Saturday 30 December – Bonne Année

Having written my previous blog last Saturday, so that I didn’t need to on Christmas Eve, I had to do it in a bit of a hurry.  Having re-read it, it became clear that my spelling and grammar, not perfect at the best of times, suffered!  Also, force of habit made me write that it was Sunday 23rd rather than Saturday!  I really must learn to proof-read before publishing in the future!

I am writing my blog on Saturday again to deconflict with New Year’s Eve tomorrow but I have more time to do so, so it should contain fewer errors (although I’m not going to claim it will be error-fee 😉)

We hope you all had very enjoyable Christmases and achieved all that it was you’d hoped to do.  We were very fortunate in that, this year, we had 2 Christmases.

We have some good friends who are staying as guests in Priory who originate from Poland and Germany (although live in Switzerland) and they invited us into Priory for a Polish / German Christmas.

The Polish tradition is that food is principally seafood rather than meat and you have to have at least 12 dishes on the table.  While many of the things that would normally be eaten in Poland aren’t available in Finistère, principally the carp, our friends improvised with other lovely choices so, among other things, we enjoyed oysters, lobster, scallops and escargots.

We then invited our friends to our house for an English Christmas (possibly British, but I’ve never had Christmas Day in other parts of the UK to know what their traditions are) of turkey and all the trimmings.  It’s much the same as having 12 dishes, just that they all get piled on the plate at the same time!!  As is tradition, for us, we didn’t have any room for Christmas pudding or cake on the day but we will enjoy later.

While the weather has been, and continues to be, pretty damp and blustery, we had our traditional Christmas and Boxing Day walks, around Lac du Drennec and along the Huelgoat canal respectively.  We hadn’t done either since Storm Ciáran passed through and, while there had been a lot of clearing up already done, it was evident that a lot of damage had been caused and trees felled.

One large pine had fallen on the south side of Lac du Drennec and taken a huge root plate with it showing that it evidently hadn’t rooted very deeply.  The photo below was taken by a friend (thanks Zenna!) with her husband and labrador to offer scale.

Drennec pine fallen

In one area of the Huelgoat forest, which looks like a small valley, the wind had evidently been funnelled and amplified as so many of the trees had been blown over.  These pictures struggle to show the level of devastation.

It was evident too where some of the trees had managed to grow for a number of years on or around the rock formations Huelgoat is famous for. As they too aren’t deep rooted, when they blow over they peel back whatever soil they have been using to survive and leave a clean, exposed rock.

On Boxing night, we went to a lovely restaurant in Landerneau for dinner.  We’d only eaten there once and enjoyed it, so we thought we’d better try it a second time to see if it is consistent.  It was and is certainly somewhere we’d recommend – the Bistro du Pont.

We assumed Landerneau would be quiet on a Tuesday evening after Christmas (26th December is not a public holiday in France).  However, the town was packed with people all coming to look at the amazing Christmas lights the town had put up.  The lights were as good as their Christmas market, that we visited a couple of weeks ago, was bad.

The main focus seemed to be in the Place Général de Gaulle (of course!) where an animated light show was projected onto the façade of the buildings.  This is something we have seen become popular in France, and I suspect elsewhere, and is done at the Chateau Trévarez each Christmas (we haven’t been this year but visited in 2022) and on the cathedral in Quimper that we saw just before Christmas.

Landerneau’s was equally impressive but this was only one of a number of places around the town with light installations.  They run until 7th January so we may well go back again to see them all at some point.

After Boxing Day, life returned to ‘normal’ and we were back in work mode.  Our focus was preparing Granary and completing Hayloft for our New Year guests both of whom arrive today.

Granary required more work as I needed to re-build one of bedrooms in the eaves where we had the new hot water heater installed 2 weeks ago.  This I have done by replacing the lambris (tongue and groove) wood that was there, but this is intended to be a temporary fix and I will do something more permanent in the spring that allows us easier access to the heater.

Another job came to light for Granary when we received the water bill for 2023 a couple of days before Christmas.  Our consumption had, apparently, been almost 3 times our usual usage which we didn’t believe could be true.

I also didn’t believe there was a leak in the house as, with that amount of water there would be some sort of evidence – like a lake!  So I looked at the meter itself while there was no one in the gîte, and it was happily going round and round as water was evidently passing through the counter.

I emailed our Mairie who are (at least until tomorrow) responsible for the water services, to say that I thought there was a problem with the meter itself.  Their immediate response was that there was no leak and we needed go get a professional to come and resolve the problem.  When I questioned how they could come to that conclusion without anyone coming to look, our commune’s technical team (M. Beon) arrived on Boxing Day (I said it wasn’t a public holiday) to inspect.

Thankfully, M. Beon identified the problem quickly (a failed joint on the water meter which connects the out pipe) and was able to resolve it the following day (having also had to replace the main stopcock which broke as he turned it back on!)

We are especially thankful that the Mairie and M. Beon were able to resolve the problem so rapidly because, as of Monday, responsibility for water passes from commune level up to another, larger, organisation which, I suspect, would mean getting anything resolved will become harder and more bureaucratic!

Thankfully, with the bedroom rebuilt and the water back on, I was able to decorate the interior and we are very happy with how it looks.

We then finished making Hayloft look lovely for our guests and think this too is now suitably festive for New Year.

It’s looking like the year will end much as it started with rain and strong winds but it won’t stop us celebrating with our friends tomorrow night (assuming we retain power after these storms!)

We hope you too have a wonderful New Year and mark the occasion in whatever manner you choose and that 2024 is happy, healthy and prosperous for you.

Bonne année à tous.