I seem to have something of a number of things to post all of a sudden, which for various reasons I don't want to hang around on, so this is really two posts in one.
Robbie asked in the comments of the last post if I had ever helmed a yacht. I haven't, only a Mirror dinghy on a gravel pit which isn't quite the same thing, but Tom has. This was the vintage racing yacht Gymea that my niece B and her salty sea dog partner M used to live on in Avalon (yes, that really was the name of the place) north of Sydney. This is B - she's the one I made the rainbow gloves for:
(with M's hand coming out of the inside of the boat)
and this is Tom when he was told he'd have to drive the boat:
But then M, that's him next to Tom, explained everything:
I'm not sure I've got a very good head for the physics of sailing, that's to say I do understand the principles but applying that in motion is another matter. However Tom got the hang of it, and used the little bits of fluttery string attached to the sail (don't know what the proper nautical term is for them) to judge all about wind and stuff like that, and we had ever such a lot of fun.
That was eight years ago now (I notice I had a lot less grey in my hair then, and my glasses look unfashionably large) and I don't know whether we'll get the chance to sail such a boat again. B and M no longer live on Gymea, but on a couple of other boats - they found they needed a bit more space than the cabin of a racing yacht - one of which they built themselves, but I rather doubt we'll get to visit them there again.
The other subject to cover is Sunday's Donkey Festival, which for the last couple of years has taken place just up the road from here in the fields (I posted about it once here), but whose success now means it has been promoted and this year it was held in the town of Moncontour itself, with much more promotion. We went along for the morning parade, which was mediaeval themed. Moncontour has a rather well known mediaeval festival, which used to take place every year and in our first years here was good fun, you only had to go and sit around and all kinds of genuinely entertaining things, impromptu and interactive bits of theatre (and quite good food) went on around you, from scrofulous beggars, shamanic stilt walkers, and once a rather alluring witch who pinched some of what I was eating then pulled a set of male genitals out of the bag she was carrying. Now though, it's become a victim of its own success; the town council and the traders all fell out about contributing to it, it only takes place every two years, it's over-priced and overcrowded, there's nothing much worth seeing and you can't see anything anyway over all the heads. But the town did in the course of things amass a large collection of mediaeval costumes, and they encourage people to put them on as often as possible, so this year we had mediaeval donkeys.
We found ourselves right in the path of the parade, so I made another video! I'd not really thought much about filming things like this before, but it does save an awful lot of time editing photos, and when a video can convey something of the atmosphere of an event where still shots might be difficult to get. Also, I find that once I've starting recording, I can look up and watch the event directly; I don't want to be one of those 21st century people who can only experience things through the screen of their e-device.
This time, too, unlike with the Belem, there's a musical sound track. Tom always rolls his eyes a bit about this kind of ambulant music here, and when it's Breton bagpipes I suppose that's understandable, but I'm often rather charmed by the naïve folksiness of it. And there really are some kick-ass donkeys to be seen.
But the real wonder of the day was when we turned round and were confronted by this threesome of black cocker spaniels (and a terrier called Bob).
We fell on them in a kind of swoon, and I was just about to explain in French about Molly when the man with them said, in English 'You like black cocker spaniels do you then?'.
I'm afraid we totally distracted the couple from their outing looking at mediaeval donkeys by engaging them in dog talk, nineteen to the dozen. The somewhat smaller cocker on the right of the picture was very much like Molly in looks and temperament, with a curlier coat and a smaller, tuftier head and ears than the others, but it was the other two, who were rather more perfect pedigree specimens, who were more attentive and affectionate to us. The largest, a male, the one in the centre, we were assured, would be quite happy to come home with us, he really would prefer to be one dog on his own...
While his companions were getting so much love and attention lavished on them, and the Molly look-alike was giving the donkeys a bit of a telling off for being there, Bob decided he'd had enough of this malarkey and slipped his collar and went walkabout, so Tom had to round him up and give him some fuss too.
We went away with tears in our eyes, of course. They were such clear-eyed, healthy, calm dogs, almost like they were Molly translated. Lovely creatures.
A good morning out.