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We're all going on an autumn holiday...

Feeling low today, I succumbed - and booked our annual holiday

Last Monday, January 19th, was officially Britain's worst day of the year, according to statistics.

I forget exactly how they work it out - something about the weather (which is anti-cyclonic at this time of year, bringing with it a deal of rain and cloud), plus it's three weeks after New Year, you're working out quite how much debt you got into over the Christmas period, you're back at work and settled into the routine, and there seems to be nothing to look forward to. 

Beach at GoulienThe research was commissioned by a holiday company, who were wondering quite why this day - the first Monday three weeks after new year - is the peak day that Brits book their summer holiday. 

Well, I too have succumbed, albeit a few days late. Today I booked our annual holiday (we only take one a year), and as usual, it's going to be in Brittany.

When we holiday, we want to be by the sea, and the Normandy coast is too civilised for us. Further south, things get very boring, with holiday camps everywhere on the Vendee, and in the true south, it's very expensive and touristy, and also so far away that we'd really need to be away for two weeks. I miss my animals after only a few days, so can't countenance the idea of leaving them for a fortnight. 

The DH and I also always holiday in the off-season, for several reasons. One is that we live in the kind of place people come TO on holiday - rural Normandy, surrounded by peaceful countryside, lakes and rivers, picturesque cottages etc etc. In summer this place is heaven, so why would we leave it?

But the Normandy winter is something else. Between November and the end of March it's endless rain, endless drizzle. Fog, mist, grey days - the 'grisaille', they call it, the 'triste' time of year, and so it is. As I type, rain is pouring off our slate roof (there's no guttering, so I'm looking at the waterlogged fields through  a stream of raindrops). It's 2.40 in the afternoon and it's almost dark. We learned some years ago that holidaying in November (when it's also the DH's birthday) seems to stoke up our batteries, enabling us to get through winter more easily. We'd love a holiday in February too, but can't usually stretch to it.

Not, you understand, that Brittany's weather is any better than Normandy's. In fact it's worse, but at least it's coastal, and sitting in the car, drinking piping hot coffee and watching the rain sile into the sea is somehow different from trying to walk the dog in it back home. And some years we have been amazingly lucky with the weather, especially the week we went to Carnac when it was sunshine from end to end. 

Off-season holidays have another serious advantage for us - they're cheap. Where we're going in Finistere this year, on the Plage de Goulien up on the Crozon peninsula (see above), the cost in low season is only just over a third of what we would pay in high season. We also get the beaches to ourselves, and the dog isn't banned.

I've also accidentally hit paydirt with this booking, with both a megalithic alignment and German World War II bunkers within easy reach - both photographic topics the DH is working on. It should be fun exploring the Crozon peninsula, which is wild and beautiful, and you can watch the sun go down in the sea. The gite looks pretty, too - small and simple, with both an open fire and a woodburner, so it should be good and cosy. 

Speaking of piping hot coffee, incidentally, before I go I must just put in a word of recommendation for Stanley, the US thermos makers. Recently we'd noticed that our old Stanley thermos wasn't keeping our coffee warm, so I wrote to them to ask if it needed a replacement part. It's 18 years old and owes us nothing, but Stanley instantly replied that they would replace it free of charge, and in fact our new thermos arrived yesterday. Now that's what I call customer service. Can't wait to try it out on our next day trip. 


The Cote de Granite Rose

Brittany's Pink Granite coastline really is pink - and a lot more spectacular than I was expecting.

Cote de granite roseBack from our annual holiday, so apologies for the silence.

I obviously don't broadcast when we are going away, especially with it being so close to Christmas. Some ten years ago when burglars cleared us out, they had clearly done their Christmas shopping in our house. A kind of one-stop-shop I suppose - clocks, writing boxes, antiques, computers, fax machines, clothes, sofa throws... You name it, they took it.

My husband still can't bear to think of it, especially as it included my wedding present to him and a special present - a Second World War marching compass - that it took me nearly a year to pay for. It is rather galling to save painstakingly for something, putting aside a little each month, and then be simply relieved of it by someone who can't be bothered to work. 

Anyway, on a lighter note, we have been away in Brittany, exploring the Cote de granite rose. It really is pink, by the way. The bright salami pink of granite kitchen worksurfaces, but since it is soft, far from being shiny, it has been moulded and eroded away by the wind and sea to make the most amazing shapes - the Pile of Pancakes, the Death's Head, the Whale etc. I must admit I had no idea there was anything quite this spectacular in Europe - if it had been America I wouldn't have been surprised.

The sea around there is bright turquoise - a result of the kaolin clay in the granite washing away - and at times, crashes up against the beach with enormous and treacherous force.  Here and there, there are houses built up against - almost into - the rocks, which provide the only form of shelter against the wind.

I'll keep this short for today, as I catch up with world events (doom and gloom as usual, I see), for having been without telly for a week, I feel quite peaceful. Our main efforts today are going into warming the house up after 10 days with no heating, and petting all the animals in turn, who appear to have missed us in our absence (or maybe it's just the woodburner...). 


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