Bring on the Summer Holidays Part One: Corsica!

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One of the massive perks of being a teacher (pretty much the only perk?) is the wonderful holidays we get. Yes, we work hard, but yes, we also get lots of days off during the summer to do what we want with. Last week, Aidan and I visited the island of Corsica. And it was pretty much by flukey chance that we ended up there at all.

Without going into detail, a previously planned road trip to France fell through for the week. So we found ourselves a week last Thursday with a week’s holiday booked in for Aidan but nowhere to go. After many threats of: “That’s it, I’m just going to book us a Lastminute.com package and if it’s crap, it’s crap!” from me, Aidan eventually shook off his despondancy and found cheap flights to Corsica. My Friday morning was spent trying to buy things to take on holiday (not very successfully, but that’s another story involving a grape and a pair of ridiculous shoes…); the afternoon spent ringing around like a crazed woman trying to find us some accomodation.

As luck would have it, after a few frantic emails and polite refusals, I managed to get through to someone.

“Excuse me,” I asked, feeling extremely English. “Could I speak to Isabelle ___, please?”

A small, masculine chuckle, some words in French and I’m passed over. Presumably my pronunciation of her name is just far too English. Thankfully, Isabelle can speak very good English and our week at ‘La Bergerie’ was booked.

La Bergerie in Corsica
La Bergerie in Corsica

Our former shepherd’s cottage was just gorgeous. A mezzanine floor held the bed, a little terrace perfect for dinners and wine-drinking and an extremely friendly host in the shape of Isabelle. She really made the week special for us. We were invited around for dinner one evening to meet some of her friends; it turned out the she was a vegetarian too so we had a delicious dinner. We also found out that the laugh on the phone from her friend was because Isabelle has been so obsessed with England since a teenager that he thought I was a friend, ringing up as a joke to tease her. When he’d passed the phone over, his words had been: “It’s for you, it’s a joke!” It honestly wasn’t! Every morning Isabelle brought us breakfast in the form of croissants and french bread, and as an added treat, on the final night she cooked us dinner and brought it over to us. Accompanying this were many Corsican presents for us from Isabelle, including an oil jar and a sugar dish that she had decorated herself as it turns out she is an artist. It was so lovely of her, and we loved staying in ‘La Bergerie’.

Now, this is supposed to be a retro and vintage blog predominantly, so I’ll try and restrict my pictures and words to the parts of Corsica with a retro feel. We did manage to visit one charity shop and a flea market in Bastia – the results of which you’ll have to see another day. Around Bastia, we found a few interesting retro bits and bobs:

Cinema in Corsica
Cinema in Corsica

Bastia itself is quite an old town, which has managed to survive mostly intact from the 17th century (and much earlier in places), but there are a few aspects which fit the Mid Century image, including this cinema above. Sadly closed down, it was still worth a picture for it’s retro sign.

Art deco facade
Art deco facade

I am the stereotypical British woman – very pale, slightly ginger and a complete pear shape… as pointed out by the major of the town we stayed in when he was having lunch with our host and spotted us on the beach! Nice to know I stood out that much amidst the sea of berry-brown people (to use an Enid Blyton phrase!). Anyway, here I am modelling an art deco facade to a wine shop for you. We spent a while looking for an art deco building mentioned in the guide book, only to find it was the building we’d already taken a picture of…

Art deco facade
Art deco facade
Graffiti in Bastia
Graffiti in Bastia

We also discovered some Space Invaders! The first one was lurking on the edge of the closed cinema:

Squint and you'll see it!
Squint and you'll see it!

The next we discovered by a lighthouse in the port – which we weren’t supposed to walk to, but others had so we decided to copy them.

Space Invader by the Sea
Space Invader by the Sea

And finally, on a wall and joined by many fake baby versions:

Space Invader population
Space Invader population

We did lots of walking, swimming, sight-seeing and, of course, sampled a bit of the local food and wine. Corsicans love their food, and it’s easy to see why. We’ve brought home some chestnut cake and conserve, fig conserve, some herbs snaffled from a mountain top and gifted to us by Isabelle. Being French, the cakes were delicious. My mouth’s watering at the memory of a chocolate and pear tart I had… it’s a good job we did some long walks!

As I said, we did find a flea market and bought a small selection of retro goods. But they will have to wait for another day now.

Bring on the rest of the summer holidays!

Squinting at the sun!
Squinting at the sun!

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