Between us, Andy and I managed to visit Ty Hir seven times this year. Less than we would have liked but more than we originally thought we would manage.
Most our visits were for pleasure but there was also a lot of hard grafting, particularly during our first visit in March which is now, fortunately, a distant, if a somewhat painful, memory...
During the winter break of 2011/2012 our lovely caretaker John worked hard on our gites. By the time we arrived in March he had installed a new shower in the Petit Longère, started constructing a new shed, laid a new gravelled terrace and had moved a few tonnes of earth!
The main task to be completed by the end of our visit was the installation of a boundary fence by Andy and John. I mainly picked up stones, and some more stones, and then some more stones with a bit of plastic thrown in from time to time for a bit of light relief. Buried under the nearly flatten earth there were what seemed like miles of blackberry and nettle roots to be removed - you'd tug at one end only to have to get a pick axe to dig up the hidden mass beneath - boy do I know how to have a good time!
We also needed to get the gites ready for the new season so I did an inventory of each house and worked out what needed replacing. The shopping trips were a good excuse to get away from my job as stone picker upper and root grubber!
By the time each evening arrived we were wearily shuffling around like a couple of old codgers - our friends were lucky that they hadn't been able to join us for our "holiday"! Fortunately we had just enough energy left to light the wood burner and open a bottle of wine - phew!
On our last afternoon in Brittany, after hastily planting what is to become our laurel bush hedge (we hope!) we managed to get to the Pink Granite Coast. It is extremely picturesque as the name suggests. La Cote de Granit Rose, which is about an hour and a half drive from Ty Hir, is a 30km stretch of rock strewn beaches. I say rocks but think huge boulders, shaped into all manner of strange things by the sea and wind.
Andy spent a week with his parents at the gites in April. It was the first time they had visited them and it was nice for him to be able to show them around.
They visited the imposing pink chateau of Domaine de Trévarez in the nearby Montagnes Noires, somewhere I am yet to visit. I am hoping to go there this spring as the display of azaleas and rhododendrons looked beautiful in their photos.
The old town, with its quaint narrow streets has plenty of restaurants, ice cream parlours and souvenirs shops and the Marinarium laboratory museum.
There are also number of lovely restaurants lining the harbour where you can sit outside and watch the world go by.
On the night of 23rd June 1940 a Nazi soldier broke into the house, murdered the housekeeper and raped Saint-Pol-Roux's daughter. Saint-Pol escaped and fled with his daughter to Brest.
When he returned he found that all of his manuscripts had been looted, damaged or burned. Utterly dejected, he collapsed in grief died on 18th October 1940. During the Allied liberation of France in August 1944, the house fell victim to a bombing campaign, leaving it in the ruinous state that we see today - a sad and brutal end to what was once a vision of peace and blissful innocence.