Sunday 15 July – French Celebrations

Sadly, as last week, I haven’t achieved a huge amount on any of our ongoing projects in the last 7 days.  Again, this was mostly due to external distractions but also because the weather has remained so hot working outside is difficult.  Almost one entire day was spent watering the yews we planted earlier in the year to save as many as we can.

That said, I have completed the clearance of the north end of the Grange which I started last week.  Thankfully, being the north side, it was in shade for the majority of the day although even the air temperature got so warm it wasn’t always comfortable.  One of the harder parts of the task was to dig a trench between the garage and the wall I built at the end of 2016 to bury the cable we had pre-positioned for lights that will eventually go on the back gate.

We have been told that, many years ago, there used to be a building in almost exactly the same position as we have built the garage.  This was evident as the ground around it had evidently had stones laid and compacted to make a hard standing.  Ideal as a base, less so to dig through. Thankfully the area is now cleared (at least until the weeds start to grow again) so next week I will be able to build the bin store area and move the bins from under the games room steps.

I have made some progress towards completing the recommissioning of the boot room.  I haven’t quite finished but have managed to complete a couple of tasks that were outstanding from its original conversion.  However, to demonstrate how work often leads to more work, as I think I am cleaning the floor maybe better than when we converted the room, it is evident all that is between the cobbles is dirt.  Therefore I think I will point between the blocks with a better mortar mix to make a better job of things.  I will share pictures next week.

I also mentioned in last week’s blog that there was a once in a generation chance to see the Tour de France pass through our own commune of Sizun.  As such, we chose to go and watch in the neighbouring commune of Commana!  I confess now that I am not a major follower of cycling and, even when we were living in London and the tour passed through in 2014, we didn’t make an effort to go and watch.

However, this year, as it was so convenient we joined our neighbours, one of whom is a very keen cyclist, to watch the carnival pass through.  We knew at the start that it would be a long day’s wait for a few minutes of bike activity but we took a picnic and enjoyed spending the time with our neighbours.  We found a good spot on the main road on the outskirts of Commana, not the spot our cycling friend initially wanted but, owing to the ‘efficiency’ of the farmers closing the roads with their tractors earlier than advertised, but one that gave us a good view down a long stretch of road where we could see the pack arrive.








For a cycling event, which I assume is in part designed to promote the ‘green’ sport of cycling, there were way more cars, vans and motor vehicles travelling with the tour than bikes and the fumes they would have pumped out would rather have negated any benefit of cycling.

The large number of Gendarmes accompanying the Tour are apparently seconded from the Paris based Presidential Guard.  They were certainly smart looking and may well explain why the B-team were left in Paris for Fête Nationale parade!  Interestingly, the official car marque of the tour was not a proud French brand but a German owned Czech brand.

One of the things that I did know about the Tour, was that it is preceded by an enormous caravan of marketing vehicles distributing freebies to the crowds, and this certainly took longer to pass than the bikes themselves!  Never have I seen so many bizarre vehicles designed to represent the companies flogging their wears and there was a real mixed bag!  From the official water of the tour, through gambling companies, convenience foods, high sugar sweets and retirement village companies all very weird!







Some of these companies had some amazing vehicles including motorized oranges, chip pans and massive chickens, and they all had tat to throw at the crowds making for the biggest exercise of state-authorised littering in the world.









These gifts were thrown from the vehicles by a team of marketers, half of which looked so bored and depressed that this was only stage 7 of 21 and there were days of this ahead of them, and half who looked so happy there were probably on something illicit slipped to them by the cyclists.  With the exception of a few edibles, most of the plastic, plastic-wrapped, freebies probably went from marketing vehicle to bin faster than the winner completed the stage further increasing the environmental credentials of the event.

A great day out and I look forward to the Tour coming back to Sizun!!

This week was also France’s Fête Nationale, which we know as Bastille Day, when there are celebrations and fireworks throughout France.  This year it fell conveniently on a Saturday and there was a 50 / 50 split between towns having their events on the Friday or Saturday.

We chose to go to our own commune of Sizun on Friday and to Morlaix on Saturday.  Sizun was excellent.  For a small town they had a really great event.  The market square was closed off for music and dancing, initially Breton before the fantastic, music accompanied, 20 minute firework display from the church courtyard.  The fireworks were set off from within Sizun’s enclos and the top of the church spire silhouetting the triumphal arch for the crowd in the square.  Some of the land-launched fireworks hit the side of the steeple, probably not seen as much flak for 75 years!  Sadly the pictures don’t do it justice.








We then though that we would go to Morlaix on Saturday because, as a larger town with an iconic viaduct, we thought it was bound to be another good show.  Sizun had set the bar high and, while Morlaix was OK, it was definitely not as good.  We had some guests visit the display in Huelgoat on Saturday which we think was probably the better choice that night.









Commana hold their Fête Nationale fireworks on the lake in a couple of weeks on the Lac du Drennec which we are looking forward to.

Next week there is no Wiggo*, no Wimbledon, no World cup, few weather worries (although there is some desperately needed rain forecast for tomorrow night) and so no way I can achieve as little as I have in the last couple of weeks – and I have a lot to catch up on!  I’ll let you know.


(* I know Bradley Wiggins wasn’t involved in this year’s Tour de France but I couldn’t think of another ‘W’ to describe the Tour and maintain the alliteration!)