Monday, July 14, 2014

J'aime la France!

I can't get enough of France.  We have totally fallen in love with the relaxed way of life, the space, the empty roads and beaches and of course the shutters and geraniums.  We had a great holiday in Brittany and are already planning another one next year!  It is too easy!  40 minutes drive and we are on the ferry, we find our little cabin, go for a drink at the bar, sleep, get woken by some soft music being played over the speakers in the cabin (!), shower and we're off - off on another adventure.  

Bye bye Portsmouth....

We visited 22 places, drove 656 miles and carried 8 cans of Tanglefoot in the boot of the car all around Brittany and back home unopened.  We have discovered the French DO like beer after all.

First - breakfast in St Malo at the usual 'Cafe L'Ouest'.  We didn't spend quite as much this time.  We had the same waiter though.  Then on to the pink granite coast.

Cap Frehel has two lighthouses

Very like Cornwall but with pink limestone cliffs

You can see the Channel Islands on a clear day

Sables-d'or-les-Pins - the pine trees smelt gorgeous

A typical English person having a paddle

The beach is 2 miles long

St-Quay-Portrieux - big harbour, lots of boats

We had tea and crepes - v hot


- we drank 'Philomen' which restored Sarah's faith in French beer!

I loved the medieval houses and cobbled alleyways

The cathedral has playing card symbols on the spire

St Michel-en-Greve

We were getting slightly confused at this point, staying in a different hotel every night.  Sarah tried to exfoliate her heels with the shoe shine kit in the bathroom, I spent the whole day with marmalade down my top and toothpaste down my trousers and Sarah spent a very long time staring at yet another egg boiling machine in the hotel breakfast room.  

We had a flask of coffee and a pain au chocolat before walking to the sea for another paddle - it was miles away, but so warm!  There was a church on the beach but hardly anyone around, just some women exercising and someone riding a horse on the sand.  How civilised.

A tractor with a few artichokes - look we are on the wrong side of the road!  Agh!

Montagne St Michel

We discovered this tiny church on top of a hill with amazing 360 degree views.

The view below looked very like Dartmoor but bigger!  25 degrees today and not enough time to explore.


Quimper is the oldest town in Brittany.  The cathedral has two spires and the alter is off centre which is odd.  Lots more wonky medieval buildings.  We had dinner overlooking the cathedral at 'Le Finnistere'.  I had the most sumptuous pork tenderloin with a salt caramel sauce to die for, followed by a chocolate knickerbocker glory and a walk at 10pm in the light (and heat).


Very like Dartmouth

Brittany reminds me of home but bigger, less people, no road rage and polite, friendly service!  The one and only thing I don't like about France is the public loos though!

The signs are all in Breton (related to the Welsh language) and French and they have a lot of the same folklore, Merlin, King Arthur etc - very strange.

The old town is within some ramparts


We then drove to Carnac - I am covered in heat rash by this time.  8pm and it is still 26 degrees.  We have pizza overlooking the sea and try to ignore the rather ignorant male English tourist wiping his plate with his knife and then licking it - ugh!  I admire instead, the two tanned, lined, natural French women at the table opposite drinking red wine, supping oysters and smoking all at the same time.

Then on to Quiberon - more coffee from the flask and pain au chocolat before gingerly looking over the peninsular.


More wonky painted medieval houses.

Vannes is classy, no tat shops and so many breton tops!  I resisted.

Next - Ploermel and a nap in our hotel on the lake.

The hydrangea promenade near out hotel - 5500 plants and 550 varieties.

We ate galette filled with potato, cheese and bacon in the 'Cafe de la Tour' (followed by more icecream) and then watched the sun set over the lake.

Port de Dinan - very like Lynton and Lynmouth in Devon

We especially liked it here.  A cobbled street lined with artisan shops leads to Dinan on top of the hill above the port.

We had dinner at a cafe/bar called 'Bords de Rance'.  It looked a lot more homey than the more upmarket seafood restaurants on the other side of the port and much more 'us'.  I had another gallette (!) filled with goats cheese, tomato and honey, this time with goats cheese icecream!  It was strangely nice.  We drank with the staff at the end of the evening.

'Bords de Rance' 

Sculptures near the hotel

St Lunaire, Pointe du Decolle

Lovely view over to Dinard and St Malo.  Rocky with clear, sandy beaches.

Dinard was more like Bournemouth, so not so keen - although had a nice Tarte Provencal overlooking the sea.  All I think about is food!

I'd hate to see the baby that lost this dummy.....

Then back to St Malo (my favourite).  We managed to sneak in to a concert half way through in the cathedral, dinner and then an evening stroll along the seafront.

The next morning I had crepe and caramel sauce - I'd be huge if I lived here!

St Malo - the city walls

We bought lunch in Avranches and then had a picnic on top of a hill which I had found on the map.

Mont Robin - 276m high with lovely views

We drove back to the ferry port via the Normandy beaches.  It was lovely to see Arromanches again.  Had coffee and Tarte Framboise (oh dear...) overlooking the sea.

Bit of yarn bombing


Arromanches - stiff walk on the beach to walk off all the food!

Ouistreham - back to catch the ferry home (depressed)

Having a break from blogging for a while as I have a bad back and neck from sitting at a computer all day at work.  I do not bond with technology which is a bit unfortunate as I work for a web design company.  I would rather sit on a high stool entering my double entry bookkeeping in to a leather bound ledger with a quill than sit looking at a screen all day.  I am a woman who still plays cassette tapes in the car (Frank Sinatra) and didn't see anything wrong with Windows 98.  I'm also too busy and it's too nice outside!  I need to make the most of it - it looks autumnal out there already - panic!

Au revoir for now......

June - Festival fun and the art of layering

June was a bit mad.  We were out 11 nights during the Salisbury Arts Festival fortnight!  We saw:-

1 x photo exhibition
2 x choral concerts
5 x films
1 x folk group
1 x jazz group 
1 x play

The weird and the wonderful

I particularly liked the play/dance performed in a lift in the Cathedral Close but unfortunately I couldn't get close enough to take a photo.

I'm not entirely sure what this is!

You could actually squeeze in to this lighthouse and watch a film on a tiny screen.  I was too embarrassed.

I didn't know whether the elderly gentleman was a member of the audience or part of the act?!

We also enjoyed a 7 mile guided walk along the Chalke valley, exploring the various churches along the way. I hadn't realised how many famous people are buried in this area.  Cecil Beaton is buried in Broadchalke.

Anthony Eden is buried in Alvediston

We had time for a quick pint at one of my favourite pubs - The Horseshoe, Ebbesbourne Wake

I wish I hadn't worn my wellies - it was so hot!

It was a relief to cool down in the churches

William Golding is buried in Bowerchalke

Time for a dip

The watercress beds

I liked the look of this garden

One night during the Festival we attended a film 'noir-athon' - 3 films back to back, the last one finishing at 12.30pm!  I only saw the last two.  The final film was called 'Insomnia' and I fell asleep!  This was not helped by the fact that we had been in London during the day singing in a lunchtime concert in St Martin in the Fields.  Talk about burning the candle at both ends......  It was worth it to sing Zadok the Priest and hear the organ - phwor.

We walked from Waterloo to Trafalgar square - too hot to use the tube

We had lunch in the crypt of St Martin in the Fields

We had strange weather in June, one day 12 degrees and hailing, two days later - 23 degrees.  No wonder we need to wear so many layers in this country.  Oh, to be able to predict the weather for more than 2 days in a row!

Alium by the patio

Frank has brought us many presents.  We've had shrews, mice, a headless bird in a walking boot, a big brown furry rat squished in between Sarah's sandals and a starling under the sofa.

Butter wouldn't melt.......

Poppies in the garden

Peony in the front garden


I managed to overwinter my geraniums successfully

Cucumbers growing in the greenhouse

One weekend, we visited the Bishop's Garden Party in the Close.  I found loads of books for a bargain!

You could have a ride in a Bentley

or pet a camel!

I have loved being outside more, getting grubby and eating 'al fresco'.  That is when I'm not throwing Frank's presents in to the field behind with the dustpan and brush (now known as the 'shrew flicker').  

Long may the summer continue