I guess I need to start this week’s blog with an apology as I didn’t publish anything last week. Despite having made my New Year’s Resolution last January ‘promising’ only to skip weeks if I say so in advance, I am fairly happy that I made it to the 1st October before breaking my resolution – it’s lasted longer than any previous resolution that I have ever made – has anyone still got a 2017 resolution they are yet to break?
The reason I didn’t post a blog last week was that we have been enjoying the company of family for the last 2 weeks, and indeed have David’s parents with us now for the forthcoming week, and so have, again, been more sociable than productive and we haven’t achieved a huge amount of real work and what I did do is not terribly photogenic.
The first week we hosted David’s uncle and aunt who came with their fabulous soft top car – hence me clearing out a space in the one of Grange’s garage bays – and, thankfully, the weather generally remained pretty good allowing them to enjoy the fabulous Breton roads. Because the weather was dry and warm I did manage to spend a couple of days behind the Grange continuing with the digging I had started.
Despite me saying in the last blog, that the first half I had already done was the harder half, the second was pretty tough too and I am still a few metres short of what I need to clear before I build the woodstore.
Most of the other tasks we have completed since my last blog are more routine such as taking delivery of our first cord of winter wood and ordering the materials I need to finish the interior of upstairs in Grange. Amazingly some will be being delivered next week (not all evidently) so will allow me to make a start during the autumn when we have had the wiring and electrical work completed which should start in the next couple of weeks.
As you can see these don’t make for great photos. However, what I also managed to complete was the refurbishment of our own poêle in Kergudon having received our new baffle and fire bricks from Devon. A new coat of paint and buffed up door knobs and it looks almost like new – certainly has bought us many more years of use and we fired it up for the first time this winter last night and it certainly seemed to kick out a lot more heat with the new insulation and parts. It has given me the experience to tackle Hayloft and Granary’s poêles over the winter.
Otherwise we have been having fun with our guests, visiting some of our favourite restaurants and trying some new ones. One of the tried and loved is the Crabe Marteau restaurant in the docks of Brest. It does exactly what it says on the tin (or shell?!) as you get given a crab and a hammer (and thankfully a bib!) and you have a great meal. But we went back to our local restaurant in Saint Rivoal, the Auberge du Menez, as well as the Café du Grand Terrace in Morlaix where we also tried a new restaurant – the Brasserie de l’Europe. Recommended.
We took the opportunity to do some cultural activities the most ‘cultural’ being visiting the Picasso exhibition which is in Landerneau for the remainder of the month. It is amazing that a small provincial town in Brittany manages to attract such a large and impressive collection but is all based on Landerneau being the ‘home’ of the E. Leclerc hypermarket chain and the establishment of a cultural foundation by the Leclerc family. Sadly this particular exhibition ends on 01 November but all of guests who have visited have really enjoyed it and we hope that, having had Chagall last year, next year may also have a major artist’s work displayed.
Another, loosely, cultural activity was a visit a local pottery studio between us and Loperec. There are many different pottery studios in our vicinity but we had met this potter at a number of markets over the last 2 years and we love her work having bought some of it as gifts for family but we had never been to her studio – until now. It was fascinating to see and we have bought some lovely pieces for the gîtes.
Today’s activity was the annual Apple, Honey and Mushroom festival held between Saint Rivoal and the neighbouring village of Brasparts. This rural part of the world produces a lot of fabulous produce and there are many small farms and artisan producers of cider and honey, many of which were selling their produce however, it was also educational in displaying the wide variety of apples grown in Brittany. Mushrooming is also a major pastime in the forests around us and there were examples of all that you may find with a description highlighting which are edible, which toxic and which potentially fatal. They all look too similar for me to risk picking our own – although one of entertaining quirks of French life is that all pharmacists are qualified to identify which mushrooms are which are what you can eat safely. For the real specialists there were also displays of lichens and mosses of the area – a bit specialist interest for me but was attracting a lot of attention.
While David’s parents are with us for the forthcoming week I hope to progress various projects and will blog again next week.