MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28
Drive to Port Blanc and catch the ferry across to Ill aux Moines. So many oyster beds. An amazing tide plays havoc with vessels, in particular a little sailing boat, which is carried well away from its intended passage. The island had hosted a fete and concert in the last 24 hours and at least one of the cafes has run out of beer. Back in Vannes we have two drinks at Bar Rally.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29
Leave Vannes, heading for the port town of Concarneau. Lunch on the banks of a river where there is a 24 hour canoe slalom course. Next, we walk around lovely Pont-Aven, which was once the home of artist, Paul Gauguin. Marie admires amber on display in several shops. At Concarneau we explore the old town, which is located on an island in the harbour. High tide sees water encroaching on some of the streets. We enjoy a seafood platter at Le Belem Restaurant.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 30
Explore Concarneau beach front where there are lots of people with nets. It is low tide. Police keep a close eye on a group of Middle Eastern looking people at back street cafe. Lunch at busy Lobely’s and Marie demolishes her mussel dish. After lunch we drive west to lovely Benodet, where Marie is envious of diners on a terrace overlooking the river L’odet. Next stop, Point de la Larche, a long white sand beach where there are lots of board riders, some from Holland and Britain. The landscape here has a Lands End feel to it. Back in Concarneau I ‘people-watch’ in the Port Bar. There are plenty of characters. An old bloke with a beret and walking stick shakes my hand. He has been playing cards with mates, while drinking dark red wine. Another bloke, with a ‘Scotch whiskey’ dog, has to carry it, after it refuses to walk. Dinner at La Loggia.
THURSDAY OCTOBER 1
Today we explore the city of Quimper. Confession is being heard in the magnificent cathedral. Back to Concarneau, via drinks on the balcony of Les Sables Blancs, a four star hotel overlooking the beach. A vicious dog harasses a swimmer, then attacks another dog.
Learn that our daughter, Melanie has quit her job with State Treasury, to take on a new challenge.
Here, I must relate a Catholic Confession story.
In the early 1960s, Father Gallagher was a parish priest at Murwillumbah, a man of Irish heritage who loved rugby league and was a great supporter of the local Brothers’ club. If Brothers’ played on Saturday afternoon, Fr Gallagher would miss the match because he had to hear confession. One of the parishioners, a local bus driver, Harry Kinneally, would attend the match and then dash up to the church, and jump the queue (lots of people went to confession in those days). In the confessional, Harry would start in the normal manner – “Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been one week since my last confession….”. Fr Gallagher would then interject, in his broad Irish brogue – ‘Never mind that, Harry. Who won the football?”
If Brothers won, Harry’s penance would be one Hail Mary. If they lost, he had to do the Stations of the Cross. Of course, Harry couldn’t tell a fib. He had to give the correct result.
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 2
Return hire car to Morlaix and catch a train to Paris. Youngsters of African descent block the aisle, infuriating a Muslim lady. Check into our apartment before walking to the River Seine to watch the sun go down. Two drinks at Bar Populaire, where it is happy hour. The barman is a character, and so efficient. Patrons are mainly young, and it has an English pub feel. Eat opposite at L’Auberge Le Quincy, a quirky place where ancient waiters attend to us. No credit cards accepted. French speaking American couple, Winthrop and Claire Smith, sitting next to us, help with the menu, and we have a great chat. He is CEO of an electronics group and she is a retired teacher. They ‘flit’ between Paris and Dover, New Hampshire as part of their work lifestyle.
Back in Brisbane, Valleys hold their annual reunion which is attended by their most famous former player, Wally Lewis and Englishman, Colin Maskill, who flew out for the occasion. Maskill, who played for Wakefield, Leeds, Doncaster and Castleford in England, played with Valleys alongside Lewis in the 1980s.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3
To market in Place D’Algre where I take photos of the passing parade as Marie buys fish, langoustines, veal, fruit and veg. We get free chilli from one stand. A bloke hands out pro-Palestine leaflets. Next stop, the Great Canadian Bar near Pont Neuff, hoping they will show the NRL grand final tomorrow, given, the last time we were here, the staff told us how much they liked league. But the bar will not open until noon tomorrow and the footy will be over by then. Blast. Our barmaid this time is from Nevada, USA. The beer is flat. Chat to a group of six blokes from southern England, here to celebrate a birthday and to attend the races tomorrow – the Arc d’ Triumph, no less. We didn’t know it was on. Next to a bar/Tabac at Quay de Tournelle, where I met Christian, a construction worker cum scuba diver, last year. He is currently in Romania. An African bloke chats to me when he sees the Kangaroos logo on my polo shirt. He wants to know what language we speak in Australia. He talks Dutch. Walk to Pont Sully where lots of people are sun bathing.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4
Spend the morning in our room with the grand final on our mind. Brisbane solicitor and league analyst, Lyle Beaton texts us with score updates. Ipswich beat Newcastle in the national second tier final. Lyle is not happy with Channel 9 commentator, Phil Gould’s criticism of Ipswich’s eccentric style of play. We watch live scores on NRL website and Lyle updates us with thrilling moments. Amazing golden point victory to the Cows. Can’t wait to watch the replay when we get home. Inaugural Cowboy, George Bartlett, a work colleague of our son, Damien, watches the grand final from a corporate box, thanks to another Cowboy original, Bruce Sinclair. Our daughter, Melanie is in the United States and watches the match in Route 66 Bar, Chicago.
Off to the races. Free shuttle bus from Port Maillot Metro to Longchamps Race track. 32 Euro admission for the two of us, well worth it. A great day. Frankie Dettori rides the winner, Golden Horn, a UK trained three-year-old. The pomp and ceremony which follows is marvelous, with a mounted band playing ‘God Save the Queen’. Marie had 10E on Tapestry, which finished 16th in a field of 17! A group of lads in kilts are photographed with African ladies. Back in town we have drinks at a couple of bars, the second a TABAC, where we are befriended by an Algerian, who works at the market where we were yesterday. Barman, who looks like former Parramatta forward, Chris King, helps us with interpretations. Only 9E 30c for three beers and two glasses of Rose’.