Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Belle Ilse

Dear Readers,

I am writing this while sitting on a bed as a four year old boy runs around and around a loop that includes a passage through one door in the bedroom and out the other. There are eight “children” under the age of eighteen and seven adults housed in what started as a small cottage on the island of Belle Ilse off the coast of Brittany in France. This simple cottage has undergone several expansions and is currently bursting at the seams with people.

We (myself, my two children, the young woman who has been traveling with us, Elsa, and her father, the groom written about in previous posts) arrived on Belle Ilse this afternoon after a short beautiful ferry ride the seven miles or so across the channel. Our small traveling party dropped the rental car at the train station in Aurey and met JF, the groom, there about noon. Having made that rendezvous, the five of us threw all our luggage in the back of his car and made our way down the narrow isthmus of land that held the ferry depot and our departure point for Belle Ilse.

(break for sleep)

It is now morning (early). Only one other person is up. I am sitting on the stone “deck” behind the house waiting for enough folks to rise to make it “OK” to run the clothes washing machine (a very tiny unit that sits in the kitchen). We are all out of clean clothes.

JF and might go and buy croissants for the large crew here and check out a “cyber garage” to see what its hours might be. There are not a lot of places where one can get a WIFI or broadband connection here on the island.

Where I sit, I look out on a small orchard and garden. Birds are feeding on the fruit fallen to the ground. I understand that a family of pheasants lives back there and the two families – pheasants and humans – have grown used to each other over the generations. So, perhaps I will be graced by a view of some pheasants before breakfast.

The rays of the sun have not yet reached this flag stoned court, though I can see the sun’s effect upon the tops of the nearby trees and on the chimney top of an adjacent house so it will not be long. In the meantime, it is quite cool where I sit, wrapped in my one clean pair of pants and a pile pullover currently be used as a shirt.

I can hear the sounds of gulls from the nearby harbor, but I cannot see it from here. Last night, we walked into down into town to see what was happening and to look for internet connections. We found one bar that was selling connections for 1 euro for ten minutes, which I thought was piracy. Even were I to use that location, they do not open until 6 PM and it is, of course, smokey.

JF thinks that there may be internet availability at city hall, so we will check that out when it opens.

The main event of the day however, is another family excursion to one of the several beaches that dot the island’s coast. This is apparently the traditional way one spends time here in the summer. The beach we go to today may allow us to pick mussels fresh from the sea for our lunch. We shall see.

Yesterday, after much discussion by family consigliore’s, a beach was selected and we all trooped off to a small beach at the head of a fjord-like finger of the sea that poked inland between two tall heather covered bluffs on either side. The water was a bit cool, but very clear and the ocean floor was of very fine sand. Those who were not swimming spent the time talking (mostly adults) or playing in the sand (mostly children). My daughter allowed herself to be buried by a group of enthusiastic youngsters who then proceeded to give her various body profiles, some of which I was able to record on camera.

(ah ha – I found a broadband connection in the ferry office down on the harbor so I must quickly finish this post and upload it while I can)

We arrived here on Belle Ilse after spending the night in a B&B a relatively short distance away. This was a little place in a little village in the heart of Brittany. We knew of it through two separate sources that illustrate the small world and “degree of connectivity” potential that surround us.

A few months ago, I attended the 50th Anniversary celebration for a college FM station where I was a volunteer disc jockey oh so many years ago. A couple of momentous events occurred at that time – one of which was the meeting of a person who first directed me in a play at the Duluth Playhouse – an event that led to many further acting opportunities and in a large degree, shaped me as the person I am today. She was there with her husband, who was also a volunteer DJ at the same time I was.

We were seated at the same table during a Saturday night banquet and got to talking. We discovered that we were both planning visits to Europe and after I explained our itinerary, she said, “Oh, you must stop and stay with my old friends, C and C, who now run a B&B in Brittany.” After a bit more discussion, I ascertained that the male C of the couple was the very same man my brother Peter worked for in a French restaurant on Cathedral Hill in St. Paul, not more than six blocks from my old home on Dayton Avenue. Small world.

At first, we did not think we would be able to make it as the B&B was booked, but then through a series of events, we got a phone call from France saying that they had room and to count on staying.

So, we did. Unfortunately, Christian, the man my brother worked for, had to travel to Paris on family business and we did not see him, but his wife, Christiana welcomed us and we spent a very nice evening in their old stone house in a small village in the heart of Brittany.

A short drive of about an hour and a half, brought us to the place where we were to leave the rental car and meet Elsa’s dad, Jean-Francios for the remaining voyage to Belle Ilse.

So, here we are. I will upload pictures as soon as I can. In the meanwhile, this must suffice.



Blogger lime said...

what a lovely treat to have things work out to stay with them at the B&B. i can jsut see the little ones running the circuit through the house, hahahaha. and it sounds like the beach time was just perfect.

10:50 AM, August 01, 2007  
Blogger Sister Spikey Mace said...

Beautifully described; it's like I'm there, without all the airsickness. Thanks!

9:54 PM, August 01, 2007  

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