Oils on board | memories of the bays and rock pools of Brittany
Here in Cornwall one is never far from the sea. As we leave Devon, heading forever westward, the broad landscape begins to narrow, focusing our minds on that which practically surrounds us - the ocean.
In this respect Brittany is no different, a peninsula geographically but also in its mentality. The Cornish and the Breton peoples are almost island races, connected of course by their Celtic origins. The French have a term, 'Presque-isle' which describes this succinctly.
Yet there are differences, some immediately apparent, others revealed over time. We have visited our Breton counterpart many times over the decades and we regard it in many ways as a second home. Thinking of my geography and geology classes back at school, much was made of the 'Armoric Shield', a phrase used to describe the whole of the mass of Brittany. It has real meaning which for me epitomizes the major difference with Cornwall. Here in North Cornwall our coastline, described in Victorian times as 'The Iron-bound Coast', has precipitous cliffs. Cornwall literally drops into the sea. Brittany too has sections of high cliff but much of the coastline shelves gently down due to the nature of the geological 'shield' creating countless opportunities for access and the launching of boats.
The land seems to cling on for as long as it can, giving way to a myriad of islands before the ocean finally wins out.