Sunday, 20 August 2017

Nibbled


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.

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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!