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So, back from Brittany where we spent a week with [profile] la_marquise_de_ and the Marquis and [profile] laosin, feeding our various obsessions. 

We saw menhirs in ranks and singly, striding over the hillsides, standing shyly in forests, wallowing through the earth like whale calves, thrown down and abandoned, used for sheep scratching posts or the back walls of sheds.  We climbed into numerous dark (and often dank) tumuli to peer at faint traces of carvings without (I might add) the benefit of a torch. 

We visited castles of many different grades of ruination.  The Marquis prefers the authentically ruined castles, preferably those with a boggy moat. He particularly likes climbing towers, ruinated or otherwise, and then wandering along ramparts to view the machicolations. Some towers had dark and slimy staircases, or serious pigeon infestations.  Some had oubliettes or garde robes.  There was one where each floor of the tower had a lavatory hole installed vertically above the one below.  We speculated on how these were used in practice, without coming to any definite conclusions.  We inspected gateways with or without portcullises and/or drawbridges.  

We also found many beautiful gardens, all of them (from memory) with attached castles (funny, that).  Apparently the Bretons are at least as keen on gardening as the English and (said one curator with a sniff) more original.  The rhododendron season was just starting, and some azaleas were out as well.  One castle had a plant sale, with flame coloured rhododendrons, and we contemplated (briefly) buying one in a pot and trying to take it home on Ryanair.  Decided not.

The astonishing thing was that the tourist season had not formally opened and therefore most of these castles and tumuli and gardens we had almost entirely to ourselves.  The downside was that some things were shut or under repair, such as the archaeological museum in Vannes, and the opening hours could be  a bit erratic.  But still.

Although there are Roman ruins in Brittany, it did not appear that any were visitable.  I was therefore reduced to exploratory eating.  Interesting things that I ate were:

Salad with gizzards and duck confit
Goose rillettes
Fish with andouilles (the local sausage made with chitterlings)
Pizza with andouilles, mustard and cream and fresh tomatoes
Crepes with scallops and leeks. 
Other crepes.
Scallops with leeks in a curried cream sauce (yum!).  Apparently the leek is a classic accompaniment to the scallop in Brittany.
Monkfish cheeks in a curried cream sauce (not at the same meal, obviously)
Seafood platters with oysters, prawns, langoustines, whelks and winkles.
Pink grapefruit flavoured ice cream (particularly welcome after a hot afternoon climbing All The Towers, yes, Every Single One Of Them, of Fougeres castle)
Ice cream with sea-salt flavoured caramel
Far (a solid custardy sort of cake rather like clafoutis, with prunes or raisins in the bottom)
Kouign amann (a sort of pastry cake with lots of butter and sugar)

and we drank lots of cider which I much prefer to English cider, being softer and fruitier, less acidic and much less alcoholic.

Exercise

Feb. 13th, 2008 09:16 am
anef: (Default)
Went for a run this morning.  Cold and foggy.  The damp gets the chill right into your bones somehow, and into your lungs.  The cars were iced up and the pavement slippery in patches.  Stringy spider webs sagging in the hedges. 

Still, now I feel all warm and virtuous and deserving of porridge.

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