Friday, 24 October 2008

Roscoff, Brittany, France

Roscoff, on the north coast of Brittany, is a town of great character. It is a busy ferry port for travel between Britain and France - and I wonder how many travellers actually stop and look around the town. Like many ferry ports, I expect many travellers drive off the ferry and immediately travel as fast and as far away as they can.

If they do, they miss one of France's little treasures. Roscoff has many buildings with amazing stone carvings, beautiful gardens, a fabulous seafront and beach, an amazing footbridge, and at least one great restaurant - so good we ate there twice and didn't look to see if there was another! Here's a selection of the 40 or 50 pictures I took while I was there:

There are many old doors with character.

The church tower is lovely, and has an almost Islamic feel. Most Welsh church towers are square or are round steeples ending with a point! The pinkish granite is local stone, and it has a lovely, warm, appearance.

This is a carving to the left of a window on a house on the main street. It looks like a sea monster with a lighthouse in his hand. As lighthouses are a feature of the area but have only been around for the last couple of hundred years, I suspect he is newer than he appears at first sight.

This is the carving to the right of the same window. It is a depiction of a 'Johnny Onions' - many Roscoff men who travelled to Britain in the 1800s, 1900s and to a lesser extent, the 2000s, to sell locally grown onions to customers in the UK, were called Johnny Onions. One still travels to my home town in Wales to sell his onions every year.

Click on the photo to enlarge it - you can see this building is still displaying all the strings of onions, which were added to the front during the annual Roscoff onion festival.

Some boats in the harbour. This is not the original harbour, neither is it the main modern port, it is the second small harbour built for the town, and it is very picturesque.

This was my hotel bedroom wall - what a pleasant surprise!

I ate out in 'Le Surcouf', a wonderful little restaurant. The food was excellent, and the decor was relaxing. The 2 gentlement at the table next to mine ordered the 'seafood platter' (minimum 2 persons, which is why I didn't have it), and they graciously allowed me to take this picture when they were half way through eating it.... Truth be known, I wanted to join them; I love seafood!

These small daisy flowers were growing wild on many walls and in lots of corners. They added to the beauty of Roscoff.

The sundial on the church wall, along with a stone carving.

The church roof interior; the barrel shaped roof with supporting trusses is typical of the churches in this part of France,.

The stair to the pulpit is beautifully and ornately carved wood.

The altar is just stunning.

And so was the sunset....

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Bretons & Hydrangeas

Well, I was always led to believe that Hydrangeas come in pink or blue, and that the colour is determined by the acidity of the soil they grow in.

And then I went to Brittany.... I saw all sorts of different hydrangeas. There were beautiful and unusual colours, lace caps and blowsy round heads of flowers, cone shaped heads of flowers, small flowers, large flowers, and all were beautiful. Here are a selection to admire.

The colours of this one weren't captured by the camera - there were deep greens and reds blending together in this flower.

This was absolutely massive. The leaves were the normal size. Compare the flower head to some of the others, using the leaves as a 'size guide'.

This was such a delicate shade of mauve, fading to blue.

The individual flowers making up the flower head were mostly much smaller and more blue than any others I have seen. And then there was the paler larger flower, right in the middle!

This colour was stunning, deeper blues and greens in real life than the photo shows.

This was more of a cone shape than a sphere, and the bush was much taller and less rounded. Lovely creamy flowers with pink blushes.

This was intense purple with deep pink highlights.

Beautiful ivory cream colour.

From a distance, these looked deep reddish purple. When you got close each flower was deep red bending through to deep greeny blue. And the camera shows them as red!

You can see how the flowers combine red and green on this one.

And blue, purple and green on this one - again the image is lighter than the real thing.

I have never seen so many beautiful Hydrangeas. They have never caught my attention or imagination before this holiday, but the range of shapes and sizes and depth of colour have made me interested in finding out more about Hydrangeas, and trying to acquire a stunning one for my own garden.

Finisterre (or Pen ar Bed), Brittany, France

I went to France last week, to Finisterre in Brittany. The Bretons would maintain that they are not really French at all, but their own nation, which teye are, culturally. I saw lots of Breton language signs, and if I said them out loud I could see the connections with Welsh. The Breton name for Finisterre (which translates as end of the earth in English) is Pen ar Bed. Welsh for end of the earth would be Pen y Byd. If you say both names out loud, they sound almost the same... and just like the Welsh, the Bretons are fiercely proud of their language and cultural heritage.

I visited lots of absolutely beautiful churches, every little village seemed to ahve one grand enough to be a cathedral in other places, and many had carvings which showed how previous cultures/religions had been incorporated into the new religion. And of course, having such an extensive and very dangerous caostline, there is also evidence of their belief in sea creatures. Here are a few pictures taken at churches, which show what I mean.

Mermaids and sea monsters must have meant a lot to the people who built Sizun church, there are 7 mermaids carved into the stonework and several sea monsters.

Poor neglected travel blog

Well, it's not that I haven't been anywhere. On the contrary, I've been to lots of places. I've taken lots of photographs. I haven't had the time to sort the photographs out and write about where I've been. I have the digital equivalent of a big shoe box with a couple of thousand photos in it, just waiting to be sorted out!