I’m just back from holiday and, against all the odds, our aged VW camper van made it all the way to Finistère and back without even a hiccup. Sadly the same can’t be said for myself. I came down with a very nasty kidney infection while travelling and had to spend the first half of my holiday in hospital in France Thank god for EU healthcare. And thanks also to the medical staff aboard MV Armorique and at Centre Hospitalier de Pays de Morlaix. Due to their exemplary care my holiday wasn’t a complete wash out and I made it to the beach before the week was out.
I also managed to visit Audierne Bay, the scene of the Droits de L’Homme engagement, the 19th century frigate action that was the starting point for our research into the 1797 crew of HMS Indefatigable and our subsequent book Hornblower’s Historical Shipmates: The young gentlemen of Pellew’s Indefatigable. It was a beautiful day when we visited and the beach was crowded with families enjoying the sun and children playing in the sea. It was hard to remember that so many men lost their lives in that exact spot after the Droits de L’Homme was wrecked on the shore following the engagement. Elias Pipon, an English artillery lieutenant who was a prisoner aboard the ship at the time, wrote a harrowing account of the shipwreck and 40 years later returned to Audierne Bay to erect a monument to the event. The beach now takes it’s name from Pipon’s memorial: Plage du Menhir.
Anyway, I’m now back at my desk and facing the inevitable post holiday e-mail backlog (967) and I’m also starting a new role at the University of Edinburgh today, but that deserves a separate log post of it’s own!