Why pick a farm in Brittany, Finistere for that matter; the mysterious outcrop on the North West edge of France? From a detached house in a busy village in Hampshire, England to moving, lock stock and two smoking chairs to a property on its own in a foreign land.
Having both been used to a very rural family upbringing and benefiting from close links to farming and the countryside through training and profession, moving to the country was the obvious decision. It was then surely just a simple matter of which country.
Both Claire and I loved France from family holidays: the food, the culture and peace and quiet which is particularly provided in the western extremes of Brittany. Traffic is a word you can save for those trips back to visit family and friends on the other side. Instead of playing spot the gap to get onto a motorway you can play spot the car. In the evenings the only way we could hear our neighbours would be if they decided to put up a stage in their garden and invited Take That to perform. Something we are sure they wouldnt be doing even if they were familiar with the band.
We were lucky that we were able to find an old farm house with a few acres of land, including a wood and some outbuildings at a price we could afford, whilst leaving us a few Euros to convert outbuildings into Gites. For us the checklist with which we went property shopping included the following:
Five or six bedroom house: so we could get away from each other when we needed to and have a study each. (Oh yes, and so we could put up friends and family when they visit )…. Check!
Easy ferry/airport access for friends and family visitors from the UK:….Check!
Outbuildings: To earn us a bit of pocket money (i.e. the Gites) also to store the lawn mower, rake, fork, spade, tractor and our huge stacks of wood….. Check!
A bit of land: so we could justify having a tractor in the barn and some woodland so we had an excuse to chop wood…. Check!
Water near by: that was mainly for my interest in wildlife and photography. The river Douffine certainly qualifies for that with its Otters, Coypu, red squirrels (they are in the trees of course) and fast flowing water….. Check!
Penlan has given us all of the above and a lot more which we hadnt initially included in our shopping list. We are within walking distance of Loperec which is a lovely Breton Village. It boasts a restaurant, bar, village shop, a bread oven in the square (used during the regular summer markets) and a church in the centre of the square with an elaborately carved church tower. We are also close to Pont De Buis, giving us quick access to a supermarket, post office, banks, patisseries, boulangerie and hair dressers – if Claire forgets to use the one in Loperec which I forgot to mention. Civilisation is not far away when we want it. We are also conveniently very much at the centre of this beautiful region.
We can be on a clean sandy beach in 25 minutes; in the beautiful medieval city of Quimper in 30 mins or in the hills of the Mont DArree in 20 mins. Restaurants at Le faou, Chateaulin, Camaret-Sur-Mer…. sorry I was drifting off then.
As you can see, for us there really wasnt very much difficulty in making the decision in the end. After arriving here we have continued to add to the list of positives: Particularly our neighbours who are extremely friendly, lend us their tractor, insist on us having crates full of their homemade cider, help us whenever we have difficulties completing French forms and they have never held a Take That concert.
So now when I take the dog for a walk in the evenings I can just about hear the sound of the birds above the River Douffine meandering through its rocky course to the sea. At night with clear skies and no light pollution we can clearly see so many of the stars and so much of the solar system (might even try and find out more about them if I can dig out the I spy book of the stars).
Finally do you know what we heard the other night when we arrived home after visiting friends?