Last weekend, we headed up to Erquy to take a special 20th anniversary trip on the Sainte Jeanne - it was the boat's anniversary, not ours. As we later learned, she was wrecked in the 1930s off Paimpol, by the actions of a skipper cutting corners by overloading her and relying on a recently added engine to get him out of trouble which then broke down. She was rebuilt and relaunched in 1994. Needless to say, I took a lot of photos, and Tom took some more with my camera, which it's taken me a week and more to sort and edit.
It was a day of a high tidal coefficient, something we've kind of known about in the abstract, but have lately become aware of and interested in, after inadvertently making an evening outing a little further down the bay a few weeks before and finding our usual walking beach non-existent, familiar rocky landmarks disappeared, and the sea beating at the cliff stairs at our feet. It was curiously exciting and magical and made me think of the Franklin's Tale. (It seems the town of St Malo is even trying to make a tourist attraction of this phenomenon.)
So, although it was nothing like the lowest point of the tide that day, when we arrived in very good time so as to get a parking space, there was not much sea to be seen - all that we could see-see-see was the bottom of the deep blue sea-sea-sea, in fact.
But we also saw plenty of people enjoying an old fashioned seaside experience,
some having less traditional fun,
And quite a few happy dogs sharing the day, the ice cream and the tidal mud.
all of which did our hearts good.
The Sainte Jeanne, which we'd been told would leave from the harbour wall, was not to be seen there. Le Grand Lejon was there, but clearly wasn't going anywhere just yet.
Her crew didn't seem too bothered, they sat around nattering and lunching and making fairly merry. After a while they made to hoist a sail or two.
the main one had a picture of the boat painted on it, thereby creating an always pleasing (to me anyway) mise-en-abyme effect.
Don't worry, though, we were told, the Ste Jeanne was in open water the other side of the fishing quay, and we would be conveyed to her by a smaller vessel. So we went to have a look.
On the way we saw the official tender, painted in matching livery, or whatever boats paintwork is called. It seemed a tiny cockleshell to carry many people, we thought.
Passing the fishing port, very much the business end of Erquy, there were lots of examples of the kind of counter, original, spare and strange stuff, lines and shapes and textures and colours, that I find hard to pass by, though I didn't linger too long.
and a more artfully arranged exhibition of older gear and tackle and trim, chandlery, books, maps and prints:
as well as some models of different kinds of old working sailing boats.
Another very minute detail of something, which I reckon is worthy of a digression, was to be spotted down a drain. (And if, like some, myself included, bits of workaday and rugged cast iron street furniture float your boat, the drain cover in itself is worth looking at. No? OK.)
What I spied through the grill, just about visible here as three white stripes, I recognised as a netting needle. When I was about eleven, I had to endure school needlework and 'handwork' lessons. Despite having stitched and worked a sewing machine and made all manner of things quite competently with my hands from almost before I could walk, I was a hopeless failure and bottom of the class in these areas of the curriculum. Mostly this worried me not one whit, except that those who shone were allowed as a special privilege to do netting. This involved turning a chair upside down, tying a lot of lengths of string to it, and somehow weaving and knotting in and out of them with a netting needle, around which was wound another length of string. I didn't think this looked a particularly satisfying process, my interest was in the potential product: a hammock. I always wanted a hammock. I'm not sure where I would have put one at the time, since there weren't really two suitable trees in our garden, but I dreamed of one anyway. I do now have one, in fact, not made of netting but very handsome blue and green canvas, which can be hung between the timbers of our open barn thing in the summer, but I don't in fact use it much. However, seeing this tool in this context, I understood for the first time that the technique wasn't simply a bit of leftover Victorian effete hobbywork for nice young ladies and gels, but was and apparently still is really used by fishermen for real fishing nets. In these times when fishing seems a murderous, industrialised, globalised behemoth, and indeed, young ladies and gels occupy their fingers principally with checking their phones and Facebook accounts, I find that rather cheering.
Two other old-fashioned sailing boats and a more modern Bermuda sailed, fibre-glass hulled yacht flapped their sails idly in the fishing harbour while the people on them sat about nattering to one another from one craft to another. We scrambled up the rocks along the harbour wall and saw the Ste Jeanne waiting on the other side.
Unfortunately, the wind direction was such that we couldn't get a nice sideways view of her, but later we were able to. We strolled back to the meeting point and were issued with life jackets, which were rather hot and bothersome and cumbrous,
(To be continued...)