This island lies off the coast of Roscoff, Brittany. Depending which map you consult, it is surrounded by The Irish Sea, The North Atlantic, or The English Channel. Friends, Yves and Fiona, went off to Ireland on holiday, and we moved into their house on the island to have our own holiday, and care for their dogs, Gudule and Kawee. Vacations all around!
This is a very peaceful and quiet little village, accessible only via a short ferry ride. There are no cars on the island save for the taxi vans, some scooters, and a number of tractors. It's small, so its a very walkable place--hilly, but walkable. There are working farms which use the tractors to till the fields and carry the harvest (I saw potatoes, artichokes, radishes, spinach, and other greens) to the local markets, or to the quai for the ferry to carry to market on the mainland. I also saw a tractor towing a big refrigerated, canvas-sided box trailer, making deliveries to the shops and cafes. Also, after the fishermen drop off their harvest from the sea, a tractor will soon come along, and pick up the boxes of fish and crustaceans to carry them up onto the island. And most everyone has a bicycle, of course.
I loved walking all over this island. There are so many rock walls with gardens growing in, on, and over them! Such a beautiful place!
I grew up on an island, but it had a bridge at either end, connecting us with the mainland. We had six lanes of traffic going past our house at all times. Nothing like that here--this was truly small town island life. We had peace and quiet, spent a lot of time playing with the dogs, and sitting in the sun in the garden. One day, the horse and pony from the next garden in the back came to visit.
There was a community initiative for residents to get a couple free chickens, to produce eggs for the families. One of the highlights of our week, was to go over to the town hall and pick up the incoming chickens. We brought them home and put them into the hutch that was already prepared in the back of the garden. So exciting! We fed them leftover salad, and some chicken feed pellets. They settled in, and it was very sweet to hear them quietly clucking to each other back there.
Our time wasn't all spent sitting in the garden. We walked the dogs twice a day, and took slow strolls (because of my knee problems, I was the very slow one) to the four corners of the island. At the far southeastern end of the island are the Gardens of Georges Delaselle. He fell in love with the end of this island, and for twenty years he worked to bring together an excellent collection of exotic plants to the garden. He uncovered ten Bronze Age burial sites, and incorporated the graves into his garden design.
We also ate a lot of lovely fish--some of the freshest fish I've had since I left my home town. You have to live right by the water, and having a fisherman for a next-door neighbor doesn't hurt!
We went to Roscoff on the mainland one day to buy some things we needed and I got to visit the 16th Century Noter Dame de Croaz Batz. A lovely old church that sent home to me what a tiny blip on the time-line is our 200+ year-old history in the US.
Early on our last morning, we were waiting to get the ferry back to Roscoff to get the car and begin our drive back to Brussels. We saw 100's of loaves of fresh bread being delivered. Bags and bags and bags kept coming off the boat, and this made two things very clear: one, is that each person on the island who had teeth eats at least a loaf per day, and second, the island boulangerie REALLY needed someone to buy it, get up early each day, and bake these folks some local bread!
Huge thanks to Yves and Fiona for lending us their dogs and their home. It was a lovely and peaceful holiday.