Sunday 12th May
This morning I went to Mass at the church in Guipry. There was a choir but the hymns were not very bright – they seemed heavy rather than uplifting. At the house I helped with some gardening – planting tomatoes and zucchini in the vegetable garden, which is a few doors down, behind the big old house I've mentioned before.
I have also started the planning of my trip in southern Germany, for about a week before I fly home, and this took up a lot of time today – trying to devise an itinerary and book hotels. I have decided to do part by train as I travel towards Munich, and part by rental car from Munich. I have planned the driving days (about 4 days) along the German Alpine Road, and part of the Romantic Road. I guess you'll get to read about that in a few weeks.
Monday 13th May
Did my washing in the morning, like last week. In the afternoon I went to get my first haircut in France, which went OK. I then headed off upstream along the riverbank by bicycle to St Malo de Phily, a village
on a hill about 9km from Guipry.
It was a lovely sunny day, and riding along the riverbank was very pleasant. Once heading uphill away from the river, the electric assistance on the bike was a big help! The last hill into the village was really steep. The village has a remarkable stone church, built with a number of different types of stone, giving its exterior interesting colours and textures. Unfortunately there was a funeral in progress inside so I couldn't see the interior – that's the second time that's happened on this trip.
Also close to the village is an interesting walled cemetery, which I passed on the way to visiting the nearby Chapel of Mary, much visited by pilgrims. I returned past the cemetery, and was intending to have a look around, but yes, the burial was happening by the time I got there. The downhill ride back to the river was good.
Tuesday 14th May
This afternoon I accompanied my host and his daughter on a trip by car to Rennes to look at motorbikes, as she is getting one soon. It was a good opportunity for me to listen to some sales
talk in French, We visited about five dealerships.
Wednesday 15th May
Today I continued my German trip planning and booking. In the afternoon I went for a walk on the riverbank.
Later in the afternoon I accompanied my host on a trip to the equivalent of an Op Shop, in Bain de Bretagne, about 10km away. When I say the equivalent of an Op Shop, it was exactly an Op Shop, but run as a larger community thing rather than each charity having their own shop. I think the quality of merchandise was a lot lower than in Australian Op Shops. Also notable was the fact that there were a lot less clothes and a lot more housewares.
Thursday 16th May
Today I went by train to Rennes, to meet my American colleague and to volunteer at the Franco-American Institute. I participated in two English speaking workshops for adult French people wishing to improve their English. The group before lunch was more talkative, and had a lot of questions about Australia, especially about climate policy and the people's views about it. Some said they were consequently very interested in our election, and will have been
disappointed by our election outcome in terms of climate action. The morning group had about seven participants, the afternoon group about ten. I have been asked to go back again next week if I wish. I am sure the morning group discussion will be all about politics!
Friday 17th May
A fairly ordinary morning at home, having some English conversation practice with my host. In the afternoon I went for a bicycle ride in Guipry, discovering the arboretum / botanical garden. It is a site of about two hectares, and has been laid out and planted with many trees, shrubs and small plants. It's in the early stages of its life, I would say it was planted out four or five years ago (I could be wrong). There were some nice features, like a small labyrinth, a spiral path up a knoll, and a garden planted by primary school kids. There are signs that the council is already struggling to maintain it – a garden that size is a major operation really.
Saturday 18th May
Today I had a day trip to Angers. See separate blog entry
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