Friday, July 11, 2008

Trédaniel plan d'eau, and Cheapcam gets it off her chest.

From reading and writing my other blog, it's evident how often I go to the plan d'eau at Trédaniel. One or two people have speculated about the place, that it seems to be a very rich source of nature and interest, but they can't quite envision it. I half-jokingly suggested I draw a map, as well as posting more photos. Sitting down to my afternoon cuppa, I searched to see if there was any plan of the municipality on-line, but could only find a couple of Google-Earth references, so before I knew it I was thoroughly absorbed in drawing a map of my own based on these and my memory and impressions, even getting out the felt pens and colouring it! The result you see above. Any ten-year-old could probably have made a better job, and it's not remotely to scale, but it's the second time in a week or so I've felt moved to look out the colouring sticks, and I have rather enjoyed it. It should enlarge, should you feel the need.

It also coincided with my downloading poor little Cheapcam's memory card for the first time in over two months, so the photos I've used here are almost entirely from that.

Trédaniel is a commune outside our small cantonal town of Moncontour, a couple of miles from where we live. In the 1990s the population was in the hundreds, but there's been a lot of new building there in the time we've been living here, so it must be more now. It has a few shops, a school, a restaurant, a local produce selling scheme, and a quite interesting old church ( I might post something about that in the future), and the Seven Saints' chapel is further out on its edges.

A plan d'eau is any fairly small artificial lake. This one is there as a recreational spot, part of the landscaping of the municipal area. It is stocked with fish and anglers use it mostly at weekends, you can just go and get a day permit from the Mairie nearby. The watercourse it is part of continues in a number of other smaller ponds on terraces down the hill to the sewage treatment works at the bottom.

It isn't a scenic wonder, none come from far and wide to see it, but we like it, on misty mornings, warm days and even in the rain. Molly loves it, and starts to bark well before we turn the corner of the road that leads to it, and as it's also, more or less, on the way to both St Brieuc and Lamballe, it's easy to indulge her. There are, thank goodness, few amenities, no swings and slides, only a rather weedstrewn boules court up the hill, and two benches where you can sit and let the perennial and universal calm that drifts from water, any water, even a municipal fishing pond, penetrate the spirit. The benches are in good order, never vandalised, though a few brambles and buttercups sometimes encroach,

Many of the larger oak and chestnut trees that predate it's construction have been left, and it has been planted with all kinds of flowering shrubs of a robust kind: spiraea, buddleia, hydrangea are all flowering now, and in the spring there are plentiful purple rhododendrons, (that splodge is Mol in the distance below)

and a stand of shrub-sized judas trees.

The rugosa roses produce flowers and hips for a long season.

The water's edge is kept fairly clear of reeds and reedmace, for the benefit of the anglers but also to avoid providing cover for coypu, the giant naturalised Canadian rodents that can destroy banks and spread leptospirosis. But there are a few plant species planted there: these which I can't identify,

and a gunnera which I'm never quite sure if I like, but its forms and textures, in all kinds of states, continue to intrigue me.

In front of one bench is a patch of red water lilies.
Although the verges and banks are mown and kept fairly tidy, there are plenty of places nature is allowed to play a little rough with. Among the interesting wild plants that flourish is mullein, whose prettily furry rosettes and spikes have here been ravaged by the nearly as prettily zingy-coloured mullein moth caterpillars. The moth itself is a dull grey little thing, but the larva obviously have a wild yellow and black youth among the fuzz.
and where the ground slopes away north toward the valley, there is a delightful embroidered riot of wildness and wet, which is especially rich at the moment, with knapweed and bedstraw and umbels of something or other, willowherb, the last of the marguerites, bright yellow birdsfoot trefoil, grass seedheads, thistles (don't tell the Prefecture...), and even at the head of a stream that flows out from the lake, some reedmace, which aren't bullrushes, and Moses wasn't found in them, though Alma Tadema thought he was. (In fact I've been searching for that painting, and there are no reedmace in it! It seems to be a misconception about a misconception about a myth...)

There is a reasonable amount of fauna: herons, green and spotted woodpeckers, finches, tits, a nuthatch or two, I thought I saw a tree creeper once, and a lot of rabbits, since, although there is fishing, no chasseurs are allowed, as it is a public park. During the winter I'm often glad of it as a place where I won't run into them. Even so, the ducks are shy, and prefer the ponds further off where people don't go. Molly is clueless about rabbits, they often pop up right in front of her and she doesn't see them, so busy is she with her olfactory sense. However, an extraordinary wildlife sighting one may experience is of the Beast of Trédaniel, the plan d'eau cat, captured here sunning itself on a rock, and really an enormous creature, quite capable, I'm sure, of taking on a fully grown rabbit.

This is the only picture here not taken with the small camera. I find the place yields a surprising amount to look at and take in and photograph; as well as the entries on Out with Mol, quite a lot of photo posts here have been from time spent there. Yet more are sitting in folders which I've not posted. A post at Jean's had me thinking about how we tend to feel the need to only use, seasonal, up to the minute, current photos on our blogs. I like this seasonality, but also think it might be a good idea sometimes to look over and show older pictures that perhaps were passed over before. So perhaps I'll run an occasional series of back-number plan d'eau pictures.
I'll put a copy of the map in the sidebar of Out with Mol, with a link to this post, and may feel inclined to draw another of the local area which I write about. I suppose security is vaguely important, not pinpointing ourselves too closely etc, but I can't imagine many criminals would take the trouble...


Rosie said...

what a lovely lush and detailed post. I think you should stop being rude about cheapcam...she takes a good picture as we can see.
It is nice to have a map so that everything slips into place.

Granny J said...

A lovely little park! Thank you for the visit -- and especially the map, as I am a true map freak. In fact, I'd love to see a map showing where you live, more or less, relating to the coast, channel, etc.

HLiza said...

Now I know you have other talent as well..drawing!
I can't envy you enough to have all these beauties around walking distance. The wild it really wild and harmful to human beings?
I normally will snap photos with my lesser Sony if my hubby brings my Nikon to work..the image is not as sharp but I always feel it's me that make the difference LOL..

Reading this post reminds me how everyday I will regret not bringing my camera to work because as I drive I always see nice clouds, exceptional faces that will tell stories in my pics, the beauty of the Perak state I'm living in..I wish I can just forget about work and snap snap snap..

Anonymous said...

I love the map! I should attempt one of Plummer's Hollow sometime...

Sheila said...

Wonderful map! It's fun to do things like that, isn't it?

All these photos do not quite console mw like youre words did, telling me it isn't really country, however!

What you call a Judas tree has to be what we call a redbud tree. Interesting. Do yo know why Judas? I used to eat the little buds when I was in elementary school and there was one on our playground. A few years ago I wondered would I like them even now, and tried a few...I still like them.

Thanks for showing us your place!

Roderick Robinson said...

I think you ought to add that yours is a very superior plan d'eau. To tell the truth the phrase has always put me off as being uneasily Germanic and the plans d'eau I've seen (with pedaloes and the like) have hardly been havens for wild life. However your unerring photographer's eye has shown I might be wrong. It does happen.

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

Rosie - well, it's a matter of editing, and much of that is done for me with Cheapcam as at least 50% of the photos taken are crap and can be ditched. But I was very firm with myself about not getting side-tracked into heavy Photoshopping on these; I did a bit of fiddling with Picasa, and some PS colour balancing on one or two of the weedy ones. Cheapy tends to give a bluish cast to photos, which can be quite interesting, but is awful with yellows which become lime-green. The puny image-stabiliser is almost non-existent in low-light, but again the results can be amusing, I'm thinking of putting together a 'best of camera shake' post!

GrannyJ - nothing like a map is there, however much you describe and photograph things we need a sense of orientation and relative positioning made visual. I should be able to find something larger scale to give an idea of where we are in terms of the country and region, but our small scale print maps don't even show the plan d'eau, as it's probably only been built in the last 20 years. the satellite picture gave me a rough idea of the orientation, I was actually quite surprised how angular a shape the lake is, I though it was more round, so impressions can be deceptive.

Hliza - I used to draw a lot, but I'm out of practice now, I thought the map was quite childish! But it was fun to do. Don't worry about the cat, it's just someone's old pussy cat gone a bit wild probably, because of having the space and freedom to roam around, it looks a bit fierce but it's quite shy and runs away if we come close. But it is a big one! There are lots of stories all over Europe, where there are very few real native wild cats big or small, about mysterious creatures, usually panther-like, which people have seen in remote areas. They're often called things like 'The Beast of... this or that place'! Some of them might be real, escaped from zoos or people who kept them as pets, some are just out of people's imaginations.

Dave - thanks, it's a really fun and interesting exercise, made so by the tension between one's impressions and the actual orientation, shape and scale of things, which can, as I say, be quite surprising. But I think nothing creates a clearer picture of a place for other people than the combination of the two, a personalised map, giving pre-eminence to the most important features, rather like ancient and medieval maps did perhaps. I noticed I'd made a quaint mixture of 2D top elevations and perspective in places!

Sheila - I didn't know about the buds being edible! I like the little heart-shaped leaves too. Why Judas? Traditionally I understood it was the tree whereon he hanged himself, but that's a bit odd, as it's only ever a very small delicate tree or shrub, unless that's just in these climes. One year I observed it blossomed at Easter while the withered dead seed pods were still hanging from the branches, and evolved a theory that that was the meaning: the Resurrection in the blossom, while the dead pods were the miserable wretch hanging, but I've no backing for this! I took some photos of that too, which perhaps I'll look out but it doesn't happen every year like that. I shall do some research!

BB - oh no, plan d'eau's round here aren't usually like that, perhaps because that sort of shenanigens goes on at the beach, they're mostly for fishing and walking about. Lamballe has quite a large superior one which even bosts a kind of ice-cream van in the season, but still no pedaloes! This one's very small anyway, though apparently very deep, and baignade is deconseillee!

Anil P said...

That's as nice looking a map as any I've seen in a long time.

Nothing like a map to orient one visually. I presume the lake is at the centre of things.

I quite like the colourful flowers, makes me wonder how they might look like as a part of the whole landscape.

I'll look forward to more pictures of seasonal growth - flora.

What does the church look like? Old churches fascinate me.

Anonymous said...

What a great notion - a bit of personalised home-brew, organic sketchwork, digitally rendered! The map and the photos together communicate a wonderful sense of place. Brittany for us l'anee prochaine...

Lucy said...

Anil - thanks for coming over. I'll put together some pictures of the church, it has some quite interesting features.

Dick - I meant to say I was sorry you weren't going to make it this year, but we look forward to seeing you when you come, Rosie and I will organise the welcome committee! As I say, this isn't any particular tourist draw, unless you like fishing I guess, though even without swings and slides our friends' kids find quite a bit of amusement here, with rocks and bushes and bits of nature to play with. And, of course it's quiet and not overused, which is the big attraction of so much here.

Bee said...

Thank you so much for your charming map -- and also for your explanation about it to Dave.

I hope you will keep it on as a permanent feature . . . so that I might consult it from time to time.

The "beast" does look rather wild! It's difficult to believe he was once someone's pussycat.

meggie said...

What Rosie said! I loved this full rich post. It was almost like being there.

Anonymous said...

Oh I really love your map. I can stare at hand drawn maps for hours - wondering and daydreaming. I used to draw loads as a child and had completely forgotten. I used to love to draw plans of imaginary buildings too - space ships or boarding schools or whatever.

You MUST draw more maps.

Is that really a cat? It's massive.

It looks so lovely where you live - you are really lucky.

It's freezing here today!