Friday, 1 September 2017

The Last Post... for a while. (Not if Pickle has anything to do with it...)

So there we are. Back home. Not even 24 hours after we left the campsite.

Grey skies. Rain. Autumnal feel. 1st September. No more summersafari.

Short sentences. Ha.

Well, it's actually not so bad. It IS nice to be home - the house left wonderfully clean and tidy by our guests, the garden a little bit the worse for growing untended but the grass neat and tidy. (Thanks, Jonathan White!).

We are semi-unpacked. We've emptied the motorhome and started on the laundry, but there is still much sorting out to be done. I'm going to go at it slowly enough to declutter on the way, I hope.  #needsmuchstrengthofmind

And I'm SO looking forward to catching up with friends: one today, another tomorrow and a beach barbeque already arranged with a group of us, then church on Sunday.

I've come across part of a post I wrote right at the beginning: about packing. Interesting now that we have lived with the packing for nearly two months and are busy demolishing it...

"Regarding ‘a place for everything and everything in its place’, much of our deliberations around packing consist of maximising the space available in every way. I am constantly amazed at how much can be fitted in when Put In The Right Way Round, or Squashed, or Rolled Up, or even just Piled Up. 

Clothes packing is relatively easy, really. It is a case of looking critically at one’s wardrobe and choosing garments appropriate for weather and/or activity. Then looking at the space available and deciding whether there are either a) too many garments, or b) not enough for the space. Why not fit in more, if you can, is our motto?
Yes... it worked. Although there were many garments which never saw the light of day: the weather was simply too hot.  What didn't we have enough of : SHORTS!  Richard managed to buy another buy, I made do with the same pair, washing so many times that the fabric is now quite faded...

So you pack for every eventuality. Walking boots? Of course. Our trip includes the Pyrenees. 
Nope. Didn't use them. Trainers worked well, though perhaps might have used the boots for day long hikes.

Swimming costume? Naturally. Never travel without one -  you never know when  a swimming opportunity might present itself. 
Yes - and bought another in Decathlon. The strap buckle on my expensive M and S suit broke - corrosion and lack of wear since last summer.

Warm tops, cool tops, sweater, fleece... casual wear and a prettier top because you just never know when you might want to feel smart and not look like a Forever Camper... and, the ultimate in luxury: pretty sandals.
Yes, the pretty sandals emerged once or twice. Wore the fleece once - on the boat on the way home. Bought another sports top because of all the cycling we were doing in temperatures of around thirty degrees or above.

Not to mention at least three scarves, because they are multi-functional. I could feel the need to wear one as a sarong, adding another round my neck for warmth with the third covering my hair...
Yes: but will pack another couple of kangas/kikois which function as tablecloths, picnic blankets, beach towels...

The motor home lends itself to innovation and creativity in the Packing Sphere. The Master has made multiple adaptions: storage nets on  the inside of cupboard doors, towel rails on the outside. A simple but elaborate ‘cage’ above the front seats which enables ‘stuff’ to be piled up without fear of falling down  providing three times as much storage as before.
The cage was brilliant, storing useful items which we didn't need very often. Cat and Andy's tent (our old tent, rewaterproofed, mostly) took up quite a lot of hold space so Richard fitted the Buddyrider into the wardrobe with a bracket to clip it into, which worked well, especially considering that we had to take it in and out every day."

So, what to do for next time? Devise a better system for holding bottles - olive oil and vinegar mainly: packing a wine carrier will be a place to start. (Might be moving on to wine boxes, though...)

Meanwhile, Pickle sits in the Beast every chance she can. She's not too impressed by being Back In Torteval:  hasn't reacclimatised yet...

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Chums in Cancale

After Moncontour, a quick stop at the supermarket for essential supplies of eggs and wine... and tiny dessert grapes. My mother always used to look out for these at the family greengrocer's in the last two weeks of August, the only time they would appear.

Then on to Lamballe, to ' Clinique Veterinaire de Penthievre'. The visit to the vet is the highlight of Pickle’s safari: the visit to the vet. She LOVES it. We had to wait a few minutes, which provided opportunity for an unfortunate encounter with a friendly Bernese Mountain dog – just a little snarl, but resulting in hurt feelings; and an extremely aggressive attack by Pickle when a living walking breathing hearthrug appeared round the corner as Pickle was on her way to the consulting room.

After that, we weren’t TOO surprised when the vet gave US the tapeworm pill to administer, rather than giving it to her himself. Pickle was being her usual super-friendly-to-humans self, but then, the vet didn’t really know her after all. And he HAD heard the encounter with the hearthrug, so fair dos.

Then on to Cancale, near St Malo. We had arranged to meet up with Bel and Richard and family and also Lis and James who had been in Quiberon...It was a little difficult to decide where 9 of us, a dog and a motorhome could conveniently meet up in a place we didn’t really know very well, so we decided to meet at the municipal campsite Pointe du Grouin. We planned on staying there, so sthat made sense.

It was quite full, but we were given a map, a list of vacant pitches and instructed to find a spot and then let the office know where we were. A good system; we were able to choose a largish pitch with a view of the sea. I wasn’t too impressed with the site when we first arrived – our last few stays had been spacious and private; but the sanitary facilities were good, spacious, clean, with enough hot water...what more could we need? There was even the bonus of swallows nesting in the rafters above the showers.

We weren’t quite sure what we were going to do when we were all together, so grabbed the bikes and cycled around a little to find a suitable picnic spot. There was a little beach with rocks to explore directly below the campsite, but, in the end, the weather was much cooler than it had been further south and so we decided to set up in the motorhome.

Bring and share suppers are usually wonderful and this one was no exception. We found room on the table for the huge variety of salads, cheese, cold meats and other treats; the coffee table and four chairs provided seating outside for the three kids, while the six adults sat round inside. By the end of the meal, we had nine of us sitting round the table, chatting comfortably, reconnecting and catching up.  What a lovely end to our super seven-week safari...

But it wasn’t quite the end. One more day!  It was the second day of rain in nearly two months: we knew it would rain, but didn’t quite appreciate that that meant ALL DAY. Oh well. James and Jacob collected us mid-morning, taking us back for coffee at their bijou apartment on the seafront in Cancale. We chatted, played UNO, played Fast and Aggressive UNO (different rules), went for a short walk when the rain eased slightly, got wet... then returned to the motor home and spent a quiet afternoon watching the rain lash the grey sea.
Pickle tried to take an intelligent interest in the conversation: Jacob and James fared better.

Cancale: would be really lovely in the sunshine.  #quirkycharm  #historic

Colour on a grey day.

By eight o’clock in the evening, the rain had stopped and we ventured out to walk around the Pointe du Grouin.
By seven o’clock the next morning, all was dry and the sun was just beginning to peep above the horizon...

..and then we left and went home.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

A Morning in Moncontour

Owls at bedtime, calling on the edge of the campsite. A clear night. A half moon...

We were on our way home, with a vet appointment in the early afternoon: time for a bike ride through a misty morning first.

We had seen the chapel of 'Notre Dame de Haut', which was indeed on a hill outside Moncontour, on the edges of the village called Tredaniel.

Plenty of time to push the bike and snap a few of the sights on the way.

Pickle, as usual, stayed outside.

A surprisingly large chapel, built on the spot of a 'miracle'...

 A few hundred metres further on was the fontaine, the healing spring. Pickle was quite intrigued...

Then on into Moncontour, stopping to look at the church in Tredaniel as we zoomed down the hill.

The church had had major restoration over the years... it was definitely oddly constructed, with steep steps down into the nave from the entrance door.

Unusual seventeenth century painted tabernacle

 Moncontour: a beau village, with narrow quirky streets and a plethora of unusual shop signs...

A few hundred yards further on, down the hill, was the fontaine where folk received their miraculous healing...

 Then on to Mpncontour, stopping to look at the church in Tredaniel as we zoomed down the hill... we simply can't go past a church without putting our noses in...
The church had had major reconstruction over the centuries: quirky, with steep steps leading down from the porch
Paul's seems as if God is asking the donkey why it is persecuting Him...

First World War memoriaal

And then on into Moncontour, a beau village full of narrow streets and unusual shop signs...

 And then there was the simply odd... this lighthouse in someone's garden is a VERY long way from the sea.
Lighthouse? In the middle of Brittany?
 As for these dogs, looking out of the window....??!