred and seventy years later the cave was discovered and opened and the seven martyrs were found to be just as they had been left, not dead but sleeping. They awoke briefly, died, and were then transported straight to heaven.

A Breton folk song, The Gwerz recounts the same story, attributes miracles to the seven brothers and links it to the chapel near Vieux Marché.

"In the Bishopric of Treguier, in the Parish of Plouaret, The Holy Spirit raised up a chapel without the use of lime or clay, without a mason, or roofer or carpenter. Whoever visits can see the truth. The chapel is made up of but six stones, four rocks that serve as walls and two others as the roof.Who can doubt that Almighty God built it?"

The first 'chapel' was a indeed built without lime or clay. It is a dolmen, dating back to the early Neolithic period (4000 - 3000 BCE), a single-chamber tomb comprising four upright stones (megaliths) topped by two flat capstones. The dolmen now forms part of the south transept and it is this sacred place, rather than the chapel that was built on 1703 on the feast day of Saint Mary Magdelene, that the Gwerz celebrates and associates with resurrection and eternal life.

When the Celts arrived they found the landscape dotted with dolmens and menhirs and other enduring stone symbols that they, too, revered and venerated because the Celts also believed that sleep, death and resurrection were intricately linked and that a person could pass between such states as easily as slipping through a forest clearing.

Think back to the fairy stories that your mother told you when you were a child...

"il était une fois ..." Once upon a time...

of Sleeping Beauty who slept in the castle for a hundred years before Prince Charming appeared to rouse her, still glowing with youthful beauty, with a kiss on her lips...

of Snow White who ate the beautiful rosy-red apple that the Wicked Stepmother had laced with poison, died and was placed in a glass coffin by the seven dwarves where she remained in a state between sleep and death until the handsome hunter came upon her and revived her with a kiss.

The poet Rumi wrote "During the night our souls are reunited with God

"Sleep and death, physical states between which a body and soul can pass back and forth...

"Not dead, but sleeping"

"Fell asleep on..."

In this land of myths and legends it's not so difficult to believe in the Sept Saints Dormant

It was pure good fortune that brought the Orintalist Louis Massignon to this place. One hot July day, the third Sunday in the month, he was taking part in a pardon (a religious festival to mark the local saint's day) when he was struck by the similarities between the story recounted by The Gwerz and that of the Koran. His research led him to discover that in days gone by the Celts of Brittany developed commercial links with the Muslims of the Orient and that the area around Vieux Marché was a stopping-off point on the route of traders carrying raw materials for the manufacture of iron and with it , it seems, also their tales and beliefs from distant lands.

The people of Brittany adopted the miracle of the Seven Sleeping Saints and, in 1954, Louis Massignon added an Islamic Christian pilgrimage for Peace to the Breton Pardon of The Seven Saints of Ephesus at Vieux Marché that remains, to this day, an important link between the two faiths....

There is a small door on the right-hand side of the chapel that leads down stone steps into a vault. Behind an old dark brown oak screen there are seven small figures and one larger one that represents Mary and Jesus. It's too dark for photographs but somehow it feels as if exposing these peaceful doll-like effigies to a flash bulb would seem irreverent... so simply hold onto the bars of the wooden screen, peer through and look upon the figures instead.

(Pic from Wikipedia)

Inside the chapel that is built in the shape of a cross and, as is the way with Christian worship, faces east towards the rising sun (son), above the altar, the Seven Saints and Mary and Jesus raise their eyes towards heaven and eternal peace.

If you sit on the pew at the front, light a one euro candle and place it carefully on the stand, and focus your mind and your prayers on the flickering candle light you might be lucky enough to see the whole altar lit up by rays of sunlight entering through the stained glass panel to the right...and if you do you will notice that the faces of the Seven Saints seem to come to life just as the seven sleeping brothers awoke all those centuries ago.

And as you sit there, the floor dancing with diamonds of green and gold cast by the sunlight through the windows and with the golden flame of your solitary candle flickering, and you open your heart, whether it be Christian, of Moslem, Jewish or of any other faith, and look to the altar and seek forgiveness for your failings and the strength to be a better person, then you may find that your ears fill with sound of blood rushing through your veins and of your distant heartbeat and you may swoon slightly and need to hold on firmly to the wooden pew...

Time will stand still. Silence will engulf you and you will feel Peace.

Do not be afraid to slip off your shoes and climb, barefoot, up the stone steps that lead from your right. There you will see statues of St Michel and The Archangel Gabriel, Jesus and angels... and there you will find that your feet are upon the top of the dolmen that is, of course, warm and soft to the touch.

Before you leave please, buy a few postcards to spread the word of Peace and Brotherhood between faiths and write a prayer in the open book nearby... make it a good one, from your heart, for your prayer will surely rise to heaven and be heard by the Sept Saints...

and then, as you leave, dip your finger into one of the stone bowls of Holy Water and make the sign of a cross on your forehead, out of respect and because it feels like a kiss from an angel, and we could all use the kiss of an angel from time to time....

Sunday, 5 May 2013

A Walk on the Wild Side - Les Landes de Locarn

I recently bought a book of walks in the Côtes d'Armor, which is my region of France, not to be confused with the Côtes d'Armour which is somewhere else entirely. My region is lush and fertile, wild and rugged, and with a beautiful coastline. Parfait!

I've chosen a couple of walks that should be lovely, but here's one that I took often while I was living in Brittany full-time, and one that holds good memories for me of walking with three dogs and someone who was, at that time, rather special to me...

One day, when I'm done with protecting cyber space and have had my fill of complex, obfuscated, malicious code and trickery, I will return to Brittany to live a quiet, peaceful life. Perhaps I'll run the B&B that I'd planned when I first moved to France, perhaps I'll just take people on trips and tours around Brittany, perhaps I'll write, perhaps ...

Well, who knows what's around the next corner?        

 A Sunday stroll around Les Landes de Locarn

This land has been inhabited since the Paleolithic times when hunter gatherers stalked these hills. When they evolved into the first farmers and homestead builders of the Neolithic period they began to erect megaliths.

This menhir served a purpose, had meaning for those people over 2000 years ago, today it stands like a crusty old spinster, cold and aloof.

ignore her, pass by respectfully, you don't want to catch her eye....

A conifer stands independent and alone, like a young adolescent poised on the brink of adulthood

Smile at the confidence of youth as you wander past her....


The walk takes you down from the moorland to the gorge where huge granite giants lie in a mass of confusion amid fertile green maidens

clamber over the rocks with caution, a sudden slip could snap a mere mortal's limb

this stone sculpture pushes aside the feminine trees like a dominant male interloper

walk on dry brown leaves up the slope and ignore the crusty old man...

Like the lace veils of young girls attending their first communion

gaze upwards until you feel as giddy as these giggling girls....

Matronly conifers stand in a gossiping huddle on the heathland as you emerge from the gorge

don't try to listen as you pass them, the muttering of matrons is not for your ears...

Finally walking past an ancient woodland

The branches on these trees hung like feathery fronds, mosses draped over outstretched limbs like the tattered tassels of a cheap woman's wrap, bracken at their feet like torn fishnet stockings

and in the green, green depths all is silent and still as if holding a huge collective arboreal breath until the walkers have passed by