Happy New Year. David and I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and a fabulous New Year wherever you were and whatever you did. We especially hope that you haven’t been impacted by the terrible weather and flooding that has occurred in the UK.
This was our first year in France and Kergudon, and the first time ever David and I have woken up in our own bed on Christmas Day. As such we knew that it would be a very different Christmas and we would have to make up our own new traditions ideally by combining the best of what’s done in France with what we enjoyed from our own family Christmases.
We were joined for Christmas by our good friends Les and Will though very sadly not by their dog as their vet had made an error in his pet passport which had prevented him from travelling. Due to the problem Les and Will arrived a day later than originally planned but it was great to see them and Christmas could start!
While the plan for our friends’ visit was to do very little strenuous activity and generally eat, drink and relax, we were very fortunate to have had great weather so we could show them some of the amazing walking areas around us. On our first day we took them to Huelgoat for a walk in the enchanted forest, but also to visit a café that we had been recommended – L’Autre Rive which is a café, book shop and small gallery. We found it to be as charming as had been suggested and we will definitely recommend to our guests as another lovely destination in this pretty town with its fantastic walks.
Dinner that night was at our local favourite restaurant, Au Lac, where we enjoyed their fabulous Christmas menu including Mercedes’ famous Black Forest Gateau based on her Mum’s recipe – fantastic.
We were able to go for another walk on Christmas Eve and took Les and Will up to Menez St. Mikel which was a little blustery(!) but worked up an appetite for David’s Christmas Eve meal. The evening of 24th is when the French traditionally have their main Christmas meal which, in Brittany, often includes seafood. As we are inventing our own Frenglish traditions, and we think seafood is always a great idea we started our Christmas Eve meal with Brittany oysters which was Will’s first experience of them. He braved one but stuck with his ham and fig salad instead – all the more for us!
A delicious dinner of stew and dumplings, at our guests’ request, was followed by traditions from our side of card and board games until the early hours when we retired leaving the obligatory mince pies, carrots and milk for Father Christmas.
Christmas Day started with a twist on our traditions as David prepared Oeufs Bretton (a twist on Eggs Benedict but with local smoked trout) and champagne (another advantage of living in France – the choice and value) which we were able to walk off with a stroll around Lac du Drennec (well a stroll for all of us except Will who ran 2 circuits while we walked once!)
The afternoon was spent opening pressies (we were all very spoiled – especially Garratt) and assisting David cook dinner. We had ordered a goose from one of our local farms as well as, what we thought was, a leg of ham. However, when we collected them on Christmas Eve morning we had our first ‘lost in translation’ moment as our ‘ham’ was actually most of the rear end of the pig – 13½ kilos of it which will keep us in pork for weeks!!
One tradition we liked in the UK was to have a later Christmas ‘lunch’ so we sat down at 5 to an amazing feast which takes you into the middle of the evening before the flaming pud arrives in all its splendour to the table – before more games and fun into the early hours!
Boxing Day is never a post-Christmas anti-climax, at least not for me as it is my birthday. 21 again!! It was admittedly a slow start after our fun, but very late night, which was no bad thing as our gîte guests left Priory for their long drive home to Alsace and had a gentle start themselves! A light breakfast, as we were all still digesting Christmas dinner, and our usual 30 minute dog walk that took almost an hour and a half(!) was followed by our ‘cultural’ visit for Les and Will.
Dave and I had wanted to visit a number of the local Christmas markets especially Locronan, which is the most beautiful local historic village, and so we headed out in the afternoon to see their lights. Beautiful, and lots of chocolat or vin chaud to sample while walking around this lovely place. We headed out of Locronan as night fell and made the short journey into Quimper, our departmental capital, for the evening.
Quimper had some lovely Christmas lights as well (sadly no photos of these) and was very busy. We found a lovely little bar next to the cathedral for a couple of quiet drinks before stumbling across a fabulous, family-run, restaurant tucked away about 50 yards off the main drag for a lovely dinner.
Sunday 27th was almost a work day as we had guests arriving for a night in Granary which had been used as a storage space for the old Priory poele and the Christmas decoration boxes, so we all mucked in to prepare it for our next clients.
A final short walk in the afternoon before dinner when we made a tiny dent in the pork was followed by our last night of games and fun before retiring at 4 am!!
Les and Will left us on 28th for the overnight ferry and to be reunited with their dog which allowed us to spend the day on the sofa recovering from 5 days of fun. We had a very low key few days generally relaxing but also prepared Priory and Hayloft for guests who were spending their New Year’s Eve with us.
We spent our New Year’s Eve at Au Lac as, not only do we really enjoy the food and ambience, over our first year we have got to know Mercedes and Jean-Pascal as friends so where better to see in 2016. Our previous New Years had generally been spent away with large groups of our friends so to have just David and I for dinner was very different but nice. For the last 3 days, when the weather has been terrible, we have been hibernating – normal service to be resumed tomorrow!
New Year’s Eve was also our first anniversary of owning Kergudon (although we didn’t arrive in France for another week) so marked the end of our first year as gîte owners. We have had a full, at times challenging, but always enjoyable year and we are very proud of what we have achieved with the accommodation. We are very grateful to all our guests who stayed with us in the year and for their comments and feedback, and really pleased to have got to a standard to be accepted as one of Sawday’s special places to stay. If you haven’t come to experience the tranquillity of Kergudon, we look forward to welcoming you here and hope you make it in 2016.
Our thanks too to Will who was our official photographer for their trip and provided the images on this week’s blog.