Road Trip from Cabourg to Quiberon

Last leg of our road trip along the north and north western coast of France. From the English Channel at Cabourg to the shores of he Atlantic on the Quiberon Peninsula – from Normandy to Britanny, via the Mont St Michel.

Month St Michel

On the tourist road to Quiberon, another vital stopover on the tourist trail – the standing stones at Carnac – miles of menhirs dating from 5000BC and no one knows what they are there, other than to attract tourists.

Standing Stones at Carnac

The Road to the Stones

Stone-spotting tourists

And on to Quiberon – a popular family holiday resort at he end of the Quiberon peninsula – who says peninsula also says one road in and the same road out – huge traffic jams and a lengthy wait for the delights of Quiberon

Quiberon

Black and Whire Quiberon

On the beach in Quiberon

And from Quiberon we head home to an empty fridge, empty bank account, utility bills and mountains o lessons to prepare before heading back to school. We’ll be back next year.

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OF RESOLUTIONS AND REVOLUTIONS

Possibly my last post about New Year (promise)

A GOOD RESOLUTION, A LIFE-CHANGING REVOLUTION, RESOLVING TO DO GOOD DEEDS AND WHEN TO TAKE DOWN YOUR CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS

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It is that time of year, the turning of the year when we resolve to make ourselves better, fitter, happier healthier people. We decide, to give up bad habits, to divest ourselves of those physical or mental burdens that make us unhappy. We resolve to change our ways. We are full of good intentions.

Ah yes, the good old New Year’s resolution, but never a revolution. Where there is a will there is a way and it will take us all our frail human determination to accomplish those goals which we have set ourselves, therefore, we are not going to undertake anything too difficult that might just revolutionise our lives. Radical change? Heaven forbid. Just the act of going back to work after the festive blip is going to require a heroic effort.

The return to normal life. I know on the first day back at work, everyone will be wearing glazed expressions of emptiness. It will be like a train station or an airport during a computer glitch or a system failure – transport staff put up large signs “Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible”. We will all be wearing such signs until late January, when finally the last vestiges of Christmas decoration have been taken down and it feels like we are all “back to normal”.

Hold on though, why are we all heading back to work when it is still officially Christmas? Why are we all slaving away? The Wise men haven’t arrived yet. Jesus is still in his manger and Mary and Joseph are still sitting in the stable. Christmas does not officially finish until February 2nd – Candlemass or Midwinter’s Day. Why are you ripping down the Decorations on Twelfth Night? You can leave them up until Candlemass. Yes, but isn’t it just a tad depressing, heading off to work on those cold January mornings with your tree and tinsel still up? Yep, what is worse than crawling to work in mid-January and passing shops and houses still festooned in their festive garb.

Candlemass

Candlemass commemorates the presentation of the baby Jesus at the Temple. In a more “sinisiter” vein, it also marks the ritual purification of Mary 40 days after the birth of her son.

Up until the late nineteenth and early twentieth century the “purification” of young mothers was a common ceremony in some churches – it was called “Churching” – There was something inherently sinful in the act of procreation and something “unhealthy” about the act of childbirth, therefore young mothers underwent a purification ceremony before they were allowed back in church again, or allowed to take Holy Communion.

This ritual purification dates back to biblical times. When Women weren’t allowed to worship at the Temple or Synagogue after childbirth. The length of time that women were excluded from worship depended on the sex of their baby. In the case of a boy, young mums got a 40 day ban that increased to 60 days if they had given birth to a girl. So, if Jesus had been Jessica, we might well be keeping our Christmas decoration up until late February.

Jesus or Jessica ?

Of course Jesus wasn’t Jessica, but I am just wondering, if, next Christmas I could ask my employer for forty days off work for the festivities?

Oh Lord! Can you imagine celebrating Christmas for 40 consecutive days.?

40 days or 60 days. If Jesus had been Jessica, that would certainly have thrown the Christian calendar out of synch. Imagine Jessica spending 60 days in the wilderness – a 60 day long Lent. Of course this means that Easter would come 60 days after Ash Wednesday, meaning that Easter would fall firmly in Spring and we might actually get some decent weather for Easter.

Candlemass, like all good Christian ceremonies is of course based on a Pagan Ceremony – Midwinter’s day and the Festival of Light. Time to light a few candles and bonfires to mark the halfway stage of winter and a slow return to longer days right up until June 21st – Midsummer’s Day, the point at which days start to get shorter. Seems a bit weird that those long summer days are actually getting shorter in the run up to winter.

A Good Deed a day

 So, back to resolutions. I have decided to have daily resolutions or rather good intentions – that good old boy scout thing of « a good deed a day ». Some small act that will make someone else’s existence a little easier such as holding a door open for the person behind me, rather than letting it fly and shut firmly in their face.

Yes, there are plenty of day-to-day things you can do. When you driving along a main road with a huge line of cars behind you, why not stop and let through the poor bastard who has been waiting all day to come out of a side road. Do the same at roundabouts, give way to a couple of cars. If every motorist just let one car through on a roundabout it would do wonders for traffic flow. In the same way, stop at crossings and let that little old lady across.

Pity The Old Lady and her tin of cat food

Good deeds in shops. There you are at the checkout, a trolley laden with shopping and behind you, a fellow customer with just one or two items. Let the, frail little old lady with her tin of cat food go in front of you. Statistically you have longer to live than her. So you have the time as she pays for her cat food in one cent coins.

For all those small good deeds you do, the one day that you need a good deed just to make life a little easier, well generally it happens just when you need it.

And finally a good deed that costs nothing. A warm morning greeting with a smile for friends, neighbours and colleagues. You know, when you are down in the mouth with a bad case of the Monday morning blues, it just takes a smile and a heartfelt greeting from a colleague to make your day.

Sun-Drenched Beach

Oh dear, this all sounds so trivial, but then you don’t need a spanner in the works to make the machine breakdown, sometimes just a grain of sand will do. I’m hoping my grains of sand will pile up and form into one long sun drenched beach, for this is also that time of year that we traditionally think about booking our summer vacation, and every year, the stress levels in our house go through the roof as I annoy my family with holiday plans. This year I’ll go with the flow and pick up something at the last minute. And so, to my final resolution – cease stressing those around me with my plans, fears, worries and good intentions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Save Your Holiday Crocodile

The Last Day of the Holidays

I started with a case of carefully packed, freshly ironed and neatly folded clothes. Now I have a sweaty ball of T-shirts, beachwear, shorts and underpants to shove in my bag. Packing to go home is never much of a problem. Just cram everything into every available space in the car.

Try as I can, I can’t get all the sand out of my beach bag. I guess for the next few months, when the beach bag resumes its normal role as my sports bag, I’ll still be finding grains at the bottom, sting there like some kind of magic dust, coming back periodically to remind me of my week by the sea. Good memories.

The last day on the beach – Save Your Crocs

Deflating the inflatables – those inflatable objects and animals that have been purchased for the purpose of floating around in the sea. Those airbeds, dolphins, crocodiles that dad has blown up until his lungs almost exploded. I know (we say it every year) Next year we’ll bring a pump (but we never do) and as dad first struggles to find the air intake and then spend around twenty minutes with a small rubber tube in his mouth trying to blow life into a PVC crocodile, the kids stand round impatiently, screaming for their new rubber friend. Ah yes it all looks very clumsy, very perverse, but you are on the beach. Having inflated a good few floating friends in my time, it makes me wonder why anyone would actually bother with one of those inflatable sex toy dolls.

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This year’s fashionable beach inflatable was an unfeasibly large crocodile. The beach was infested by lurid green, grinning inflatable crocs. As I surveyed the hordes of crocs lying in the sun, I wondered just how many would make it home to spend all year, lurking sad, lifeless, airless and crumpled in the darkest recesses of a cupboard? How any will simply “die” on the beach? Deflated and binned after use so they don’t have to be carried home. There’s enough “rubbish” in the car already without adding more.

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Hey folks. Be kind your crocs. You have bought them, given them life, loved them, played with them, and perhaps even given them names. They have become a full member of your holiday family. Wash them down; deflate them slowly (without stamping on them). Fold them up with love and take them home. Treat your croc well and he (or she) will be there for you next year. An inflatable crocodile is not just for the holidays, it is for life. I might just start a campaign to save holiday crocs.

A Week With The Garlic Whale (and other beach memories)

John King

Recent holiday memories – Summer time and the living is easy, unless you are looking for a place on the beach to unfurl your towel and soak up the sun.

It’s been a long year and we all deserve our place in the sun. Of course, if you want sun, you head south and everyone heads south – hundreds of thousands of people from all over Europe, pouring into that small corner of South Eastern France – the Côte d’Azur. That part of Mediterranean coastline stretching from the outskirts of Toulon up to the Italian border.

Day One

On the beach, and I am Lucky enough to find a few square feet to unfurl my towel, lie on the sand and enjoy a nap. I am rudely awakened by the guttural elastic sounds of Dutch people. I wake I have been besieged by a large tribe of them. When the French go to the beach, they tend to be fairly minimalist. When the Dutch hit the beach, they bring tons of beach essentials – parasols, cool boxes, numerous inflatable’s. They are like a small army on the march. To help their logistical operation, many Dutch carry their beach kit in trolleys. Surrounded by Dutch. I really should move, but I was here first and in true Rupert Brooke style – there is a corner of a foreign beach that is forever England.

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Day Two

Time to unleash my flesh on an unsuspecting world. However, over this past year, my middle age spread has spread yet again. I am now what could be termed as flabby. This is the Côte d’Azur where every male is some kind of tanned and sculpted Adonis. I’m scared to take off my T-shirt. On a stroll along the beach though I observe very few « Chippendales » but plenty of flabby blokes grilling red like sides of beef roasting in the sun. It seems at St Tropez that fat is fashionable. Time to rip off the T-shirt and get grilling.

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Day Three

Once again besieged by a Dutch tribe, airbeds, parasols and their own garden furniture. I move down the beach next to a hoard of Brits. They spend the afternoon drink vast quantities of chilled rosé wine in the hot glaring, blazing sun. It is over 30°c. I suppose this is a case of « mad dogs and Englishmen ».

Day Four

We are camped next to a group of French youngsters, who spend the afternoon « groping » each other.

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Day Five

Strolling along the beach. Close to the water’s edge mums and dads are building sandcastles for disinterested children and, when mum gets bored, dad carries on. I too would like to build a sandcastle, but my daughter has passed the age of raising towers and now merely raises her eyebrows in nonchalant disdain when I suggest some construction activity. All males possess a sandcastle gene, which is activated during the first throes of holiday fatherhood – but as our kids grow out the sandcastle phase, we never lose it. Guess I’ll just have to wait to be a grandfather and build castles with my grandchildren.

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Day Six

The garlic whale is back. I call her the garlic whale. A rather large French woman who stinks of garlic. She floats around on an airbed, and as I splash around, however much I try to avoid her, she always seems to catch me up and then float around me, wafting her garlicky whiff. Today is particularly bad, as I am surrounded by her entire family. No matter where I swim to, they are always there.

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Day Seven

As we prepare to leave, the beach is people with new arrivals. White like aspirin and covered in layers of factor 50 sun cream. There is a very military-looking French gent, distributing metal spades to his four children. They all line up, and at the command « shoulder spades », they all march down to the beach. Mum follows up behind carrying a cool box and a parasol. I don’t want to o home. I want to buy a real metal spade and stay here all day building a sandcastle.