I am still alive. Did you miss me? We returned last Tuesday from our final holiday of the summer. In my role as keeper of the family archive, I have detailed all below.
Friday, August 5
We drove to the ferry, stopping for a picnic in the park beside Castlebridge House where the Guinness book of records was thought up. It’s now very sad, boarded up and dilapidated although it would seem to be of mild historic interest and has an absolutely amazing conservatory.
Saturday, August 6
After what felt like an immensely long drive, we arrived at our holiday house in torrential rain. The lovely, slightly elderly couple who owned the house were there to meet us with cider in the fridge and a slight air of nervousness at the thought of handing over their house to these odd foreigners.
Sunday, August 7
The rain continued. We went to Lorient to look around the damp interceltic festival.
We decided to visit the Thalassa which, the website tells me is an “espace découverte de l’Océanologie”. I would love to know what that means but I am afraid I cannot tell you for as we trudged in damply at 4.35 to do our discovering, we were told coldly that last admissions were at 4.30. “But, it’s open until 7,” I protested feebly. The woman looked at me indifferently and said that admission was by guided tour only. We trooped back out into the rain. The only thing to be said for our visit was that it allowed me to have the following conversation with my husband.
Me: Is there some phrase or something – “Thalasso, thalasso”
Him: Thalatta, thalatta. It’s the story of a bunch of mercenaries trying to fight their way back to Greece and when they see the sea, they know they’re nearly there, so it’s an exciting bit.
Me: Do you have to pronounce it as though you have a lisp?
Him: Well, yes, because it’s in Attic Greek.
Feeling in need of child friendly activities, we went to the fair which accompanied the interceltic festival, the sun came out and the children stocked up on their supply of weapons with which, somewhat rashly, they threatened the police.
Monday, August 8
The sun came out and we walked along the coastal path at the back of the house to the beach. It was a bit like an Enid Blyton story. That path made my holiday. It was so pretty and as you walked along there was the scent of pines and the sound of crickets chirping.
On this occasion our walk was marred by losing herself for a slightly terrifying 15 minutes – she ran ahead to the house and disappeared. Turns out she wasn’t as good at recognising it as we all thought. It made us appreciate her more.
Tuesday, August 9
We went to the market and got new raincoats for all the children. The weather was fine but we felt prudence was probably appropriate.
The local press informed us of the books which the presidential candidates are presenting to the public for the “rentrée littéraire”. Only Martine Aubrey hasn’t produced one and that’s because she’s already written 14, the last of which came out in March. Is there any other country in the world where writing a book is a pre-requisite to running for high office. Remember de Villepin?
Wednesday, August 10
The children went to a riding camp for the afternoon.
Mr. Waffle and I hot-footed it into Quimperlé which is a lovely little place. And, even better, the children loved the riding so much they wanted to come back another day, even Michael who only speaks French under duress.
Thursday, August 11
The day started well. We went to the Abbaye de Saint Maurice which is lovely. It is also very cleverly laid out so that the children can run about while the grown-ups find out about the origins of the monastery.
After this successful start, we drove around the French countryside trying to find an outdoor adventure park. The children were very saintly as we drove around looking for clues and finally missed last entry. Sigh. Also, we made the amateur’s mistake of trying to eat in rural France at ten to two with the result that we found ourselves driving around looking in vain for food and had to stop off at the boulangerie for a baguette to ward off starvation.
Friday, August 12
Ouest France’s pages were more or less equally divided between the toxic green seaweed invading Brittany (36 unfortunate boars had recently died on a beach after snuffling around in it – who knew that there were so many wild boars in Brittany?) – caused, allegedly by excess nitrates created by farming methods – Le Monde had a diagram; the London riots and the collapse of the financial markets. Both Le Monde and Ouest France had interviews with the S&P staff in Paris while we were in France following the American rating downgrade. Apparently it’s all “tu” and first names in the office. I thought you’d like to know.
They were extremely exciting and over our fortnight we spent much time looking into them spotting hermit crabs scurrying around in periwinkle shells, little fishlike yokes (marine biologist’s term of art), limpets, anenomes and this very exciting find:
That afternoon, the children went for more riding and Mr. Waffle and I went to Pont Aven. I did not like Pont Aven. It heaved with tourists and whatever attracted Gauguin and his mates there has, in my view, long since evaporated. It was unfortunate then that we were scheduled to go there for dinner that evening. Entrusting the children to a babysitter, we ventured out. The restaurant had not been very welcoming. We had to confirm our reservation on the day as we had a foreign mobile and, clearly, were not to trusted. The food was good and we got to wear lobster bibs but our hostess was chilly and forbidding.
Tune in tomorrow night for week 2. Ah go on.