“Happiness is the biggest window a house can ever have” Mehmet Murat Ilden
Part One: I arrive on The Island.
The first thing that struck me as I stood in the rain waiting for the small ferry that plied backwards and forwards between Roscoff and the island, was the happiness of the people around me.
It may have been bucketing down from the heavens but they piled on that boat, laughing and chatting as though it was the sunniest day the summer could offer them.
Old ladies with pulley baskets, elderly men with shopping bags, glamorous people with beautiful dogs, walkers with the correct gear and a crowd of teenagers hauling tents and their belongings.
And not a scowl between them.
The handsome young man who lifted my heavily laden Yellow bicycle as though it was as light as a feather and of no inconvenience to his strength, smiled and placed it carefully along with the other two on the front deck.
It stood forlornly, water dripping off it’s panniers (and into them too as I discovered later) while the other two bicycles, if bicycles could, were smiling along with everyone else.
Some people leaned forward, regarding me with interest as I took my seat and greeted me with a merry ‘Bonjour’.
I would guess this was not because they recognised me as someone not from the island, (I’m sure there were others like me coming for the first time) but because I was the only one NOT smiling.
Rain belonged in Ireland for heaven’s sake and you see I hadn’t accounted for it here in France.
I also didn’t expect everything to be so straightforward and had giving myself too much time when arranging meeting the woman of the house to collect the keys of what would be my home for the next week.
I could expect to be out in this rain for another three hours.
But I found I couldn’t help smiling back at them as I replied to their greeting.
The second thing that struck me, fifteen minutes later, as I pushed the yellow bicycle with its sodden belongings up the hill from the harbour and past an old church, was the Agapanthus.
It grew so profusely that in places it blocked my views of the sea.
But it got away with being a nuisance by the sheer beauty of its flowers
Blue stars reaching to the heavens.
I was beginning to smile again.
Then there was the perfect rows of cauliflowers, fennel bulbs, kohlrabi, potatoes, growing in small fields fertilized by sea weed which I spied through the misty rain and between the gaps of the clusters of houses (the fields that is not the seaweed)
Add to that the wild sea which I could now get a glimpse of (I had reached the brow of the hill) and surely that was a white beach in the distance reached by small sandy roadways scattered without plan.
The rain was beginning to ease now.
The last thing that struck me (but should have been the first that I mentioned) were the gorgeous colorful shutters surrounding small lace curtained windows that I whizzed past as I freewheeled down the other side of the hill.
And for the length of my stay those windows stopped me in my tracks time and time again and me smile.
“Happiness is the biggest window a house can have” wrote the poet, Mehmet Murat Ilden.
Well that must be so, as it did not seem to matter that the windows of the houses here were small because the people continued to exude happiness the whole time I was on the island.
The Island of Ile de Batz lies a 15 minute boat ride off the town of Roscoff which is on coast of brittany.
It is the only small island (and I have been on a good few of them) where even cycling is going too fast.
I had been planning a larger cycle along some of the greenways of Brittany when I spied this tiny island on google maps. The more I read about it, the more I was drawn to it and soon booked a small house in its village for the week.
My plan was to cycle, walk, swim, write, draw, paint and take photographs.
Oh and eat good food and drink fine wine.
And I am inviting you to join me.
To be continued……….