The cottage...we are so thankful to have had a peaceful retreat! Thank you, Parker family!
Nous arrivons! We have arrived! We came by ferry on Tuesday night, May 26th and drove into Brittany on Wednesday morning. We rented a cabin so we could sleep--it reminded me of being in a train cabin with the bunk beds, but was much less noisy and with no stops.
We drove to our friend's cottage near Callac. We had pretty good directions but still missed the turn, so we went to the grocery store first to get supplies. On the way back we found the turn in (you can only see the sign from one direction) and headed down a dirt road lined with trees, fields as far as you can see and cows grazing. We pulled into what we thought was the right place, there are a group of 3 cottages next to each other. I made Keith get out the picture Tim had sent us just to make sure! We were greeted by the neighbors Paul and Rhonda, and their 2 dogs. They live in Manchester and come for a few weeks several times a year. It was nice to have neighbors give advice on where to go and what to do. Tim gave us a list as well, so we have been going down the list and also finding pamphlets at the tourist offices as we go.
The cottage is lovely, everything you would need, plenty of space, with a stone fireplace that we are using most every night. I haven't taken out any summer clothes yet, it is still relatively cool most days and cloudy. There have been a few days of sun, but the weather here reminds me of the typical gray Pacific NW weather. We are on the same latitude as Spokane, Washington (near where I went to undergrad).
At a village by the coast, Locquirac
Patrick is really enjoying being in a house with all his toys out and home-cooked meals again. After being in the caravan park for 2 weeks in Clacton, we were moving every few days and we didn't have his train set out. He loves it, and can play for hours building and crashing and rebuilding. I don't know who enjoys the building more--Patrick or Keith! I'm so glad we shipped it from Bermuda last year, it's definitely his favorite toy at the moment.
The other thing that I think Patrick likes is that he can freely run outside. There aren't any cars on the dirt road to the house and we walk up and down the lane without seeing anyone. In Bermuda we lived in apartments that did not have an enclosed yard, so we always had to stay close to him.
With Paul, Rhonda, and their dogs at Plestin-sur-Grèves beach
Most days we find something to go to that is relatively close. Everything is at least 20-40 minutes of driving on small, curvy, 2-lane roads. We've driven through A LOT of small villages, and the thing that surprises me the most is that there are hardly any people around. Some villages look more spruced up than others, but no one seems to be outside, or everyone lives there during the summer holidays. (School is still in session until mid-July in the U.K. and France, so maybe August is busier here...) We've gone to a few markets where they sell fresh produce, chickens, clothes, cheese, and then there are some people, but still not that many. This area is largely agricultural, so I think many people are busy with farm life and stay on the farm with all the work that has to be done.
The farm down the street from us, called "Gollot" is run by mother Jacqueline and daugher Joelle. They look after this cottage during the year. They have about 30 cows that are milked twice daily, and they sell the milk to be used for cheese. They also have 5 calves that were born in the last few weeks. We were invited to watch the milking and Patrick helped feed the 2 day old calf his bottle of milk. That was a great experience!
The coast is only about a 30 minute drive from us here. We've been to several different beaches--Patrick loves it, he is truly a Bermuda beach baby! It hasn't been warm enough to even go in shorts, we are always bundled up so he doesn't even try to go in the water here.
This Friday we leave the cottage and drive about 3 hours south to the Deux-Sevres region for a long weekend at a camping place. It is by a lake with lots of activities, which we thought would be a nice change as Patrick really misses being around other kids. We are hoping to look at a few properties in that area but so far we haven't had confirmations on appointments yet.
Then next Tuesday we drive another 3 hours south to the Charente region for 1 week and stay at another camping site. We are renting caravans, we are not actually camping! We have appointments for most of the days we are there to look at properties.
So far to me it still feels like a long holiday...I think because we aren't settled yet and haven't started the real work that will come when we try and find a place for the fall. Our goal is to be in an apartment so that Patrick can go to school. I hope to start French lessons by the fall as well, at the moment we are moving around too much. I'll post more pictures in the next few days before our next move!