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Kerargon's hydrangeas=hortensias

The hydrangeas are beginning to bloom! The first blossoms in blue are closely followed by the first white and pink ones, as well as those that haven't really made up their minds yet whether to be blue or purple (the color derives from the acidity of the soil, which seems to vary even on a smallish property like Kerargon). Hydrangeas are the iconic image for Brittany, although originally from Southeast Asia. Here they are known by a much nicer name: Hortensia, a name they have in variations in most other European languages. It derives in one or another variation from a romantic attraction or admiration for a woman. So, for me, the European name rolls off the tongue much more pleasantly than Linnaeus' Latin label (from water + vessel). June is the month hydrangeas/hortensias begin their pageant here. I was astounded to find out at last count Kerargon has over 70 of them, in all 3 variations in shades of white, pink and purple bordering on blue. And very many are gifts from our generous and charming neighbors at Chateau Guilguiffin. The fireworks the hydrangeas/hortensias let loose in the courtyard is just beginning: come enjoy!

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As french as.....espadrilles

Grocery stores are a great window onto the "indispensables" and rhythms of french daily life.  I know summer is just around the corner because our local supermarket has just begun to offer espadrilles: your basic flat-footed jute and canvas shoes, right and left foot exactly the same, bound into a flat lengthy package by a rubber band. Single digit price, no fancy displays or packaging, just the dun-colored packages formed by the soles facing outwards but a range of colorful prints peeping out in-between. They epitomize french summer for me, provoking cliches of fragrant sun-drenched countrysides or sandy beaches. Espadrilles have fancy cousins in shoe stores and a long tradition as footwear and fashion according to Wikipedia. They last just one season, though they transition from looking perky enough to wear with a summer dress to shoes you prefer to hide except for the habit of their comfortable presence. I have always considered them ecologically acceptable as there are no complicated parts and they are all but "ripe" for the compost pile at the end of their lifetime.  But as french as they are for me, a look at the soles of my new shoes brings a harsh reality to light: made in Bangladesh.  I hope against reason that only the soles are imported.

 
 
 
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Take time to step back in time: > 6000 years of history surround Kerargon

We are surrounded by them: megaliths, standing stones, silent sentinels from over 6000 years ago. No matter that they crop up as though forgotten in hidden glades of original-growth forests, or in fields now grazed by horses or cows, megaliths never cease to amaze me.  They come in 2 variations:  menhirs = "man stones", upright stones sometimes over 12 fit tall, or  dolmen ="table-stones", horizontally positioned. Visitors rave, correctly so, about Carnac or Presq'Il de Crozon, where the sheer numbers are impressive (nearly 1000 at Carnac)  But within a 20-minute radius of Kerargon by foot, we have at least 4 of them, and I have the sneaking suspicion that there are a few more to discover. "Ours" are solitary giants, usually directly adjacent to small brooks and hidden in green glades.  They are stately giants, often bearing a coat of green moss on their north flank.  To my knowledge, there is still no clear consensus of their function or the motivation to move stones of such gigantic proportions through human muscle alone in the era before wheels. Do they mark graves or historic sites?  Do they honor gods or goddesses? No matter, for me they imbue respect for man's own time span, and the mysteries of his/her achievements.  Menhirs are always "Magic" to me.  

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Aloe Vera, Saffron and more: Kerargon's neighbors

Kerargon has fascinating neighbors! 2 years ago the area was marked by huge fields of hemp (a variety without THC) grown for oil. Other neighbours have been growing saffron on an organic basis for a number of years already and have won a silver medal in Paris for their product.  Now they have added 2 aloe varieties (Aloe Vera and Aloe Arborescens) to their product palette and are offering an open house/seminar on Saturday February 25  to introduce these plants of which Aloe Vera is found in so many natural remedies and skin products.  The seminar will give insights on the different benefits, extraction and conservation methods, which part of the plant to apply for which effect and a general insight into these very special plants.  Find out more on www.esprit-safran-et-cie.com.

We are optimistic that more of these open house/seminar dates will follow so that our guests can take advantage of them during their stay. The Esprit Cheval/esprit safron farmstead is a wonderful 10 minute walk through or around the fields offering an unexpected sideways perspective on Kerargon, too.

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3 of the most stunning festivals in Brittany 2017

Brittany has something for every palette: from quiet to quaint, from moody to music, from art to antique

 
 

with lots of everything in-between.  Three of the most fascinating festivals in our immediate area combine music with traditional costumes and food while just having a great time.  You can stand at the sidelines and watch, though I doubt you will.  The music is infectious, the people welcoming, sometimes literally drawing you in to the line dancing, the food is tempting and the markets fascinating.  Come join the fun !  We at Kerargon even have partial vacancies for some of the dates.

 

Festival de Cornouaille, July 18-23 in Quimper

Festival de Cornuaille website

 

Fetes de Brodeuses, July 13-16, 2017, in Pont l'Abbé

Fêtes des brodeuses website

 

Festival interceltique de Lorient, August 4-13, 2017, in Lorient

Festival interceltique website

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Herb Home

We have added a new feature with benefits for all: from our granite stone stash we built a spiral filled with different types of soil: beginning with sandy at the top and ending with rich soil at the bottom.  Thanks to the different soils, the varying water permeability and the different exposure to the sun we can grow all manner of herbs on one place: from different types of thyme at the top to different basils at the bottom and ranging through mints, sage, chives, parsley and various others in-between. It seems the permanent residents, snails, rabbits etc love it too but some of the herbs are establishing themselves as more resilient.  Can't wait to see what we can add (or take away: the mint is in a container but threatens to jump the fence) this summer !

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