Thursday, 3 July 2008

Quand en France, mange et dors!

It is almost a month, seems like a year, since I set off to stay with Stuart and Gabrielle at their wonderful smallholding in Brittany. It is set midway between Dinan and Rennes and seems less of a smallholding than a small ranch.

Needless to say I ate extremely well. Apart from some spider crabs that we bought at Rennes market, and which I cooked á Singapore, all the food served at the table was home grown. This is typical of a dish that would grace each meal.

The first impression to make an impact on me was the local rural architecture. Traditional farm buildings are made of clay, the colour of a rich, warm terracotta, on a stone foundation. Perched atop each gable end is individual glazed pottery figure - this one is, appropriately enough, a tiler.

Such material sounds though it would not last a summer's storm but I offer proof that at least one building was erected pre-revolutionary times.
The five days was a holiday for me - something I had impressed on Stuart or the dear man would have regimented my days. A time to reflect on my writing. A time to reflect on chickens.

They have a flock of ten or so, variously named M. Rôti, Mme Coq au Vin, Madame Oeufs Brouillés. Heartless, I know, and I did my best to block the ears of the fowl to their ultimate fate.

I could reflect on chickens all day; on their comings and goings, their petty rivalries, their muttered conversations on the latest gossip, their ambitions to scale the ladder of social standing. Even on their deep appreciation of art.
The cats, on the other had, are interested only in the art of merging into the background.

Their was only one shock in the five days I was there. It seems the Bretons, for some reason known only to themselves, hold the former deputy leader of the Labour party, John Prescott, with deep respect.

For in the market square in Dinan, I found a statue erected to him kitted out in full regalia.

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