Sunday, 6 June 2010

Sun and beaches

Friday started very early at 5am, collected at 6am to catch the bus from Rostrenen at 6.30am. As we drove through the Breton countryside the effect was magical with complete calm, except for the crows and ravens, an eerie fog and mist which had formed in layers over the land. It seemed as if the rings of Saturn had come to Earth. We didn’t see the wild deer which are often to be seen at that time of the morning. Apparently there are many ‘bambis’ at this time of the year. I did see some very laid back cows, literally, as they lolled about on the dewy grass. The fields of crops are immaculate. Every seedling gives the impression of having been planted with care though undoubtedly they were planted mechanically.

Brittany is beautiful any time of day but first thing in the morning before the sun has lifted above the horizon is particularly memorable. If Napoleon were to drop in I’m certain he would recognise the countryside instantly, despite the passing of almost two centuries. He had the canal from Brest to Nantes constructed to facilitate the movement of his army through Brittany. The canal passes next to Plelauff.

The bus trip to St Brieuc was uneventful save for the fact I was feeling rather travel-sick by the end. I think I’m really tired at the moment. There hasn’t been a letup since I got here. A day in bed would have been great but time is much too short for that. My throat is still not right, despite the antibiotics so I’ll just have to try to ignore it from now on. Investigations can wait until I’m back in New Zealand.

On the TGV travelling from St Brieuc to Rennes I reflected on a day spent with the lovely Annarita. She collected me from the station and took me home for breakfast: tea, baguette, butter and a delicious jam. A little later I was able to finally purchase a cheap pair of sunglasses. The day was very, very hot and bright and I really needed them.

Annarita and I drove around the Baie de St Brieuc. I was dismayed to see the environmental degradation that is occurring in this wild and beautiful part of France. I was informed it is mostly due to pig farming. The effluent and run-off adds too much nitrogen and other unhelpful nutrients to the sea and causes nasty build-ups of stinking green algae. You can smell the sea before you see it and not in the way I’m used to. It chokes and is dangerous for bathers, pets and children. It’s disappointing that at every turn we can see the effects of greed for money destroying the only planet we have.

We went as far as Val Andre. I was delighted we visited this town because I saw a photo once (a rather dated photo) and thought it looked quaint and picturesque. Yes and no. It’s a beautiful beach and town but time has created a much more modern and bustling little mini-metropolis. It still has much charm but it’s vibrant and extremely popular for tourists. There seemed to be a bit of an influx of English tourists that day.

We lunched at a Brasserie where I indulged in veal marsala and frites. It was nice but I still prefer the Italian restaurant at Highland Park in Howick, Auckland for that dish. My hot chocolate was rather unusual. Annarita explained it was in the Spanish mode. I would describe it as a hot dessert in a glass. Not liquid chocolate but quite gluggy and rich. Interesting.

It was still very hot at almost 7pm. I imagine the temperatures probably made 30 degrees. When I arrived in Rennes where Pascal collected me I had to pour myself off the train.

It was great to see Pascal again. The weather being so hot, we dined on the terrace with a lovely wine and I tried some rather unusual sausages which I definitely didn’t like. I found myself trying (sometimes accidently) all sorts of things, some I liked and didn’t like, over the weekend. More on that later.


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