Hail and farewell

posted 25 July 2005

Well, I would like to keep adding to this diary until I'd actually written up all the great memories of our sabbatical in France and all its attendant travel, sights, adventures, acquaintances, etc., but I'm spending too much time these days keeping up with life in the present to spend much more writing up the past.

Here are a few of the topics I would have like to include in more detail: Dinner with Myriam Sibuet and her husband Jean-Claude. They served (among other things) radish-top soup (home grown), roast pheasant with apples and chestnuts, and rhubarb tart. A wonderful evening with wonderful people.

The parade of ships through the Goulet de Brest when the helicopter carrier Jeanne d'Arc (based in Brest) came home from her tour of duty helping out the tsunami victims in Indonesia.

Dinner with Daniel Desbruyères and his wife, which featured, among other things, pork tenderloin a (nonsweet) sauce of ginger and rhubarb. She gave me the recipe, and I look forward to trying it. We also went out to dinner with them once, at the Hostellerie de La Pointe Saint Mathieu.

Flowers: The amazing variety of flowers sported by a serious "ville fleurie." A couple of dozen just in the yard of our gîte and as many again if you went out the gate into the lane. I was a botany major and took horticulture on the side, but in the planters around the church, there were things I couldn't even place to family! The hydrangeas alone must put on an amazing show. They're everywhere in Brittany, and we had to leave just as they were starting to show color.

Dinner with the Dolls: We exchanged several dinners and "cocktails" with our landlords, Patrick and Patricia Doll, usually seafood—the product of Patricks crab traps and fishing rod. Charming people and excellent landlords.

Tall ships: At one point, several square-rigged tall ships sailed in through the Goulet. A look through binoculars revealed that one of them was Dar M&lslash;od&zslash;iezy, which we had admired in its home port of Gdynia, Poland, some weeks before! The folks at Ifremer told us that every three years or so, Brest hosts a gathering of tall ships from all over the world and that the views of it from the lab are spectacular.

Dinner with the Bodins: We enjoyed another excellent dinner (baked "lieu jaune," a popular local fish and a wonderful strawberry soup) at the home of Philipe Bodin and his wife. We got to meet their teenage granddaughter, who was staying with them for a few days. Philipe was a colleague of David's before he retired from the University of Brest a few years ago. He still lives nearby (in Guilers, of which he was deputy mayor for a while), so we gave him a call.

Lunch at "1001 Lunes": Near the end of our stay, Karine Olu and Jean-Claude Caprais of the Ifremer lab took us out to a local restaurant, "Mille et Une Lunes," which is owned and run by a coworker of theirs at the lab. the owner sometimes cooks there on weekends, but we got the other chef, whom he employs to cook during the week. The restaurant is at "Le Minou," a nearby popular surfing beach. It was all delicious, but the most interesting thing was the strange olive-green, slightly sweet soup we had for an amuse-bouche. We asked the chef, and it had everything in itM=—rhubarb jam, orange peel, broad beans, asparagus, almond paste, honey, mint, piment d'espellette (small, spicy Spanish peppers), . . . .

Lunch at the lab: In both labs we visited, when someone has a birthday, it's customary for them to treat everyone else to cake rather than the other way around. While we were there, half a dozen employees who passed their 30th anniversary dates with the lab pooled their resources to throw a festive lunch for the whole two-building complex. It consisted of a dizzying array of pâtés, terrines, dry sausages, other coldcuts, olives, pickles, chips and puffs of various flavors, and salads, all accompanied by (count 'em) nine kinds of bread; it even included "foie gras de la mer" (monkfish liver). It then progressed to huge wheels of Brie and four other kinds of cheese. Then flats and flats of Plougastel strawberries.

And, of course, all the other amusing, confusing, surprising, and delightful things that happened to us (or to which we happened). The friendly and fascinating people we met. All the places we drove and just admired and enjoyed, without anything particular happening. Way to much to include =.

So I'm winding up the diary here. I may update entries, especially as I sort through the hundreds of photos we took and happen on shots that ought to be included, so keep an eye on the "updated" dates if you're interested.

Thanks for your interest and attention. It's been fun.

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