What a week we had! We are still in Brittany and the weather is amazing. It’s been sunny every day, between 18-21 degress. During the week we decided to make a move south but ended up turning back for Penmarc’h because we still had so much more to explore on this peninsula. We realised we were rushing and had to stop! We were a third of the way down the west coast of France and we just got here. We’re glad we turned back, we’ve hardly moved from this beach at all. It has everything we need here, a beautiful coastal walk into the local village, showers and toilet facilities, playground, climbing walls, those outdoor exercise stations and a large grassy area for Buckie to run around. Not to mention the view, the exploring at low tide, the incredible rock formations, the dolmens, the mill wheel stones, the building of sand villages for the millions of hermit crabs who scuttle around chasing the tide. Adventures are the best way to learn afterall.
Like the Enid Blyton book The Enchanted Wood with its faraway tree which we are currently reading with the children, it’s as if our camper van is the magic tree, our journey is the enchanted wood and everytime we go up the faraway tree we end up in a new world. The branches of the faraway tree lead to our mini adventures within these places and the people we meet.
We’ve met some lovely people just parked up right here, mostly French, some German and all so friendly and chatty. Our neighbour who left yesterday reminded me so much of my Grandad, in his build, in his walk, mannerisms. He & his wife were lovely, not a single word of English but that suits us fine, we get by with my shit French and Liams happy head. Apparantly the French can’t stand it if you don’t at least try to speak French and one must never ask a French person if they speak English, even if they do they wont if you start with that.
Ellen is picking up the language quick, Alex too, except he can’t say Bon wothout laughing his ass off like Beavis & Butthead because it sounds like ‘bum’. They say Bonjour, hello, my name is, thank you, just a few phrases and they’re doing it willingly. We spend our mornings doing art, jounal writing, workbooks, whatever they feel like doing really and this is how they learn, road-schooling, they are literally teaching themselves.
We visited one of the worlds tallest lighthouses, phare d’Eckmühl with it’s 308 steps to the top and is two times taller than our own Hook Lighthouse in Ireland. Even Liam felt a little woozy on the top.
After we explored the lighthouse, we bumped into a pop-up lace stall just outside the gates to the lighthouse. A friend of mine who is quite famous in the lace-making world, Máire Treanor messaged me to say she had been here a few years ago and to watch out for the lace-makers so that day I got dressed from head to toe in my own lace accessories and one of my Nannys lace tops. The stall was held by a young lace maker called Janelle who learned the craft only four years ago from her step mother who is involved in the group in Penmarc’h who is keeping the craft alive. Their lace is exquisite, just the very same as Irish crochet lace and it was such a pleasure to meet Janelle that day. I was inspired immediately and have hardly put down my crochet hook since. We swapped a couple of pieces and Janelle gave Ellen one of her lace daisy brooches. A lighthouse and lace all in one day, très bien.
The aires services here are amazing. Unlike many places in Ireland, the towns and villages here welcome campervans. The car parks at the beaches we’ve come across have designated spaces for campervans. Most of them have free shower and toilet facilities too. Every town and village has an area for campers to dump waste water, toilet cartridges and for €2 you get ten minutes of use of fresh drinking water to fill up water containers and the camper van tanks.
We shop in the local markets, bakeries and are observing the way the French eat. It’s lunchtime between 1-2, dinner time between 7-8 and it’s mandatory to have glass of wine with lunch and with dinner, like my Mam said “sure that’s medicinal”. The wine is cheap, we picked up 6 bottles for less than €10 on special in lidl the other day and we’ll be stocking up plenty when we get to Bordeaux in the next few weeks. They seem to be so laid back here, they really know how to take it easy, no business here takes less than a two hour break and everything shuts down from 12noon to 2pm.
Our fantastic week came to a dramatic end when on Friday night we were playing fetch with Buckie in the field next to the campervan and he tumbled into a rabbit hole, he flipped over three times, yelped a little and continued on running on three legs to fetch the ball. Jesus we got such a fright, his front right leg was dangling, no use in it at all but he wasn’t in pain, he even let us touch it and wanted to play still but when he went to lift his left leg to wee he kept falling over. It was bloody terrible to see. Our camping neighbour thought it may be just a dislocation as he wasn’t in pain but we had to wait until the following morning to bring him to the vet. The vet knew straight away it was fractured and kept him in for x-rays. She confirmed it was a complicated fracture in the humerus right at the elbow and would need specialist surgery in Lorient, 80km away but we may have to wait a week or more for the appointment. Liam & I both cried, we had to step out every so often to cry it out away from the children. The kids were fine, they were so good throughout the whole ordeal. We’re using this time to mind him, make sure he rests and are considering our options. He is in great form, although he has no use in his leg he has now figured out how to wee, how to hop in and out of the camper and he’s as lively and playful as ever just dying to play fetch again. For now though, it’s imperative that we let him rest.
We’re almost ready to climb the faraway tree a little more and explore the branches of a new magical place so we will head a little bit more south this week. Every place we’ve been to, we’ve really found it hard to leave but our next adventure awaits.