Rest in peace in an unusual setting


Do you ever think how you would like to be buried when you depart this world?

Finding a random place to go for an afternoon stroll on Sunday, near where we live in Brittany, we chanced upon an incredible place. At first I wondered what it was, there were quite a number of park benches…was it a picnic area?  After all it looked out on a beautiful scene, a wonderful estuary; with sailing boats moored and the sound ship masts clanging.

There were mementos surrounding trees.  It became clear after a time, it was garden of remembrance. Some had surrounded their dead loved ones with photographs, of happier times gone by.  Some had attached wind chimes to the tree.  Others had placed plastic windmills, which gave a kitsch effect.

It was so unexpected to chance upon this place.  My little son who has no inkling of what death is about, ran and rolled down the hill, showing no respect…but on the other hand I wondered if those buried in this incredible area of land from their spiritual planes might appreciate his vivacity and exuberance…from above.

This place was so different from a typical grave yard.  The fact that each plot has a tree and its own personalized decoration and is in such a wonderful setting, rather than the forlorn image most graveyards give.  Driving back to our house we passed the depressing looking graveyard, shadowed by a tall industrial tower, I am sorry but I don’t want to end up there, put me in the Les Jardins de Mémoire, 19 Rue du Reclus, 56400 Auray, that’s the place to be


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A visit to the largest megalithic site in the world on the weekend of Journées du Patrimoine (Heritage Days)


It’s the weekend of “Journées du Patrimoin”e (Heritage Days) when you have the opportunity to visit places that are often out of bounds. This is French idea that dates back to 1991 when it was set up by the Ministry of culture. It means you have access to museums and other places of historical interest.

When we lived in Paris in the 5th district we had ample chance to visit places, such the place where Marie Antoinette was incarcerated before being dragged away to face the guillotine.

Now living in Brittany, we have to sample different experiences.  It is true to say that when there are events such as these in Paris, you have to brave long lines  of people who have hot on the same idea  as you to sample some historic  wonderment.  However in Brittany you have the luxury of no wait and a big open space. Kind of surreally you can hear the sounds of shotguns blasting away,  as hunters go about their business on a Sunday morning, under a beautiful prevailing blue sky.

On my wife’s tip off, we have decided to visit Carnac, which is a short drive for us. More specifically we are visiting the Ménec alignments, which have an expanse of 1,165 by 100 meters, huge granite menhirs aligned in several rows along approximately 4 km.

 We first consult a man in the museum, who tells us there areas we can visit and some we can’t.  I have to say that the area has been transformed into a bit of a tourist magnate, there is a train that drives you around the local area, full of tourists with their headphones gathering information. Tourism vies with ancient history.


We walk a while and enter a field, which is not only remarkable for its alignment of stones but also for its vegetation.  There is a carpet of heather,  thorny evergreen shrubs and beautiful wild flowers.  Butterflies flutter amongst this incredible greenery.  It’s a place of incredible beauty.

There are pilgrims who have come to take in this unusual place that has an undoubted magic about it.


A woman sits cross-legged on a stone, as if trying absorb the energy of the stones, as if she is about to float off to another dimension.

The rocks, were erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany, and are the largest such collection in the world.  We can only make wild hypothesis as to the original purpose of these alignments. Some believe their purpose is of some political nature, specifically  for the chiefdoms,  that it serves as a “royal representational mausoleum,” each stone being representative of one of the leaders of their history. Leave this aside to the historians and just take in the awe inspiring vision of these stones that  contain a magic about them.

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Inter Celtique Festival, Lorient, Brittany 2016.


Everywhere you look, tartan is present.  The air is filled with the wailing sound of bagpipes.  This year it is the year for Australia, which might appear somewhat surprising, but when you look at anglo-Celtic ancestry  of  Australia, you find quite a large percentage of Irish, Scottish, Cornish, and Welsh. I was able to take in a Saturday afternoon, of this event that spans over ten days.  It is a festival that attracts not only musicians with a desire to play their Celtic tunes, but visitors from around the world, who have Celtic hankerings.  The festival has taken place since 1970 but still retains a vibrant freshness and excitement about it. This is my second taste of this event.  With my first experience I was able to take in some of night life, including Celtic dances in a huge gymnasium.  My more recent visit was more daytime. The festival comes alive in the afternoon…maybe many sleep long into the morning, needing a certain amount of recharging following the night before.  Of course it is a festival where people are selling their wares, for example Scottish whisky or jewelry.  It is best to come to Lorient, by train, rather than be stuck in traffic or searching for a place to park.

The festival is lucky to have happened at all, following what happened in Nice.  Extra emphasis has been added to security; Soldiers brandishing rifles walk about, heavily armed police are also in evidence. Thankfully there is no terrorist attack to tarnish this unique festival full of joy and music.

Celtic culture is strong and vibrant.  The music gets to you and lifts you up. There was a touching moment I witnessed. A youth  was playing bagpipes, playing “Amazing Grace” . Spontaneously a group of elderly  bagpipers joined him and accompanied him. It was a touching moment, naturally people were drawn to give the young musician  money for his rousing efforts.

If you have pangs for Celtic culture, this is well worth checking out.

Some facts about the Celts…

Nobody can be sure of their origins but some place them in central Europe, around the Alps.  A nice misconception is that they fought naked, apparently this is an exaggeration on the part of the Romans. They weren’t as savage as the Romans made out.  Their woman even had some modern day rights they could have power, own land, and even divorce in Celtic society, which was unheard of in the classical world. They were great travelers as well as notorious fighters and were famed for being headhunters, deeming if they lopped off their enemies heads, they were taking the greatest prizes.  They would brag about their gruesome trophies, like a person in modern times might brag about their Ferrari or Chateau in the South of France.  They were far from being barbarians and had their own calendar and were money makers.

Living in Brittany I am having to come to terms with strange place names, derived from the Celtic language. The language of the ancient Celts survives to this very day in the modern Celtic speakers of several areas, including Brittany, Scotland, Ireland and the Isle of Man.


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A Medieval festival in Josselin Brittany.

My beautiful picture

This time last year I would never have imagined myself walking about  streets  in Brittany as a medieval festival takes place.  Recently I found myself in Josselin,  surrounded by people dressed in medieval clothing.  Some  slightly destroyed the illusion by wearing sunglasses or using their mobile phones.  No I wasn’t totally transported  back in time,  never the less it was impressive.  Some of the people did look a bit like extras from Lord of the Rings. Some looked decidedly Gothic.  Some looked like they had been extracted from a freak show.  There were fire eaters,  stilt walkers,  falconers, a man dressed in the attire of a bishop.  It was a lot for my three year old to take in.

My beautiful picture

Everywhere you looked something was happening, you could sample strange musical instruments,  food being sold at a premium that with recipes dating back to the times of knights and chivalry. The festival takes place every other year.  I imagine it takes a lot of preparation, the setting including a large fairy tale like  chateau with  soaring ramparts and three mighty towers dominating the river valley below is  awe inspiring.

Medieval times are not a  period in history I would choose to visit, given the opportunity  in a time machine,  it conjures  up images of death, pestilence, torture. It was mocked cruelly by Monty Python.  Some people were very Pythonesque and I wondered what  their usual day jobs were?  Were these people Bank Managers?  Or perhaps secretaries? All let off a leash to live out their fantasies.



My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture
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Countdown to leaving Paris…

Dj Wise

My time living in Paris is drawing to a close, I am about to set off on a new adventure in Brittany.  I guess the end will be a mixture of sadness but relief.  I moved in 1999, with a few possessions,  a job to go to,  no friends apart from who lived outside Paris, who I had not seen for a while.   My time living in Paris has been a rewarding experience.  It has so much to offer in terms of culture, big events such as the Fete de la Musique, Nuit Blanche,  but also lesser documented events put on by associations and organizations.  The last event I was involved with was an event organized by  an organization called  Paris Lit, in which poets, songwriters and writers have the possibility to do short renditions of their work in front of a hyped up audience.  The event took place just after the terrible events in Paris, last November and these events impacted some of the works being performed.

The two terrorist attacks also impacted my decision to leave Paris.  These days in the back of your mind,  when you are traveling on the metro for example you think the worst could happen .  Paris is a great city with so much to offer but also a stressful city.

I have many memories of my time living in the fifth district.  I got married in the Marie (town hall) a magnificent building.  I used to live in a well-known tourist haunt, Rue de la Huchette.   When we walked out the door on a Saturday night, we used to stumble over a multitude of tourists.  We would go to sleep to the sound of jazz, as the music from the next door jazz club used to seep through.  I never actually went into the club, but I felt its presence every night.  We used to go for walks by the Seine,  in summer, watching the Bateau Mouches pass by, their lights lighting up the surrounding area, as darkness drew in.  There would be picnickers eating lavish meals and musicians busking.  In one particular area there would be dancers doing Breton dances.  It was such an endearing lively area.  Not far from where we lived was place St Michel, where street performers vied to get tourist’s attention.

When you walk around Paris you sometimes forget you are constantly passing through places steeped in history.  Walk around La place de la Concorde and you are walking around a place used  executing  aristocrats as well as royalty King Louis XVI was executed on 21 January 1793.

There will be things I won’t miss for example… transport strikes.  Sometimes arguments on the metro in Paris can grow out nothing.  Somebody nudges/bothers somebody, next thing a shouting match develops, with all manner of accusations and slurs.

So now I am leaving all this behind,  moving to a place equally filled with history.  A place with a wonderful coastline. Brittany also has its own strong culture.  One chapter closed, another about to begin.


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The increasingly mad world of Johnny Depp


Ten years ago if you asked any hip person who they’d like to be maybe they would reply Johnny Depp.  Good looking, witty, talented. He had it all.

Johnny Depp, was somebody I once really admired.  He seemed to be selective in the films he chose to be in,  often  playing oddballs and outsiders.  He seemed to really stamp a strong identity on each role he played.  Films I really like include Edward Scissorhands,  Benny and Joon, What’s eating Gilbert Grape? He was a natural in Tim Burton films.  Of course he was graced with good looks and a natural abundance of talent. He had the ability to play different roles  including comedy parts.   You would imagine a man such as he, would have the world at his feet…no?

Like so many stars before him, his life in recent times seems to be on a constant downward spiral.  Damning articles have sprung up like noxious fungus.  What’s more youthful Johnny has overnight transposed into bloated Johnny. In previous times  Marlon Brando was once  noted for his great looks and physique and then  piled  on the pounds,  undeterred by what is expected of an iconic Hollywood superstar.  Is Johnny letting himself go in a similar fashion?  Is he pressing the self-destruct button.

He seems to be racking up ex-wives.  His latest break up  hasn’t exactly painted him in a very good light. It seems Johnny’s life  has been fueled by  drugs and alcohol, leading too alleged violence to his much younger wife (Amber Heard).  These domestic  violence abuse allegations, tarnish a diminishing reputation, his stock going down dramatically.  Damning words from Amber include  “There was one severe incident in December 2015 when I truly feared for my life,” she wrote in the court filing in which she also said she “endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse” during the entirety of their relationship. It seems in terms of personal relationships, Johnny is volatile and moody to the extreme.

Johnny has fought back through his lawyers‘Given the brevity of this marriage and the most recent and tragic loss of his mother, Johnny will not respond to any of the salacious false stories, gossip, misinformation and lies about his personal life.’

We could say that Amber Heard, given her background, was not the ideal person for Johnny Depp to marry.  Amber herself allegedly has been involved in domestic violence towards a women, who was heavily involved with Tasya Van Ree.  Aember and Tasya considered themselves married at a time when it was not possible legally.  Amber’s special relationship with Tasya Van Ree is cited as a reason Johnny dscended into fits of anger and violence.  In Johnny’s previous wife Vanessa Paradis’ eyes, Amber Heard is considereda homewrecking careerwhore who ruined her children’s lives and destroyed her relationship with Johnny Depp

You also have to wonder why Amber got so heavily involved with Johnny and went as far as to marry him, given some of her quotes concerning their relationship  During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me.”

What a mess film stars mange to get themselves entangled in. Is there any redemption for Johnny Depp? Unless he takes his drinking and drug abuse to newer heights, it’s sure he will be offered new parts in big films.  Despite all the strong allegations made against Woody Allen, he is still very much revered as a film maker. Fervent fans of Johnny Depp will continue to support him.

It would be a pity if Johnny Depp gains more of a reputation for being an alcoholic, than the great actor many know him to be;



Parents haunted by their negligence.


Parents take a child to the zoo, (not such an unusual occurrence)  the child aged four, ends up in the gorilla enclosure,  (somehow he crawled through a barrier and fell into the gorilla’s enclosure) the parents of the child are almost universally demonized, in a frenzy of comments in the media and social media,  especially by animal rights supporters.  The witch hunt has well and truly began.

The Mother tries to defend  herself,  “As a society we are quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids. Accidents happen […],” Gregg wrote, as cited by several media outlets”.

It’s true that as a parent it is impossible to watch your child all the time.  Maybe as a parent I am over-cautious and protective.  Take your eye of a child and they could be doing anything,  drinking some toxic liquid,  running out into the road,  picking a poisonous mushroom…all is possible. There are so many appalling potential scenarios, we just hope that no such things happen to our child.

I don’t really like at all the idea of zoos, however I have taken my son on quite a few occasions. I have never been concerned for my son’s safety in terms of some unlikely  encounter with a wild animal, I have been more concerned  he could be snatched by some weirdo, or child predator.  Of course if I saw my son doing anything dangerous around an animal enclosure, I hope I would react quickly and decisively.

What can you do to make a young child safer?  Teaching  and trying to instill common sense, seems a good idea.  For example as parents we have already tried to instill road safety  into our three year old.  We try to teach him to look out for cars and look both directions before crossing the road. Of course he has no notions of the dangers of a speeding car,  but educating a child about potential hazards, should be a part of parenting.

I wonder how much of a percentage of people condemning  the parents are parents themselves? Some are saying the parents should be held accountable.

An eye witness’ account of the event is less damning.  Deidre Lykins viewed the drama unfold, and the boy dropping  into the enclosure. Her account is that she saw the mother calling out for her son and was next to him when he disappeared.  She claims the mother is not at fault, and went as far as to write on Facebook: ‘This mother was not negligent and the zoo did an awesome job handling the situation! ‘This was an open exhibit! Which means the only thing separating you from the gorillas, is a 15 ish foot drop and a moat and some bushes!’

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the zoo should have had a second barrier around the exhibit adding “Even under the ‘best’ circumstances, captivity is never acceptable for gorillas or other primates, and in cases like this, it’s even deadly,” PETA said. Obviously if a four year old can enter an enclosure the fencing must have been far from sufficient. The zoo however claimed the exhibit opened nearly 40 years ago, and this was the first breach.

In a rather contradictory statement another eye witness said  the small child said he wanted to get in the water before the incident, to which his mother, who was also watching several other children, replied: ‘No, you’re not, no, you’re not,’

The zoo issued a statement “We are heartbroken about losing Harambe, but a child’s life was in danger and a quick decision had to be made.”

Added to story is the fact that the father (of four) has a long criminal record, with offenses such as burglary, firearms offenses, drug trafficking, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and kidnap. It obviously does not take much time to dig up somebody’s shady past.

The fact of the matter is…that a beautiful animal,  the innocent party  in this saga, the Gorilla named Harambe, lost its life, through no fault of its own.  If the child had died, there would have been a different  kind of outrage.

Meanwhile in Japan a boy of seven was punished by his parents (his crime throwing stones at cars) by leaving him in an area populated by brown bears (renowned for being particularly aggressive). The parents had to change their story to the police, at first they didn’t dare tell the truth of their utter stupidity. .

Both sets of parents will be forever haunted by what has happened.  The eyes of the world are focused on their negligence.

The negligence of Kate and Gerry McCann is still to this day being called into question. While on holiday in Portugal, they went to dinner, leaving their children unattended.  Their daughter Madeline was abducted (although there are other versions) . Whatever happened that night is still a mystery but the McCanns have had untold criticism for leaving their children alone, from all manner of different people, including celebrities. Their guilt must be unbearable.  A parent’s worst nightmare.

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