And in fact this whole Blogger dashboard is in French so I'm having to brush up my technical jargon to make sure I put the right bit in the right place. But it's still called 'le Blog' which is fun, although I imagine the French language purists are fuming!
Sailed down the River Lee and out into Cork Harbour on Saturday afternoon, past Cobh and its Cathedral.
There is a traditional currach rowing past - you can just see it. These are the lightweight boats that were used on the offshore islands, and they feature in a big Ocean to City Race in June here. It's a surprisingly long way up from the mouth of Cork Harbour to the city quays, I can tell you, and the rowers are exhausted when they get there, necessitating revival with whiskey and hot sausages (herbal tea and virtuous green salads don't cut it with rowers who've done that distance).
I have a nice family connection with Cobh Cathedral: my maternal grandfather had gone over to Boston to get set up in business and make a home for his fiancee (my grandmother, Josephine, after whom I am named) to follow; she, however, having a cold in the head or something when getting ready to board the liner at Cobh, was refused passage. They were paranoid in the early 1900s about illness on board apparently. In a frantic state (well wouldn't you be?) she telegraphed her husband-to-be and he immediately dropped everything and came back on the next possible boat. They were married in Cobh Cathedral which was barely finished at that time - I think they were one of the first couples to wed there. And after all, my grandfather decided they would stay in Ireland and make their living there. Which they did. And which is why I am Irish, although the wanderlust has been inherited.
The Brittany Ferries flagship, the Pont Aven, was as splendid as ever for a ferry, and dinner was the usual sumptuous experience.
Oh help, 'envoyer une image'. Does that mean upload or download? Have to click and see. Whew, it's the right one!
As you can see, we got in fairly early, because of the gales forecast. It filled up pretty quickly after Richard took this picture.
Ajouter encore une image. Choose another image (I think).
Yes. Richard also got a shot of some of the desserts before they were brutally invaded and pillaged by eager diners. You would love this boat (some of you may have tried it already and know what I'm talking about). Dozens of divine French waiters, the sea sliding by in the sunset, and France ahead of you. This has got to be the most relaxing way to get anywhere. Forget airports. This way, the journey is half the fun.
Arrived at 7 am local time and headed straight for Plancoet where Renee was waiting to (a) eagerly receive her best Cork bacon, and (b) proudly show off her little flock of Ouessants. No more delay, I know you're dying to see these little rarities.
They're so friendly and approachable. Most unlike the Soays at Gougane Barra which can't even be corralled. That's what comes of being hand-reared, I imagine. In fact these did most of the approaching -
This is one of the two rams, as friendly a little fellow as you could wish.
Now Renee will have to forgive me, but I have unaccountably forgotten whether this is Gary or Dumpling (I know, I know, she's going to change his name before he's sold on). I think it's Gary. Want a close-up? Of course you do.
And here - here - is my fleece at the still-growing, pre-carding stage.
And again, please forgive me, Renee, blame it on the travel weariness. I just can't remember this lovely lady's name. Titbit? Priscilla? I promise I will check and bring you all the essential details later. Right then, it was a case of rounding-up and bringing in for shearing.
Now I really really love the way Renee shears her Ouessants. None of that flinging them on their backs and slashing off the fleece from a terrified animal in a few minutes. No, she works slowly and calmly from front to back with a dog fur clippers. Yes it's slow, but look at Titbit or whoever it is - does she look stressed? Not a bit of it. She was worrying slightly about her twin lambs, but we checked on them and they were having a high old time in the meadow with their friends.
I have never been at a shearing with less animal stress and that's all due to Renee. I should tell you she runs this marvellous dog and cat facility here in Brittany, where people from all over the world who want to take their pets to the UK but can't bear the thought of the impersonal quarantine kennels, can leave their beloved charges for the requisite time, knowing they are being cared for beautifully and welcome to be visited too. Renee does all the paperwork, the animal passports, the lot, and her business is prospering, because after all who would willingly put a cherished pet into a frightening anonymous quarantine prison for six months? And as regards the shearing, yes, she says, it takes a heck of a long time (and plays havoc with your bent back) but in a 'normal' shearing, the poor animal thinks it's going to be killed, and although it isn't, that's not an experience she thinks it ought to go through. Right on Renee. We're behind you on this one. OK, so it wouldn't be practical for a huge flock of sheep, but it's lovely to see it done here. She might shear another tomorrow, another the next day, and so on.
And here is the fleece, still warm from its previous wearer, being safely tucked away. I'm going to spin this and send a hank of yarn to Renee and her lovely welcoming mother, Sheila, who knits. Now she can make an Ouessant weskit for the winter!
Down in Southern Brittany now - actually I think we're slightly over the border in Loire Atlantique - at Le Chene Vert on the outskirts of the village of Missillac. This place is a find.
It's an old farmhouse set in rambling old gardens festooned with climbing roses, and with huge trees encircling its peace and quietude. We're in a lovely old loft, reached by its own outside staircase, with our own tiny kitchen and bathroom ensuite. Birds are singing, and there are owls calling at night we are assured (no sleep for Richard if there are!) You have to come here. I'm so pleased I found them on the Internet. Heaven bless the Internet!
Struggling with the Aran Sandal Socks (have just sent a frantic message to Tania who is the expert in this field, for help.) There is a very complicated pattern on the sock which continues on to the heel flap, with weird twisty bits on every row, but since the heel is worked back and forth rather than in the round, I have to somehow reverse the instructions. And it is doing my head in. Tania, HELP!
It is raining right now, which is a perfect excuse to go and do a little French shopping. To Landevant and that fell-off-le-back-d'un-lorry yarn shop! I will return!