"The Visit", 17th December 2010
'Bob' the bat - When we arrived at the house, we couldn't open the shutters on the upstairs window for the first few days as there was a hibernating bat hanging
from one of the hinges. After it rained one day, he moved to the stonework on the inside corner conveniently allowing us to open the shutters. He moved again after
another few days, this time to the window sill, which meant we then couldn't close the shutters! We grew rather fond of him (Ann nicknamed him Bob - apologies Bob
if you are a lady bat!) and although it meant we could close the shutters at night, were sad when he disappeared one night. Guess he got tired of having to shift
around all the time - not very conducive to peaceful hibernation!
The snow has long gone, but the heavy frosts and very cold weather continue here in La Roche-Bernard. The water at the edges of the river forms ice which lasts
most of the day but, luckily, it hasn't frozen out as far as our berth - yet!
Despite our worries that the snow in the UK may result in Andy's Mum's visit being cancelled, she arrived on 6th December with a flight delay of less than half an
hour. We had hired a car (a Fiat Panda, not just so she would feel 'at home', but because Super U were doing a very special deal!) so that we could collect and
return her from and to the airport in Nantes but also so that we could show her a bit of this part of Brittany and enjoy the sight-seeing ourselves. She stayed at
the lovely Chambres d'hotes - highly recommended - and was made to feel very welcome by Dany
and her family.
The grey skies and very chilly northerly breeze bringing in the occasional shower of rain or sleet meant that the first couple of days of Andy's Mum's visit were
spent mostly in the car with short hops out into the icy wind. Whilst warmer and drier weather would have been more welcome, we managed to take in
La Trinite-sur-Mer, the alignments at Carnac, Quiberon, Auray and Vannes. The visit to Vannes was particularly successful as we went to the Irish Shop (which is
really an all-things-Celtic shop), which we didn't have time to visit in the summer. We procured, amongst other things, some Glen Moray, Doombar, Spitfire and
Courage Directors - how my mother likes all of those... Driving back from Quiberon, we took in the view from the western side of the peninsula. The
peninsula is very similar to Portland, although surprisingly the town of Quiberon is twinned with Looe, not Portland! It was great to see it from a different
perspective, having sailed past it en route to La Trinite during the summer. We had a lovely dinner at La Couronne restaurant in LRB on Tuesday night. We stopped
at Arzal on Wednesday afternoon to have tea (and delicious boat-made chocolate sponge - thank you Karen!) aboard Saradan with Tim and Karen and the 'back-up plan' of
meeting in the cafe wasn't needed, as mother managed to get aboard just fine - not bad for nearly 82!
The alignments at Carnac.
As forecast, the sun came out on Thursday and we showed Andy's Mum around beautiful La Roche-Bernard. We wandered through the market, met Tim and Karen
for coffee at Le Relais, walked along the river to Pipit, then had a really nice lunch aboard
Les Copains d'a Bord in the old port. We drove up to Redon in the
afternoon and, although it was interesting to see the locks at the intersection of the Vilaine and Nantes-Brest canal, came away thankful that we hadn't chosen to
over-winter there. Before going back to the airport at Nantes, we drove down to Arzal for the 1100 lock and watched a single boat go through - somewhat less crowded
than our transit on Pipit, although at least now the scaffolding has gone and both sides of the bridge open! We took a few more detours en route before dropping
Andy's Mum off for her flight back home. We're still not sure who was more tired at the end of her visit although we are certain we all enjoyed it immensely! It was
lovely to see her and to show her a little glimpse of Brittany, our winter home and our new lifestyle.
Lunch aboard the
Les Copains d'a Bord at LRB.
The canal locks at Redon.
Arzal lock road bridge - both halves lifting now, unlike when we passed through.
The water has been switched off here again, so whilst we managed to top up the tanks whilst it was on briefly early last week, we're staying in the house until
just after Christmas, when the owners arrive for their holiday. This means we'll have enough water for the time they are here and we are back aboard, as the
cold snap continuing will certainly preclude the marina switching the water back on until the weather warms up sufficiently.
On the plus side, whilst we were very much looking forward to our first Christmas aboard Pipit, we can still enjoy Christmas breakfast aboard our floating home, then
retire to the lovely house to cook Christmas lunch. As we both like cooking, it will certainly be more enjoyable doing so in a full-sized kitchen on a full-sized
cooker. We can then eat lunch at leisure before snoozing away the afternoon in front of the log fire, perhaps interspersed by a riverside or woodland walk if the weather
So, after last week's very enjoyable sightseeing, Andy spent this week working and Ann caught up on chores so that we can relax and enjoy a few days before, well, relaxing
and enjoying Christmas!
So all that remains, until next time, is to wish all our regular readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and for the sailors amongst you, fair winds
and safe landfalls in 2011. Below are a few snaps of the festive lights in and around LRB.