The blog will now be devoted not to boat building but to my 82-year-old Vertue, Sally II, now undergoing a well needed refit at Johnson & Loftus in Ullapool (and gliding...)

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Plus ca change...

Back from Brittany (balmy breezes, bright sun, baguettes, crepes, galettes, wine, flowers) to wall to wall gales, driving rain and Tesco's best. Why can't they bake French bread in Britain, or at least in Ullapool? Why is their cheese so bland? And their tomatoes tasteless, and, and...

We have a great local baker (struggling no doubt against the odds) but there's nothing like the taste of a baguette bought in the early morning from a boulanger, carried home on the handlebars of an old bicycle and eaten with unsalted butter and French jam. We live like peasants up here. Well, I wish we did. French peasants eat far better than us, with the exception of the sea food available here, most of which is shipped off to France and Spain. (And personally I hate crabs... indeed most things that crawl about under water).

 Sometimes it's hard to understand why we choose to live up here. Visitors go "ooh, what a lovely view... and we saw a deer too" and trip around the hills marvelling at the wild beauty. Those of us who live here see a landscape blighted by sheep grazing and denuded of trees by those same overpopulated deer, tolerated simply because shooting brings in money for the estate owners and adds to their value (and to hell with the damage to the countryside, let alone vehicles that habitually meet with them on dark nights).

No, for all the wild beauty of the Highlands there are some serious imbalances up here. Don't get me started as I would then have to enumerate all the blessings we enjoy: viz no cars, clean air, fresh water from those same hills (albeit tainted a wee bit at times by sheep and deer poo) good company, honest friends, great sailing (sometimes) etc, etc.

Anyway, enough of the post-Brittany blues. There's a dinghy awaiting a mast, and a lot besides so it's back to the grindstone and the charms of a draughty milking parlour and rain splattered iron roof. Once the radio's on and the coffee brewing it won't be too bad. It's just getting back into it after ten days that's the problem.

1 comment:

  1. We thought most of that too when we got back from Brittany a few weeks ago. You can add to that we definitely plan a holiday travelling down the beautiful Vilaine, and another sailing on the Gulf of M when I finally retire in 2018, or whenever it will be.

    Have you learned to make the glorious caramel au buerre sale they put on the dessert known as a Religieuse yet?

    It's almost as good as being there!