24th June 2020
Roscanvel, Brest, France – Camaret-Sur-Mer, France
As a nation the French love to abide by the rules; which they like. As a nation the French love to ignore the rules; which they don’t like. As a nation, between these extremes of love and hate there is a grey area and here they use what the rest of the world seems to have lost; best judgement and common sense.
Ashore in Camaret the common sense and good judgement was present everywhere we looked. Bars were alive with drinkers (with social distancing), while waiters tended tables (wearing facemasks) and shops operated normally (from behind plastic barriers). The French were taking the pandemic in their stride, adapting to a new way of life and losing none of their ‘Joie de vie’ with it.
Good judgement had also been exhibited by a former mayor. Lining the inner harbour, instead of a vibrant fishing fleet were the remains of it. These hulks which had once pillaged the sea were now gently rusting and being slowly eaten by the waves that lapped at their wooden bottoms. The revenue they would have raised by landing fish was now replaced by throngs of photographers who lined up for the best shot, in the best light, with the best background. Well done Mr Mayor.
The fishing fleet was not the only thing succumbing to the ravages of time. High above in the cliffs that look down on the once conflicted seas of Camaret & Brest were lines and lines of WWII defences, and they were all yielding to the ravages of time. Decaying gun emplacements, lookout posts, and machine gun nests were testament to the brave souls who fought over them and it seemed fitting that these sarcophaguses gave the ideal environment for poppies of every colour to flourish.
Back onboard Ruffian our minds turned to more pressing and mundane tasks. These mundane tasks, in a ‘normal’ lifestyle would take no time at all, but on a boat take forever. While Iain took his jerry cans for a walk along the street, across a car park and queued for a fuel pump, in line, behind cars! Fiona took our fetid clothes to a laundry where she had to search out change and decipher cryptic French instructions. The application of this glamourous lifestyle is quite different from brochure.
With chores done and the sun shining there was only one thing on the agenda. Another hike through the green rolling hills of the French countryside. As we were on the home stretch after walking across perfectly smooth flat sandy beaches, through coves covered in rocks as big as cards and over remains of once forgotten industry a car stopped to ask directions. Of us!!!!!
In our finest French we sheepishly responded ‘Je suis desole je suis Anglias, je ne comprends pas’. Quick as a flash the conversation turned to English and we were informed there was a Neolithic monument nearby, the Dolmens de Rigonou, but the exact position was unknown. Our curiosity sparked, we had to seek this out.
Searching the web we finally found it’s precise location and trudged our way through paths that hadn’t seen boots in a long time and past horses that were somewhat surprised by our presence. Finally, we were upon it and with baited breath we expected something akin to Stonehenge to appear from the mists of time.
Underwhelmed, somewhat overplays our experience. What we thought would be towering stone arches transpired to be simple rocks and these simple rocks, which, according to the internet, are only visible, in winter when the paths have been cleared, and even then they only just appear above ground. We really should have had the common sense not to follow this wild goose chase. With common sense and best judgement ruling everything ashore we are also taking this on board. Tomorrow we take on the fabled Raz De Sein where we hope our best judgement will take us through this treacherous piece of water that has claimed many lives and many ships.
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