July 2006 – Ile de Brehat - Treguier - Ploumanac'h avec Mackerel - Morlaix and the World Cup Final
The weather finally changed for the worse just as we were leaving Lezardrieux, the wind died and the drizzle started. But thankfully it did not persist so we had a sunny evening in La Chambre anchorage and an enjoyable walk the length of Ile de Brehat the next morning while waiting for the tide for the rock strewn passage to Treguier. There are no cars on Ile de Brehat, but we still needed to keep a wary eye open on the roads as there are many children on hire bicycles and tractors and trailers which steer a somewhat erratic course.
There are a few shops and a market in the main village Bourg, these provided us with a baguette and some delicious rabbit and mustard pate for lunch, and mussels for dinner which is just as well as we caught only seaweed on our trailing fishing line on passage to Treguier. There are obviously fish around, as there are numerous small fishing boats. Not all of the occupants wear a striped shirt, beret, and have a scruffy dog as mate but we did spot one!
The rocky passages of Chenal de la Moisie and Passe de la Gaine made for interesting pilotage. The visibility was not great, at only a couple of miles, but it was possible to pick out the next marker easily enough with binoculars. These passages were used by the French trading vessels to avoid the British who had supremacy of the English Channel during the Napoleonic wars.
We really enjoyed our stay at Treguier. The town is an interesting collection of old buildings along steep narrow winding streets, dominated by the cathedral. There is an excellent market on Wednesdays - the day after our arrival. It fills the main square, the open area near the marina and the streets between. We stocked up on lots of fruit, vegetables and cheese which went into several tasty one-pot dinners.
A few days later, our late afternoon, early evening trip to Ploumanac'h gave our first successful mackerel catch. In fact they would not stop biting, we were catching one every five minutes. After successfully landing three we put away the line - you can have too much of a good thing! We have yet to perfect the technique of a quick and humane dispatch. Landing them in a bucket and a whack over the head with the winch handle seems to do the trick - even if it is not elegant.
Morlaix was our next stop, and we stayed here for a week so that we can enjoy the Bastille day celebrations - this seemed a good excuse as the wind was forecast strong northerly all week and our next trip was to be back across the channel en route to Ireland. Morlaix is a large town dominated by a tall railway viaduct. The viaduct is the usual picture shown of the town, but we joined the crowds in the main square for a screening of the football world cup final between France and Italy.
It was an entertaining spectacle because they started off with the screen at the end of the square, but had not factored in the late evening sun obliterating the picture. It had been erected for several hours, but fifteen minutes before kick off they decided to move the screen and associated loud speakers; projector; and mass of cables. (It was a real Heath-Robinson-like set up with the mains electricity being provided by an extra long extension lead from the window on the top floor of one of the adjacent buildings) It was then re-erected in rather a hurry so blew over part way through the match causing much hilarity. Even in its new location the picture was not great until well after 9.30pm (the picture above was taken at 8.15).
We took along our wind-up radio and listened to the commentary from BBC Radio 5 Live (693 MW) via a shared set of head phones. This was a good thing because neither of us follows football and we'd have had no idea what was going on by looking at the nonexistent picture. The crowd was there for a good time, and needless to say there were huge cheers when Zidane scored the first goal, but silence when he was sent off towards the end of extra time, and loud groans when the second French penalty was missed.
Our other exposure to the World Cup was back in St Helier on Jersey in the Lamplighter pub. Skinners, the Truro based brewery, had brewed a special beer to mark the event - 'A Pint of Two Halves'. However, ordering 'a pint and a half of a pint of two halves' caused much confusion at the bar. 'I'll have a pint and a half of THAT ONE, please' did the job!
Talking of beer. You can find 'real ale' brewed in North Brittany. Two young Bretons started brewing in Morlaix back in 1985. Their range of beers are sold under the Coreff (old Breton for 'beer') label. Coreff Blonde and Ambree are the more commonly stocked beers and are available draught in local bars or in bottles from shops and supermarkets. More difficult to find however is the Coreff Noire, a superb rich stout, but it is well worth the effort in tracking it down.