Thursday, 31 August 2017

End of Holiday Musings

Here's a picture that I took near our stopover in Dinan under a great big viaduct.  It's a fine spot bordering the river Rance.  The cycle along its banks to the nearby towns of Lehon and Taden ranks as one of my absolute favourites.  My lack of direction meant that it was a bit of a pig to find.  'Use your Satnav love.'  some of you might be saying.  Easier said than done.  In a six metre long and 3.5 metre high motorhome you have to have your wits about you.   Walled medieval cities with hanging out bits of buildings, arches and narrow cobbled streets aren't my favourite places to negotiate.    I got a bit lost before hitting the spot.  Computerised navigation systems aren't too hot when it comes to finding a random car park under a bridge.  I came a little too near ramparts for my liking before I hit the spot.

Now we've driven back towards Roscoff.  The weather forecast for the next couple of days is patchy. We ummed and aahed about where to go and finally decided on  meeting up with friends on an all singing, all dancing campsite that's close to the ferry port.  I sat yabbering in the hot tub with my mate Karen catching up on what's happened for us both over the last year.  She'd bought fizz in anticipation of my arrival and we chatted some more until bedtime.  Lou went out on the prowl with a gang of Dutch and English teenage boys.  They hung out in an overlit amusement arcade. My idea of hell but apparently it ticks boxes for adolescents.  I have to get all my writing down this morning before aqua aerobics in the pool at ten!

A few more days relaxing and then I go home to major change.  I'll have to be cryptic and say I can't disclose what's happened as this moment in time.  Just to say that life took a major unexpected turn about a month ago and my responsibilities have increased in a way I can't avoid and never could have envisaged at the end of July.

On another holiday I spoke about my bathtub model  in terms of the stress that people have to deal with.  Time away seems to bring about navel gazing.  I've increased my tub's capacity over the last eighteen month or so by building resilience through changed thinking and more healthy habits.  But I've noticed that driving the motorhome is much more stressful on this holiday especially when I'm a bit disorientated.  I wonder if it's a sign that my tub is almost full?  Even though my capacity to manage stressors has increased it still doesn't mean that I'm completely immune to them.  The water can still overflow if I don't turn off the taps or let the plug out even though the metaphorical bath is bigger!

 I'm glad that I can  now recognise this.  Maybe that's part of my development process too.  I need to be extra specially careful when I get home to be taking very good care of myself.   In the meantime I'm off to play in my pool and on my bike for the next few days.  

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Eating Brian and His Eleven Brothers

Dinan is busy!  I reckon it's a stopping off point for folks visiting nearby Mont St Michel.  There's an awful lot of American and Far Eastern tourists and that's not too common in other parts of Brittany. All tables in the restaurant that we'd settled on for dinner was full.  Bah!  So I acquiesced to Louis' next choice of pizza when I'd really rather have eaten somewhere with local cuisine.    Never mind.  Louis' spotted something on the menu that he wanted to try.   So we ordered a starter to share before our pizzas arrived.  At least that had a distinctly French flavour.  We were given these to eat them with.  Can you  guess what they're for?

Yep, snails!  I've had them before and I find them delicious.  I also loved the quite kitsch way that they're served.  We were supposed to share the dozen escargots equally but Louis had seven.  I think that means that he likes them.

Apparently you can eat English snails that you find in the garden.  You have to 'purge' them in a box of green leaves.  They're ready to eat when they start to poo lettuce.  I've been meaning to try it for sometime.  Perhaps my son's new acquired taste for molluscs might spur me on to giving it a go.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Holiday Tune 2017

When I'm on holiday with Louis it seems that his choice of playlists predominates.  I'm not too bothered.  Mostly I'm pleased that he's inherited my love of music.  He was incredibly happy when I converted my Spotify account to a family one so that we can keep our stuff separate.  He's downloaded tracks for England and they accompany us on our travels.  Sometimes I sound like an old person.  'Turn that racket off!'.  He normally obliges.  And then at other times he introduces me to a little gem that we both like.

He's been playing this one. 'Who's is it?' I asked 'Oh, it's the Chainsmokers.'  he replied.  I can't help feeling that's a great name for a group in spite of the connotations of health risk.  'It sounds awfully like Chris Martin.'  I said.  'Who's he?'  I said.  'He's in Coldplay'.  'Oh yeah, they've done it too.'

So here's the sweetest little tune that I requested several time on our drive up to Dinan from Lorient yesterday.   I've decided that it's our holiday song for this year.    The lyrics, voice and music are all good.  And I've just discovered that this video is rather charming as well.

Monday, 28 August 2017

Small Space Living - Marine Style

Here's Submarine Flore that I've been promising to post about so I might as well get it over and done with.  She was part of the Cold War fleet that was parked up at Lorient  from the 1960s onwards.  I'm not really one for military history but gleaned that from the wonderful audio-visual presentation that was held in one of those bunkers that I featured the other day.

 Isn't cinematography a much nicer use for those big buildings than warmongering?  I'm sure Einstein, being a man of peace would have approved.

Let's get into the submarine shall we?  We did an audio tour with one of those headset thingys and toured the sub from one end to the other.  I'm not quite sure which you'd call the back end.  Anyway here's the place we started where the missiles are stored.  I'm not so keen on these nasty things.  What I was interested in is how such a small space could house so many men at once.  This was one of the only areas of the ship where crew could stand properly so they used it as the area where they socialised.  Very quietly of course!

Ah here's where it got more interesting!  The bunk room.  Now I knew that submariners would be compromised for space but didn't think that they'd be this squished.   Only the captain of the submarine had his own bedroom and that was tiny.   The other officers shared a similar bunk room but at least had a big table to sit around.

Here's Lou playing with some gubbins.  Boy stuff so we'll move on.

Another fascinating glimpse of just how small living quarters were.  This is the kitchen, big enough I was assured to prepare meals for fifty men.  The food was stored underneath and accessed through a hatch.  There was a menu posted outside and very nice it looked to.  However I think the audio-visual explained that the same meals were cooked day in day out during the seven days that the ship was submerged.  Wine was served once during the trip.

There were a couple of toilets opposite.  I didn't think that they were photogenic enough.

A view down the submarine showing just how compact and bijou it all was.  If you'd fallen out with someone there'd be pretty much no chance of avoiding them.

I'd heartily recommend a visit if you pitch up in the Lorient area of Brittany.   We're leaving this spot today and I haven't quite decided where we'll end up.  Off to pack up the motorhome in the minute ready for set off.  It might  be small in here but it's way more luxurious that a submarine!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

As Cheap As Chips But As Good As Picasso

Photo:  Artsy
Let's have a little break from posts about submarines shall we? For I've found something else that's inspired me big time and I like my daily posts to be randomised.  You can see the good ship Flore another time.   I discovered the work of Steve Keene whilst having a little stroll around the Internet and it made my heart sing long and strong.  La, la, tra, la, la!  This guy makes his art accessible to all by selling it for a few dollars.  He's been dubbed the 'Assembly Line Picasso' by Time Magazine and his mission has been to make art accessible by making his work cheap.  Just a few dollars, perhaps the same price as a book or music album and one of his pieces can be yours.

Picture:  Facebook - Steve Keene Art/Tractor Beam Modern Art
I love the fact that, in spite of the incredibly low cost of individual artworks,  Keene supports himself through his paintings.   This is because this guy is prolific - really prolific.  He's sold hundreds of thousands of pictures.  Many of them are representations of album covers like those depicted here.  I've included a Beatles one as it will be familiar to lots of you. 'Unknown Pleasures' by Joy Division grabbed me as it's so reminiscent of my goth phase where my wardrobe was dominated by black and grey and my black eyeliner was as thick as a tyre track.  Thank goodness I've discovered colour in my grown up years.

Picture:  Facebook - Steve Keene Art/Tractor Beam Modern Art
The most important thing about this art is that I absolutely adore it.  In fact I might be more thrilled to own a Steve Keene painting than any of the ones in the  Picasso exhibition last week.  None of that grabbed me by the goolies like this stuff.  Value certainly isn't always measured by $$$$$s or ££££££s.   So Mr Keene, if you ever read this can you paint me a Leonard Cohen album cover?  Your choice of which one!

Saturday, 26 August 2017

A Bit of A Blokey Post

I'm really rather feminine when it comes to a lot of things.  I like to dress in pretty frocks, love to receive flowers and giggle with my girlie mates.  I'm well proud of my mothering and homemaking skills too.  But there's a definite male side to my brain. 'Where do you keep your hammers?'  I asked Red Mel when we had to do a little job in her flat once.  She handed me a rolling pin!  In contrast I pride myself on my rather wonderful tool collection and was nearly persuaded to pursue an engineering career when I was at school.  Mind you, I don't know if I was really cut out for this line of work.  I've known many engineers over the years, including my ex-husband, and they don't think in the  same way that I do.  

Maybe my 'inner boy' had some kind of say in what I develop a fascination for.  I've been wanting to visit the old World War II submarine bases at Lorient for some time now.  So yesterday we set off on our bikes, me in a gauzy '40s style dress over the cycle leggings, to see them. They were built by the Germans when they occupied this part of France.  The walls are ten feet thick and could withstand pretty much anything that's thrown at them.  Unlike the historic town of Lorient which was all but destroyed by Allied bombing these monsters stayed intact with their U-boats inside.  It proved pretty much impossible to demolish them after the war so they stayed.  Today one of them is home to a pontoon with some little pleasure boats moored up.  They'll be nice and safe in there.

I'd like to show off some of my other photos but Facebook is being a bit of a pig today.  We went on board an actual submarine, another cause of extreme excitement, but I'll save that for tomorrow when the World Wide Web is playing ball.   And for those of you that like pretty things, I'll try my best to come up with a softer, fluffier post shortly.

Friday, 25 August 2017

You Don't Know the Good It's Doing Until You Stop

We are on a coastal campsite in a part of Brittany just west of the city of Lorient that I've never explored before.  My choice of where to stay the night is largely determined by the availability of the aires de camping cars, the free or really cheap places where I can park up for the night.  There's not a lot in this area so that's why I haven't been here.   But there's a couple of attractions on the edge of Lorient within cycling distance from here that are right up the street of a teenage boy.  And I have to say they've whetted my curiosity as well.  More on those after we've visited.  In the meantime I'm enjoying a pitch with hook up electricity, showers rather than dips in the sea or strip washes and reliable Wifi connection.

On the way here from our last stopover I'll have to admit to being really arsey.  The Sat-Nav sent me off in ridiculous directions, shouted at me at a startling volume  and, as we were approaching the campsite, it wanted me to go under a 2.9 metre bridge.  My motorhome is about 3.4 metres high. Eeek!  The results would not have been good for Klaus the Knaus or the flyover.  I had to swerve across traffic lanes to avoid near catastrophe.  I arrived frazzled and more anxious than I've been since I was off work with stress early in 2016!  It wasn't the sort of mind state I was expecting on holiday.  Thankfully a period of collapse in my recliner sorted me out.  Louis made another batch of sloe gin while I slumbered.  I awoke to find that he had surrounded me with the empty gin bottles for effect.  To my surrounding French neighbours it certainly could have looked as if the nice English lady had passed out through drinking copious amounts of alcohol!

Over the last few months I've been meditating twice daily.  Okay I miss a session every so often but it's unusual.  I've been a bit dependent on Youtube to guide me.   A voiceover is more motivating than silence it seems.

But Internet access has not been consistent here and so I haven't been sitting for twenty minutes twice daily as I've been accustomed to doing.  I told myself that, with the decreased demands of being on holiday, it would be okay.  But could a cessation in practice have caused such a diminution in resilience to stress so quickly?  Someone told me once that I wouldn't realise the benefit of meditation until I stopped doing it.  So I'm taking no chances anymore.  I'll the campsite Wifi to download some routines so I don't get caught out again when we're in the wilds.  And yesterday evening and this morning I've returned to my twenty minute practices.  Serenity restored!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Little Snippets of Randomness

Here's my boy pretending to be a Jedi knight.  We'd gone into a deserted church primarily so that I could light a candle in memory of my sister who's be gone from this earth for over a year now.  In some holy places in France they've replaced traditional wax offerings with electronic wizardry.  You can light a candle after giving a donation of a Euro or two if you press a button.  Where's the fun in that.  Especially for boys who universely seem to have a pyromaniac gene within

In the absence of one subject to talk about today I thought I'd share little things that have happened and that have crossed my mind in the last few days.  Regular readers will know  that I like randomness.
  • I'm rising much later than I do at home, three hours or so.  Its hard not to have lots of time to do things early in the morning but I'm trying to do with it and telling myself that I probably need to catch up on extra sleep.
  • French cars are, in the main, monochrome.  There are odd individuals that steer away (ha!) from black, white or grey but they're in a small minority.  Especially if those occasional flashes of colour aren't red or blue.
  • I drew fishes in the sand with a little French girl yesterday.  She was called Juliette and she was six.
  • I saw a man the other day filling his motorhome water tank free of charge from the tap which everyone else uses to wash their portable toilets.  Frugalness has gone too far when it involves the risk of typhoid, cholera and other life threatening lurgies.
  • The sloes here are wonderful this year.  I bought three Kilner-type jars in IKEA at Brest and have already filled two.  I'm spreading out my gin purchases so it doesn't look like I've got an alcohol problem as each jar takes two bottles.  I am amazed that the French, being arch foragers, haven't cottoned on to making sloe gin themselves.
  • My dreams are vivid at the moment, really vivid!
  • Lou insists on wearing Crocs on his now serving plate sized feet because they are comfy but they are the most unfashionable shoe in the world for a teenager to wear.  Because he is quite handsome young girlies look with interest at his face but their expression turns to abhorrence when they spy his footwear.  No-one does disgust better than a teenage girl. I am concerned in case anyone thinks that I am the reason that he's wearing such untrendy footwear. I like to think that I'm quite 'with it'!
  • I was press ganged into doing an OCD assessment the other evening on the basis that I like the cushions in the van straight and the right way up.  The results confirmed my own view that liking order does not equate to a mental health diagnosis.
  • Badoit, the fizzy water that tastes like it has half a ton of bicarbonate of soda in each body has grown on me over the years.  It is now the source of hydration of choice.
  • The repair on my front crown has not held up.  Bah!  I am looking like a pirate's wife again.  It looks like that'll mean an expensive replacement when I go home.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Miraculous Urchin

'The first thing to remember about miracles is that there is no order of difficulty among them.  One is not harder or bigger than the other.  They are all the same.'  This is the first principle in the 'A Course of Miracles'.   But I am a beginner in studying all this stuff.  In my head there is a hierarchy.  On holiday this year I thought I'd start 'small'.

Since 2010 when I found a sea urchin shell which almost immediately accidentally crushed  I sought a replacement.  The nearest I came to finding one was in 2012 when I came across 'Spike' in a Breton rockpool.  But he was alive and needed his protective coating and I popped him back.   So I asked God or whoever the entity up there that I speak to if I could find one this year.  We're at my favourite stopover at the moment, the very peaceful inlet at Ster Greich.  I was swimming in the sea yesterday and sent a reminder upstairs.  'I haven't found that urchin I asked for yet.'

Lo and behold if within a couple of minutes I came across this guy floating on the water.  At first I thought it was a seed.  There were plenty of acorns and bits of twig floating around.  But once I'd brushed off the dead spines I realised that I'd got myself a replacement urchin, one that I might literally wrap in cotton wool this time.   He's a bit wonky.  'I'd have liked one that was a bit more symmetrical.'  I grumbled to God.  He's probably laughing his socks off up there.  The skeptical can call this coincidence but I like to think that this was a proper bona fide miracle!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Wonderful Chocolatey Creations of George Larnicol

I've posted about the chocolate lion in the Concarneau branch of Georges Larnicol before.  Its willy looks contains about the same amount of chocolate as an old style large Toblerone,  before they made the gaps between the triangles bigger.   I hope and pray for  a day when humankind isn't trying to get one over on each other anymore, a world where big organisations embrace the spirit of generosity.

Anyway I won't be posting about the lion today.  You can do a good thing to death so anyone who wants a peep can go and have a look at my original post.  But I thought I'd show you some of the other chocolate creations in the shop.  Like the lion they all huge.  Like this lighthouse that was at least four feet high.

And the rocket suspended from the ceiling.  I'd have loved to have seen a chocolatey moon as well.  Perhaps that another job for the guy who likes to use cocoa products instead of lego.  Incidentally we did spot almost luminous green cheese in the market yesterday that had been infused with pesto. Brought back by an astronaut perhaps?

I think that this is my favourite creation, such surreal subject matter.   We're leaving Concarneau today but will undoubtedly be back on other of our trips.  As Louis has acquired a bit of an addiction to Georges Larnicol chocolate lollies I expect I'll be able to marvel at the strange art of the chocolatier once more in the future.11111111

Monday, 21 August 2017

Off Grid-ish

A technical motorhoming post today for those that are interested in the gubbins that we have at our disposal on the road that keeps us comfy.  Here's the view from Klaus the Knaus  my motorhome where we're parked at the moment on the fringes on Concarneau.  I've kept the above the cab window in shot as proof,  We visit some wonderful places in France using the free or cheap aires.  These are designated motorhome stops, usually in car parks but sometimes on what appears to be downgraded campsites.  The last two at Landerneau and Plougonvelin were like that.  It meant that we were able to hook up to electricity.  Many people use them.  In the time that I've been travelling in France as a single mum with kid in tow I've never felt unsafe.

Aires with hook ups are in the minority.  Most of the time we're self reliant.  We can be self reliant for about three days, more if we're in an area where I can impose strict potta-potti use guidelines.  Here's what we've got that means with can go off grid - for short times at least.

One hundred litre water tank: - You'd probably use that amount in the morning before work at home. Here it lasts us about five days.
Grey water tank: - holds dirty water from washing selves, dishes and clothes.  It is not in any way connected to the toilet so can be emptied down drain holes in the street.
Aforementioned Porta Potti:    A bit of water is augmented with blue liquid to eat up you know what!  We're supposed to use  special toilet paper that degrades more quickly but have normal stuff at present as we've run out and it's a bit tricky to get hold of.  There's a separate compartment that holds flush water which also has a bit of the blue stuff added.
A solar panel on the roof:  Supplies a leisure battery which powers lighting
A gas bottle:   This lasts yonks.  It provides hot water, heating when needs and powers a three way fridge when we don't have an electrical hook up.   The fridge uses electricity from the main battery when we're moving along as well.  It's very clever and I keep my fingers crossed that I won't have to replace it any time soon.  It sounds as if it would be an expensive repair.
An assortment of chargers for the cigarette socket to charge mobile phones and power banks:  We fight over their use a bit.  This includes one which I can use to charge the laptop. However this has a fan which runs down the main battery.  I found this to my cost last year when I had to ask a nice man for a jump start.  So I have....
A trickle charge:  Just a long bit of red wire with croc clips.  It was homemade. I attach it to the positive terminals of leisure battery (charged by the sun, remember) and the main battery to keep us nicely topped up so we can move on when needed.

I might have said before that I never feel deprived living in my motorhome.  Having access to perfectly adequate heating, lighting, cooking facilities and access to technology makes this possible.

Sunday, 20 August 2017


We are at the aire for motorhomes in Concarneau, one of my favourites stopovers in Brittany.  From the van's window I can see the sea through the trees of a wonderful wooded area where black squirrels have been spied on previous visits. It's just a two minute hop, skip and jump down the path to a beautiful beach.  I went down to litter pick and watch the sunset last evening.  Yes, I think we'll be here for a few days.  There's no rush to move on.

Yesterday afternoon we cycled down to the ferry stop where we take the boat trip into the ancient walled city of the town.  It's got some wonderful boutiques and eateries.  I bought the ring that graces the index finger of my right hand there last year.   A fish spa had opened and Louis begged to go.  At 10 Euros for fifteen minutes it wasn't not going to break the bank so I agreed.

The garra rufa fish which are housed in tanks in these places are like tiny ineffective piranhas.   They're not going to tuck in so voraciously as I understand that they have no teeth.  As soon as my feet were in the water they flocked, even weaving in and out of toes.  It's supposed to be relaxing.  I question that.  But it is a bit of a giggle having your feet gummed by little creatures the size of minnows.  And afterwards?  Well all toes remained intact.  And we both agreed that our feet were defnitely softer and smoother.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Picasso Alone

Not much of this holiday to Brittany was planned in advance beyond that nerve wracking Parcours course that I wimped out of a few days ago.  Louis also wants to go to an aquapark.  I've factored that into the equation.  The only thing that I wanted to see was the Picasso exhibition at the Fonds Helene and Edouard Leclerc. That's why we've ended up back in Landerneau where last year's touching Chagall exhibit was enhanced by a good free view of Iggy Pop.  I avoided the Festival de Bruit this year as after the Iggy set got a bit lairy.  Strains of foul mouthed rap and hip hop echoed around the cutesy French valley until the early hours.  The van shook to the beat and ,as I like my kip, I was a bit perturbed.   We've timed our return to the town a bit later on this year.  The aire de camping car is a haven of tranquility.

The queue to see Picasso was 'enorme' when we arrived in town on the first day.  It put Louis off and I headed off yesterday alone.  Even our customary game of 'Spot the Willy' that we've played in art galleries since he was little wasn't enough to tempt him.   No matter.  I'm good at doing alone,  Here's one of the first pictures in the exhibition, one by Jose Ruiz y Blasco, Picasso's dad.


Louis probably had a premonition about the exhibition. It was surprisingly light on penis representations.  Picasso was more of a boob man - square ones mainly.  Here's one of the two that I spotted.  The other was on a drawing labelled 'Femme' and seemed to be emerging from her face.  I was rather puzzled but there you go!

Here's an example of cubism.  I thought that it was a bit curvy given its genre.

I think that this was my favourite pictures in the whole exhibition. It depicts Jacqueline, Picasso's much painted second wife.  What may it more pleasing was that it was hung next to one of the preparatory drawings.  I'm a bit of a pleb really when it comes to art as this commentary will attest. But I do find it interesting to see how a work has evolved.

A Janus type image perhaps.  I hardly ever know how to interpret what I see when I look at art.  Just thought that it might be a depiction of past youth and a future where the nose continues to grow.  That's a biological fact.

This was another that pleased, a depiction of Paris.  No cornered body parts in sight.

And here's one of Picasso's doves.  He must have gained inspiration from his Dad's work.

Sometimes I wonder if artists are having a bit of a laugh when they produce a piece of work. 'Foot Bath' looks like something a four year old would be praised for at nursery.

And then just when you think that this bloke can't paint for toffee you come across something like this.

The final painting in the show that Picasso painted after he'd passed ninety.  He really was prolific up until the end.  All that interest he had in young women must have given him some va va voom!

Friday, 18 August 2017

Dinky Ink

There's lots about me that's quirky.  My brother told me that recently.  He  believes that it's why men are wary as they read my idiosyncrasies as meaning that they is some inner darkness that means that they should stay away. Oh my!  But I'll stick to being me for I haven't really a clue how to do normal.  And anyway I'm content with how I express myself through appearance, language and creativity, my slightly off the wall belief system and in the way that I do things slightly differently from others.  I told Louis the other day, that being cool isn't having the right gear but it's about exuding a sense of being comfortable with who you are.  I truly believe that.

One of my little oddities is that I write with a fountain pen.  I wrote a post years back about how I thought that it might be an eco-friendly choice.  Really I use one because I like the weightiness of using one and yes, I admit I think it's a classy bit of kit.  My writing is horrible and I used to get lots of admonishment in school reports but it's slightly better with a fountain pen.  There's another reason.

It's terribly difficult to buy ink in the UK except in specialist shops and bigger branches of WH Smith. And Quink is expensive these days, about seven quid.  It's a  big beast to carry around in my handbag so I always have to remember to refill at home or work.  So  I was delighted to find another thing to love about France.  The big  Leclerc supermarket at St Pol de Leon had an amazing array of ink cartridges.  I'm not so alone here then in harbouring antiquated writing habits.  They sold these dinky little bottles of ink too that are just right for tucking in a pencil case!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Late Musings

By the time you read this we won't be camped near the fort.  We'll have moved onto Landerneau to see a  Picasso exhibition and take advantage of one of the best public swimming pool that we've ever been to.  But for some inexplicable reason we lost phone and Wifi in the middle of yesterday morning so I'll have to post late.  It is as if we are dead to the world.  If signal has failed across the entire region of Western Brittany, the beautifully named 'Finisterre' (end of the world)  I will have to resort to phoning Mum and Dad from a kiosk.  Long gone are the days when less than weekly contact sufficed, even if it is just posting on my blog.

Being without those e-distractions isn't all that bad.  There's more time for all those things I love to do on every holiday.    I swam in  the sea at the plage de Berthaune.  It's a similar length stroll away as my own beloved beach at Fishcombe Cove is at home in Brixham.  I went for a rainy cycle ride and explored the neighbourhood.  It's easier to do that on two wheels than in a lumbering great motorhome.   I walked by the coast and read of course.  When I left home I thought that bringing half a dozen books was an over generous stash.  But I'm on my third already.  OMG the second was potentially life changing non fiction!  But I'm trying to build up some momentum before a book post so I'm not going to tell you anything about it now.

Of course, seeing that we're in France we're eating and drinking like kings.   I have a new favourite sandwich, made with a crusty baguette of course.  They sell carpaccio in the supermarkets here.  Of course they might do at home in Waitrose and suchlike but I'm a thrifty single mum and rarely shop in the posh places.  It's thin slices of raw beef marinated in oil with herbs to those of you who aren't already in the know.  Not a vegan's first choice I'll admit but to lovers of rare steak like me and my boy it's lush.  I pop it in buttered that's also been spread with avocado.  That's it – apart from the crisps of course.  If a posh deli owner is passing and happens to read this I recommend it for your menu.  It goes down a treat!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

My New French Word: Le Vertige

Photo: Tourisme Bretagne
Ah the French word for 'vertigo'.  I think I had some of that yesterday.  We are camped near Fort Bertheaume for three nights, a beautiful spot that we discovered on our ramblings last year.   About five minutes from the aire de camping car where we're parked up there is an island with one of those fortresses that Napoleon was fond of building.  It's home to Bertheaume Iroise Aventures,  a parcours course with zip wires.  Louis was keen to do it last year but he didn't have the right footwear.  He still wears Crocs in preference to anything else a lot of the time in spite of the fact that they're horrendously untrendy.  I know that because, as a handsome boy, he's getting a fair bit of attention from teenage girls.  Then they notice his footwear and their looks of admiration turned to scorn.

Bedecked in trainers we set off to do the course.  I had no qualms about it.  After all I'm a graduate of the Go Ape course in Haldon Forest.  But let's cut to the chase.  I'll 'fess up to wimping out early on around the circuit.  Sheer terror set in from the beginning of the course, not an emotion I'm seeking on my holidays.  My legs shook and I hyperventilated as I had to negotiate my way between metal things in the rocks which always seemed just a bit too far to take a step easily.  I feared for my knee which has the ACL repair.  It doesn't get insured when I go on holiday anymore.

 At the start of this 'monkey bridge' I turned and shot back to one of the exits.  I basked in the sun at the top of one of the fort's turrets whilst Louis went round the course with ease.  There was part that he wasn't supposed to do as he's under 16 but he snuck around it.  I thought he would.  I contented myself to goes on the two zip wires that run from the mainland to the island.  That was enough bravery for me for one day!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A Tethering Miracle

Contentment has come upon us now that we're travelling around Brittany in our beloved motorhome. Perhaps our Romany ancestors followed similar paths and that's why my son and I are so comfortable with a nomadic lifestyle.  Here's the Rade de Brest.  I woke up near to its shores yesterday morning at sunrise and took this shot.   We've decided we'll be back to explore the city another time.  For reasons of timing around a French bank holiday when all shops shut for the day we moved on.  Today's distant view of the French Land's End is obscured by sea mist this morning so that's while my picture on this post isn't entirely current.

Another 'e-miracle' seems to have occurred.  I wrote about the timely arrival of a free powerbank the other day.   Now something else has fortuitous has happened in the realm of techno gadgetry.  I've tried unsuccessfully before to tether my laptop abroad using my phone as if it is a modem.   I do it all the time at home.  I thought I'd ordered a prepaid dongle  to provide separate Internet so I could blog and develop my business in the morning.  It'll use up nicely that time when I allow Louis to have a teenage lie-in. Something must have gone tits up during the purchasing process my dongle as it didn't arrive.  There's no trace of an order I'm certain I made.   Eeek!  Writing mini essays on a smartphone isn't fun.  I got fretful.  'Nothing ever works out for me!' was one of my unhelpful thoughts.

Except it has.  Tethering works fine this time around and I've saved myself seventy quid as a result of the 'mistake'.   I like to think of this as another of those things that I call miracles.  A vicar friend uses the term, 'blessings' which is more understated but we've agreed it describes the same events.  The quote from 'A Course in Miracles'  that currently sticks in my mind is about getting something different from what you've  asked for.   'Do you prefer that you be right or happy?' asks the text. Maybe that's why I haven't got lots of the things that I've prayed for.  Someone up there has my happiness and peace in mind instead.

Monday, 14 August 2017

We Found Nemo and Other Fishy Things!

Pictures today!  From Oceanopolis at Brest yesterday, a great big aquarium by the sea.  It wasn't on our very rough and ready holiday plan to come to this city by the sea but I'm so glad we did.  We've found a camping spot next to the water.  I've had my morning cuppa watching the sunrise and then went for a flattish run.  Lou hasn't stirred yet.  What do you expect?  He's a teenager on holiday.  Anyway let's get on with my virtual slideshow.  Now can you guess which one's Nemo?

Lou's been here before but he was little and memories were slow in coming.  But they did come back to him.  'Did I lose a cuddly dog here?' he said as he went in.  Yes he bloody did!  What a palaver that was.  The entrance to the polar region smelt fishy.  'There's penguins here isn't there?' he said  as the odour jogged more brain cells into action.  He didn't quite remember where they were though.  You watch a film and then a screen rises to reveal these guys.

The Polar region houses some amazing Inuit art.  A whole skull carved with little people, animals and igloos.  But I think this is my favourite, a hunter with a seal under the ice.

Weird creatures I've never seen before.  I did take a picture of the notice showing what they are but I can't be arsed to go and have a look.  I'm on holiday after all.

Here's my boy with an octopus.  If we'd have stuck around longer he may have predicted some lottery numbers for us.  I took a few selfies of me and a ray but you're not seeing those.  I look as rough as rats. I didn't quite realise just quite how exhausted I'd got.

Arty inspiration in the gift shop at 20 and 40 Euros a throw.  I wondered if I could cut something similar myself out of scrap metal for my garden.

An absolutely gorgeously blue lobster.

I have to be careful with choosing activities for Louis these days in case they're seen as baby-ish.  He choose to do this himself.  The joy on his face suggests that steering model boats about a little artificial pond and trying to crash into the others is still perfectly okay.

More art because I'm that kind of girl.  Isn't it fabulous? Now I know what the Inuits do on those long cold nights when they're stuck inside!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Six Hours South

I was doing that thing on Friday and into the wee small hours of Saturday morning that many working people might be familiar with - catching up on paperwork before I go on holiday. And I didn't crack it either.  The realistic plan to be completely up to date by Friday didn't work out. Micro-planning isn't a given when there's lots of poorly people about.  Still my admin is at a stage where I was happy to leave the work computer in its bag back home.

And after whirlwind packaging, collecting my bike from the shop where it was serviced and picking up Louis from his dad's house  we were off.  On Roscoff-Plymouth crossing yesterday the first thing I did was collapse in a heap on my bunk and sleep for two hours.  Lou went to the cinema and watched 'The Pirates of the Carribean'.  After that I could manage the start of the holiday proper.  A slap up steak dinner in the ship's cafeteria with one of their delectable raspberry tarts for dessert followed by some literary therapy back in the cabin.  'The kind of masterpiece that reminds you why you read books in the first place.'  is one of the reviews on the cover of my novel.   Now that's my kind of reading!

After dinner I headed off to the shop on the Amorique.  Even though the boutiques on Brittany Ferries aren't that large and I'm not an impulse purchaser I've accumulated some treasure over the years.   Lovely bags, perfume, toys for Louis when he was younger,  Breton tops,  a beautifully ergonomic corkscrew.  All has been really reasonably priced.  I think their buyer has very similar taste to my own.   This is my latest purchase.  A reusable coffee cup was on my wish list.  I bought this one by Neolid.   Its a clever lidless mug.  The top opens so drink that can be poured in but twists shut so drink cannot spill.  And as you can see when it's just open just a teeny bit it holds a reusable straw.  Its a beautiful addition to my kit list to cut down on single use plastic.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Another Poster I Used To Snog

Another quick post today. I've still got unfeasibly large amounts to do before I go away.  So here's a musical moment.  I 'loved' Gary Numan more than any other fourteen year old girl back in the 1970s when 'Are Friends Electric' was released.   But I am a flighty creature.  I've already told you about Donny and how I declared undying love for him.  Inevitably my passion snuffed it - for good.  A few poster boys on and it was Gary's turn.  I moved on from him goodness knows when.

But I'm back Gazza.  Someone told me that you are still making tunes today.  So I've been having a little perusal and I'm in lurve again.    This time, even though you have worn rather well, it's solely with the music. Have a listen to this. It's absolutely brilliant.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Slower Times

It's the last day at work before I'm off on annual leave for three whole weeks.  Lovely!  I should be able to retune the batteries in that time.  Consequently I've got more to do today than looks feasible for a mere mortal. But I've been in  this position countless times before so have to tell myself that everything always gets done.

So you'll have to content yourself with this young lady today.  As I downloaded the image I found out the name of the clown was Bubbles.  I never knew that.  A reminder perhaps of times when TV stopped and the world was a slower place altogether.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Days Out In Devon: The British Fireworks Championships

Thanks to the very gorgeous Salty Dog I managed to wangle a corporate hospitality ticket for day one of the British Fireworks Championships at Plymouth last night.  If you're ever on holiday down this way in August it's worth seeing.   Over two evenings six teams compete to put on the best pyrotechnics.  It was really rather wonderful.  At a time of austerity I'm sure that they'd be those who'd argue against loads of money literally going up in smoke.   I'd disagree. For these marvellous displays bring joy to so many souls as once.

I didn't take huge amounts of photo and most of mine were pants anyway.  So here's Salty Dog's video of  Competitor's Number 3 showstopping effort.  Yes that's definitely me that you can hear doing some of that whooping!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Gin and Time Share

I was out with my usual bevy of gay men on Sunday.  We ran away with the pub quiz and won a free drink each.  As my prize I sampled rhubarb gin for the first time and am now a convert.  I wonder if you can make that stuff.

One of my friends was regaling us with tales of the free holidays he'd been on by accepting the chance of viewing timeshare properties..  He'd been all over the place and had some good trips away after accepting in advance that a day would be taken up by the heavy sell.  He'd seen variations on the theme of beige apartments in many different countries.  The trip to the complexes was livened up by a challenge of being dismissed as soon as possible as a time waster.  Mock religious fervour seemed to do the trick nicely.   The timeshare dudes also lured him into a presentation being held in London by guaranteeing one prize from a dazzling list:  a Ferrari, a massive TV or a stick blender.  He had his eye on one of those right from the start.

The sales tack revolved around stressing the family friendliness of the complex on offer.  'Look,' said my friend camping it up big time.  That's no good to me.   I'm a screaming queer and being surrounded by a load of noisy kids would be my worst nightmare.  Give me illicit drugs and a gay orgy around the pool. Now that would be my kind of holiday!' The  alarmed rep backed off and bought back his manager.  So my friend went through his list of requirements once more and mustered up even more alarmingly adult activities.   I think he's really more of a museum and ice cream parlour kind of guy but isn't it wonderful where the imagination can lead us?  'Now can I have my Ferrari?' he added hopefully.  The sales crew admitted defeat.   'Get him his blender.' the boss said to his minion.  My friend was ecstatic. He went away with what he'd came for, as he was missing an item of vital kitchen equipment.  Apparently it saw good service for years.