Sunday 2 July, 2017
Back to Blighty
It is Sunday and following a night of little sleep we set off to the ferry terminal for the 9.15 to Plymouth. We are on the Brittany Ferries’ Pont-Aven. She is about 40,000 tonnes and carries 650 cars and 2,500 passengers. I guess, unlike the Santa or the Monte, she probably has more than two cooks. We are, today, back to Blighty and tomorrow on to Heathrow. There is an excitement about going home after two months on the other side of the world. Back to the water going down the plug hole the right way, north being the direction to the equator, and the vagaries of living in the southern South Pacific, somewhere down near Antarctica.
I was offered a job yesterday at Jean-Luc’s creperie. Jean Luc owns the apartment we rented for the week in Roscoff. His creperie was just downstairs from our lodgings. He had been away in Corsica and only arrived back the day before we departed. We ate there on our final night in France and Jean Luc invited me to make the crepes. He showed me the correct way to hold the paddle, the correct way to move the batter and the wrist flicks with the long flat spatula to lift and fold the cooked crepe. I think he was impressed by my ability to handle the process and suggested I may like to work with him over the coming summer. His holiday to Corsica had been to prepare himself for the summer season. For the next two or three months his creperie will be chock-a-bloc with tourists. I am not sure how many of the tourists will be visitors to France as it seems, from our time there, most of the visitors are French people having domestic holidays.
Our apartment was, in French terms, très joli, très confortable. It was not overstuffed with either furniture or ornaments. We could, though, have done with some full-size towels. Jean Luc said his son, who was looking after the flat for the first time, wasn’t quite up with the play in le linge department. Such is the stuff of life. We coped, we managed, we jumped up and down to get dry.
Mid-week the weather became very Wellingtonish. Roscoff is out near the snout of Finistère and gets all the stuff that blows in from the Atlantic. It rained, particularly on the day we visited the Ile de Bartz. The trip home included a 500-metre pier trudge into cold driving rain. Roscoff is very tidal and when the tide is out, the ferry cannot berth anywhere near the dock; rather it drops the passengers at the very end of an exposed rain and wind swept concrete walkway with no shelter. Hmm. By the time we got home our clothes and shoes were soaked. I had a shower immediately to warm up and then I investigated the switch box to see if I could get the heaters working. Sure enough, a flick of the two switches labelled chauffage saw the heater light come on and an hour later the whole flat was toasty warm.
Roscoff is little more than a central shopping street with restaurants and souvenir shops and little else. There is a supermarket; however, it is about a 40-minute walk. Lovely though it is, Roscoff would not be my pick for a three-month sojourn; it is a place that travellers pass through while going to and from the UK or Ireland.
We are now in the southern approaches to the English Channel, or La Manche as the French call it. We are belting along at about 50 kph with only the breeze we are creating and surrounded by a dead flat calm. Unusually, the channel seems empty, I have not sighted any other ships since we left Roscoff, now some four hours ago. The sun is streaming into the large passenger area at the front and we have a cubicle with bench seats each side of a table. It is a sort of six seat dinette arrangement looking directly on to the sea. The ship is largely empty so we can stretch out on the padded sofas and nod off occasionally. It is a bit like business class in the air. Perhaps I could have a word with the driver and suggest to him that a visit to Wellington may be in order. Maybe, though the Porn-Aven, at 380 feet and forty thousand tonnes, would be missed at Plymouth, our destination.
Our next accommodation, the Mariners Guest House, is about a mile and a half from the ferry terminal in Plymouth, but hey, it is close to the bus station for tomorrow’s journey to Heathrow.