Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Landerneau - no

Disappointing visit to Landerneau for work today. Ten years ago I used to live in the vicinity and included a look around the town in Walking in Finistere. It was always busy, being a dormitory town for Brest whilst having plenty of light industry and commerce of its own, but a stimulating place with its estuary setting and truly glorious architecture. There is still an air of prosperity in the centre, which is full of individual shops, bars and restaurants. The Elorn estuary is still beautiful. The range of historical buildings is still pretty stunning.... But I couldn't wait to get away from intrusive loud 'music' blasted from public speakers every few metres, the littered streets (unusual in Brittany) with the wonderful cobbled bridge of old houses lost under a thick layer of fag ends, and the incredibly dangerous traffic with local drivers making tight corners in the one-way system by mounting the pavements at high speed, oblivious to adults, children and dogs. I had to wait several minutes to cross a narrow side-street against a constant stream of cars. In Brittany. There's an air of neglect about it all, and the shameful state of the Maison Duthoya (1667) seems emblematic of a loss of sense of the importance of heritage here.
All these things make for an unpleasant visit. Luckily a quick jog up to the top of the castle at Roche-Maurice soon restored my spirits. Until I saw all the information boards with the translation of donjon as 'dungeon'. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
La Roche-Maurice

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Happy Yule and all that

Wintry lake at Huelgoat
Wishing all my readers a very happy Yule and other festivities, with thanks for the many supportive and cheering letters/emails about books or articles you have enjoyed, and a special welcome to new readers in America following my contribution to the latest Now Write! volume. It's been a strangely up and down sort of year with a long delay between finishing Brittany - a cultural history in January and having to wait until November for publication, circumstances conspiring against the project conceived with artist Jill Jamieson, being nearly blind for half the year, two house moves in the last few months, etc. Lots of good things too, with friends from the UK visiting Brittany, Cornish idylls, some fun talks to associations and plenty of development in my own landscape work, which may well see the light of print in 2015. Not settled there yet, but on another front, I have agreed to write a new type of guide to Finistere in the next year.
I'm looking forward to these challenges, and hope you all have a happy and fulfilling New Year.

Monday, December 08, 2014

London blues

Lovely purple seats on an almost empty TGV
A quick seasonal visit to my nearest and dearest in London has been both an eye-opening and painful experience. Took National Express coach up from Portsmouth ferry port to Hammersmith to get a bus the last couple of miles. Slight problem - apparently buses don't accept money any more. What sort of world is it when cash is not allowed on public transport? I walked the whole way with all my luggage, thus aggravating tendonitis in my right arm that's been getting worse daily for some months now.
Yesterday, strolling to the local shop with a friend, I fell off the pavement, managing to wrench and skin my right knee and give my left elbow an equally savage cut and jolt. Multiple plasters were applied at said shop, where staff seemed alarmingly unfazed by the appearance of a customer dripping blood. The whole thing was quite a shock, and I wished later I had agreed to brandy in the reviving coffee supplied afterwards, because a 26 hour journey from London to Finistere involving two car trips, two coaches, one ferry, two trains and a taxi is not something I ever want to do again in that degree of pain and discomfort.
It's nice to be home :-)