Health and saftey

Bernard might be under your bed!

13th October 2011

Bernard might be under your bed!

Why would the French name a town Bernard?

I ask you, who but the French would name a town Bernard? To be more precise they named a huge rock at the entrance to the town Bernard. To them it is logical to call it the Rock Bernard or in French La Roche Bernard. Now we British wouldn’t be that stupid, unless you forget about places like Portland Bill, Hope’s nose, John O’Groats and of course Keith….ly.

La Roche Bernard Arzal lock

The Arzal lock

Far from being stupid the French have actually been a bit clever here by calling it Bernard. Most people wouldn’t even think of going somewhere named after that grey haired bloke down the street. That would be a big mistake. A quaint, beautiful village up a picturesque tree line river that is as French as it gets is what you would find. There is even a dirty great lock further down the river at Arzal to deter you getting here. The lock is so bad they have built a seated grandstand for the locals to guffaw at your attempts to get through. Miss out La Roche Bernard and you will have a gaping hole in your brain forever where the memory should be.

sailing in the Arzal

Into the Arzal

To make life even better we met Tim, Karen and their dog Bowline. They waited on the other side of the Arzal lock on their boat Saradan to greet us and sail the short distance down to Bernard. I will not go on but if you ever find a more hospitable couple I will eat my good leg, raw, between two Mullet, with a little Dijon mayonnaise of course.

The following night we came across Peter, who we had previously met in Vannes and who is one of the world’s natural talkers and story tellers. Together we all had what can only be described as the perfect night in an old warehouse called “Sarah B’s”, eating, drinking and watching a brilliant band playing Johnny Cash numbers. It will be a night we won’t forget and I even got battered fish and chips from the English chef. The only thing missing was mushy peas but you cannot have everything.

caravan home

The new Cygnus III

As Tim was good with boats he made a few alterations to Cygnus to more suit our life style. We are pretty happy with what he has done.

After a couple of days spent with Tim and Karen looking after us in the Arzal, we had to say our goodbyes.

At 5 am the following morning I groped around in the dark trying and failing not to wake anyone up as I prepared Cygnus to leave. We went up the river in pitch black. To make it worse the boats forward navigation lights that decided to go on strike half way along. It is strange sailing in the dark as you have no real reference points but after an hour we luckily ended up back at sea just as dawn broke.


La Roche Bernard Sarah B's

Sarah B’s in La Roche Bernard

Because of bad weather later in the day we ended up in Pornichet, which is, different and quiet exclusive. No two houses are the same. They are all wonderful and totally individual. In the short walk we had we came across a horse racing track, theatre, an ornate walk through marsh areas and the inevitable “Boules” match. This seems to be a male dominated sport in which they throw their balls at another smaller ball or even at each other’s balls. It is done with real venom and makes you wince.

We left Pornichet the following morning, mainly because the boys threatened to kill me as there is no internet. To them anything that does not run on electricity is from the dark ages so not worth knowing. I have my orders from a rebelling crew; they are not bothered where we go so long as they can get on the internet. Jordan suggested Mexico as apparently they have good access but it is a bit more than a day’s sail.

Instead we set of for a little island a few miles off the coast of France called Ile Yea and Port Jornville.

It was a longish sail in glorious sunshine and allowed me time to consider a few things along the way.


Health and safety. The new state police.

Since I retired from the Police, numbers have dwindled but another form of Police, with more draconian powers are taking their place. The dreaded Health and Safety executive. They are amongst you, lurking in their yellow florescent jackets and are prepared to pounce at less than a moment’s notice. Forget your nights following the Karma Sutra with the blonde down the street. Some chap with a clipboard will pop out from under your bed and fine you for putting each other in a hazardous position. Lift a spade wrong, change a light bulb (low energy of course), without scaffolding and Mr Clipboard will clear out your current account. I even heard of a drive by shooting with four dead and twelve injured. The man with the clipboard was there to sort it out and fine the offender for not wearing safety goggles and ear mufflers.  Thanks to this heroic band of little tyrants you can sleep sound in your bed, providing it conforms to rule 7364/B as amended. Oh, remember the bogey man under the bed. Now you know who he really is. He is your worst nightmare, which incidentally you are not allowed to have any more (rule 37845/G as amended).


French health and safety.

The French of course follow the EEC directives for health and safety to the letter. There one officer, is called Claude. He was seconded to the Foreign Legion and is currently in Afghanistan checking for safe routes through minefields with his clipboard and 14 pens as protection. If he gets it wrong they may well call the 36 rocks he ends up on as “Le Roche de Claude”. So who but the French would name a rock la Roche Bernard?



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