Time for an Autumn tidy

As Autumn is upon us it’s time for a quick trip over to the cottage to pack away the summer furniture, tidy the garden, plant a new batch of spring bulbs and stock-up the log store.


Wood shed at the cottage

On Thursday we’ll be heading down to Plymouth to catch the overnight sailing onboard the Pont Aven, Brittany Ferries flagship.  Although it’s a bit of a long haul down to Plymouth, once we land at Roscoff the following morning we’re just an hour’s drive away from Kernolou.

It won’t be all work though, I”m sure we’ll find time for some culinary experiments in the Kernolou Kitchen and some long leisurely walks along the Nantes-Brest Canal.

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return to Cherbourg…

St Malo is by far the most convenient port for us in northern France, however on rare occasions when we can’t get a crossing we use either Caen or Cherbourg.

In the summer months Brittany Ferries operate the Normandie Express, a daily service between Portsmouth and Cherbourg with high speeds of up to 42 knots giving a nippy journey time of just 3 hours.


This month we were on one of the first crossings of the season and very fresh it was all too.  There is a new Club Lounge with extra-comfy seating which is spacious enough to recline without impacting on your nearest neighbour.  In-seat USB connections are a real bonus and complimentary hot and cold drinks are provided at the beginning and end of each journey. Well worth the extra few pounds…


Also new for this season is a small range of hot meals from Le Cafe, a very welcome addition.  Cooked breakfast was keenly priced and very tasty it was too; the perfectly scrambled eggs, tomatoes and sausages were accompanied by a rather strange (and unnecessary) mashed potato affair. For later in the day there is a limited but good choice of hot food again well priced at around £5.00 or a choice of delicious soups for £3.50.

Of course there’s a shop, just the one but it sells all the usual papers, magazines and things you never knew you needed plus wines, beers, spirits and tobacco; oh and giant Chupa Chups.


We disembarked just a few minutes earlier than scheduled and after a very brief queue at Cherbourg French border control we were whisking our way down the peninsular. It is a bit of a gruelling drive home at around 7 hours with a few short stops, but much nicer for pampered pooch who only had to endure being left for 3 hours instead of the usual overnight in the kennels on the ferry.

Time then for feet up and a relaxing glass of something sparkling…


I’ll be adding more pics and info to the Normandie Express page shortly, but in the meantime check out our oh so favourite Brittany Ferries ship, the MV Bretagne

A better way to Brittany…

On our first house hunting foray to the Côtes d’Armor one dreary December day a few years ago, we travelled by ferry from Dover to Calais and drove the 700km across to Brittany in what we then thought was the most appalling weather ever.  Little did we know, but more about the Brittany weather another time!



Barrelling along the Autoroute in our little Smart car, its windscreen wipers valiantly sweeping aside the torrent unleashed on us by the menacing storm clouds, my first thought was ‘let’s just turn back, give it up and go home’, but having made it so far we decided to complete the journey and keep the rendezvous with Nick ‘meet me in the village square’ Tyrell, property agent extraodinaire.


Our next trip was far better planned;  we discovered an overnight ferry service from Portsmouth to St Malo operated by Brittany Ferries.  We’d not heard of them before and I had hazy, distant memories of a not so great experience many years ago so my expectations were fairly low…


From the moment we boarded (our first trip was on the rather lovely Brittany Ferries MV Bretagne), we were favourably surprised at the standard of ship, the compact but well equipped cabins and the excellent choice of restaurants, not to mention the super hospitality of the crew, it made us feel as though we’d started our holidays already.  Since then there’s been no turning back; we now make the journey once a month either to the stunning St Malo or on odd occasions Caen or Cherbourg and love every minute of our time on board.

The Bretagne… (contd)


Brittany Ferries MV Bretagne

The grand-dame of the fleet, the Bretagne was the lines’ first cruise ferry and although now more than a quarter of a century old is as fabulous as ever. The style and feel is a nod to a former, glamorous era of sea travel when liners ruled the waves and the unique interior designed by the celebrated Scottish artist Alexander Goudie is a worthy tribute to Breton culture.

Portsmouth to St Malo is the most convenient route for us; it’s a busy one and well served by the Bretagne, bobbing back & forth every 12 hours for most of the year save a month or so in the winter when she has a rest and the flagship Pont Aven takes over.


Surprisingly roomy, the ship can accommodate over 2000 passengers and nearly 600 cars.  As we’re frequent travellers we have to keep one eye on the budget so usually book an inside ensuite cabin which although small are well-equipped and more than adequate for a one night crossing.  It’s probably against all the regulations but rather than one of us enduring the torture  of the ladder to ‘top bunk’ we usually drag the mattress off onto the cabin floor (always remembering of course to put it back again to save the crew the task).  During high days and holidays we’ll treat ourselves to the rather special Commodore Class accommodation and travel in style!

There are two main restaurants on board, Les Abers offers superb fine dining and La Baule is perfect for when you just fancy a quick meal, Steak Frites being a firm favourite.  Both restaurants also serve breakfast or for something lighter there is the Cafe – La Gerbe de Locronan.They all have one thing in common though – great service and hospitality.


Of course no trip would be complete without a little tipple and we’ve spent many happy hours in the Yacht Club Piano Bar, it’s stylish, relaxing and perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail or when we take the day sailings we’ve found that it serves the best coffee onboard which you can take straight out onto the deck to enjoy the fresh sea air and soak up some sun…


After dinner it’s entertainment time in the Gwenn Ha Du cabaret bar; acts we’ve seen include some talented magicians and great singers; Lone Pepper Duo being the best yet.  Just occasionally you get the odd turn that really isn’t very good, but even that adds to the fun of it all!


Two boutique cinemas with comfortable raked seating show a good selection of movies – a blessing during the daytime crossings which feel longer as you don’t have the break of a night’s sleep.

There are no less than 5 shops onboard; a Travel Shop for the all important gadgets and gizmos, maps and books; a handy Newsagent Kiosk; a tiny luxury goods Boutique; the main store sells the inevitable giant Toblerones, wines, beers spirits and a small range of clothing and finally the very fragrant Perfumery, great for gifts or just topping up supplies and cheaper than the High Street.

We usually make about a dozen trips a year and always look forward to the ferry crossing which also marks the start of some precious time off; naturally the Bretagne is showing a few signs of wear and tear, but for us this is one of the attractions; compare if you like to going home and popping on a pair of favourite slippers; comfy, reliable and totally relaxing!

It will be a sad day when this wonderful ship is retired from the fleet but rumours abound that the route may then be operated by the current flagship and rather stylish Pont Aven… not too soon though please!






The Onion Johnnies of Roscoff

After a relaxing and enjoyable lunch in the beautiful medieval town of Morlaix, followed by a little light retail therapy, (it was very nearly my birthday after all), we drove along the stunning Pink Granite coast and ended up in Roscoff.

Roscoff is a ‘Petite cité de caractère de Bretagne’ justifiably awarded for its stunning historical architecture and commitment to preservation. It is also home to the headquarters of the rather splendid Brittany Ferries and since the late 1800’s to those agricultural entrepreneurs who later became known as the ‘onion johnnies‘ of Roscoff


The oignon rose de Roscoff is so important locally it has its own museum and an annual two day festival! Check out more details on my webpage  Maison des Johnnies et de l’oignon de Roscofff

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