Monday, 3 April 2017

Madame Madeline Bichue

Who would have thought a day at the beach would end up meeting the nicest old lady. We had been invited for a picnic at Plougrescat near Treguier in Brittany. It is on the Cote de Granit Rose with pink granite outcrops and a wild looking sea facing into the English channel.
After the beach we wandered around the main town of Tregeiur and gravitated to the Cathedral. This magnificent building was 13th and 14th century and didn t disappoint with relics from the old priests and to top it off a choir was rehearsing for a night of Mozart and we were treated to wonderful music as we strolled around admiring the woodwork, the organ and the sheer size of the building. I have an admiration for the workman who made these building to the Glory of their God. Despite the ravages of the revolution the relics of the church remain, the sacred heart of St Yves who watches over sailors was intact. There were many marble MERCI tablets to the Saint for saving those at sea a tradition that continues to this day. 

Then we strolled around the war cemetery where German and French soldiers were lying side by side and met Madeline or Mado as she called herself. Madame Bichue spoke english and had a wonderful tale to tell us. She invited us back to her house and we listened as her life of extraordinary adventure unfolded with the photos on her walls. 

Mado was one hell of a woman. She bought a boat in her younger days, a cargo ship and was the Captain, when women just didn't do that sort of thing. .She plied her trade in sand and other commodities. Her crew were from all over the world and still write to her from Russia, Poland, America and beyond. She is 93 and still lives in her palatial house right in the centre of town.  We were treated to a bit of a tour of the house and saw a stuffed boars head, a samuri sword, the wheel of her boat and pictures from her life. Her life has been boats and her door knocker is a brass anchor, polished to within an inch of its life. Out in the  yard a Russian Captain has given her the name of his boat to adorn the garden wall and there is a oil lantern which will light her way on the final journey. She was a joy to listen to and we were soon calling her 'tu' rather than the formal vous.
When an afternoon comes around like this it is a treasured souvenir. 

We promised to see her again, and write.

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