Monday, November 24, 2014

Winter blues, and another Breton island added to the collection.

Greys more like. The kind of day where to say it grows dark early is almost pointless, it has scarcely grown light all day. The e-mails unanswered, lists unwritten, photos unscanned, all the projects unbegun never mind unfinished, hang over the day like the wet pall of cloud and mist and rain hangs over the day and the damp washing hangs round the house.  Blues would be welcome, in fact, and with that in mind, it's a moment to revisit the Ile de Batz.

It's about a quarter of an hour's boat trip from Roscoff, but most of that time is spent turning the boat around. We visited the island (pronounced 'Ile de Ba') back in September, we'd never been before, in spite of frequenting the mainland area frequently and knowing it well. It's about three km long and about one wide at its widest point.

It's popular with tourists, and probably a fairly desirable dormitory suburb of Roscoff, but it's a proper working community as well. They grow vegetables, most famously delicious new potatoes, but also pink onions and artichokes and other things, we saw a lot of little fields of bulb fennel. And there is fishing.

There are motorised vehicles, though tractors and mopeds probably outnumber cars.

There's a well-known light house and a semaphore station, and this rather fine lifeboat house,

which I think has an open day once a year (not the day we were there), but no souvenir charity shop.

This is the island's football pitch, home ground of Moles United, I think.

There's a ruined chapel,

where people play a bit and express themselves with rocks and pebbles, 

a lot of wild fennel, and a number of horses.

The building glimpsed through the dip in the photo above is the sailors' chapel on the headland at Roscoff, where the fishermen and onion sellers used to say their prayers and ask for blessings before they set out to sea.

We had a delicious lunch at the island's main hotel: a light flaky pastry filled with confit pink onions and pâté, and a dish of the small scallops called pétoncles, then we walked across to the other side of the island, where there are wide beaches of white sand, and very blue sea.

I love how, in these small western islands, whether here in Brittany or in Scotland, there is a landward side which is homely and busy and pragmatic, and a seaward side which is wild and open and dreaming.

The small white dash on the horizon is the ferry out of Roscoff, to Cork in Ireland or Plymouth in Devon.

It was a hot day; I had a long t-shirt on and there weren't many people about, so I stripped off trousers and paddled. Tom wasn't dressed or quite up for this, though he regretted it, and we had not towel or means of dusting off sand, and he minds sand in his socks and shoes more than I do. He went down to the water's edge and dipped his hands and arms in anyway.

We went back to the port, and had tea,

communed with the birdlife (these below are ringed plovers, not a great photo but I take these zoom shots for identification)

and took ourselves off, back across the water.


marja-leena said...

You do live in a beautiful part of the world with so many interesting features to explore and share - thanks!

Fire Bird said...

lovely blues, and Tom looks so dashing in his shades!

Anne said...

What a great way to cheer up in a dreary season. Wonderful photos. I love the old boats.

Lucy said...

Thanks, ladies three!

ML - yes. we do indeed, sometimes in the wet chilly days of the black month I need to remind myself of this, and it was nice to go back over.

FB - thanks dear, and Tom appreciates your compliment! He does look a bit sophis', I guess, and the weather was more like Cannes than Finistère. In fact he really needs the shades in sunlight, more and more this year, with eye troubles and all.

Anne - hello! I do rather a lot of old boats, it must be said, and Brittany does have rather a lot to offer...

Zhoen said...

Of course, I love the piled up rocks.