Monthly Archives: November 2010

France: Day 7, Rochefort-en-Terre

We drove nearly 400km into Brittany along the west coast of France to Rochefort en Terre, a small town of only about 600 people.

Normally this would take about four hours, but the highways have a 130km/h limit (offset by a toll to access the highway), and this cut an hour off our travel time. Not that it mattered, as the French countryside is wonderful to watch, populated with hills and a variety of colourful foliage. There are also endless cows roaming the pastures; I finally understood why cheese, butter, chocolate, and cream are so prominent in French cuisine.

It’s strange to be in a place that’s so remote. To go for organized sports, you have to drive to the nearest city, which is 30 minutes away. At the same time, all the amenities are a 5-minute stroll away. There’s no traffic here, no light pollution, and no noise save for a barking dog or two. In this part of the world, the culture is rich in history, but the life is relatively untouched by the complications of urban living.


The first cat I’ve seen in a week. He’s grown old and docile, and luckily, this means you can pick him up, put him in your lap, and he’ll be just as happy as by the wood burning stove.

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I turned 30 in France. This wasn’t planned. It wasn’t even an excuse to buy the ticket, when I made the decision to fly there so many months ago.

But when I was at a dinner party that day, speaking with a woman who polished her English from a year of doing her degree in London (and had an appropriately posh British accent mixed in with her French), she guessed I was 30.

“Amazing”, I said, “To the day.” She had to confirm, “Aujourd’hui?”, and I couldn’t stop her from hushing the other conversations so she could announce it to the table.

portrait at age 30

Kisses from the babies, the girls, and the babygurls.

They lit a thin candle in my banana split sundae, sang me Happy Birthday in two languages, and plied me with expensive alcohols. Earlier that day, Darren sent me an e-mail, telling me to get drunk. I didn’t let him down.

It was a far bigger deal than I was used to, but it wasn’t hard to appreciate the attention, from people I had only known for an evening or two. I thought they must have been happier than me, just to have an excuse to celebrate something, and talk, and drink, and cheer.

No wonder people like their birthdays. No wonder people love France.

There’s no way for me to deny how significant the last year has been. At one point, I finally felt like I was the person I’d be for the rest of my life. Then things changed, and I fell to my lowest point. But I picked myself up, and here I am now. Still human. Still alive.

This project was a way for me to document my evolving life and aging skin as it is now. I never knew how much I’d go through, and how much would change between each interval.

I turned 30, and I wonder who I’ll be in another day, another month, another year, another decade.

The Turning 30 Series

Call me McNgangus

Somehow, I ended up on the northwest coast of Scotland, with new friends, a much tighter schedule, and a re-affirmation of life.


Europe 2010 travel diaries

France: Day 6, Paris

It’s been raining almost non-stop across France ever since I got here, so when I woke up to a sunny day, I had to take the chance and head out to Paris. I decided to see how far I could get on foot from Gare Montparnasse, my goal being a crossing of the Seine.

Paris is divided into arrondissments or districts, spiraling outward from the Louvre like a snail shell, with each one having a characteristic feel. I began my walk in the 14th arrondissment, and traveled north.

After about four kilometres, the stiffness in my legs told me I should head back. But Paris is dense and full of culture and history at every turn; on every block over there’s something that catches the eye, and you never want to turn around.

Fountain of Saint Michel

Fontaine Saint-Michel, located in the 5th arrondissment.

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Baby Scary Party

Leave it to Fédéric and Misun to host an awesome costume party, even though Halloween was over two weeks ago. They decided to have a party anyway, in a part of town where they only had two trick-or-treaters. There was quite a decent turnout (about 40 children) without having done any advertising, save for a flier on their door, and I’m sure they all left tired and full from numerous sweets.

Of note is the wooden castle in the backyard, which Fédéric built for the kids, and which they quite appropriately adored.

Europe 2010 travel diaries