Saturday, 16 September 2017

The Real-Life Tour Guide

Maggie and I had a blast during her six days with me and I really enjoyed being her real-life tour guide. playmate and fellow adventurer.

Too busy to blog, too busy to write my journal, even too busy to work on my TEFL course so here, in a few selected pictures is where we went and what we did...


and swimmers...

and sight-seers...

and shoppers...

and 'splorers...

Monday, 11 September 2017

Being A Tour Guide

I have a guest.
A friend of many years, in fact we've been trying to remember when we first met, through our husbands who worked together in the late 70's.
We had lost touch and then I joined Facebook and found her.

We met again down in Dorset when I rented that gatehouse for a few days, and spent a happy day fossil hunting and lunching and playing catch-up.
And here she is, in France with me for a week of exploring and adventures.

On the first afternoon it rained so we went to La Vallée des Saints and wandered among the statues, oft times with another visitor nearby listening as I told Maggie the stories of the saints,not all of the saints, there are about seventy now and I'm not that good at memorising the guide book, but the ones that have impressed me for one reason or another. Like Saint Melar. It was a shame for the other visitors, and for the coffers of the organisation that runs the site, that the shop selling guide books was closed. A missed opportunity there, I wonder they don't have them in a bar or a shop in the local village too. Happily we had two copies, I buy one each year.

So that was the first afternoon. An introduction to Breton saints on a rain-swept hilltop.
The next day the forecast was for more rain but, this is Brittany, the weather can change from minute to minute so we went to the coast.

One of my greatest pleasures is arriving at the Pink Castle Beach and finding a high tide.

We had put swimming costumes and towels in the car, I never go out without mine these days, but we first wandered along the sand collecting shells. We are a pair of committed beachcombers, we discovered. But that sea... so blue, so calm, so empty, so, so there!

After a while I left Maggie on the rocks and snucked back to the car, changed into my cossie and before you could say "Bobbing about on a wave" I was swimming.

It was perfect. It is always perfect. On such occasions, life is perfect.

Of course, once someone realised that I was in the sea he appointed himself my lifeguard...

Once dried and dressed we drove past Ploumanac'h so that we could walk the Sentier des Douaniers.

It was breezy, blustery, blowy...

We took many pictures.
We stopped many times to gasp at the waves crashing against the rocks.
We paused to breath in the scents of iodine and ozone.

It just goes to show that you should pay no heed to the weather forecasts.

Towards the end of the path we took a detour into Ploumanac'h for a lunch break, then it was back on to the Sentier des Douaniers to retrace our steps back to the car.

Then a cold drink at Trégastel before winding our way home.

This is now a regular event for me, a swim in the sea, a walk along the pink granite, refreshments in Trégastel, and then home. To arrive sandy, salt-crusted, windswept or with a few more freckles but always, always with a happy heart.

I am so blessed, and so appreciative.

And Maggie has fallen in love with the Pink Granite Coast, as I knew she would!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Binic, Blackberries, Beaches and Being Brave

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the day when I arrived in France to live in the house that I had just bought, here in Brittany.

It's a funny thing life...
We think we have it sussed, plans put in place, futures mapped out, that we are in control of our destinies, steering a course from cradle to grave and, of course, that is far from true. In reality we are as little boats bobbing in a vast sea and often we are adrift without a sail, or perilously close to the rocks or becalmed in a mist and a mire.

(pic from a Twinings Tea TV advert)

I quite like watery metaphors. Can you tell?

I moved to France expecting to remain here forever, and returned to England two years later to take up what I thought would be a wonderful new career, with what I thought would be an ethical and supportive employer. I have recently signed a gagging settlement agreement with that employer which means that I am not permitted to disclose anything about my experiences with them, nor am I permitted to say anything disparaging about the events that took place while I was employed by them, which really speaks volumes.

Suffice to say there was severe stress, there were crippling anxiety attacks and then there was a diagnosis of cancer.

And so here I am.
Back in Brittany.
Having a ball.

Today I drove to Binic. Binic was the first beach that The Ragazza and I found when we moved here, and my ex-partner, aka The Someone, and I subsequently spent many happy days collecting mussels from the rocks, walking along the cliff paths with the dogs and enjoying lunches in the town. So I suppose it was natural that today I would take a trip down Memory Lane.

I'd forgotten that the road to the parking area is steep and ends at the edge of a cliff, although I notice they have built a little bank of earth to prevent people from plunging over the edge. I was still clutching the steering wheel and biting my bottom lip as the car inched down towards the drop before we swerved right onto the grass.

 And I'd forgotten how steep is the walk down to the rocky beach. And that my knees are quite arthritic and stiff and so that made for a slow and painful descent.

But coffee on the rocks was nice...

And then Tashi and I set off to climb up to the top of the cliff opposite.
Well, what can I say? I am a wimp. I suffer from vertigo, which, together with my unsteady old knees made for a quite precarious climb, and the dog didn't help running ahead and standing close to the sheer drop and disappearing from sight several times.


But I made it.
And the views were quite wonderful.
And I did feel a little proud of myself.

We walked along the path until we reached a place where I remembered there being a picnic table and, amusingly, a car park at the end of a much easier road, but where would be the adventure in that?

We had our picnic. Mine was a chicken baguette made with bread baked a the village boulangerie this morning and washed down with fizzy water, Tashi had scraps of chicken and a little milk while sitting gazing out to sea.

I picked blackberries.
I'm not a mad fan of blackberry pie/crumble/whatever, but I do like stewed berries on my yoghurt so a small tub of fruit was collected while Tashi explored and made friends with a passing Husky and its owners.

Some advice on those pesky toxic seaweeds...
I wasn't aware that I should inform the nearest mairie should I succumb to the hydrogen sulphide fumes, assuming that I survive, of course. That's not as silly as it sounds, a horse dropped dead on a beach near Perros Guirec a few years ago after breathing in the fumes of rotting green seaweed.

And then we retraced our steps.
All the while I worried about that descent back down to the beach,

But it was not as bad as the climb.
Michel de Montaigne, in one of his essays, wrote, "A man who fears suffering is already suffering what he fears". Smart man, wise words.

He also wrote,  "An untempted woman cannot boast of her chastity" but that's a whole other story!

I felt quite proud of myself for having strayed so far from my comfort zone, for having pushed myself past the limits of my courage and, mostly, for not having fallen off the cliff. Especially as there is a sign up there warning people against such carelessness!

One last quote?
"The strangest, most generous, and proudest of all virtues is true courage"
Michel de Montaigne

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Spammers and scammers

I received this email recently and thought it might be fun to tear it to shreds correct it.

Of course, it is low-hanging fruit, badly composed, badly written and an obvious scam, which leads me to believe that the sender(s) are amateurs and probably the kind of chaps who sit in internet cafés in small African towns, churning them out daily. And yes, such people do exist.

The link in the email is to a compromised website that has a fake Apple sign in screen, if you hover the mouse over it you can see that it is not I have frequently said that emails from institutions requesting you login to an account should not contain such links, you should always be required to type the address in a new tab but that's just a bee in my personal infosec bonnet.

So here is the email as seen in my spam folder:

This is an automated email, please do not reply

Dear Customer  *Would use your Apple ID and normal font 

For your protetion protection, your Apple ID has been automatically disabled.
we We have detected unauthorized login Attempts attempts to your Apple lD from other unusual IP addresses and/or locations,.
Please verify your ldentity identity.  *spacing 
today or otherwise your account will be remain disabled due to concerns we have for the  in order to maintain the safety and lntegrity integrity of the Apple Comunity community.
*insert line
What To Do Next:
we recommend that you Verify And Update You are required to confirm your  billing information  Apple ID credentials to proof prove the ID is yours, the account belongs to you. 
*insert line
From Apple Support. 
*insert line
Click here to unlock   Click here to reactivate your Apple ID
*insert line
Note : If this mail is on your spam in your spam folder please mark it as not-spam. its help us for better information for you  *nonsense
And if you can not If you are unable to clik click on the link please go to *does not exist

Thanks for choosing Apple, *wrong font  
© 2017 Apple. All rights reservedCopyright © 2017 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
Email ID: 163327

Back to nature...

The Ragazza had been staying with me for a week and we'd done the beach, swimming near the pink castle and lunch at Trégastel, and we'd visited the Valley of the Saints, and so a return visit to the zoo at Trégomeur seemed like a good option for a sunny but not-too-hot morning.

We've been before but the zoo has new residents and we like to revisit those we've seen before, and it's such a nice, relaxing and interesting place in which to hang out that we keep returning.

The zoo has an Asian theme for its flora and fauna, so there is a lot of bamboo, including this black variety which I have not seen before. I have bamboo in the top part of my garden, I had thought it might be too invasive and I would remove much of it but now I am re-thinking that and wondering ig I might cut and mould it to create hidden areas...  

Perhaps even my own mini version of the zoo's Eastern atmosphere...

Interestingly, I recently passed a large out-of-town store along the N12 that sells large statues of Buddha and some of the Hindu deities. If I could just recall where precisely it is...

I was at dinner with friends last night and we got to talking about religions and Ganesha was discussed because, whilst not being a follower of any particular faiths or creeds, I am spiritual and I do like to adopt aspects of many of the world's religions and this guy is one that I like.

He's a remover of obstacles, patron of the arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom.
I especially like to have obstacles sorted for me.

But what of the animals, you may be wondering?
Well, the albino porcupine was a tad tricky for one young father to explain to his toddler.
'Sans couleur?' I suggested, and that seemed to the point.

They'd just been given a lunch of pellets and were happily munching away so we were able to observe them at close quarters. Their ears are very human-like and they hold their lunch between their paws in the same way that Tashi holds a chewie.

The young camel seems to think he's part of the herd of wild horses that share his paddock.

We discussed whether we could train a wild horse. The sign on the fence stated that they are not able to be but we think it could be done, given time and patience and some Horse Whisperer skills.

They remind me of the horses on the walls of the caves at Lascaux.

The zoo is in a valley, that leads to some pretty vistas as you walk around.

And the streams that flow through add to the sense of serenity, as well as providing natural boundaries for some of the animals.

I think these would look good in my garden and I know just the place for them.

This stork was, I think, on guard duty. The rest of the flock were dozing, large beaks tucked into their backs, feathers like duvets covering their heads, snoring softly. Well, that's poetic licence, I didn't actually hear any snoring.

I thought that the ants were a new addition. The Ragazza thought otherwise. Regardless, I'd never seen them before, ants make me itchy, and twitchy, I'm not a great fan of Formicidae, not since a swarm of them flew into my house in England one hot summer day. And these look like ants in wasps' clothing.

A little plug
Palm oil is a problem

The zoo does a good job of educating people about ecology, conservation, endangered species.
It makes for tough reading sometimes but it does not good to remain ignorant.
N'est-ce pas?