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 “…….there’s this computer”

Club members holidays like club members, are never ordinary affairs as this contribution from Janet Setterington shows.

It was going to be 'that sort' of holiday.  It was obvious from the moment that Sago and Sett said "There's this computer that we want to have a look at near Carnac.  We want to do a lot of work and mix in a little wine, a little food and a little conversation."  So that was how we came to take a house on the Quiberon Peninsula of Brittany during the late spring for Sett, Sage, Tich Set Jan, Julian and Vanessa.

Armed with everything from pamphlets by Thom. (and if you don't know who he is, you're lucky!) to toothbrushes the advance party set out to make the crossing from Plymouth to Roscoff.  Sage was to follow later.  Nothing untoward happened except that we nearly missed the boat entirely due to the rotten timekeeping of British Rail that particular day - oh, and Vanessa distinguished herself by depositing her tea all over the floor (deck) BEFORE they had untied those ropes that stop the boat floating off before the car doors are up.  Having cleaned up the mess and persuaded the offender to get some sleep, we settled down for a pleasant crossing.

If you like globe artichokes, Roscoff is the place for you in the springtime.  We left the boat and for over half an hour drove through fields - acres - masses of them, all ready for picking.  It was a sight to gladden the heart and stomach of a true devotee. Leaving the gleaming, green globes, we continued south across Brittany, along lanes lined with foxgloves and other flowers that are fast disappearing from our own hedgerows, to collect the key to our house from the watch repairer in a tiny Breton village.

We drove on south, and suddenly, there it was - the computer.  The great, grey stones of Carnac.  Some of us had seen them before and were pleased to see the impression that they made on the uninitiated, who thought that Stonehenge was the be-all and end-all of megalithic calculators.  Compared with Camac, Stonehenge is merely pocket sized - the sort of thing an adoring wife would buy her husband for Christmas.

We found our house in the village of Kerhostin with aid of a local map and, having unpacked little Wol, we sat down to a meal of bread, cheese and wine.  Then Sett indulged in the age old B.E.C. pastime of 'sleeping it off' while the rest of us drove slowly into Quiberon to do a mammoth 'shop'.  While we were there, two of us bravely tested the sea for bathing and found it was cold enough to etc.  Titch and Vanessa were very amused.

The advance party was supposed to recce the area but what actually happened was that Jan went down with the tummy bug, feeling decidedly queer in a hypermarket and needed nursing. Still, she recovered enough to cook a couple of memorable noshes; at least, they would have been if the wine had not set in.  Then, the day before Sage was due, disaster struck.  Sett was overcome by the Revenge of Montezuma and was forced to take to his bed, so it fell to Titch and Jan to drive back to Roscoff for our friend.

Leaving dad to the mercies of Julian and Ness, we started out before the dawn to meet Rice off the seven a.m. boat.  It was a long journey and everything would have been fine if a big French lorry hadn't tried to use our bit of road while we were standing on it.  Little Wol's near side was somewhat modified, and the lorry had the mud knocked off his bumper.  Still, as Jan had a witness, Sett didn't kill her, and even allows her to drive the car again – sometimes!

The return from Roscoff was not so eventful and we actually stopped and did some sightseeing at the lovely old slate-covered market at Le Faouet.  On reaching Kerhostin we got down to the serious business of the trip and had an enormous fish souffle, washed down with an adequate supply of vin blanc.

Having decided that we loved our stomachs, it was with difficulty that we set out to see the Grand Menhir, which lies at Locmariaquer and is the centre of the complex.  The menhir, which is broken in five pieces, 64 feet long and when standing could be seen for many miles around.

Then we set out on our tour of the alignments.  They are spectacular - of that there can be no doubt.  Sett and Sago were like a couple of small boys let loose in a toy shop. Measuring; calculating; sighting and arguing they kept us enthralled for several hours.  The consensus of opinion was, in the end, that the whole thing was a lunar observatory as, indeed, the books said.  Numerous expeditions were made to see the larger, more important outlying stones, but if you want to know the significance of them you will have to talk to Sett - as maths and astronomy are not the writer's strong points.

We contemplated the purpose of this vast structure beside a lake in the golden afternoon sunshine with a delicious picnic laid out in front of us.  Golden hours indeed.

A grand tour round the Golfe du Morbihan was also on the agenda and it was interesting to see, in some areas, the locals still recovering salt from brine pans.  The little piles of white crystals look like mountains in miniature when the sun shines on them.  During this tour we went to look at the ruins of a chateau at Suscinio. The relevant government department is in the throes of restoring this fantastic old building, and we were impressed with the lengths to which they were going.  It is far from being 'pretty-pretty' as many of the buildings of the Loire, but it is a real, solid, working castle complete with a moat full of water.

The areas in which we stayed is renowned for its seafood - oysters in particular.  One Sunday we set out for some lunch.  Actually, we were supposed to be on the lookout for some crepes, but we were all hoping.  We found our oysters and made pigs of ourselves; then we showed what gluttons we were by downing some delectable crayfish - and that was just the fish.  The memory lingers.

The crowning achievement as far as food went was Sago's exhibition of how to eat mussels.  Julian and Vanessa opted out and went for omelette. Between four of us there were nine pounds of moules - cooked in a little white wine and served with a sauce of white wine, tomatoes onions and herbs.  The shellfish filled a large tureen, two large casseroles and a large meat dish.  Each adult was equipped with a washing-up bowl to take the debris.

The great eat-in began. Jan soon dropped out and moved on to the more mundane salad and cheese.  After a couple of pounds, Sett called it a day and Titch soon followed - but Sago kept right on eating.  Mussel after mussel found its way down his throat.  The procession was endless.  In spite of pleas to his better nature; the state of his digestion and the possible state of the loo at some later hour, he kept going.  It should be pointed out that the fish were accompanied by large chunks of bread and were washed down with copious draughts of wine.  Few of us can have been privileged to witness such a feat of Falstavian eating.  Eventually, with a regretful look at the almost empty dish, he stopped. Replete.  Then, with beaming face and jovial tongue, he helped clear the board and wash the dishes.  And, do you know, he had not one twinge of discomfort - the lucky……. What a man!

While in Camac we visited the local museum.  It is almost exclusively devoted to prehistoric exhibits and was founded by a Scot - J. Miln.  We also had a look at the church of St. Comely, patron saint of horned cattle.  This building is unique in Brittany.  It dates from the 17th Century and boasts a porch that is surrounded by a canopy in the form of a crown.  Michelin describes the roof as being 'covered with curious paintings'.  These pictures are obviously very old and show the life of Christ from his birth to death.  They are painted directly on to the wood and the colours have suffered somewhat, but they are well worth looking at.

We tried to view the interior of the St. Michel tumulus but the guide didn't seem terribly anxious to take us round.  However, since they had visited it on the recce, Sett and Jan were able to assure the party that it was quite like other tumuli – dark.  So everyone was satisfied.

Inevitably all good things come to an end and we had to come home.  And that was a pantomime.  You will have gathered that we were six in number, plus vast quantities of luggage. How, do you ask, did we fit everything and everyone into a B.L.M.C. 1300?  It wasn't easy, but we managed.  Nobody is going to pretend that Titch, Jan, Julian and Vanessa were comfortable in the back - being covered with old coats; cameras; compasses and all sorts of things that the 'boffins' had thought that they might need.  However, they bore it nobly.  The final indignity came when an extra load of 18 litres of rough French plonk was hurled in on top of them and they were not allowed so much as a sip.

At Roscoff, we found a right old picnic.  The Dockers had just ended a dispute which had held up many voyagers and the owner of the shipping line had that day to throw his boat open to the locals.  It was rather a battle to get on board and a fight to get up the companionways beset by Frenchmen oozing free booze. Still we made it.

On getting home we found that we hadn't had a working holiday at all.  Really, all that we had accomplished had been an eating extravaganza. So we shall have to go again. That's the nicest thing about Carnac, it's an excuse that isn't likely to run away!