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Rock Maze
  • Writer's pictureNeil

Expect the Unexpected

It was Oscar Wilde that said “To expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.” I’m not too sure that I have a modern intellect but I’ve certainly learnt to expect the unexpected.

I’m reminded of some of our French trips where we've stumbled upon the unexpected. One trip in particular started in Santander in Spain. We decided to follow the Atlantic coast through France to our house in Brittany. Rather than hang around we decided to get out of the city. We were first off the ferry so had no one to follow . We went wrong and so did the cars following us. We ended up in a dodgy looking part of the town. The cars behind probably didn't expect the unexpected! Eventually we found ourselves at our first stop for the night.

We were parked up near a lake. We didn’t know at the time but alongside the lake was an egret colony. An unexpected, quite spectacular, sight watching hundreds of birds come in to roost.

We strolled around the village gazed over a wall into a field below. Clearly it was a livestock field but an inner fence was seriously sturdy. Then we noticed in the distance a small herd of elephants. Unexpected? You bet.

We travelled on, crossing into France, stopping in a number of little towns on the way up to Brittany. We were meeting friends near Vannes in a few days so needed to do a few miles each day. One memorable night we stopped in a grotty parking area in some dunes a stone’s throw from the sea. The next morning we moved on not expecting to return. Eventually we met our friends and after spending a couple of days with them continued to our house. A thoroughly enjoyable few days.

A few years later after my first cancer diagnosis, surgery and following chemo we found ourselves making our way to a small seaside town, again on the Atlantic coast, called Montalivet. To our surprise we were back at the same, now tidied up, grotty parking area but this time it was August rather than September. Unlike here, the French seaside holiday destinations are busy, busy, busy in August but dead, dead, dead in September. Even some of the supermarkets shut when the season ends.

Anyway back to the story. The French Atlantic coast is almost all beach. The section we were on is 76 miles long. On our first day we decided to spend some time on the beach. We packed our bags with towels, beach mats, beach umbrella, water and food and set off for a beach picnic. On such a huge beach there’s plenty of choice so we strolled along the waters edge for 15 minutes or so before we found a nice spot. There was no one there. We settled down. Now what you need to know is the French generally arrive at the beach after lunch. Time passed. The beach started to get busier. What we soon discovered was the further away from the town the less clothing people wear on the beach. Needless to say our 15 minute stroll took us sufficiently far from the town that even flip flops were discarded. We were definitely over dressed. Unconcerned we lazed around, the beach got busier to such a point we felt a bit like voyeurs until we decided if you can’t beat them........ We stayed for a few more days, even returned to the same part of the beach, happy days. An unexpected turn of events.

On the way back up to Brittany we carried out our normal routine, finding interesting places to park up. One place we found was a beautiful beach with a crescent of golden sand near Lorient. I noticed it because it’s called Plage de Kaolins. (China Clay beach) and it’s got an area set aside for motorhomes. Why is it called Plage de Kaolins? It’s near a huge clay pit, home from home. What we didn’t know we’d stumbled across another “clothing optional” beach, although it appeared clothing wasn’t an option at all. Oh well, in for a penny...... The thing is if you spend as much time in hospital as I have, have a catheter and a camera inserted into your todger, been what’s best described as “drain rodded", your tummy sliced open twice and face the prospect of sooner or later someone wiping your bum, spending a day on a beach wearing just a smile is easy.

It seemed that for this holiday we definitely embraced the motto;

“Expect the Unexpected.”

Since then the world has learnt to “Expect the Unexpected.”

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