WMC's diary pages, 2002.

[January] [February] [March] [April] [May] [June] [July] [August] [Holiday: Quiberon] [September] [October] [November] [December]

See-also: http://www.wmc.care4free.net/diary/.

August (and September) 2002: Holiday in the Presqu'Ile de Quiberon

Fri 23rd

Up 'early' - 7:30 - to finish packing, plant D's sensitive plant & load car. M is to do misc during the morning, eg pick our excellent plum, pear & apple crop.

Work: tidy. Jck says Kate has started knitting an ermine!

Decide to panic & leave early - as it turns out - 12:30 - but apart from one bit all is smooth, & it only takes 3:30, 164 miles to ferry port q. E sleeps all way, D sleeps after 1h, so its a quiet drive.

As we're here early I phone John, who is at work but happy to leave, & who says Marion is at home. So: meet outside dockyard & tour. We're a bit late - Victory is shutting - but gaze up at the outside & the masts x00 feet high, as the guide reels off as he passes. Warships with sun glinting off radomes in distance. D sits on cannon & says Bang! Bang! Bang! with glee. To Dry Dock cafe, beer & sandwiches (beef in D's case, which is chomped up).

Which all shuts at 6, so off to ferry port. Check in & sit in ranks. Looking around, I see I may have been too sqeamish about the bike rack. M changes E in car...

Onboard. A little confusion then find cabin, bijou. D excited by details. Shower, & E. Then go watch us leave port - dark now. Ranks of warships - more than you expect - & huge ferries.

Discover playroom: D dives into softplay bit, then colouring. M queues for a bite of food. D discovers the tunnel to the 'cinema' where he has undergone capture by Tom & Jerry.

Bed. Fiddle with lights.

Sat 24th

Ignore a few wake-up calls on tannoy then go with D up onto deck, just as we're passing the mole. Clear still quiet morning. Walled town, fortified islelets, myriad pleasure sails at anchor: pleasant. I guess the new town is hidden.

Cabin; M changes E who is having a pooey phase; pack; find deck 4a. Off after short wait since someone ahead in our q is still abed.

St Malo. Park outside walled town & cafe for b'fast. Old narrow streets... 'vaste appartment a renover 64.8k F'. Sit in 'morts pour la france' garden (cathedral doesn't open till 9:45!) & D runs around - but he's a bit wobbly on his feet.

Cathedral: p'ground. Also quiet, cool, stone. Ships. Bronze altar.

Ramparts, briefly.

Drive out in direction Cancale, on the same road (we intend) as we cycled years ago. Stop, randomly, at Dunes de Roz Ven, drive off small road to sandy carpark. M tired, E sleeps, but D & I both perky & full of the new world. Down sandy steps - this, if not itself, is vaguely Cornish - to peaceful beach. Rock headlands, gently lapping blue sea, small boats moored. Closer inspection finds sea clear & warm (for sea!). Build sandcastle; persuade D into sea (I hope to get him keen this hol). Now investigate rocks on W side as tide retreats. We've been here 1h - M still sleeps.

Back. Small roads round pt X, then Cancale, the main roads direction Vannes. Stop Caulnes at a pleasant stopping place with... fountains. Actually a wide 10x15' covered watering basin with fountains in open center behind wide grass & shaded gravel & !french toilet! This seems a popular place for locals to wash their cars. I keep E happily on stone bench for 5 mins: I leave her with M for 5 secs while I photo D by fountains & E face-plants into gravel.

Sun 25th

Up with E, then cycle to ville for bread & a few missing essentials: salt etc, & recce beach.

All walk to town beach, except E who is in pushchair. Hot, sunny. I wear my wizard hat.

Onto beach. Dig, play, dam. Try to keep DE un-sunburnt.

12:30. I escape to the esplanade cafe for my 1st of the hol. M joins me: crepes & cidre.

From M: the two of us have escaped for lunch while others still on the beach. All had loads of fun; I kipped for half an hour. Big; lighthouses;-ferry to Belle-Isle. Crepe & ice-cream. Cloudless. W reads go book.

Back to beach while Mfd, J & D eat. Local youth provide diversion while I rest quietly in fragment of now-shade of wall. Swim! Chill: takes me a long time to go in but once in, ok: swim to buoy, to wall, back. Sans glasses I could have plunged in all at once.

D discovers 'mudpies away'.

Leave post 5. I carry D about 1/2 way back.

M cooks pasta, tom & broccoli. I wash sand off DE & me.

Post-meal: sleep on sofa while M plays with D & E ramps in conservatory. Wake after M puts them to bed. Later, thunder (later, rainstorm) & go up to comfort D.

Soir: play go with M. Lose. Remove sun-tan gunk from palm in M's bag.

Mon 26th

Grey drizzle :-(. Still, we took full advantage of yesterday. Slow am (Mfd calls excited from upstairs: E walking: & so she is: a chain of steps). then drive ensemble to Port Louis (D is confused: who was poor Louis?) to view Citadel. Investigate entrance; panel says prevu 2-3h, no resto, & its 12:45. So lunch nearby, vue panoramique sur rade. Explore rocks with D while Mfd & M's moules arrive. Why no photos? I forgot memory card.

Lunch (E likes chips) then Citadel, as I remember a massive (Spanish) construction with a variety of museums suitable for browsing: E Indies; ship models, guns (put E in carronade). D quite likes all this & we explain the different bits of ships. Its still raining but D&I go up onto battlements & look about till we see others leaving.

I sit in car; J,Mfd,E join me, the latter asleep. D takes M to a small merry-go-round nearby but the weather is unpropitious for funfairs. M says he wins a free extra go! but can't use it. Home - M drives for 1st time - 6:30 ish.

I go off to shop a la velo (wash powder, etc) then station for times, which are:

Q to A: (euro 2.5, 20 carnet of 10)

9.00 10:54 11:54 12:53 9:45 11:39 12:35 13:36

A to Q:

11:58 13:46 15:35 16:30 17:40 18:50 12:45 14:29 16:18 17:18 18:28 19:38

Back at 7:30. Kiss D (& E) goodnight.

Mfd+J have cooked. Eat. Beat M on 8.

Tues 27th

Walk to 9 train to Auray. Arrive: where are we? Follow centre ville but its a long walk, & the town along the way dull. & the town when there, too. Leave MED in cafe & go look. Some interest (old p'cards, ironmongery, table croquet), but no bargains (sextant: E 400). Lunch in nearer cafe in the 'invisible corner'.

Long time till 3:35 train: find p'gd with house where D plays waiter & M&I sleep. Then hurry to train & just catch it.

Back. J's camera says 'H' & it shouldn't :-(. (Manual v helpful: self- test has diag fault: take battery out to reset. But not what to do if fault cont). D plays draughts with Mfd & M, but needs help.

6: to Cote Sauvage, which isnt very, low granite 'cliffs' with a road along the top (I went long way by mistake, straight through Kerne). Limited climbing pos. Inland, map says & I see, many small fields with walls, becoming fallow then suburb. Weather improving, cloud broken, warm. Sun!

Cycle along coast road, then up sand track, past centre equestre, & back before 7.

Soir: read from Modern Joseki & Fuseki, Vol 1.

Wed 28th

Alarums & excursions: a small voice from upstairs says 'my bed is wet' so I swap him to the other. Then E wakes at 7, & so does D, & M gets that.

Broken cloud clears to sun.

At 11 cycle off with D (others will shop) short route to Cote Sauvage, & around to beach (D rejects various offers to look at rocks & sea). & we play as you do. The beach is really much too tame - for my tastes - but is fine by D.

2: others appear. Lunch, good, au Retro. Have 'kir breton'. Buy new metal spade for 8 & p'cards for Ma & F.

3: back to beach, more digging & somesuch fun, much aided by new spade. Bury D; drain pools; build forts against the advancing sea (blister left palm in enthusiasm). Suddenly its 5, then 6 & time to go. M & I have a quick wander.

D & I cycle home ahead of others on foot. I shower; D runs & hides.

Bedtime: D tells me about mr w's magic tail. E burbles unsleepily.

Soir: post-dinner (fresh sardines for them) I sync (/dev/ttyUSB1 as dmesg says) & look at guidebooks & maps (somewhat belatedly) for unspoilt coastline & beaches.

Thurs 29th

Slow am then Auray for lunch. This time find the nice bit by the river, though sadly M follows her mothers advice not mine re choice of parking, so we get to do yukky bit in town. Descend steps in wood, over old bridge, to the Franklin. Day switches from uniform grey to uniform blue. Food is good but D's tummy not, & after spell lying on M, then me, he voms in street :-( Poor D.

To Carnac & environs (Kerlescan; le Manio). Sadly the 'alignements' are fenced off - for winter only - protected from us summer hordes. But we go to see the Giant - about 5m - & nearby 'quadrilateral'. E obliges with steps & cuteness when placed at base. Now 5.

Curcurcy, since its on the way. Cute hamlet, small mound bramble & bracken covered, with small path to small menhir on top.

Mane-Kerioned: 3 chamber-dolmens, one still covered & with 'writing'. This is far more fun for D. Use palm as torch & ir on vid. 6:30. Maybe Menhirs are best appreciated in silence - perhaps even in rain - & are unsuitable for family viewing.

Portivy, so we don't have to cook. Resto #1 is ferme le jeudi, #2 till 7.30, but #3 opens in 5 mins, at 7. Crepes/galettes again!

While waiting pud, D & I walk along shore (hello chat) & out on natural causeway to little island.

Back late: past 8. Mfd+J bed infants who sleep instantly; M & I walk at her instigation walk to coast & sit on rocks & watch sunset fade. A sunpillar appears, at first weakly. A lighthouse.

Fri 30th

Sunny am but I laze in bed till 9. Finally get out 11:30 to Port Guen (Blanc) near Portivy. A natural beach, waves crashing in (turns out later to sport surfers), in a little cove. Sea chill: I only venture to knees. Next door cove has arch on cover of map, & it & around could be climbed up to VS- maybe.

This is a nicer beach... but... no stream, & sand a little coarser so doesnt dig so well (someone builds pyramids & sphinx).

Haze sets in; distant island disappears & it chills.

Later: 4: walk round to Portivy which is v quiet. To 'bar a tapas' for coffee x 4 & lolly x 1. Now I am alone having arduous xtra cafe while others walk mole.

Sat 30th

Today starts grey, & Mfd has sunburnt legs, so to Vannes. Leave 11, arrive q-to-12 & sit in car park q. Just when all seems hopeless, find a space! Moreover, because of bizarre rules, the payment, like the shops, sleeps 12-2 so tis cheap.

Walk along harbour/river towards town. At end is a boat, on which one may embark, a real wooden one not a plastic one. Le homme boards, & D is enthusiastic, so M inquires: we should meet him at C at 2:30. In the meantime, lunch in one of the many main-square cafes. Arrange meet outside Musee Arch 4, in case owt wrong with boat.

And so we sail the Golfe de Morbihan abord le Petit Foc, at a moderate pace - the wind is mild. The mast creaks gently & sometimes the water races along the side. Like now! & somewhat later, even more so!

I have managed to leave my camera behind, but what would be best would be the big nikon.

M gets to steer (tiller). Requires quite a push, esp when a gust strikes.

D loves going below, & might spend the whole voyage there given the chance. There are 3 bunks, a tiny potti-loo, a hammock, a table in the bows, a cooker, an engine. Low: D's head brushes the beams. A folder: a few press re restoration of the boat; she has been to Shetland & Norge.

The gulf is low islands, many/most occupied, most wooded pine/oak, sandy, pleasure boats all over.

The boat is a restored/former coquiler (as in st-jacques, as in scallops), one mast, gaff rig, could have upper sail but didn't, could have spritsail but didnt. One passed us going in - probably they require more than one compent sailor: I got to rope-haul to raise the mainsail.

Around, & back, the wind freshens a trifle. Return 6:45, back to Vannes where MfdJE are found. Dinner, & despite skipping pudding back home 9:30. D yawning to bed.

Sun 1st

September! & all good fr kids are getting ready for rentree, &/or enjoying last freedom.

Yesterdays pure sunset becomes todays pure dawn. M wakes with kids & proposes walk to cote so I rise too & at 9 we head to coast via slightly odd but quite direct path avoiding roads, sharing the carrying of E.

Cote is somewhat wilder by early light, though campervans parked by road do somewhat dispell the illusion. But they are all still asleep as we clamber on rocks & watch quite big waves - D worries at me if I go down too far.

& back at 10:30. Second b'fast. Have a slow day around house. I read go in heat of conservatory. D plays with hosepipe so I use water to 'clean' path but this fails as nowhere to sweep water to. E climbs on clothes frame. MfdJ shop. Mfd reads Just So to D. Fred 'falls' off the balcony & I decide he needs his tail splinted, though D is desperate to put a plaster on.

At 4, with E asleep (though she wakes as we leave) I take D out to beaches new.

Lion fish

Tues 2nd

Another fine morning - so much so that we manage to leave by 10 (including nearly-leaving & coming back for D's trunks).

Towards Etel; to alignments of Kerzerho, which are interesting. About 1/2 h drive, inc leaving Presqu' Ille, which always takes 20 mins or so. Take first slide of hol, I have to bribe D with being carried back to get him to stand in place for the photo. The stones just stand, at the edge of the village, ignored by the road which ploughs through & cuts off one corner. But its quite quiet, & more so up a shady lane to the larger ones. D climbs on a ?fallen? block.

To plage de Kerourlec, which extends forever - we are near Roche Seche. 11:30. Hot. Install near bunkers. Walk out to islet on low causeway. Once shown, D enthusiastically tricks sea anenomes with shells. See, v briefly, a large kingfisher. Find sea urchin shells.

The Nazi bunkers are like beached whales or Ballard fragments. Or crashed alien spaceships. Later, J buys the Big Boys Book of Bunkers but ours isnt in it.

Suddenly its time for lunch, & after photoing by me, while others to car, its 1:30. To Etel, which is quiet (now post-season) & we are late-for-lunch, but find somewhere rather good. Mfd has plat of fruits de mer, M langoustines (oops, how do you eat them?), I a more prosaic galette.

Then bumble around harbour onto mole to end, wonder where/when little ferries go, & leave via p'cards & boulangerie, past-4. Back 5, iced drinks for me & D, M does E.

D writes 2 p'cards - N & B. Or at least their names & his. Then does some of his letterland work books, & his yellow book for Mrs Leeper (nb she is Mrs L, at pgp it was Tracy & Linda), with M - I am rejected.

6:45: take a quiet walk to cote. I havent had much time alone - or with just-M - this hol, since unlike Lescun there is a lack of obvious to-do. Now know best route: peacefull track opp house, across road, down short street, left around back of camping, to equestre, right & to coast road/path. Sun, blue, heat, sea-cool, rocks, gentle waves. Peace. I am wearing my druid hat to shield me from the sun.

Find trou du soufleur - a through-hole in which the sea burbles.

Seen: a lizard (medium), a rat (brown, amongst rocks), birds (various), trees (windshaped).

As test (rather late...) take comparative photos with big & little nikon: choose seagull against sunset. Looking, its v hard even to see. Discover that the 3/4 zoom the 950 comes on with is about 105mm.

Tues 3rd

Today Mfd and J get a day off. This is the first day this hol we have officially "split", which is similar to Provence but not to Lescun, the connecting factor perhaps being the small infant.

Anyway, its another clear blue day (forecast is for clouds pm, but on the Peninsular, apart from a few around noon, it remains clear though slightly hazy. Off over the mainland, cumulus puff up in a way reminiscent of the Day of the Great Evening Thunderstorm (Sunday?); but so far (10pm) no thunder). We get off at 10:45 just before Mfd and J. In the car, decide where to go: Kerhostin, on the E side of the penin, just before the Isthmus. On the map it is small, with no clear beach. When we get there, the roads in are tiny (which is promising) and we find a parking and a little lane down to the beach (which is also promising; the best beaches are descended to from above (errr... as opposed to below?)) which is small and quiet. The houses here look older, and a good deal cuter, narrow lanes not suburbs.

At the beach we dig a bit, then after a while I persuade D to go look at the water, which he is afraid of. Why? Unsure. Some great formative experience in his youth? Anyway, down we go, and D gets his toes wet and me somewhat more (M, as ever, gets to manage E). Its somewhat chilly, but warmer I think on this protected side (as I hoped) and after a while I screw myself up to sploshing in, which I do all in one (the sensible way, which I knew before but now know I know; incidentally, again, it would be easier to do this sans glasses). Then I swim out to a white raft moored a few yards out and climb on board, which interests D, so he wades most of the way (its cold! its cold!) and I pull him abord, and we admire our situation, the quiet beach, the quiet waves, the near flat sea. Leaving my glasses in his hands I dive in, tarrah, what fun; and again.

After a while we return to shore, play with ME, then decide its lunchtime, and at 1:20 go looking for a resto, not having seen any on the way in. Dump stuff in car and wander towards main road. #1 is finished; #2 appears promising - pizza - but the waitress returns: too late for pizza! :-( So we have buffet instead, which with a bit of scratching around is OK in an egg and cornishon sort of way. Apart from being on the main road into the penin (quite quiet on this day at this hour) the little place is charming, with a big spray of flowers falling above my head. So, I am finally convinced that the french eat dinner late but lunch early. How odd.

After lunch, head back to beach 3-ish. M sits with E (who has drunk herself to sleep on milk) while D and I go off to explore around the coast to the N; initially on the "cliff" top path then on the rocks. We see 20 fr army-types messing around in boats; being taught something on shore then all paddling off in zodiac-type things; the instructor got to use his motor, though. Then further round, nearly to the Isthmus, just quiet pleasant rocky shore under the sun (I unbraid my hair to protect me somewhat; D got suncreamed earlier, we must hope it lasts). D goes by the dry rocks; I paddle through the submerged ones. Climb up a steep path, carry D over a few thistle-y bits, then back along the top to a big cedar-type tree which I boost D into. Down to soldiers beach, along back to "main" beach, where E is awake in M's arms at top.

So... down to beach for all of us. Another swim for me and paddle for D. Sea has come in somewhat; I have to go out and drag raft inwards to the limit of its chain so I can wade out and put D on (at one point I thoughtlessly leave him there and swim futher out to buoy; it is truly pleasant swimming, just right once you are going, not chill at all; however when I turn round and head back I see him leaning over and reaching for the chain, which he can't get; I have visions of him falling over, silently, sinking equally so, and me not seeing cos I'm still swimming out... so I hastily swim back. Next time, bring the armbands: why didn't we?).

Onshore. Bury D, while E ramps over him. I bury my toes and D digs me out. I take too much video of D and E and M searching for shells - its a good beach for shells (signs: about peche a la huitre: limit is 8kg/day/person (!); you can't take them smaller than 6cm). On last extensive swim for me, ostensibly to wash the sand off but it turns into a nice long swim out as far as the nearest boat and across nearly to and island. Then wash self off under the pump (splendid! if only this beach had a stream, it would be near-perfect. D also liked to play with the pump). 5. Home.

We are first back, unsurprisingly. I post D's p'cards to Billy and Naomi; shower and put coffee on, and am in general somewhat unhelpful re childcare. I take coffee up to D's balcony, where am joined by others. M goes to bath D and E. Screams from the bathroom: D has had his hair soaped up, which happens very very rarely - he hates to get his head wet - and is throwing such an eppy that M can't rinse it out again. In the midst of this Mfd and J return from Vannes, and the Musee de la Chouannerie, about which I knew nothing but it turns out to be about the resistance to the revolution, and maybe we should go look. I take E out and leave D to M... poor M ends up a bit stressed by all this and my general unhelpfulness, and after dinner retires to our room to sleep, from which she hasn't emerged by now, 10:30, so probably won't, and I shall go join her, goodnight.

Wed 4th

Today is our day 'off'. It dawns grey & late: as I get up at 9 D comes down; M wakes E later. Entrust enfants to care of J+Mfd, leave 10:30, intent Etel & riviere.

Going through St Barbe as minor short-cut stop & view chapel, which is small & cute. Especially small blue window at back (another comparative photo; also main window at 28, twice, at 1/30 (correct exposure) & 1/60. From chapel go down to fontaines & lavoir, where marshland beyond is being managed ecologically by local chasseurs. As I over-photo the lavoir M walks down a little lane & discovers another, with bright green

frogs. All this is pleasant & very restful.

5 mins down road (past *another* lavoir) we return to kerzerho, this time passing the alignments & taking a circuit of menhirs, whose 1/2 way pt is mane braz, a 4 chamber tomb. M says: is it just chance-of-construction technique that let these things last 6kyr? Ie, did they build them 'forever', or was this just the only way they knew?

And around circuit: now 1: time for lunch: Erdeven: resto-pizzeria prat-en-bras. Good. V quiet.

Then (2:30) over passage nouvelle & to E side of mouth of Etel. Walk along sand away for maybe 1/2 h; high tide; find a shell; walk back. Lovely. Look out: barre is under water. There is a tide-race just offshore.

To St Cado. Walk over famous bridge (legend: the devil repaired St Cado's shoddy work in exchange for first soul, a cat). Cute chapel. Little house on little island. Back across: uninspired painters. Bar: peace; coffee; p'cards to mj, datew, pshd.

And so home a little after 6. DE v glad to see M (& to a lesser extent me) but have had a fun day.

To town for butter (epicerie), bread (other end, good, 'our' end shut) & times of Belle-Ile ferries:

20 a/r adulte

q->le p 8.00, 9.30, 11.00, 12.30, 14.00, 14.15

le p->q 14.15, 15.45, 17.45, 18.45

q->houat 9.15, 11.00

h->q 11.40, 16.30, 18.50

Soir: read 'an outpost of progress' & work (indeed) on y'days & todays photos.

Second recharge for camera batteries.

Thurs 5th

Today, Belle-Ile: mostly because I feel like going there & drag others in my wake. Grey, but mist: hopefully it will clear. Leave 10, port 10:30, to get 11 boat: Vindilis. & indeed after a misty crossing we emerge just as we get to B-I. So the town & citadel loom out of the mist.

Lunch (carry pram upstairs only to discover 2nd entrance on other side...) then citadel. Which is impressive, & big, & confusing, since you walk in between the petals of various demi-lunes. Nothing like it in uk.

Musee. It would seem that we took the citadel by breech in 1761. So does that mean all those fancy demi-lunes were obsolete? But we had 18k vs their 3k. But Vauban recommends 10-to-1. But we had ships.

Vast renouvelled interior en chene, used as gallery space.

So: citadel is all we see of B-I. & we dont see all of that.

Minor panic on return: path across river is raised to let boats through & way round is out of sight. But wait, & it lowers, using the magic biro-top on the control panel.

Return crossing, this time in sun. 45 mins is a good time, time to look but not get bored.

Now its 6 & we're on the beach. At least Med are: I'm in le retro, having a welcome rest after attending to DE this last hour or so. After disembark we decided to split; MfdJ to shop, I took DE to beach & above M got her rest. D & I (well mostly I) dug a big sandcastle & E-attractor, then began a canal to the sea (v high) but it retreated :-(.

Now D is sad because he has sand in his eyes.

Inspect T-shirts but vacillate.

Walk home: M carries D much of the way.

Soir: M & I escape at 8 for an evening out! To porz guen to see the setting sun through the arch, the surfers like incompetent seals. Portivy, but decent resto is complet & M doesn't fancy the tapas bar. So St-Pierre where we find a nice creperie & get bierre breton (britt) blonde & rousse.

Home. Review photos. The 950 is a strange beast. Often its tree-greens are poor. But sometimes (eg 5280, which I thought washed-out junk when I took it, but whose sea-blue & sand-orange is good) its superb.

Fri 6th

Last day! But grey. No great rush-to-activity, least of all from D, who wants to go to the main beach but only once he has played draughts, & ...

12: Mfd & M head off for the Great Seafood Lunch.

1: E has become sad so gets put down to sleep, & does. D goes upstairs, & its quiet: J & I read. Then.

D comes downstairs: daddy, there's something i want to show you. Which turns out to be that the odd purposeless pipe sticking onto the veranda is merrily leaking (D has bent it back & forth until it does), & continues to do so when duct tape is applied. & starts to drip into the fuse box... I locate the global off, & discover the tap-top is loose, but fortunately I brought pliers.

During all this D says: but i didnt mean to. Thinking about this later: the leak is so big that it must have been a small leak after some bending, then grown, & eventually D must have thought "ohh... ooops".

So J phones Madame Adam (not in), Mrs Gite (ditto), local office des gites (useless) & finally a plumber underlined in the book. Who recognises the address. At 3 (Mfd & J still at lunch), D & I head off for beach, E just awoke (at least she slept through the leak).

Beach. Grey clears: some sun. Have fun: tide is near full. Dig castle near sea (which gets washed away), then channel back towards y'days distant castle. After much effort (& a nice high tide) get the sea moated round it.

Memo: add to beach repertoire: pyramids (inc sphinx); & citadels-a-la-vauban.

Home (shop en route) to find nice plumber has fixed all (by removing the totally pointless pipe & one other) & Mfd+M had a nice lunch.

Soir: put coffee cups down at 9, then a frenzy of packing (bizarrely mostly trying to find things to fill the vast spaces, partly because E has used 2 packs of nappies & some food. Fin at 11. Bed just before 12.

Sat 7th

In the night: storms. I get up cos D's window slams. M restless due to coffee. Grey, rain am. B'fast, finish pack dribs & drabs. D sits in car for much of this, singing with Mr W & lusting after a pack of biccies. 10: take group photos. Mrs Adam arrives by bike, & seems friendly enough, not the salt & pepper stealing gorgon that was portraied. Mfd & she do calcs & MfdJ are painfully honest over pipe: about 30. 10:30 D & I are in car, ready. Goodbyes! Leave :45.

At Ploermel the main road does a wide bypass so go through & stop 12-1 for brief lunch & look at exterior of church. Then on through rain & scenery, with happily 2 sleeping infants, to St Malo at 2:15 & drive along 'plage' road looking for parking space &/or hotel. 126 miles & 6310.

Well, I'm pissed off. M has made us a pointlessly crap choice of hotel but we have invested too much time to change.

:-(((((

SORRY! SORRY! SORRY! (writes M) (all this seems less important from the distance of the ferry).

A (long!) walk along the beach (past numerous hotels) helps, & D decides that rather than dig he would walk the ramparts. So, to cafe. D orders chocolate & toffee ice cream, but then realizes he really wants t & t. & then that he likes neither t nor c! Oddly, this doesn't worry him. I go off to wander & photo (ostensibly to shop) but paths lead me back after 20 mins.

D & I decide to rampart, Me to shop, meet in 1h (6:30) at cath. & we do: with doodling & dawdling 1h sees us back to the Grand Porte & a splendid tour round - my humour fully restored. Just watching the shifting rooftops & chimneys is worth a great deal: St M is a lesson (universally ignored) of how to build densely but well.

Dinner: tiny pizzeria, we are sole cust. But pizza is good. From nearby shop I buy ermine T! Would it be nice to buy D a t? He doesnt seem to want one.

Long walk back to hotel annoys, as M points out several we could have booked. So if you knew where they were, why didnt we go look? Sez I. Coz I didnt know, sez M.

Back. D to bed. Brief read, then E needs pinning down, then past 10, bed.

Sun 8th

E wakes somewhat early by our standards, is soothed, but by 7 is unsoothable & eventually M is obliged to take her out. D elects to go too, & at his insistence they look round the hotel. Then D returns & ME go out to the front - I feel somewhat sad I'm too lazy to go out - & D draws piccies. When ME return past 8 & I get up it turns out he's drawn really good 1/2 piccies of clowns, crocodile jaws; which M is to draw in the other 1/2.

B'fast & things are happy again.

To car, pack, to port, & before we know it we are inside, which is a slight mistake 'cos we wanted croissants + p'box but hey ho. I only have time to blunder around a little before our q is off & we go into the large intestine of the ship.

And so to cabin. D explores, E wurbles harmlessly on floor, M flops, I leave, taking D for the play area then on deck to watch depart. Much videoing (when will I find time to *watch* any of it?). St Malo fades, we zig-zag around buoys & lighthouses to the open sea. ME appear & take D to playroom where I later find them in the cinema bit, watching a blank screen.

Now on english time: 11:45: magic show is about to begin. There is something v sweet about a row of infants, sat on carpet expectantly.

Mr Magician is making ballons. He makes animals & first to guess (hands up, no shouting) gets it. One: bobble at end, pushed inside, twisted off, forms a separate balloon inside! All are amazed (inc me) - he lets us look a bit, then says: when I first saw that I was too surprised to applaud too... & so we all do. Competition: make a swan. When it becomes clear that his lungs are well-trained: he blows them up with no apparent effort, while others cant even start.

Lunch: good.

2: Mr Magician, who is quite good. D says: Mr Marvel can do that trick! & then the magician talks to him for a bit. & on the next trick he wants 2 kids, & the first is called Daniel, so D shouts: I'm called Daniel too! So he gets called out. So I video (poor light, sadly). A trick with balls & a bag.

4:30: passing I of W. I got 1/2 h to watch & read. Heart of Darkness in bright sweltering sun. Risk: what should you do in face of unknown? If life is dangerous, & safety in following experience, then perhaps extreme caution is only possibility.

Take sad E to cabin for milk. E picks up a drain cover, tries to eat it, *then puts it back*.

As we come into Portsmouth, D and I go up onto deck while Me stay in cabin (but they do have a view from the window). D is keen to see all the docking; so am I but in a more abstract way. Behind us, the sun glitters on the water; huge cloud in the sky; we pass various round forts, other ferries, warships tied up. A loevly calm sunny day, which feels like the end of summer to me. And so we dock; D watches various ropes thrown out and sees the car ramp in place. Down to cabin; back to car; drive off. And so we're on the way home!

Like the drive down this is painless, apart from (bizarre coincidence) another 15 mins delay on the road N of S'hampton. The A3, thats it. 3 1/2h: home. Good. Total milage: about 900; of which 300 there; 300 while there; 300 back.


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