Monday, August 26, 2019

Brittany rambles

You sleep well here. It has something to do with the breeze, the salty air. The ever changing weather patterns.

(morning sunrise after a brief shower...)

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I am up before the others. What to do about breakfast... I've been told that the bakery just below us ("the Beach Bakery")  is moyenne ("just average"). Well, that may be okay for us. In France, an average croissant is lip smacking good. Still, I do want to go to the supermarket and that's up the road, maybe twenty minutes at a brisk trot, toward the center of the village. There's another bakery up there.

I set out even before anyone is stirring.

I've forgotten how lovely the imprint of Brittany is to me! The last trip I took here was in March of 2014. Wow! Five years ago! I'd regretted my decision to travel here then: it was cold, mostly wet, a little somber, a little lonely. Time before? December 2009, with Ed: also cold, a little wet, though not at all lonely. But the finest times here were in late spring -- in 2008 and years prior, when he and I hiked the coastal paths, and the sun was hesitant but delightful, and the colors -- the white homes, the blue shutters, the pink flowers, the pale yellow sands in dazzling coves -- sublime.

This morning, that color palette came back to me.

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The walk to the village is all uphill. But so full of Brittany! I pass several lovely murals on the white houses.

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And a classic: this Breton church.

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The upper bakery, Boulagerie Laot, is indeed superior. I'm glad I made the trudge. As for the supermarche -- it so reminds me of countless other such stores in rural France. Groceries, household items, wines. And in Brittany -- ciders. I do throw in a bottle of cider. And coffee, milk, Brittany yogurts. Fruits. Peaches!! A melon -- something that is indescribably delicious here, and not even close to good back home. Cookies. Essentials!

At the side of the supermarket, there is a fish stall. I go inside. I do not want to cook dinners, but I am so tempted by this greatest of prizes in Brittany: the lobster!

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Oh that taste! Maine, Massachusetts, Brittany: homes to the tastiest lobsters in the world!

The walk home is arduous. It's like when I shop in Warsaw and forget that I don't have a car to throw grocery bags into.

When I finally reach our apartment, the gang is up!

I fix breakfast plates.

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After the morning meal, we go to the beach. It's just about 70F (21C), so not too cold, not too hot. The water here is protected and shallow, so it doesn't have that bite of the Atlantic. Perfect for kids.

Sparrow is more of a gazer...

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... and bucket boy.

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Snowdrop starts in the water...

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(with mom...)

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But once she settles into building a castle and decorating it with shells and washed up stones, she doesn't want to stop. Ever. Ocean? Yes, okay, but I'm busy!

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(Sparrow, however, remains tempted...)

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(with mom...)

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I think beach play is fun for kids, sometimes fun for adults, difficult at the end for both. But we're lucky here: no one is hot and tired. We're all a bit sandy, but there isn't a big beach in France that I've ever seen that doesn't have showers to wash off that fine sand. And just for a full rinse, we take warms showers back home, too.

Lunch is late. Of course it is! All this play and shell and stone collecting (take this one home! It's my favorite! And this one! Snowdrop, rocks are heavy.. Just one more!) and showering takes time. We walk over to a local creperie for lunch at 2:30.

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I can't say that either child really loves the Breton buckwheat crepe. Snowdrop used to gobble it up, but now, she's reluctant. Sparrow, too, goes easy on it. No matter: they'll make up for it later.

Sparrow naps, Snowdrop builds Lego stuff with mommy.

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And now it's nearly 6 and we're about to set out again. It should have been an easy, even boring walk: to the big Intermarche (supermarket) to fill up on baby stuff and grown up stuff. Then to stay up there in the village center and grab a dinner at a local eatery.

(ready to go?)

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The  first hour is terrific: before hiking up the hill, we take the kids to the local somewhat Disney-ish merry-go-round.

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And the walk up to the grocery store is great too: with a stroller, we can load up and not worry about the weight of stuff.

But the two village eateries are closed for the month. It's fascinating to me that the French value their time off so much that they would close restaurants that surely would thrive in the two month of the French vacation season.

What now? Someone suggests a food hut at another beach. You need only take a different turn at the fork...

I worry just a little. It may be closed. More importantly, the return will be long. Sure, there is a coastal path, but we're with a stroller. A double stroller. Something that doesn't do too well along a GR34 (the GR is a hiking trail of significance in France and indeed in all of Europe). Still, I'm up for this sort of adventure!

And it is that -- a total caper. Of the type where you arrive at the food hut and it's closed. All you find is another beach, a bunch of boats, and a guitar player, crooning with his friend or lover...

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And it's late. And the kids haven't eaten much all day. And the GR34 is indeed narrow and hilly and here we are with a stroller loaded with two kids and five weeks worth of groceries and my daughter has a work email she has to solve.

In my view, it was a superb evening. We pushed and heaved the stroller. We huffed and puffed and came upon the most beautiful sight -- a lovely cove, with a solo swimmer, taking in the gentleness of the evening.

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And when we do return to our own beachfront home, just across the street, we come across a fantastic pizza place where the kids devour their food, possibly because it is already 8:30 and they hadn't had much to eat for the better part of the day.

(studying the drinks menu...)

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(working on her sketches...)

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(finally, food!)

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Not all adventures turn out well. If they did, they wouldn't really be adventures, they would be a predictable slog through the same old. But the best ones surely are when things go devilishly wrong and then in the end, it all comes together after all and you've learned something new and gotten a different kind of reward.

As the clock nears 10 and the kids are finally winding down, I think about how sometimes, they fall apart and sometimes they rise to the challenge. In travel, it so often is the latter. As Sparrow cavorted around the room with his hands wrapped around my flip flops and everyone laughed heartily, I thought how memories are sometimes made of the silliest details. Somehow, I think this young family will remember for a long time the climb, the fill of pizza, the little guy moving from one room to the next wearing my flip flops.