Sunday 11 February 2024 – See Last Title!

At the end of my last blog 2 weeks ago, I said that we were due to enter a dry period and we had a daunting number of tasks that we need to get our teeth into.  You can draw your own conclusions about how well we did that by the fact that I didn’t blog last week!

I will admit that we took longer than we’d anticipated to recover from our travels in our first week home and both of us suffered from bugs we’d probably picked up in the confines of public transport. Dave also unfortunately had a very delicate back for a few days possibly having carried his heavy suitcase across London and Paris on our journey home!

Perhaps fortunately (or otherwise), that first week was no-where near as dry as it had been forecast so I didn’t feel so bad that perhaps we were losing beneficial work opportunities, and last week has been positively dreadful!  I did manage to take down the external Christmas lights and probably about half of the interior but otherwise my focus has been admin based.

As such, the title I used last time remains relevant this week!  It is the case that, with a couple of exceptions, this time of year is generally not very productive for exterior work due to the wet weather and this year is, sadly, not one of those exceptions!  That’s not to say I shouldn’t be getting on with lots of internal work we need to do!

Having shown the photos of work the pool team had done while we were away, in conversation with the builder over the last week, even they hadn’t done what they hoped as the soil was so wet.  It has also led to a delay in another roofing project that we have planned.  We have contracted the team who re-roofed Stable last spring to do Hayloft this year and hoped that they would be able to do so this month.   However, (and they are not very good at communicating at the best of times) they have not committed to a date as yet due to the rain.

I do take some comfort that looking back to 2023, the title I used for a blog written on 19th February was also ‘The rest of the year starts here …’ as we had also had a slow start then. Therefore anything I am able to achieve next week will be better progress than 12 months ago!

What we have been able to continue are our Sunday walks with the dogs and exploration of new areas of the region that we haven’t been to before.  Thankfully, while midweek has generally been wet (or very wet!) Sundays have been (slightly) drier so, other than the odd sharp shower, we have been able to walk for a couple of hours and stay relatively dry!

Last Sunday we headed to the north coast to an area where admittedly we had walked a couple of years ago, although this time we took a different circuit.  In 2022, we started our walk in the village of Guissény, this time we were on the coast itself and walked a 10 kms circuit from the village of Curnic.

This part of Finistère, as many other, is very agricultural but it also has lots of wetlands and lakes that are attractive to birdlife.  The circuit we walked is called the Circuit de Milin ar Raden (Circuit of Raden Mill) so called as it also included the ruin of an old water mill.

On our walks there is still lots of evidence of the damage Storm Ciáran caused last November and we have had to deviate from our route a couple of times where it was blocked by fallen trees that haven’t been cleared.

While Ciáran felled lots and lots of trees, it has evidently weakened a number of others and, with the wet weather making the ground very soft, whenever there are blustery winds more trees come down.  Today there was a large tree which had evidently fallen last night across the road but, thankfully, had fallen into the fork of another tree trunk which gave us just enough space to drive under!

Today’s walk was an area we had never visited, and was a circuit which began at the Port of L’Auberlac’h and went out to the Pointe de l’Armorique.  This gives great views of the very attractive Rade de Brest, the much less attractive city of Brest on the north coast, and, being a strategically important port and sheltered anchorage (where France has its principal Atlantic naval base for both surface ships and another for its submarines) it also includes a number of remains of WWII infrastructure.  One of these constructions are 2 mooring dolphins built in 1941 specifically to berth the German battleship Bismark although were never used by that particular battleship as it was sunk before it reached Brest.

Of more contemporary relevance was there was a lovely looking café / bar at the Port of L’Auberlac’h which was open on Sunday – and busy!  While we really enjoy our Sunday (or any day) walks in the region, because there isn’t a ‘pub’ culture in France as the UK, we often find it difficult to get a drink after our walks as many of the bars or tabacs seem to be closed on a Sunday.  It was great to find this bar, Le Tapecul, open and evidently doing well.

I say it was lovely looking because we didn’t actually try it.  The reason being, unfortunately, they don’t accept dogs inside (a small mark against!) and at the end of our walk it had started to rain again so we didn’t want to sit outside.  Thankfully, to get home we had to drive through the town of Daoulas, one we are very familiar with and has a great Sunday market, but also has a new bar which opened a couple of months ago and we’ve wanted to try since.

The bar, Le Paul Art’s Café, is actually not totally new having been established originally in 1921.  We visited occasionally for a coffee when we visited the market in our early years but the café had been closed for a number of years and looked very sad.

We assume it has changed hands and the new owners have spent a lot of money refurbishing and it is now a really good bar and has maximised its location on the river.  Definitely worth a visit.

Next week’s work will depend heavily on the weather.  The forecast is iffy but I have learned to just wait and see!  More importantly, we are both over any residual bugs and viruses so we should be able to make some progress on something.  What, is tbd!!