MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21
Catch the tiny train from Roscoff to Morlaix. One drink in Bar le Commerce, watching the races from Chantilly. Pick up our hire car and drive to the wall town of Dinan, where we book into our medieval style accommodation in a cobbled lane. Drinks at Bar Tabac Carillon with a group of Poms on a golf trip. Chat with Cornwall born Mal, ex-Army.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22
Marie and I walk the Dinan city ramparts, before she returns to town to shop, while I walk down the hill to the River Rance for lunch (omelette/chips) at Papillon Hotel in the port area. Walk back to town up a very steep cobbled street, where a harp playing busker invites me to have a go. No chance. Catch up with Marie, and we mistakenly walk into school grounds, before being sent packing. Bloody tourists.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
Shades of my London passport fiasco. We drive to St Malo and discover I have left my back pack – with camera and Ipad – in the car park. Frantic drive back to Dinan and fortunately, someone had handed it in to reception.
I walk the River Rance to clear the cobwebs. Englishman, Robin Flitt, who lives at Abergavenny in Wales, accompanies me for part of the walk. He hopes to follow the Ashes cricket tour in Australia in 2017. Marie and I to a trendy bar, where barman gives us free taste of beer and bubbly. Back at our digs we watch first half of France v Romania rugby union. Terrible standard.
Learn of the death of former top Australian sports writer, Mike Gibson, aged 75. He covered the 1963-64 Kangaroo tour of Britain and France, the first time an all-Australian touring side had won a series in the UK. Mike was a devoted North Sydney Bears’ fan. I enjoyed his hosting of ‘Back Page’ on Foxsports, with Billy Birmingham alongside him.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
To Mt St Michel today. Amazing place, similar to Lourdes in terms of commercial aspects. Lots of school groups, including one from Australia. Marie helps zip up my jacket at the same time as Korean women nearby does the same for her husband. The uselessness of husbands is universal. Tonight, one final drink at our local bar/tabac, where the manager has come to regard us with some affection. A big group of Americans in the bar. Dinner at Le Canterbrau. I have oysters from Rance and then calf kidneys. Marie skips entree, has sea bass for main and creme broule for sweets. We return to our digs, via Leonard Elektric Bar, where it is only 8E for a pint of beer and a huge Baileys and ice. 12E next time around, but still good value.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
Leave Dinan and stop in beautiful forest country, where old racing cars are on display near an abbey. Walk around a lake where we chat to a fisherman, who has been cutting reeds with a scythe.
Excellent accommodation in Vannes at back of Best Western. To medieval quarter. While having a drink at Le 4 bar, we see a dog owner just stroll on, after his mutt leaves a major deposit in front of a store. The proprietor is left to clean up the mess. Lots of beggars and wild looking characters, including a punk, middle aged couple. On our return walk we have drinks at Bar Mairie, where a young group smoke and block the footpath. The bar manager seems to lack charm, but is joined by friends, and shows he has personality. Watch finish of Argentina v Georgia World Cup union match from Gloucester, where I covered a 2000 World Cup rugby league match between New Zealand and Lebanon. Corsican wine with dinner.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26
I get a few looks as I walk around town in shorts. The temp is 9 degrees. Lunch at Bar L’Atlantique, sitting in the sun. Oysters, fish soup and local fish. Walk off lunch at Promenade la Garenne hilltop park, and its war monuments. Drinks at Bar Prefecture, where our host wears a Clermont rugby union top.
Watch Wales v England union match. Sam Burgess plays well for England, but is (unfairly, in my view) castigated by some in the media for a ‘rash’ kick. Back in Australia, where the exciting brand of rugby – league – is king, it will be an all Queensland grand final – Cowboys v Broncos.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27
Drive to Arzon and Port Naudo where we have a picnic lunch and paddle in the shallows. Back at Vannes we adjourn to Bar Hemingway, where we watch Eire v Romania World Cup match.
Our daughter, Melanie attends Intrust Super Cup (Queensland) grand final in Brisbane, with Ipswich beating the Townsville Blackhawks. The state league Team of 20 years’ is announced. I was a judge.