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Chez Cesarine Holiday Diary

DAY 9: Sunday 6th August

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It was after much anticipation that we went to Ferme-Auberge au Char à Bancs, an old water mill and farmhouse near Châteaulaudren which now catered mainly for visitors. The main attractions for the junior members of our entourage were les pédalos et les poneys. Henri, Andrew, Caroline and myself queued up for pedaloes, Angie waited patiently with Isabel for a pony to ride while, incredibly, Gavin decided to leave us and get some photocopying done in St Quay Portrieux.

Ferme Auberge au Char a Bancs.

When two pedaloes became free I enquired with the supervisor how long we could have them for. Quarter of an hour was the reply. This seemed very generous I thought. But I was soon to discover that there was little risk of anyone wishing to exceed that time limit. Andrew and Henri immediately set a breakneck pace down the river. I was teamed up with Caroline and we made slower progress in their wake. I got the distinct impression that our pedalo had only one "engine" in operation and that was me. It was like being on a tandem where the stoker would prefer to enjoy the admittedly limited view than stoke. Furthermore, Henri and Andrew had wisely taken out not a pedalo, but a streamlined, pedal-powered boat, and with their hydrodynamic advantage were surging down the river like they were attempting to win the Oxford boat-race. And while they nipped casually under low-hanging branches we were forced to alter our course radically to avoid collision.

Other pedalo "riders" for want of a better word, were aimlessly bobbing around without much purpose content merely to enjoy the waterborne experience. Whereas yet again we were all in full competition to such an extent Henri and Andrew were a full circuit ahead of us. We were on the homeward run-in and within distance of the finishing post, so Caroline suggested we limit the embarrassment and go across the line with a sprint finish for the benefit of the crowd on the river bank . I thought this was bit rich considering that Caroline was little more than a passenger on our pedalo and I was near to collapse. Anyway digging deep into the stamina reserves we managed it and saved some face.

By now I had worked up quite a thirst and was ready to hasten to the bar. But apprentice jockey Isabel had by now received a mount and she and Angie were setting off around the pony trail. While they had been waiting Angie complained bitterly that Nige, absent his daughter's proud equine moment, had absconded with the camera and was last seen leaping into the vegetable gardens on the other side of the field to photograph beanstalks, cabbage patches, compost heaps etc.. Apparently, it has been revealed, a great many of their family snaps include none of their family at all but mostly pictures of other people's families or obscure inanimate objects. I thought this sounded particularly reminiscent of Jude's pictures of washing drying - better than paint drying I suppose. It is obviously a family trait. Luckily, for Nige he managed to catch a few snaps of them as we made our way to the farmhouse restaurant.

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