Postscript to Ber-nards Bar

Just as an afterthought to the story of the 1973 Ber-nards Bar, twenty years later Ned and I went on a cycling/camping holiday, this bit just here, in which we roamed the coastline of Northern Brittany in an aimless fashion with no plans to go anywhere in particular and nothing pre-booked, we simple packed up the tent every morning, put it on the bikes and set off down the road, where we stopped later that day is where we stayed for the night.

It was a wonderful, aimless, pointless week of nothing to do and loads of time to do nothing in, we rode inland through villages that seemed to be closed for this was the first week in September and everyone had gone back to work, France does the holiday thing throughout August and everyone in France takes their holiday at the same time, come September and places like Brittany are boarded up for the winter.

We cycled as far as le Foret de Paimpont where Merlins tomb is said to be, we didn’t find it but we found le Fontaine de Jouvence (the fountain of youth) and of course we drank from it, fat lot of good that did, I reckon that Merlin was a right old charlatan.

Having stayed one night on a lakeshore camp site that held 1000 pitches where we were the only people camping there that night (imagine The Shining but in France) and with no other signs of life in the middle of Brittany we rode back to the coast where at least some form of life could be found, even if it was only hotel owners boarding up their windows for the winter and we decided to re-visit Dinard, that place of our halcyon holiday of 1973.

We hadn’t given it a second thought and we weren’t deliberately looking for it but we halted mid-morning at some traffic lights on a crossroad just outside Dinard, I stopped behind Ned and waited for the light to turn green, they did, and he didn’t move.

“Lights Ned” I reminded him
He didn’t answer

And then he did answer

“Thats Ber-nards Bar” is all he said, pointing across the junction, and I looked, and indeed it was

And then the memories came flooding back, we turned to our left and although we hadn’t paid much attention to it there, right next to us was the football pitch that we had played so many games of illegal football on albeit that it had a new fence around it now, probably one without a big hole in the bottom left hand corner, it belongs to the local semi-professional football team now.

“So if thats the football pitch, and thats Ber-nards Bar” he said, “then down here must be the elephants graveyard”

Ralph has always called our campsite “the elephants graveyard” ever since that first day we arrived in 1973, even now when we see him as an 80-something year old, the first thing he always says is “What about the elephants graveyard then…” its a long story involving an old episode of “Tarzan” but we’ll leave it there for now…

We rode down a short lane towards the beach and there, right at the bottom of the lane, right next to the beach was a ten foot wide gap in the cliff face and through that gap in the cliff face was the old quarry that became our camp site for three weeks in the summer of 73, the elephants graveyard.

And this very day with the magic that is Google Earth I am able to zoom in on that crossroad and using streetview can place myself right at the traffic lights at 41 Rue de Starnberg, Dinard again, Ber-nards bar is now a restaurant but you can turn left and follow the streetview images all the way down the side of the football pitch until you reach the sea, such a shame that the google car couldn’t take a short detour and drive into the elephants graveyard, but still…

What a marvellous tool Google Earth and streetview is, and all some sad bas’tads can do is complain about privacy…


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