First, I should probably apologise for not posting a blog last week. We had been hosting David’s uncle and aunt who had only visited Brittany once many years before we moved here despite being big fans of seafood. Since we bought Kergudon they have fallen in love with the region and we are delighted that they have come to see us a few times a year (I think it is just because we are a convenient base for their seafood tours but I am certainly not complaining).
While they are very easy to host, as they travel a lot during the day, I had a week where I didn’t really progress many of our major projects very much so I couldn’t post significant leaps forward with the garage trenches or repairing the side talus (dry stone wall).
This week we have also been hosting, David’s parents this time, and I still can’t really say that I have made significant strides in the many projects we want to progress (although our garage trench is at least an ‘L’ shape rather than just the back wall) but we did manage to do some valuable research into some other places to visit and restaurants to eat at.
In the past couple of weeks we have received a copy of the first article written by the fly fishing journalist who came to stay with us in June and fish with Philippe of Brittany Fly Fishing. Sadly, because of size (and I suspect minor copyright laws) I can’t attach a PDF of the magazine, but, if you’re in your local newsagent and happen to ask for a copy of issue 488 (Sep 14 – Oct 11 2016) of ‘Trout Fisherman’ on page 44 is the article on the Lac du Drennec with our details given for the ideal accommodation written by Peter Gathercole (the Fly Dressers’ Guild Chairman). If you are, or know, someone who enjoys fly fishing, please do forward them our details – Lac du Drennec is one of the gems of the fly fishing world and only a couple of kms from us.
As well as hosting family members, we have continued to welcome some lovely, and truly international, guests to the gîtes including an American couple who were on a cycling tour of Brittany. They had flown to Brest and cycled to us on their ‘Bike Fridays’ so called after Man Friday of the Robison Crusoe story. Bike Fridays originate, as our guests, from Oregon and appear to be the American equivalent of the Brompton bike which meant that they were very hungry when they came to us but, reading their TripAdvisor review, they evidently enjoyed their stay and the meal David cooked for them.
(Our other international guests were visiting from Western Australia and also enjoyed Dave’s catering – the first time we were asked for Moules Mariniere – hopefully another review next week …)
While David’s family have been with us we have taken the opportunity to re-visit a couple of favourite places and restaurants as well as try some new ones. The favourites include Au Lac Bistro on the shores of the lake; Le Grand Café De La Terrace in Morlaix and the Hotel Les Arcades in Roscoff. New ones included the refurbished Crêperie de L’Argoat in Sizun which we have been meaning to visit since it reopened after a major revamp and change of ownership earlier in the year – it was definitely worth visiting and we will be back.
Another new destination was a restaurant in Brest that was recommended to us many months ago but, as ever, it has taken us this long to visit. It is called Le Crabe Marteau and, as its name suggests, principally serves crab, which you smash with a hammer! The food is good (if you like crab) and it is a fun venue. We enjoyed it so much we went both with Dave’s uncle and aunt and then again with his parents.
We did however manage to get some culture in during their visit when David and his Mum went to the Chagall exhibition in the Leclerc Cultural Centre in Landerneau – another amazing location that we had not previously discovered but were told about by some guests who stayed with us a couple of weeks ago. Edouard Leclerc of the E. Leclerc hypermarket chain was a Breton and his first store was opened in Landerneau – the French equivalent of Lord Sainsbury. As he made his fortune he gifted the cultural centre to the town which, we have now learned(!), has a fabulous programme of exhibitions that we will make more use of!
We also travelled to the wonderfully pretty town of Pont Aven on the south coast of Finistère. Home of the Pont Aven school of painters headed by Gauguin you can see why it is a destination for many active artists and painters – and there are some fabulous galleries to visit.
The dogs especially enjoyed their trip and the opportunity to swim in the Aven river.
We said goodbye to David’s parents in Roscoff yesterday and on our journey home stopped at the annual plant fair in the Chateau Kerjean. We were told about the event last year by some keen horticultural friends of ours but weren’t able to visit as we were in the UK at the time but were keen to go this year. While small, there are a number of specialist nurseries represented that have a variety of interesting plants which you are unlikely to find in the garden centres. We have a rule that we don’t buy plants unless we have at least an idea of where to plant it – if not an actual space dug – and this time we bought a fig tree, 2 banana plants and a hot poker plant (not sure the scientific name for this!) which will go in what will become our jungle bed (although to be fair depending on how you define ‘jungle’ the entire garden could qualify!) Sadly we didn’t see any interesting ground cover plants that we need and would appreciate any suggestions.
Finally, and another event that we missed last year, was the annual village couchon grillé. Held on the feast day of Saint Cadou a mass is held in the village church – the only one each year – and a hog roast lunch (with a proper pig) and the obligatory Breton music and dancing. Thankfully being lunchtime it doesn’t go on until 3am and we were able to ask for the pig’s ears as treats for the dogs! As there were 2 other Fest Nozs in the village over the last 2 weeks (neither of which we attended as we were hosting) it is amazing how active and fun our small little village is.
Next week will be catching up on a number of projects that haven’t progressed while we have had guests, and getting some rest not that the hugely busy summer season is beginning to slow down.