Thursday, November 27, 2014

Brittany - a cultural history

What is the new book about?  It's a personal reflection (affectionate but not uncritical) on Brittany's history and cultural development structured around elemental themes. Each theme takes four varied examples ranging all over Brittany. To illustrate: the chapter entitled SEA looks at a) threats from the sea over many centuries, b) legends connected with the sea, c) the adventurers of St Malo and d) the cod-fishers of Paimpol, the latter elevated to a bizarre super-hero status through popular literature. FOREST covers the history of the Foret de Fougères, the (fragile) association of the Foret de Paimpont with Arthurian tales, clog-making and the oral tradition in the Foret de Coatloc'h and manufactured claims of Druid blood sacrifice in the Foret de Cranou. Other chapters are STONE, MARCHES, LAND, COAST, RIVER, TOWN, MOOR and ISLAND.
The book tries to bring out the realities of Brittany - extraordinary enough in themselves - behind the clichés of touristic hype, with contemporary life featuring alongside the assessment of past highs and lows. It also intends to create a vivid physical sense of the land, sea and coast, which figure as major characters in the narrative. In common with the other studies in this series Landscapes of the Imagination, there is also an emphasis on culture, particularly the strong oral legacy of the Breton language.

Available now: published by Signal Books (

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Holiday weekend

November 1st is a public holiday here in France, and also my dog's birthday. We always celebrate with a trip to the coast - this year down south to the area around Le Guilvinec, where we stayed in an impeccable dog-friendly B&B ( and did a lot of coastal and estuary walking over two days. Saturday was as hot and blue-skied as July, and Sunday a typically moody autumn grey, so the best of all worlds for watching the water and getting that uplifting liminal feeling.
Plage de Squividan

Pointe de Men Meur
To the small extent that the weekend was purposeful beyond that, I did check out half a dozen neolithic sites for a new writing project, and revisited the Romanesque church of Loctudy.
Menhir de Léhan