My Birthday And Brittany

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I decided to take a holiday during my 31st birthday, as I didn't want to spoil the occasion by being at work, and it's always nice to do something special on my birthday. 

My holiday was from Thursday 7th to Sunday 17th June. 

I didn't get to do much on my first few days off, or on the first weekend. I was hoping to go to the coast with my friend Frog. I got a call from him to say that he fell off his mountain bike near the Silent Pool, and he told me that he had fractured his wrist. Frog's girlfriend Susan had to take him to A&E, so we didn't sadly get to go to the coast together in the end. We'll go out again another time. 

I went to the coast with my parents instead, which was during a week day, after the first weekend. It was a pleasant and sunny day, which made a change, as it has mostly been cloudy or raining all through summer, so far. We visited Ferring, which is a seaside village near Worthing, West Sussex. We walked along a pathway close to the beach. I noticed that there were some very nice and big houses along the coast line of Ferring, which we saw on our way to the beach. We found a quiet sandy spot on the beach, and sat down on the sand together. Whilst we were sat there, we saw two helicopters hovering above the sea, searching for something, and they came back again the other way. We thought it might have been because we heard that a dingy was found nearby at Little Hampton, with a dead person in it. One of the people from the dingy was missing, as he had fallen out of the dingy, so he had probably drowned, which was horrible. After our rest on the beach we walked back the way we came. We stopped off at a café, and my parents bought me some sandwiches, as an early birthday treat. 

We then drove to Worthing, and looked around the shops there. I bought a big bag of sweets, which didn't last long. I think maybe my teeth won't last long either! 

I have included a few photos I took of Ferring on my mobile. 

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A view of the beach at Ferring
 

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Mum tried to take a photo of me using my mobile, but she photographed the palm of her hand instead!

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One of the helicopters searching for the drowned guy along the beach

The day after the trip to the coast, I went to at Petworth House in West Sussex, with just my Dad. My Dad drove us both there in his car, and we took some food and drink with us. Petworth House is a very old and big house, that looks like a palace, with huge estate of about 700 acres, which is owned by the Natural Trust. It was quite expensive for me to get in, Dad is lucky, as he's got a Natural Trust membership.

We walked across the grounds and saw a giant tree, which I took a picture of. I also saw a folly, which I stood in and had my picture taken there. 

When we got to the house we noticed there was a talk due to start, so we waited for the guide to turn up for the talk. A large lady turned up, who was dressed very old fashioned style, with pearls round her neck, and a dress that looked like it came out of the 1950's! She looked and spoke just like Hyacinth Bucket from the BBC series Keeping up Appearances. She was a middle class snob, trying to be upper class, which is just like Hyacinth Bucket, for those that have seen the programme. Her talk was very interesting, and I enjoyed listening to what she had to say about the history of the place. I never knew that the famous artist Joseph Turner was a frequent guest of Lord Lamont at Petworth House and he painted scenes from the grounds of the house and of the Sussex countryside. Petworth House still displays a number of his paintings. There were also some paintings in Petworth House by Thomas Gainsborough. 

After the talk we looked inside Petworth House and saw the gallery, Chapel, the bedrooms, and the kitchens in another building. It was all very interesting to see. 

Then we left the house and walked round some of the estate of Petworth House. I took some photos of the lake there, and of the outside of the house. It was a very hot day, so I didn't have much energy to walk all round it, so we left after that. 

After we left there, we walked round the town of Petworth. I bought some chips and a drink in the town, and then we went home. 

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A folly at Petworth House

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Standing by the lake infront of Petworth House

The next few days I didn't do much, I just chilled out at home.

I did have some plans for my birthday. Earlier in the year an American lady called Alison who I was seeing and had a brief relationship with got me a ticket to see a Muse gig with her on my birthday, which was at Wembley for Sunday 17th June, but certain things happened, which meant I couldn't sadly no longer go with her to see the gig. So, instead I arranged a meal out with some friends for that Sunday. 

My French friend Anne sent me an email, and she asked if I wanted to go to Brittany with her for the weekend, which was leaving Portsmouth by ferry on Friday evening, the day of my birthday, and to return on Sunday evening, which was the day I had booked the meal out with my friends. Anne's friend Jan had dropped out of going to Brittany with her, so she had a spare ferry ticket, which she didn't want to waste. Anne was going back to Brittany to visit her family, as her brothers partner just recently gave birth to a baby girl, making Anne an aunty. I thought that visiting Brittany sounded far better than having a meal out with my friends in Guildford. So, I decided that I'd visit Brittany for my birthday, and I sent an email back to Anne saying that I'd love to go there with her. 

In the days leading up to the Brittany trip, I emailed my friend Tom. I arranged to meet up with Tom during one evening, as he had a book to lend me about France. We met up for a drink at the Guildford Tup, he gave me his book to borrow, and then we went for a few more drinks at the Legion. It was good to see Tom again, as I don't see him that often, since he left my current firm, due to redundancy. 

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My friend Tom

Friday arrived, which was my 31st birthday. I'm starting to feel a bit old now! My parents bought me some nice things, which were a few CD's, and cabinet to put all my DVD's and some of my CD's in, which gives me some more space in my room at home.

I heard from my friend Tristan too, and we arranged to meet up Friday lunchtime at his parents' house in Elstead. I met Tristan and we went for a pub lunch at the Woolpack. I ate my favorite meal of Scampi and Chips, and I had a drink, whilst Tristan ate a beef burger and chips. Tristan gave me a nice birthday present, which was a cool t-shirt. 

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Tristan at the Woolpack pub in Elstead for my birthday pub lunch

When I got back home I finished packing my clothes and the things I needed to take for the trip to France. My Dad gave me a lift in the evening to the Pepperpot in Godalming, which is where I waited for Anne to arrive.

Anne arrived to pick me up in her car. It feels funny sitting in her car, as it is French left hand driven. I feel like I should be driving, but there is no stirring wheel on my side! 

My French friend Anne drove us to Portsmouth and we caught the ferry to Saint-Malo in Brittany, France. Anne played her German Death Metal type music whilst we were waiting to get on the ferry, which I must say that I'm not a fan of! 

We got on the ferry and had a look round the shops. I bought some chocolate for her parents, as a gift for when I was going to meet them. As I was going to stay at her parents' house, I thought it would be good idea for me to get them something. 

I bought a Greek salad on the ferry, and we ate at the self service restaurant together. Anne had made herself some sandwiches, so she ate them. 

Myself and Anne then watched the sci-fi Sunshine movie in the cinema on the ferry. We both thought the film was disappointing, as the story was not that good, and it didn't make that much sense. We couldn't hear it that well either, as the sound system in the ferry cinema was quite poor. 

After we had seen the movie we watched some singers on stage, and had some drinks together. We were looking forward to seeing a magician on the stage, but it was just some singers sadly, but they were not too bad. I took some photos of us whilst we were having drinks together there. 

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Me and Anne on the ferry to Brittany

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Anne my French friend on the ferry to Brittany

We then sat on deck to look at the stars and to get some fresh air. Anne got cold, so I leant her my leather jacket. It was a bit too cold for both of us on deck, so we went back inside.

We decided to go to bed for the night, as we were both tired. We slept on reclining chairs, but I couldn't sleep like that for the whole night, as I was very uncomfortable. Anne slept like a log, and snored like a pig! 

We got up in the morning and had a French style breakfast on the ferry. We both had a bit of a cold when we woke up. 

The ferry reached Saint-Malo at around 8.30am on Saturday morning, and we drove off towards her village in her car. 

Anne showed me some of the sites whilst driving to her village near the town of Dinan. It was sadly raining when I was there, but I didn't let the weather spoil me having a good time. We arrived at her parent's house and B&B. She introduced me to her parents. I gave her parents the chocolate, which I bought on the ferry as a thank you for their hospitality. Her parents were very nice, but couldn't speak English. Anne's parent's house was very big and nice inside.

Then myself and Anne left her parents place and drove to a nearby village, as she wanted to get her haircut, I took some photos of the village whilst she was getting her haircut. I was going to take a photo of Anne in the hairdressers, showing her before and after the haircut, but she didn't want her photo taken inside the hairdressers. 

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Small village near Dinan, where Anne got her haircut

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Took a picture of this Church in the village near Dinan, whilst waiting for Anne to get her haircut

After that we returned to her parents' house. I went shopping with her and her mum for food, and then we had dinner, which was very nice. Dinner was turkey breast in a mustard and crème fresh sauce with mushrooms. I had some red wine, pudding and cake too.

Anne's Dad showed me some photographs that he had taken and had stored on his laptop. There were some photos from their trip to England to see Anne, and of some crafts that Anne's mum had made. It was interesting to see the pictures. 

In the afternoon after dinner we walked round her village. Most of her relatives lived in her village, so I met her grand parents and went in their house. Her grand parents gave me some snacks, and some drink that tasted like aniseed. 

We then drove to Dinan to meet up with Emile. Emile was very nice and pretty, we got on very well, but she couldn't sadly speak English. I've known Emile through Anne on this website for a while, so it was great to meet her in real life. Emile kept me dry from the rain under her umbrella. We looked round Dinan with Emile, we went in a bar, then I bought some gifts for my friends, family and Anne's mum in a souvenir shop, then we went up an old bell tower there. It was quite scary at the top of the bell tower, as it was very high up. I took some photos of the view, and of us at the top of the tower. The bell rang, which made Anne jump about a mile up in the air, which was very funny! I took some photographs of Dinan and a couple of me Anne and Emile. 

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In a bar in Dinan with Emile the blonde girl, Anne and me on the right

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Anne, Emile and me getting very wet in the rain in Dinan

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A street in Dinan

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On the top of a very high bell tower in Dinan with Anne and Emile

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The view from the top of the bell tower in Dinan

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Its a long way down from the top of the bell tower!

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The ticket to the bell tower

Then we drove round and she showed me some of the coast, then we went back to Anne's parents place with Emile. I gave Anne's mum a box of chocolates that I bought, and her mum was very pleased with them.

We went inside Anne's brother's house in her village, as his wife had just become a mother to a baby daughter, and Anne and become an aunty. It was nice meeting Anne's brother, and seeing his family and his new baby. 

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Aunty Anne

Then I had tea time dinner at Anne's parents with Emile. I had traditional Brittany style pancakes with cheese, salted butter and egg in them, they were very tasty. I had some more pudding and cake. Anne's sister arrived, and she had brought back some rum, which was very strong, and had real bananas and coconut in it, I tried some and it was very nice too. We then watched some French TV, which I didn't really understand, until a programme came on which was similar to You've Been Framed! As it had funny home video clips, with the usual kind of stuff, like people falling over.

After eating our teatime meal and watching French TV together, Anne drove me and Emile to Saint-Malo. They showed me round the town, and the fortified wall which surrounded it. Saint-Malo is very pretty, and it looked like  a place from hundreds of years ago. I took some more photos. 

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This is where we parked in St Malo

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A nice looking hotel

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The view looking down from the top of the wall in St Malo

Anne drove me back to her parents after midnight, and Emile left to go back home. I kissed Emile goodbye, and I said to her that it was very nice meeting her, and I thanked her for her good company that day. There was a really good view of the stars outside Anne's parents' house, as there are no street lights in her village. We went inside the house, and I went to bed.

On Sunday morning I had breakfast at her parents place, which was a tasty chocolate croissant, and a big soup bowl sized mug of coffee. The village church opposite Anne's parents' house rang their church bell for a long time, which was for Sunday service there. Anne's mum made myself and Anne some big baguettes full of cheese to eat on the ferry trip back, which was very sweet of her. We said good bye to Anne's parents, then we drove off and left. 

We caught the ferry back home in the morning from Saint-Malo at 9.30am. We stood on deck and watched the ferry leave the port. I took some good photos from the deck of the ferry of Saint-Malo in the distance. Anne was sad to leave Brittany and her family behind. We then sat inside and watched some French TV, and ate the nice food that Anne's mum had made us. 

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The view of St Malo from the ferry as we were leaving Brittany

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A view of St Malo from the ferry

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Me standing on the deck of the ferry as we leave Brittany

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Read my full travel report in the National Geographic ;-)

The ferry got back to Portsmouth at 6.30pm, and then Anne kindly gave me a lift back to my home in Cranleigh.

So, I didn't sadly get much chance to look round much of Brittany only on Saturday. It was also raining quite a lot, so it was limited to what we could do and see. It was very nice what I did see though, and to meet and stay with a French family. It looked a bit like Cornwall there with grey stone buildings everywhere. It looked like somewhere from around 200 years ago.

I returned to work the day after. 

I've not been up to much since then, so no real new news of interest. 

I met up with Anne again last week, which was to pay her for the ferry, and I gave her a bit towards the petrol too. 

I've also started to use the Facebook website. I went out with a nice lady I met through that website last week. We went out for drinks at the Legion and at TGI Friday's. Her name is Sarah and she lives not far from me. We'll just be friends, I think, but it's nice to have someone new to go out with. 

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Me and Sarah in TGI Fridays in Guildford

Nothing much else to report at the moment apart from that.

I will write another blog when I get to do something else interesting, or exciting again. 

Stayed tuned!

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