FRANCE 2018 BRITTANY with Countrysideholidaysinfrance.co.uk
I need to preface the following report with a note of caution to anyone daft enough to read it. As a former Boy Scout I am always prepared for the task ahead and made sure that my memory of the holiday was supported by copious notes. I have absolutely no idea where they are! so you will just have to believe my idea of what actually happened to the eleven Club members who undertook this journey.
A simple task to start was to meet at the BP garage on the M27 at 9.00pm so as to be on good time for the ferry at 1145pm. Don as always was the first to arrive but had a sorry tale to tell as he had inadvertently put seven litres of diesel in his Trophy, not a good start. However the guys in the garage made the necessary telephone call to their contact who duly arrived after about half an hour and pumped the tank clear. The cost to Don was £??? and surprisingly he still managed to smile, perhaps it was the dozen bottles of beer the garage lads gave him for free!
All off to the ferry in good time and apart from one individual, there is always one, who had to empty his panniers etc to prove he wasn’t try to smuggle any immigrants back home, before we all adjourned to the bar for a little internal lubrication. Don and Mick went off to their cabin (how the other half lives!) whilst the rest of us stumbled around the darkened room trying to find a space into which we could collapse for the night. After a good 10 minutes sleep it was time for a full English breakfast although the cabin boys couldn’t rouse themselves in time and had to make do with the continental alternative.
Off the ferry and on the road and it quickly became clear that the road surface was perfect, no need to look out for potholes as there weren’t any. With Keith, The Younger, leading the way with his sat nav talking to his bluetooth in his helmet (do you think I know what I am talking about?) the journey was incident free. Concerns over the Triumph mounted members fuel range did leave desperately searching for fuel but all was well after a little guidance from a local. The journey was broken at Dinan which bore a remarkable resemblance to the river at Arundel and we totally ignored the “NO M/Cs” signage whilst we had a look around. Arriving at Lanrivain we paused briefly in the square where Keith, Scary, had a few brief words with a lady who had come out to see what was going on, before proceeding on the short stretch to Burlaouen.
The final directions to the site went along theses lines; from the square take the single track tarmac road alongside the town hall, proceed until the tarmac ends and the road is gravelled before it becomes a lane with grass in the middle. The ‘Think Bike’ sign indicates we are on track and we arrived safe and sound the journey having been just 216km in total.
At this juncture it is appropriate to introduce you to our hosts who are Roger and Linda ably supported by Randy Rocky and Nasher, the first two being humans and the latter two Jack Russells. (Randy due to his ability to service successfully with the resultant pups contributing to the business funds and Nasher due to his teeth pointing in just about every direction.) Our hosts could not have been more accommodating with bread, milk, butter, jam and beer all provided in the three gites that we occupied. Those gites were The Stone House, The Wooden House and the Eco Lodge (shed) all had full facilities for eating, showering, sleeping etc with all bedding and towels provided and were very comfortable plus of course we were blessed with the most glorious weather so not too much time was spent inside.
As we got to know Roger and Linda it transpired that they were some thirty year ago members of a hippy commune and although hardly wealthy they were able to cobble together sufficient funds to purchase a small piece of land that no-one wanted and to rent a tiny cottage. Linda became a physiotherapist and Roger removed half of his hand by putting it where he shouldn't have, in Roger's words "Linda kept the family solvent and I did my own thing". From those modest beginnings today they have expanded to twenty acres and the site as now seen on their website, have two grown up children who have flown the nest after graduating from university and Linda is now about to retire.
Once we made ourselves comfortable a decision as to how what and where we should eat. Although the local restaurant was closed Roger arranged for it to be opened for us and to meet with our requirements of "Fish & Chips with a French twist". The beer was good, the wine very pleasant and the food excellent and the cost modest so a good time was had by all. Perhaps the most unusual but greatly appreciated event was the fact that we were all offered second helpings of fish, when was the last time you had seconds in a restaurant!! After our meal we were entertained by the family's two children who played harp and flute which was a more than pleasant surprise for us all.
OK so what did we get up to? Day 1 Roger very kindly led us down to the submarine pens at L'Orient where we enjoyed a very pleasant lunch and wandered around the site before going into the museum and into the submarine. Unfortunately it was a French sub rather than a German U Boat but with a commentary in English on our earphones it was possible to imagine what it was like during wartime. On the return journey home Roger stopped off at the Chapel of St-Barbe where this impressive building had been built literally hacked out of the rock face, there is a story to tell but too long to include. So back to base where we were to enjoy a 'crepe' evening prepared by our hosts and where the beer and wine flowed for all except Mick G who had a penchant for cider which he apparently needed to aid the digestion of his crepes.
Day 2 hinged on Big Mick's fascination with massive military vehicles and Roger's belief that there was a large lorry rusting away in a field nearby. The area in which were staying whilst occupied didn't see any major conflict so there wasn't the usually array of military hardware abandoned. However the resistance were very active using whatever methods they could to disrupt the German military with considerable success but not without repercussions, retribution and reprisals. The museum covering these activities was only built in the last five years and was a moving experience, for my part I had no idea of the major part the local females played and at what cost to them.
Sorry back to the rusty lorry which with Roger's help and a trudge across the files we found much to Mick's satisfaction. A lengthy discussion took place as to how badly it had decayed, what was repairable or what was beyond any form of repair and could it or any part of it be salvaged and returned to the UK. As you might expect the ideas suggested ranged from the acceptable to the downright barmy, it did however give us something different to talk about. Onwards to see fish farm Valerie or was it Wendy? who was farming salmon from eggs up to some very impressive fish and who lifted out by a net the largest fish, so heavy that the net handle bowed. She was a diminutive lady and clearly very strong, I wouldn't have liked to take her on and a good job too as apparently she was previously a Judo champion.
Back to base and another trip to the local restaurant opened up just for us where once again we were treated like royalty. This time it was for Beef Bourgineon with excellent dauphinoise potatoes, the usual beer and wine and yes you've got it seconds all round.
Our final 'free' day was a trip to Brinic, a pleasant trouble free journey thanks to Keith still operating his 'ground control to Major Tom thingy'. It was a lovely day once again and the marina and surrounding shops kept everyone busy. On the promise of a barbecue to come lunch needed to be on the 'light' side so a sandwich ( a fiiled baguette ) and coffee seemed like a good idea. However the sandwich shop didn't do coffee and the coffee house didn't do sandwiches. No problem the lady serving the coffee said to get your sandwich and bring it back to eat with our coffee, try that in a UK restaurant!
On site it was a restful time before joining up for the barbecue and the event mirrored the crepe evening with wine and beer flowing well before any food was likely to appear. A quick learning point here...don't leave your camera unattended.......or you might find some 'different' pictures on it the next day. The barbecue was very tasty and the conversation flowed without a break, Roger and Linda were as attentive as ever even making Mick his own pot of tea whilst the rest had coffee. It was all over too soon as indeed was our stay and it was with no little reluctance that we returned to our sites.
With a modest journey back to the port we decided that a stop over at Pegasus Bridge was called for so we could reacquaint ourselves with Madame Gauchon who was pleased to see us once again. Lunch in the shade overlooking the bridge couldn't be bettered and it was a fine way to bring the holiday to a close.
Here endeth the lesson, but if anyone wants to add more? then let me know!