Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Aurevoir Plougastel!!

Can you see the wild primroses growing in the hedges?  They are EVERYWHERE around here and remind me of my granny because she was born on Primrose Day.
 Daffodils growing wild in the field next door.
Going to miss my palm trees fluttering in the wind!

And Goodbye!!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Counting down...

There are weeks when you might be better staying in bed and I think last week was one of them :) My laptop died, I guess that was the biggest problem of the glass-breaking, dirt-trailing, spider-spotting week (DH had his own problems).  I'm grateful the laptop lasted as long as it did, but it is frustrating knowing it is just the video card and/or driver playing up because everything else has been fabulous.  Sigh.  But it means a lot of the photos I took in the last couple of weeks are on that machine so, for once, this post will be short and sweet but I'll take some more photos of this little house and town and maybe post them tomorrow.

Kids are in school till Friday so we are in a hotel in the city of Brest on Thursday night. That's going to be strange.  Then we're off to Normandy, the D-Day beaches, Mont St. Michel and Bayeux with my s-i-l and her family.  It'll be great for the cousins to get together but I'm praying the weather picks up because I don't want to be stuck in a mobile home with 4 kids for any longer than necessary :)  Then on the 7th April we're heading back to the UK.  It's been an amazing trip but I confess to missing the mundane things about anglo culture.  Like understanding TV.  I'm so shallow. 

So my life is cleaning and laundry and trying to get a chapter written while I have the chance.  The only trouble with writing when in a bad mood is it rubs off on my heroine and I have to rescue her later.  Doesn't seem to make a difference to the hero though ;)

Aurevoir, mes amis!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Cote de Granit Rose

We're counting down the number of days we have left in Plougastel.  I'm feeling very sad :(  I'd forgotten to post my pictures from the Cote de Granit Rose.  The most dramatic stretch (I have on the authority of someone who was born there) is the stretch between Perros-Guirec and Ploumanac'h (rechristened Bloomin' Eck by the kids).  The pink granite coastline has been eroded and shaped into wonderful rock formations.  Obviolously we've been watching too much Bear Grylls because we somehow missed the path and ended up clambering over massive boulders and along eroded, two-inch wide sandy trails that listed over sheer twenty foot cliffs.  No worries.  Hah!  Needless to say I don't have any photos to post of those places, I was holding onto the hands of my poor babies (you can guess hubby was leading this expedition, right?)  Anyway, some photos....

Above is the tiny Chateau du Diable, isolated out on a point.  Quo Vardis was written there in the 19th century.  I am quite sure I could write a novel or two there, assuming I could tear my gaze from the sea.

Can you see the bullet holes in the back of this chapel?  There are constant reminders of the two World Wars everywhere on the Brittany coast.  It feels like it happened yesterday.  In the village where we stay the houses are completely blacked out at night.  People here use shutters to keep out the cold and unwelcome eyes, but the effect is one of complete and utter darkness.  No streetlights.  Black, black, black, as if waiting for the bombers.

This bridge led to the lighthouse
and below are the steps from the lighthouse to the sea--like a smugglers paradise.  The Brittany Coast was a Wreckers Coast not so long ago. 

Another great day out.  I feel like Wallace (and Gromit).  On a horrid note I found two horrible beetles(?) in the cottage.  I'm wondering what French cockroaches look like.  Even the thought makes me ill--I am such a wimp!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Carnac...the oldest town in the world.

Today we visited the oldest continuously inhabited site in the world.  Carnac, Brittany.

Two thousand individual menhirs stretch over a 4 km area.  You drive along the D196 and there are fields and fields of standing stones off to the side--like someone planted them :)  Dotted among the long lines of stones (the alignments), are tumuli and dolmen (which is actually the Breton word for 'Stone table').

 (I'm sure these images are squashed--surely I'm not really short and squat???)

(Above:Alignments de Menec--the place of stones
Below: Alignments de Kermario--the place of the dead)

 (see the bus in the background?)

No one knows how the neolithic people moved the stones or why... I mean WHY?  Who decided...'I know, we've planted crops, let's collect stones?' You feel there has to be a really smart reason, but perhaps the chiefs were just competitive?  Each one wanted bigger, better stones than the last guy. No one knows.  No one will ever know.  I like it that way.

We followed signs to a tumulus (burial chamber), past an Indian Creperie and in the grounds of some stately manor...

 And this thing is just there in someone's (large and very grand) garden!

They've dated the megaliths to be at least 6000 years old, predating Stonehenge and the Pyramids (and the temples at Karnak, Egypt).  A truly astonishing place.

And after we visited the stones we went to the beach.  Because that, people, is what we do!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Foret de Huelgoat--Ancient Forest

For once we headed inland on our weekend explorations, away from the sea.  That doesn't mean we didn't find water in the form of a lake that fed this river...
which in turn led to a stream...

which disappeared beneath these boulders...

We could hear the water gushing beneath our feet.  And--a little scary--there were holes through the boulders you could fall through (and get trapped and die--repeat repeat repeat to children until they appreciate the danger--or is that just me?).  And then we followed the quiet trails through these ancient woods that are said to have stretched all across Brittany in prehistoric times.  It was incredibly peaceful.  But strange too.  Because within the woods are these enormous boulders that have just been magically dumped.

Many are the size of houses, worn smooth by millions of years of wind and water.  Inside the forest is Camp d'Arthus, a Gallo-Roman hillfort in the style of Astrix the Gaul, but it got a little smashed by a hurricane.  We visited the Grotte du Diable (Devil's Cave) and Roche Tremblante (trembling rock) and Champignon (the mushroom).  We sang 'We Are the Champignons' all the way up the hill :)
Descent in the Devil's Cave...
So, another beautiful day out. 
In our three months here, we have not even begun to run out of new and gorgeous places to visit.  I have noted, however, that rock forms the basis of every single one :) 
Only two weekends left here--including this one!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Concarneau & Pont Aven

Concarneau is famous for Ville Close, a small fortified island just a few meters offshore. It took me a little by surprise.  I wasn't expecting it to be quite so close :)

The clocktower and sundial were designed by Vauban in the 17th Century and within those old city walls lay a treasure of charming houses, tourist shops and resturants. 

 There was a lovely--if hair raising--walk around the ramparts of the city. The kids gave me the heebie-jeebies if they escaped from my hand!


 There's a ferry on the far side of the citadel to the fishing port on the mainland.  You can tour a canning factory if you want.  We declined.  :)

 I don't know what else to say really.  It was a beautiful day in a lovely part of France :) 

After that we drove a few miles to Pont Aven, a small town famous for an art school set up by Paul Gauguin. To be honest the art galleries were well out of my price range and I found the local literature a little flowery and full of itself.  But the town was pretty and worth a detour.

There was a beautiful walkway over the river between the back of the houses.  The river seemed to flow beneath the houses...

and my favorite part of the whole place?  The privy :)