Sunday 05 December – Marché jusqu’au marché

For the first time in weeks, I have managed to write a blog a week after the previous one!  Sadly, our holiday is already a long distant memory and certainly the barmy warm weather is!  I can’t believe that we are already in December however, on the upside it does mean we can get our calendars our and enjoy chocolate every day!

2021 Advent calendars

We have had a pretty productive week in a number of areas, including planning a little for work next year.

I started the week shredding some of the branches chopped down by the electricity company while we were away to clear the parking space behind garage.  Dodging the very frequent showers which varied from a slight drizzle to torrential downpours, I managed to shred all the oak branches although it created a very disappointing pile of shreddings although I have bagged up the leaves to experiment creating some leafmould for the garden next year.

I haven’t taken a picture as it is just Granary’s parking space now cleared of branches!

The job that has created the best pictures of the week is decorating our own home for Christmas.  We wouldn’t normally put the decs up this early in December but, we entertained some good friends last night and David was keen to have the lounge looking at its festive best.  We have even stolen an idea from our dinner guest last night and have put some twinkly lights in our cabinet (these won’t just be for Christmas!)

Putting decorations up it is traditional (obligatory?) for us, and I assume lots of people, to eat mince pies.  Because we were decorating, Dave made his first batch of pies of the year – the first of many I hope, I love mince pies, and these were excellent.

First batch of mince pies for 2021

During the week we spent a day in Brest on a research trip for a big project we want to start in January.  You may recall that we refurbished Priory at the start of 2020 (a project delayed by the lockdowns periods of confinement that was the start of the pandemic) and we want to do something similar, although not quite to the same scale, in Granary next year.  You will see a lot more about this after Christmas.

We maintained the festive feeling by visiting a number of Christmas fairs today as this weekend seems to be National Christmas Fair Weekend in France!  One advantage of having so many fairs on the same day is that you don’t see the same stalls and crafts people at every event, a disadvantage is that we needed to be fairly organised to devise a circuit to visit as many as can.

One challenge to overcome is that the French do not seem to be very good at publicising their events, and definitely not online, so learning which villages were holding their events, with confidence, is the first step.

That done, the second challenge is they are not great at providing signage as to where these events are being held.  This means that you can arrive in a village / town where you think a fair is running, but, unless you are local and know where the likely venue is, its hit or miss as to whether you find the event!

Challenges conquered, we ticked off 5 different fairs (I said there were a lot) and, inevitably, some were better than others!

We headed west in the morning and visited Saint-Ségal first, which was most interesting because of the building the fair was held in. Tucked away on the outskirts of the village, it was an agricultural set up that looked as though it may have been a cattle market or similar.

Moving on from Saint-Ségal we went to Hanvec which was the best fair of the day.  Hanvec is a slightly larger town and the organisers had made a real effort to make their fair fun especially for the children.  They had friendly elves with a donkey and Shetland pony for rides with lots of games for kids to play.  Unfortunately we were considered too old but we found a couple of fantastic stalls where we bought some lovely gifts.

Hanvec to Irvillac and another set of craftspeople with some fabulous, and different crafts.  While we were tempted by a couple we didn’t buy anything here (other than some Christmas beer which is for us so doesn’t count!)

Irvillac to Le Tréhou and a smaller market.  This one seemed to be attended by most of the artisans local to Saint Cadou – and it is amazing how many there are based in our own village.  The company where we buy our gîte soaps from (B.E. cosmetics) were there, as too were a village brewer, jam-maker, juicer and cider producer.

After Le Tréhou we were able to head home for a lunch break before heading east to L’Abbaye du Relec, this time with the dogs.  The reason we chose to go to Relec in the afternoon is that we were able to combine it with a dog walk through the forest.

Le Releq Christmas Fair

Le Relecq is within a broadleaf forest and again, while most of the leaves had fallen, it was evident it has been a fantastic season for colour.  This this was a proper autumn walk where you could kick up the leaves – the dogs seemed to enjoy it.

Autumn walk Le Relec

It was good fun to tour around and visit so many markets, and, assuming the same will happen next year, we are planning on some specific marketing to attract people to get into the festive spirit, stay with us for a couple of nights in a beautifully decorated gîte and do the same tour.

Next week will start with more Christmas decorating.  Again, while we would not normally need to decorate the gîtes for another week or so, we have our Priory Christmas guests arriving next weekend so we need to make sure Priory is ready.  We have bought something exciting to include in the decorations that I will share next weekend.