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Saturday, 7 January 2017

The coast in December

Happy New Year to all my friends and family! Thanks for following and supporting my blog, despite the lack of posts of late. How was your Christmas? Ours was just us two as usual but this year, after all these years in France, we went 'French' and had a shellfish blowout on Christmas Eve just like the French do. No oysters or yucky whelks for us; we ordered only the things we like - prawns, langoustines and crab claws. I've thought about doing this many times before but always imagined the supermarket on Xmas Eve would be a nightmare, but in fact going at lunchtime to collect our order it was just as empty as it usually is! So we'll be eating a la francaise again in the future.

For Christmas Day lunch, we again forewent the traditional turkey and had roast beef and yorkshire pud, followed by mincemeat bakewell tart. I made this tart three years ago and it was a hit - sorry about my rubbish food photography skills but here's the recipe and a better picture. If you like mincemeat it's really yummy and worth the hassle of making the sweet pastry - but there is no blind baking involved so not as hard as you'd think.

I did make mince pies but this year was a first - I made Mary Berry's pastry which is slightly sweet and has orange zest in it. It made a nice change.

What do you buy the woman who has everything? Some books about butterflies and moths of course, and a butterfly tea light holder. :-)

Right, onto the subject matter of the title. We actually took Mary Moho out three times in December! to the same place on the coast each time, although the photos here are from the first and most recent trips because the second time it decided to cloud over and rain. Yes rain, how very dare it! We set out in sunshine! So no walking that day.

We 'discovered' a new place; well we knew it existed from having looked at google earth, but hadn't explored around there yet. Not everywhere is easy to access or park in a moho, but luck was on our side as we stumbled upon a real moho car park at Pointe du Meinga, which is halfway between St Malo and Cancale. There is a coastal footpath all the way around the headland (it's the GR34) and a farm track up the middle, as some of the land is used to grow vegetables. For us seeing fields of cauliflowers and leeks is quite a change! Each walk (coastal track one way then back via the farm track) took about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours, so is a good work out, as the coastal track is very up and down and has some difficult rocky places here and there. I needed Keith's help in some places and the second time took an alpine stick, which was useful in the difficult places.

Here are pics from the first day we went there, and the beach is the one on the west of the headland. Either side of the headland has fabulous golden sandy beaches - wonderfully empty in winter of course!

Selfie time - who needs special effects - those rays are for real from the sun (pure luck rather than photography skills!).

This rock caught my eye - what kind of face do you see? I see a sleeping koala, or a squirrel with its hand stuck out.... people on facebook and instagram saw all sorts of things, parrot being quite popular.

The most recent trip was the Friday before New Year, when it was even more cold and frosty than the first time. Inland was rather foggy and frozen but it was a glorious day at the coast. This time we were able to park in a car only car park with sea view, as the height barrier had been lifted. The following photo is our view from the moho whilst having lunch. Not bad, especially when you are sitting in comfort in the warmth, eating a hot picnic (Nigel Slater's chorizo soup/stew with crusty bread).

A view from the farm track...

...and the beach taken a bit closer from the coastal footpath. That white line is frost!

Steps leading down to the beach and a view back over the headland.

Back home the frost had not melted at all and the next day was even more frosty! I haven't seen frost quite like it here before, and to linger all day long is very unusual. This is chicken wire and that's Blondie the hen in the background.

We had to take Mary Moho back to where she lives, and K had heard that there was snow along the way and cars had gone off the road into the ditch. Thankfully by the time we got there the snow had melted on the road but the whiteness of the harsh frost was even more magical as it was covered in a smattering of snow. It's very weird how you can have such microclimates as this patch had freezing fog which we drove through the day before on the way to the lockup. Here at the lockup it was back to just the normal white frost - still incredibly magical. This is the only photo I have of any kind of view, through the moho window of the barrier gate at the lockup!

Icy weather means a frozen lake, and our ducks managed to get iced into a small patch of water beside the fallen tree, which was out in the middle of the (thankfully) narrower end of the lake. Of course I had a bit of a wade into the water and bashed at the ice with my wellies, but that was fairly pointless and all I got was wet jeans as my wellies are not waterproof anymore. So poor K had to get his waders on and get out in the water with a long pole to break the ice, so that the ducks could come and get some food on the bank.

Can you guess what happened the next day? Yes the silly ducks were iced in again, cue K getting his waders on again. I'm glad to say some of the water melted a few days ago and even though it is icy again, this time the ducks are up the far end under the overhanging trees by the bank, in a sensible place where I can take them food!

We also had our tree guy in to fell some trees but I have quite a lot of photos so that'll be another post. All these photos are taken on my phone - I've barely used a camera since coming back from holiday!


  1. Great blog. I'm not much of a reader but always enjoy your blog.

    It's lovely seeing you better and out in the world. Love the photos.

    Hugs from Oregon

    Your Southern Belle, April

  2. Happy New Year Mandy.

    A great blog post - love all the photos of the frosty weather and your Moho trips out. The rock is amazing - I can see a parrot and a koala!! :)

    Quiet Christmas here - just the four of us. Mincemeat Bakewell Tart looks rather delicious - I have a jar of homemade mincemeat left so may just make it! I use Mary Berry's pastry recipe for mince pies - I find it very good and much better than just a basic shortcrust mix. You had some lovely presents - books look interesting :)

    1. Thank you Caroline and HNY to you (probably again!). I do love seeing faces in things/rocks, it's great fun and when you start seeing faces you see them everywhere! I liked the sweet pastry though I think I overcooked it by just a few minutes, but I'll try it again next year.

      The books are an real eye opener to butterflies around the world. Did you know there are amazingly coloured skippers, I never imagined it! Peru seems to have some fabulous butterflies but it's a bit of a way away. :-)

  3. Lovely scenic shots Mandy. The sun-ray selfie is pretty good as well.
    That is one crazy woolly hat. :)

    1. Thanks Roy! That hat was a gift in a craft swap years ago on facebook and the lady who knitted it is the one we met in Spain in our moho meetup in September - she got a moho a year before we did! :-)

  4. So nice to catch up with you here! Loved all your photos as always and I'm happy to be able to see them here as I'm rarely on FB these days (except for private groups). Hope you're continuing to do well and have lots of MoHo exploring planned! I'm really looking forward to butterfly season :-)

    1. Hi Marianne! Glad you like the pics and I miss seeing your instagram or facebook photos. I hope you'll post a few pics here and there. I'm feeling a bit happier now Xmas is over and although it is cold and it is January there are signs of life already in the garden. I see on Twitter that there have been butterfly sightings already in the UK, amazing!!

  5. Nice pictures indeed. Hope we meet finally f2f in summer 2017 in Brittany. Many greetings Karin & Michael

    1. Hi Karin and Michael, thanks for having a look at my blog. It's such a shame we missed seeing each other but the timing was just wrong. Maybe this year. Lots of love xx

  6. I love all those empty beaches, so perfect for winter walking and fresh air. I like the look of the mincemeat bakewell tart and the books look very interesting, too. I sympathise re: the ducks on the icy pond. In his first winter one of my ganders regularly got stuck on our frozen pond and I had to go in with the wanders on to rescue him.

  7. Replies
    1. Don't worry, I read it as waders anyway! Thanks Wendy. Why are ducks and geese so daft? lol :-) I really enjoyed the views of the beaches and next time we'll have a walk on the beach - I always enjoy looking at shells and coloured stones etc at any time of the year.

  8. Hi Mandy so nice to see you have had a lovely time over Christmas and got to go out in Mary, I to love the look of the empty beaches, lovely photos..
    Amanda xx