Saturday, 30 May 2015

Airing My Clean Linen.

I'm writing this as I drink my first cuppa of the morning.  Bliss!  But don't think that I've been sitting on my backside since I slid down from my very comfy sleeping platform in the sky.  Oh no!  Some of us have work to do.  In my effort to eliminate those post holiday chores that I used to hate when I lived in a proper house I've already been to the laundrette and two washloads are in the midst of their soapy cycles.  As we leave the camp today,  I'll use the driers so everything can go back in the wardrobe before we pull away.  We don't want piles of wet washing sliding around in the back of the motorhome now do we?

At the UK campsite I currently call home I've been drying  my washing on the communal lines in an eco-friendly penny saving drive.  It's a lovely safe place to be where there's no fear of crime. Nothing (touch wood) gets nicked.  But it occurred to me the other day as I was pegging everything out that I would be very sad indeed if my clothes got stolen.  Okay I'd be peeved if say, more covetable electronic goods were taken.  But they are easily replaced.  What I wear is chosen because I love it and how I dress augments my personality.  Some stuff has been made by my mum and other garments have been bought new over time.  Some came to live with me long ago.   All those pretty dresses and skirts hold so many memories and are damn near irreplaceable.  There's not a pair of trews in sight aside from black leggings and the yoga pants I sleep and exercise in. After 600 miles of walking the Appalachian trail in trousers I still remember how great it felt to wear a skirt again after ten weeks.  I ditched my final pairs as the hair got shorter.  There must be other hikers who eschew walking in trousers but I don't come across many.

I thought that I'd show off my latest buy today that's spinning in the  machine as we speak.  It's destined to become a favourite for years to come.  Pickings from charity shops haven't been particularly rich lately so I turned to Asda for this beauty from the London Chic range. It's still available if you hurry.  This vintage inspired dress has been made from a gorgeous stretchy crepe fabric with a Bardot neckline. Now that Brigitte could dress!  What makes this even better is this is a supermarket offering  was designed and made in the UK.  Okay it may be a little more expensive than the stuff at Primarni, but in my book £22 for something home grown and this well made is a bargain.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Angels: Not!

Like any regular kid Louis can be a pain in the arse at times.   Other people, particularly those across the pond, may be deceived by those big  blue eyes and perfectly formed cherubic lips but I am his mother and know him better. Don't be fooled by that perfect veneer of innocence! Having said that I'm okay with a bit of naughtiness.  I am totally perplexed by the few children that I meet that seem to be good all the time.  There's got to be something wrong there!

Yesterday was one of those days that   I seemed too have far too many conversations that involved using words like 'respect', 'consideration', 'politeness' and suchlike.  Mostly they seemed to be falling on deaf ears.  Just in time I got wind of a plot to feed two pence pieces into a vending machine that took a much higher denomination in Euros  so 'theft', 'illegal' and 'deception' were added to my repertoire of tellings off. In painting a picture of the evil and wanton destruction that occurs if children are left to their own devices in the 'Lord of the Flies', I don't think Golding was being too far fetched.  Angels they are not.

Louis and his mates did however give the impression of turning into spectral beings a couple of days ago on a visit to La Roche Jagu, again a journey undertaken in a packed VW Golf.   This chateau, set in beautiful grounds on a river bend in the middle of nowhere, is stunning.  Decaying pile it is not.  This is an impressively preserved corner of France with an interesting programme of events including concerts and apparently a fabulous exhibition of papercutting in 2014 that I missed.  Bah!. The proceeds of all these activities  must contribute to its excellent upkeep. Currently there's an interesting exhibition about the use of plants for healing.  And after a long, long climb up a winding stone staircase we came across  an art installation by the digital artist, Miguel Chevalier called 'Paradis Artificiels'.

The installation was a simple enough concept,  Beautiful images of nature projected onto a silky fibre-optic curtain hanging from ancient beams in the roof of the chateau.  We had trouble tearing the kids away.  They enjoyed walking through, wrapping themselves up and jumping out of those silky threads.  In doing so they changed the nature of the piece. This interactiveness makes it one of the most memorable pieces of art that I've seen for rather a long time.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Wisdom from a Whippet Owner

Yesterday I visited the campsite spa for the first time this year.  Whoever decided to build  this haven of peace and tranquillity was a bloody genius.  It is the perfect antidote to the hullabaloo that goes on elsewhere around here.  For noise is the consequence of bunches of happy kids playing in that rough and tumble kind of way that brings a nostalgic smile to the faces of older generations.

The date tea from last year is still available but alas my Dalai Lama coffee table book is not on the 'chillin' room' shelves anymore for me to peruse.  Perhaps someone who sorely needed to heed its advice stole it and is now in a Tibetan monastery as we speak, clocking up some good karma to cancel out the bad debt accumulated by nicking it.   Or maybe after being flicked through by people that had just got out of  the swimming pool it inevitably turned into a soggy mush.

So instead, between a few lengths of breast stroke and a go on some underwater exercise bikes I turned to the current book I'm reading.  I got quite excited  when I found it in the library. Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier  is the third of Terry Darlington's beautifully written tales of intrepid trips on narrow boats accompanied by his wife Monica, Jim and latterly Jess, his dogs.   He's a very funny bloke and I've almost been tempted by him to buy a painted barge and a couple of whippets myself.  The spot-on humour as he describes trips on the canal system in the Northern throes of England- is interspersed with fascinating autobiography.  Thrown into the mix there's wonderful snippets of thought provoking prose and verse.   Perfect for a bit of navel gazing in the spa.  Even before Chapter 1 there's a beautiful  quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery does not consist of gazing at each other but in looking together in the same direction.

I was rather taken by Allen Ginsberg's rhetoric. 'Don't you ever feel that you want to f*** the stars?' Sometimes potty mouthed descriptors are just what is needed to express sheer wonder.   As an outdoor type of girl I totally get what this means!   And  one of Darlington's own poems which reflects the state of my easily distracted mind.

While  in the sales office this morning
To discuss the allocation of bargain packs in Scotland
It occurred to me
That the waves seethe along the rocks in Barafundle
And the seas lies in the bay's hand like a green stone.

As I lay on a sun lounger sipping the tea, probably provided to reverse the negative effects that eating all those white baguettes are having on my gastric system,  this poem by some forgotten bloke called John Millington Synge leapt out of the pages.  Sometimes words seem to sing.  I can't decide if this is funny or desperately sad as a misspent youth of daydreaming in very boring English lessons means that I'm not the best at analysing literature.  Maybe it's both.

In a nook
That spread south
You and I
Lay mouth to mouth

A snowy gull
And sooty daw
Came and looked
With many a caw

'Such' I said
Are I and you
When you kissed me
'Black and blue!'

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Hallucinating Jesus

Yesterday we ventured away from the campsite further than Shank's pony or our bikes could carry out without Louis grumbling more than I'd be able to stand.  Adrian, my knight in shining armour who ferried us to hospital when Lou hurt his knee last year, his wife, Joy, and their two kids are now our firm friends.  Six of us squeezed in their VW Golf and we headed off to the Radome at Pleumeur-Bodou, a huge ball of silk which held the receiver for the first Trans-Atlantic television pictures that were transmitted by Telstar.

But I not going to write about that as my post yesterday had a space theme and I like my blog to be eclectic. Those in the social media know  tell me it's why I haven't got squillions of followers.  Bollocks to that!  Let's keep it to a select few.

So today I'm going to show you something brilliantly random from another exhibit on the site.  The Centre of Telecoms has a wonderfully interactive permanent exhibition of optical illusions.  Adults and children alike had so much fun.  This one was  our favourite.  It caused Joy to startle impressively.  If you stare at the four dots at the centre of this image for thirty seconds and then close your eyes you will see a miraculous vision.  No hard drugs or hocus-pocus were involved!

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

May the Wool Be With You

Let's move away momentarily from France and go a woolly way.   This book made me giggle.  It's insane!   I thought that I'd produced a post in a similar vein yonks back after  I came across the Knit Your Own Royal Wedding book but be blowed if I can find it.   Somehow amongst my 1,799 other posts it's gone missing.  I've tried searches on corgis and allsorts.  Maybe I was imagining that I'd written it.

Anyway I was never tempted to conjure up my own cuddly Prince Philip. If I wasn't all thumbs and could work out which way round a crochet hook goes, a cuddly Yoda would make a very nice little project indeed.

Monday, 25 May 2015


Here's a little taster of why we return to this spot on the northern Breton coast again and again.  As I'm sure you'll concur it's sublime. My intention is to retire to France and this could be the place that I settle. Pink granite meets idyllic beaches and I do not have the dilemma of whether to choose between the moorland and seaside.
It is all here.

Other parents agreed to be on hand for Louis whilst I went for a walk yesterday and I returned the favour later in the day to give them some adult time.  With my little bit of freedom I wanted to see where my wandering without a map would take me.  Sometimes it is good to be intentionally lost.  On my stroll I found another one of those hag stones.  Can you spot the hole in the top?  Now this one is way too big to fit in the glove compartment with the one that I found in Essex!

Sunday, 24 May 2015


We are amongst friends.  Within five minutes of arriving at our Breton campsite the gang of kids that Louis met last year had turned up around the van.  Let me say that it's mighty tricky putting up an awning and setting up tables and chairs with a full - blown water fight going on in the immediate vicinity. A return  here in 2016 has already been agreed. After all, as one of the grown ups said, if you have a winning formula why change it?

The French contigent of my chums, all couples,  are disappointed that I do not have a man in tow yet.  They are on a mission to see me remarried, number two on my own bucket list after a trip to Easter Island!  But I'm in no rush. For pretty much all that I personally know about relationships is that it is better to be lonely alone rather than in a couple.

The Frenchies think that they have a solution to hurry things up. Apparently I would be absolutely ideal for their friend Jean.  He is 40(!) and, 'ow do you say, ah yes!, works in a forest.   Apparently he has been too busy chopping down trees to look for the love of a good  English woman. No matter that he spends all his days wielding a chainsaw.  He is kind, fit, dead manly. and won 't mind that I'm ten years older.  Even though there was alcohol in the equation I'm sure they were all right when they reassured me that I could easily pass for a much younger bird. Sorted then! It seems that we  have a plan.

In the cold light of morning I'm giggling at the outrageousness.  I'm not going to be running off to my log cabin in a French forest  to live happily ever after anytime soon.    It's a pleasing thought though. How would my chums have known that I've been harbouring those woodcutter fantasies for years!