Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Singing for supper

Well, not really supper, and not really singing, but playing some gentle Latin rhythms for the diners at the restaurant down the road.   They're a good friendly bunch down there, and I often go for a morning coffee, and natter.     Recently they held a "fête d'été", a Summer festival, and asked if I could play.

There are many good books of simple music that come with a backing track on CD.   It doesn't have to be "serious" classical music, but it's fine as an accompaniment to an evening meal or "apéros", the before-dinner drinks and nibbles.   And I can sight-read it, or nearly.   So I took down my book of sheet music, music stand, my flute, my flute mic, the android tablet with the backing tracks on, and my portable battery-powered speaker (It's so easy to forget something, and everything is necessary)  I played for 40 minutes or so, the duration of all the pieces in the book.

A free lunch is in the offing.

Saturday, 11 July 2020


I do a fair amount of DIY, and when I do, it often puts a fair amount of dust into the air.   I also go into the wood store from time to time, where the wood chips for the boiler are usually covered in a fine wood powder.   So when I do these things I wear a face mask to stop my lungs from from inhaling potentially toxic dust.   Over the years I have always held a small stock of masks, since I never know when the DIY urge will strike, or things need emergency repair.   It so happens that they are FFP2 rated, which means they are also recommended for reducing inhalation of airbourne water droplets laden with virus particles, and for catching exhalations of the same.

Anita went into the hospital at Laval recently, just for a check-up.  She decided to wear one of the FFP2s that we had in stock, rather than one of the disposables that we also have: better protection for her, and for the hospital staff, in a high-risk environment.  She also has characteristics that class her as vulnerable, adding to the justification.   At reception, the conversation went something like this:

  - How long have you been wearing that mask?

  - About two minutes - I put it on when I got out of the car.

  - You have to replace it with one of these disposables.

  - But this is an FFP2 - it's better than those.

  - Yes we know that, but it's an FFP2 - they're for professionals only.

So she had to take of the FFP2 and replace it with an inferior disposable one in order to get to her appointment.   I don't swear here because this blog is family-compatible, but is that ****ing insane or what?

In the early days of the virus outbreak, when FFP2 masks were in short supply, I thought about donating my masks to the healthcare services.   I'm glad I didn't.  Cretins.

Here is a photo of my masks.   They're for me, not for them.   (J'ai un bon tabac)

The port at Dinan

We visited the port of Dinan on the way home.   The river Rance cuts a steep-sided valley there, and the little port area is, unsurprisingly, at the bottom of it.  It's pretty and is a good place to start a bike ride along the towpath.  I went South for several miles before coming back, and you can hire a bike there if your ride is more spontaneous.

We went down to the river on the Lanvallay side, where the créperie we chose was excellent, giving us a cool shaded place to sit and eat while we prepared for the afternoon trip.

Friday, 10 July 2020

The grand aquarium

The grand aquarium is over the river, in St Malo.  It was open on a Sunday, and there was a Burger King just up the road, so after a lazy morning we drove off for an early lunch, then on to the aquarium.

We were encouraged to buy tickets online, for a reserved time slot to enter, so we did, before we set off.  The process was complicated, prone to error, and took 3/4 of an hour.   However, once we got to the place, we walked straight in.  There were few other visitors since it was still lunchtime.

There is a ride you can go on, that simulates a deep sea diving adventure, that is well put together.   There are so many warning signs you'd think you were in America.

It's fair to say that the experience is aimed pretty much at kids.   Although the tanks were well-lit, and the fish easy to spot, we came away faintly disappointed, but it is hard to say exactly why.

So let me complain about misuse of technology for its own sake.   Each tank had a backlit display above it with text explaining what you could see.   The problem was that if there were several different species, then the text relating to only one of them was displayed at a time (by being backlit), and after a few seconds, it would move on to the next one.   So you look at the tank, and try to read about what's in there.   The text moves on before you finish reading it, and you have to wait until the one you want to read comes back.   What's wrong with plain text display showing everything you might want to know, all at the same time?  A low-tech panel below and in front of the dispaly would be much better.

In Dinard town

We didn't spend a lot of time in the town of Dinard, but we had a couple of meals there and did some touristy shopping.   The location is picturesque, being surrounded by water, and the cliffs set off the stone-built houses with charm.

We were particularly impressed by the presence of several Thai restaurants, and the beachside café/bar/restaurant that we visited had some Thai choices on the menu.  In the end we went for a cold take-away to reheat in the microwave back at the flat.  The little shop had a variety of dishes laid out under the counter and the lady spooned the mixture into tubs to take away.   It smelt wonderful.  There was a microwave oven in the shop and some places to sit at a counter, but I think the Covid scare caused them to shut down that service.   I wish I could remember what they were called.

I took the bike for a ride around the town, and I also went along a little path that goes around the promontory, just above the sea level.  Much of the town centre road space had been given over to restaurants so they could serve people outside and observe the social distancing rules.   It worked well, and the traffic flowed easily.  Might be a bit different in high season.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Time and tide

There are huge tides on the river Rance, up to about 40 feet, and there is a corresponding number of tide mills on the river.   The old ones are quaint, and, mostly I think, no longer in operation.  (Why not?)  There was one called the Moulin Neuf that was on the road between Dinard and the gardens at Montmarin.  The format is typical there - a dam, and a mill at the edge of the water.  I believe that it offers holiday accommodation; looks like a nice place to stay.

EDF have a huge working tide mill that generates lots of electricity and also forms a bridge over the river Rance between Dinard and St Malo.   You can park there and read the notices about how eco-friendly it all is, and I understand that you can go inside and have a look, though I didn't.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Montmarin gardens

There is a rather fine country house at Montmarin, not far from Dinard, that you can visit.   We went to take a look.   There is a formal French style garden, surrounded by grounds that are more in the English tradition.  Very effective.   You can also book the place for weddings, etc.

The house is right by the river Rance, so there are views across the water.   The gardens are open only in the afternoons, I think that they do the maintenance in the mornings.   The battery-powered lawn mowers, however stayed working into the afternoon.  I rather liked the effect that was similar having a big tortoise lumbering around.

There is a nice veg garden that was closed to visitors, and a plant shop where you can buy examples in good condition, of the plants you see around the grounds.

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