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October 29th, 2021

In From Leonin to Led Zeppelin, the book I wrote during lockdown, there’s no mention of hernias. I had wanted to write something a bit less academic in the hope that a few more people might read it, but the academic press wanted more scholarship and the trade press wanted less so I have an impressive file of sometimes quite flattering rejection letters. I had definitely written the book I wanted to write (it’s a bit autobiographical) and I wasn’t going to change it. But if I did, a bit of hernia action might do the trick at the trade end, so here’s a potential appendix, as it were.

What do hernias have to do with singing? Not much, hopefully, but the anaesthetic might. In the days when I was a young oratorio singer (as we used to call ourselves) I sometimes had a problem with catarrh. As aspiring stars it wouldn’t occur to any of us to go to a local throat specialist – it had to be a proper Harley street morning dress honcho that you almost felt inclined to genuflect to but who might save you having to cancel your next job, usually at the cost of the fee. I had some bizarre things done to my voice in those days until I saw the light, and this one decided it was my wisdom teeth that was causing the problem. Ask your dentist if he can take them out in the chair, he said, or if not I have a mate at the Royal Free Hospital who can do it on the NHS but he’d have to book you in by the end of the week. He was a kindly man – the Royal Free is often Royal but rarely free and the chance to get it done on the health service was not to be sneezed at. I rang my dentist’s reception and explained the situation and was told to attend the emergency clinic next day. I did feel a bit of a fraud as it wasn’t exactly an emergency and when I turned up the locum, new to me, sent me away with a flea in my ear. So I ended up in the Royal Free, which was even royaler than I was expecting as after the anaesthetic I woke up in the bed next to the Queen Mum’s flower arranger. That was the first time I heard the one about Her Maj appearing at the servants’ hall having rung the bell but had no response, and saying something to the effect that she didn’t know about you fellows but this queen wants a gin-and-tonic. My father-in-law Peter Walbourn later painted the Queen Mum but I couldn’t persuade him to ask her if it was actually true. She let him take home some jewellery for detailed work in his studio.  Is it insured, Peter asked? We couldn’t possibly afford the insurance, came the reply. My mother-in-law slept with it under her pillow.

I can’t remember if the extractions cured the catarrh but the anaesthetist did accidentally sever the nerves in my tongue, which led to some pretty nifty consonant modifications in the Bach a month or so later. Thank heaven for long melismas and a language most English listeners wouldn’t understand anyway. It took months for them to start re-growing, and even now I still get the odd electric twinge decades later.

My next visit to hospital (apart from ferrying injured ninja wife and sick granddaughters every now again) was here in York about 15 years ago for a hernia repair. So was the one after that, a couple of days ago. Everyone I know who’s experienced the sharp end of the NHS has been in awe of the whole thing: it may take a while to get there but once you get through the hospital door you see humanity at its absolute best. Everyone from the surgeon to the auxiliary staff was so kind and super-efficient and full of humour, despite having to work on their days off because of Covid and staff shortages, being under-paid and having to cope with a ridiculous amount of paperwork. They were all so collegiate and caring not just of us patients but of each other. I told the anaesthetist the story of my ancient trauma and he took endless care to explain exactly what he would do to ensure it didn’t happen again. It didn’t, and I could belt out some Bach tomorrow (actually, make that a lute song!).

The other thing you can’t help noticing is that this wonderful microcosm of a perfect society is powered almost entirely by women. And they cheerfully do it day in and day out despite the over-paid and out of touch mostly male government departments they have to answer to.  So thankyou York hospital and everyone who works there – you are a beacon of sanity and hope.




October 5th, 2021

Back in the nineties I spent an eventful year commuting to Bremen as a Dozent at the Akademie für alte Musik (the AKA as we all knew it). I lived close to Stansted airport, then not much more than a shed in a field, and once a month or so I’d fly out on Air Bremen after breakfast, teach in the afternoon, stay the night, teach a bit more and fly home the next day in time for dinner. The plane was a lovely whispering turbo-prop with leather seats. Quite often I was its only passenger and towards the end of the year Air Bremen went out of business. I then had to resort to Lufthansa (my favourite airline) and Heathrow (my least favourite airport) and the whole business took an extra day or more. At about the same time the AKA converted from a privately run academy to a full-blown Hochschule (it’s now part of the Hochschule für Künste Bremen) and I was asked to become a proper prof. It was one of those moments which (in theory at least) might have altered the flow of the ocean currents (as Luciano Berio might have put it). They didn’t want a teacher that would only appear whenever there was a break in their performing schedule, and to do the job properly I’d have to either move to Bremen or get used to regular circuits of the M25. So I forwent the chance of a German pension (and haven’t taught singing since) and a few years later York beckoned and the ocean currents found their proper course.

The AKA was an amazing place, pioneering early music performance and bursting with musicians from all over Europe. One of my colleagues was the conductor and musicologist Manfred Cordes, whose substantial discography with his ensemble Weser Renaissance includes landmark recordings, especially of the early German baroque. In 1996 my Hilliard colleague Rogers Covey-Crump and I joined the group for a recording of the complete  Cantiones Sacrae of Heinrich Schütz . Now, twenty-five years later, I’m just off to the Gothenburg Organ Festival for two concerts celebrating the Praetorius anniversary, and Manfred Cordes will conduct. My fellow singers will include Trio Mediaeval, with whom I sang a programme of Machaut and Cypriot polyphony just before the virus appeared. Post-virus musical blood is beginning to flow through my veins again at last.

One of my first post-Covid gigs was celebrating Josquin as Jacob Heringman’s secret chanter, and I’m very glad that the next one takes in the other (and sadly, less celebrated) anniversary. I’m double vaccinated, have booked a return test and upgraded my travel insurance, attempted to fill in the Passenger Locator Form, printed out and practised the dots, booked flights and trains…anything else? It’s been so long since I’ve been to the mainland I can hardly remember how to do it.

A gig!

June 11th, 2021

I can hardly believe it, but a change in my mental wellbeing (an uptick, I think they call it) confirms that it’s true – I did a gig, the first in 18 months. Many musicians are still standing by the phone (and post-Covid and post- Brexit it may not ring) so it’s been amazing to come out of hibernation. Huge thanks to Malcolm Creese and the Swaledale Festival – it was the perfect way to re-engage with what used to be real life.

The programme was devised by Jacob Heringman (with a couple of suggestions from Malcolm and me) originally for Clare Wilkinson, Susanna Pell and the two of us. Clare was unable to leave Belgium because of Covid restrictions so we were very fortunate that the wonderful Peyee Chen was able to step in instead. We did two performances, the audiences socially distanced and masked. Being confronted with a room full (half-full, that is) of very polite and enthusiastic bank robbers was every bit as bizarre as it sounds, though by the end of the second outing it seemed almost normal as we were carried along by the audience’s energy and generosity. The new pieces by Sting and John Paul Jones were terrific (great to have Malcolm joining us on stage for Sting’s piece – he played with Sting and Stan Tracey at the 1993 Mercury Awards). John Paul was sadly unable to join us, stuck in Spain with a broken shoulder, but we did a a Zoom session with him so he could hear what we were up to. For everything else  we applied our usual renaissance practice of doing whatever we fancied with whatever was to hand. This time it was the turn of Stephen Wilkinson (Clare’s father, still composing at the age of 102), Schubert, Vaughan Williams and Peter Warlock (with added Creese) in between Dowland and Josquin.  It was a wonderfully heart-warming occasion with great playing from Jacob Heringman and Susanna Pell.

Future projects are still up in the air, of course. The Marvao performance of Arvo Pärt’s Stabat Mater with former Hilliard colleagues next month has sadly just been cancelled since Portugal’s return to the amber list. But enquiries are starting to appear for next year and beyond – for all sorts of things from PhD examining to summer schools as well as performances, which is a bit like the sun coming out after a long dark winter.

Meanwhile, the garden and greenhouse are burgeoning and writing is getting done. I’ve recently completed liner notes for Trio Mediaeval and amazing pianist Fred Thomas, and a book chapter on Gavin Bryars’ vocal music. At the moment I’m immersed in Hildegard von Bingen and her contemporaries as part of the research for my new history of song for Yale University Press. It’s great to be busy with these projects, but joining old friends for real concerts (while I can still do it!) has been total magic.

Peyee Chen, Malcolm Creese, Jacob Heringman, Susanna Pell, JP

There’s also a timely Early Music insert in the current issue of Soanyway magazine, which features an interview with Jake and Zan, and a short piece from me on the Dowland Project’s early music and jazz.

Halfnotes from a minimal greenhouse

May 16th, 2021

Last year I blogged about the lean-to greenhouse we built out of old windows up against our garden shed. In a fit of zeal I deleted a load of photos from WordPress’ storage, not realising that I was also deleting them from the posts, so those have now vanished into the ether. The greenhouse itself has survived with only one broken pane, after I netted the overhead apple branches to catch any strays.

As the veg weren’t a brilliant success last year (Padron peppers a notable exception) I’ve focused more on flowers. I’ve grown fox gloves, bonariensis and hollyhocks from our own seed (some of the latter nicked from a fantastic specimen up the road). I bought seeds for Cosmos (3 sorts), Kalendula, Tithonia (a first) and Cleome.  Everything germinated spectacularly and we should have flowers in excelsis. I haven’t entirely neglected the veg – there are the usual beans (broad, French and runners), cucumbers and and sweet peppers, all doing well so far. I’m also having a go at cucamelons, which claim to be ‘mini melons tasting of cucumber with a twist of lime.’ I’m a bit late with the tomatoes but they’ll be there soon.

Two lessons I’m trying to learn from last year: name the bloody seedlings as they all look the same to start with (why is this so hard to do?) and harden off good and proper. I think I’ve  been much to quick to get them in the ground so I’ve been letting them out for the day and tucking them up at night. Then as long as they behave themselves they can stay out all night for a few days before final planting. Fingers crossed…

The bottom row are all nicotiana (I hope), with mostly tithonias and cleome above. Below are some of the cucamelons:

Outside we have a field of Kalendula awaiting the trowl:


…and a mixed bag of cosmos, tithonia, foxgloves, hollyhocks  and cleome also standing by:

Let’s hope we get some sun!

Ernest Walbourn: a coda

March 5th, 2021

This is the 7th and last post about the landscape painter Ernest Walbourn. 

We still haven’t visited Dinan to track down the remaining pictures from 1923 but we do sometimes get out the box of photos from the period. Inevitably, the ones you really want to see have faded back into history. Those that survive still give an impression of a comfortable bourgeois life between the wars – family holidays, boating, tennis parties, gardening, and formal family portraits. There are also shots of Ernest at work, often at the same easel Peter would use long after his death, and on which a large unfinished Ernest is now perched, conveniently hiding our tv. Here is the great man at work:









He was also a bit of a sportsman. We have a letter of March 1897 from the captain of a hockey team referring to his prowess as a goal keeper (with the added advantage of being able to sing and play the banjo). He was invited to join the Olympic shooting team; we have a letter from a committee member reassuring colleagues worried about letting in someone familiar with a gun who would rather paint pheasants than shoot them, that even though he was an artist he was a gentleman.

This is Ernest’s wife Eva, a successful artist in her own right, especially as a painter of flowers and gardens, patronised by no less than Queen Mary herself. She sometimes painted Ernest’s backgrounds for him, and the picture on her easel here looks more like one of his.

There’s a small family album with pictures of holidays and various sporting activities. There was lots of cricket and golf…

And plenty of tennis…

Eva (left), Peter (right) and next to him Gwen (Penny’s Mum)

…and inter-generational amateur dramatics:

L to R: Gwen, Peter, Eva, Peter’s elder brother Dick

The bottom right snap from the album above is Ernest’s house and studio backing onto Epping Forest. Peter inherited the Victorian statue on the plinth in the foreground and it stood in his garden for many years until it was vandalised, the lady only surviving from the waist upwards. Her remains now rest atop a salvaged piece of York Minster West window in our little courtyard:

The ornate pot in the shot of the family practicing putting in the garden has followed us from house to house, increasingly battered:

They loved boats and fishing, Peter becoming a keen fisherman as an adult and his brother Derek a world class sailor, returning to the land of his forefathers many times to take part in the Sydney-Hobart race.

This is Derek, Peter (with cap) and  Eva with Ernest wielding rod in one hand and a pipe in the other. We think this is around the time of the Brittany trip when Peter would have sat at the feet of his father, learning his craft. Fifteen years later the boy who drew trains, cars and views of the French countryside was called up as a war artist and sketched planes and pilots. We don’t know what happened to his official work (it included a portrait of General Smuts) but we have a folio of sketches of off-duty airmen listening to concerts, drinking copious amounts of tea or just lounging around enjoying the beautiful landscape in which he always seemed to be posted.

He had a good war, some of it in Cortina with his leg in plaster after a skiing accident, and with time to paint views of Venice and castles on the Austria-Italy border.  In the fifties he became a commercial artist (one of the models draped over the bonnet in a Hillman Minx ad is his daughter, now my wife) and finally a portrait painter. We have another folio of photos of his many paintings of judges, company chairmen, their wives, horses and dogs.

His greatest triumph was painting the Queen Mum for the Middle Temple. After a sitting he needed more time to get the detail of her jewellery right, so she suggested he take it home. Is it insured, Peter asked, somewhat alarmed. We couldn’t possibly afford to insure it, came her majesty’s reply. Penny’s mum slept with the Queen Mum’s brooch under her pillow to be on the safe side.

The spirits of Ernest and Peter are still with us. Our son Ned, Peter’s grandson and Ernest’s great grandson, was able to begin a conference in Capetown  by cross fading Ernest’s sketch (now on his wall) with a modern photo of the same view, and on a similar working trip to Sydney saw the site of the church in which he thought (mistakenly as we now know!) his forebears got married more than two centuries ago. Peter worked at Ernest’s easel all his life, before passing it on to Penny:

and when we’re not watching tv we can watch an Ernest, still sitting on the easel and awaiting his attention.

Replanting an Ernest Walbourn poppy field…

February 26th, 2021

Re-tracing Ernest Walbourn’s 1923 visit to Brittany was hugely exciting but the paintings aren’t really typical of his output, most of which is decidely English. We know he took his paints to Australia when he went to sell the family property in 1902  as there’s a view of Table Mountain from when he stopped in Cape Town on the way, but there don’t appear to be any paintings from down under. Almost all of his subjects are home grown and typical of a certain sort of English art of the time. He may have appreciated Kandinsky, Picasso, Klee or  Matisse, but you can’t tell that from his paintings. His landscapes wouldn’t be out of place in a Hardy novel (we also have some sketches from the West country). There are some spectacular (and, nowadays, expensive) paintings of  poppy fields. The nearest we have to one of those is a sketch which does have poppies but also a blank space where he never got around to putting in a figure.  Even the artist’s art-school educated granddaughter wouldn’t normally attempt the extremely transgressive act of attempting to ‘improve’ an Ernest by painting a new figure, but Penny dared to think we could rescue the sketch by replanting part of the field. This is what it looked like:

The problem is that your eye is drawn immediately to the non-existent figure, rather than seeing what the artist actually saw. It’s a little frightening looking back at what she did…

and then this:




She reduced the width of the original, effectively contracting the view but not otherwise damaging it,  and used the offcut to make an insert matched to the shape of the hole. Surely this can’t possibly work…? Well, after a bit of touching up, it did:

Ernest Walbourn in Rochefort-en-Terre

February 19th, 2021

This is the fifth post about Ernest Walbourn’s painting trip to Brittany in 1923 and our attempts  to follow in his footsteps in 2005. 

We’d found almost all of the Walbourn oil sketches that we’d brought with us. We had more photocopies of some of the pencil sketches in 12 year old Peter’s little notebook but none of them seemed to correspond to any of the remaining Ernests. Reflecting on our experiences over the previous two days Penny convinced herself that two or more of the Ernests must be in Rochefort, which Peter had attributed to the Le Faouët paintings and which we had visited but just hadn’t been able to make fit. The next day, our last before setting off for my gig in Avignon, we made the long drive back from Lannion for a closer examination of Rochefort’s market. To our great joy we did indeed find what seemed to be the view: a market square, a grand house and a road sloping away into the distance. We took several pictures before realising that what didn’t quite fit without a lot of excuses (trying to account for missing chimneys, wrong gables and the like). But suddenly everything slotted perfectly into place if we pointed our camera at right-angles: there were all the same ingredients but no compromise was needed – it was clearly the Ernest view, the market long gone.


A few streets away the same thing happened with the house with the well. We found what seemed to be the house but the well seemed to have moved.


Again we changed our own perspective and magically the view appeared, almost identical to the painting, but with municipal plant pots for tourists rather than the 1920s local colour.


There was no sign of Peter’s knight on horseback or his and Ernest’s sketches of tightly packed half timbered houses. We’d only brought photocopies of Peter’s book  rather than risk losing it, which was a pity because if the drawings were all in the same place they would presumably be consecutive entries in the sketchbook.

Nevertheless, we’d been very lucky and resolved to come back again having done some more research, and perhaps even find the bend in the river at Lannion.

When we arrived home we found that all of the unidentified sketches by Peter were indeed together in the book. Penny also managed to make out the name on the statue’s plinth.


Peter’s pencil is barely visible, but multiple web searches eventually  revealed him to be  Bertrand Du Guesclin, the 14th century  Eagle of Brittany (or the Black Dog of Brocéliande, depending on your point of view) still standing in a square in Dinan. Google also has a modern photograph that must have been taken from the same spot that Peter had used. Dinan has (or had) lots of  half-timbered houses, and we resolved that the next year we would go to Dinan, a trip that we still haven’t got around to.


Ernest Walbourn in Lannion 1923

February 14th, 2021

This is the fourth post about Ernest Walbourn’s painting trip to Brittany in 1923 and our attempts  to follow in his footsteps in 2005. The  previous posts can be seen here,  here and here.

The story so far: in a pile of oil sketches by Penny’s grandfather Ernest Walbourn (who died in 1927) we discovered that some dated from a 1923 painting trip to Britanny. In 2005 we decided to track down the views he had painted and photograph them as they are now…

The discovery of the chapel in St Fiacre and the market hall in Le Faouët was incredibly exciting. We had two days left before we had to leave for my gig in Avignon, and several pictures still to identify.  Closer inspection of Peter’s sketch of a river with the squat tower suggested that the river was probably tidal. The only other name we had was Lannion, scribbled on the back of a field that could have been anywhere, but it is on the coast and the map showed a river running through it. It was all we had to go on, so we crossed our fingers and set off north to have a look.  As soon as we crossed the brow of the hill outside the town we recognised the two church towers, one a slim spire and other unmistakably flat-topped.  As we got closer we could see the river, with the trees miraculously the same size as in the painting from 82 years before.

Peter also sketched the same view:

We were also able to  solve the autumn tree riddle. We knew they  were there in the summer but the trees on one side of the river seemed autumnal. We could now see that the right bank was planted with horse chestnuts, which lose their leaves much earlier than the plane trees on the other side; and by coincidence we had arrived at a time when the next generation of replanted avenues exactly matched those in the picture.

Closer still, we found that the tide was out and there were stakes for a kayak slalom course, but we managed to find Ernest’s downstream view:

at some risk, as Ernest had obviously set up his easel in the middle of the road, and the original trees were grown so huge we had to resort to a bit of trick photography:

The family must have spent some time in Lannion as there are several sketches by Peter, his eye pretty amazing for a 12 year old:

We climbed the hill which Peter had sketched, looking for where he’d painted the church. There’s probably an Ernest of the same view out there somewhere.

After a lot of speculative position changing we finally found the exact place where he had been standing (like many of his father’s, in the middle of the road).

The old stone terraced cottages sadly now a car park:

We tried hard to make Lannion’s half-timbered houses and one grand square fit the sketches but again drew a blank. What of the field with its scribbled ident? That evening we looked again at the map and there was a bend in the river that might well produce the view we wanted, but we had one more day and thought we should have another go at Rochefort-en-Terre.

Ernest Walbourn at La Faouët 1923

January 30th, 2021

This is the third post about Ernest Walbourn’s painting trip to Brittany in 1923 and our attempts  to follow in his footsteps in 2005. The  previous posts can be seen here and here.

We drove on to La Faouët and were amazed to come across a huge timber-framed market hall very like the one in several of the pictures which Penny’s father Peter Walbourn had labelled Rochefort-en-Terre.







It’s another lovely old town, slightly scruffy and also associated with artists of the twenties and thirties.  Many had painted similar scenes to ours, mostly of peasants at market. We scoured the town for matching views. Penny had already worked out that parts of what seemed to be the same building appeared in two of the photos tucked into the 12 year old Peter’s sketch book. These showed market stalls and traders apparently in the street; we quickly realised that these were taken from the far end of the market hall, and apart from the rather busy road not much had changed.

By mid-morning the market was teeming with people, just as it had been when Ernest painted the stalls in 1923.


We subsequently discovered that the market is only held twice a month, so we were very lucky to walk straight into a modern equivalent of the scenes in the paintings.

We also located the site of Ernest’s charming side view of the hall, which was now graced with a pissoir in the foreground.









We couldn’t make all the Rochefort pictures fit La Faouët. We spent ages failing to find a Breton house with a well in front of it and went to bed exhausted but still very pleased with ourselves.

The next day we visited the Musée du Faouët, to find many pictures of the town painted by French, British and American artists of the 20s and 30s. One of them, Le Jour des Pauvres , painted in 1920 by Germaine David-Nillet showed the same view of the market square also with knots of people standing around apparently waiting for something. The museum assistant told us that in the late summer there used to be a day set aside for almsgiving: both David-Nillet and Ernest Walbourn had captured the same scene on the same day three years apart.

Picture credits: Le Jour des Pauvres by Germaine David-Nillet: Henri Moreau (Wikimedia Commons)

all others John & Penny Potter

Ernest Walbourn in Brittany

January 20th, 2021

This is the second post about Edwardian landscape painter Ernest Walbourn. The earlier post can be found here.

In the summer of 2005 Penny and I set off for France with our copies of Ernest Walbourn’s 1923 oil sketches, hoping to track down the scenes that Penny’s grandfather had painted 82 years before. Intriguingly, with the collection of Ernest’s paintings there was a small notebook in which her father Peter, his talent already obvious at the age of 12, had made drawings of his own.

There are detailed drawings of trains and cars as you’d expect from a young boy, but also some portraits and several pictures that looked like same viewsErnest had painted on the same trip. For Peter and his two brothers it must have been an idyllic time, painting and fishing for the long summer months while their father faithfully recorded the Breton countryside and its inhabitants.

None of the oil sketches can have taken longer than a day to produce so the holiday perhaps yielded around a hundred roughs to be taken home for further work. Of the 12 that came down to us only one appears to be finished, but four of them have names scribbled in pencil on the back.

One of the paintings is of the interior of a church, and on the back Peter had written two names: Le Faouët and St Fiacre. We assumed that he couldn’t remember which of these it might be so had written both. Two townscapes were identified as Pont-Aven and Rochefort-en-Terre and there was a rather anonymous field marked Lannion on the back. The one signed picture is of a busy timber framed covered market with vegetable stalls and other products spilling out of it, and several others depict what might be the same market. We had no idea where any of these might be until we looked up St Fiacre on the web and read that it had a famous chapel with a unique carved rood screen and was close to Le Faouët which had an extraordinary 16th century covered market.  There was no screen in our church picture but the market hall sounded promising.

We didn’t have much to go on but we set off very optimistically for Rochefort-en-Terre, which we thought might lead us to the sites of at least two of Ernest’s paintings and several of Peter’s drawings.  It turned out to be a beautiful village, absolutely unspoiled and surely very like it was all those years ago, but there was nothing remotely like our Ernest views and we drew a complete blank.  The one hotel was full so we tried nearby Vannes, which had a large square with a mounted knight in it a bit like one of Peter’s sketches  but all their hotels were full too, and the knight’s arm was in the wrong place.  We eventually found somewhere to stay on the way to Pont-Aven, our next hope. This little town is also much as it must have been and here we had our first success. After thinking that Peter must have got it wrong about this town as well, Penny realised that we were looking at a bridge in one of the unidentified paintings. We even managed to photograph it with a heavy lorry approaching the same turning as a large covered wagon in the painting.









Buoyed up by all this we drove on to St Fiacre in a state of great excitement. The chapel is famous for its unique painted wooden screen dating from 1450 and featuring the seven deadly sins in minute and colourful detail.

There was nothing like that in our picture, which is a very impressionistic sketch of something vaguely church-like and largely covered in green mould. You can’t miss the riotously exuberant  screen as you enter the cold stone of the chapel, but Ernest had ignored it and for some reason ghosted an outline of a side isle. Or perhaps there’s a wonderfully detailed painting of the screen that he actually finished out there somewhere.











The view was almost identical, and although the walls were now pristine the floor showed unmistakable signs of green mould still growing between the slabs. By now we were getting quite emotional, having stood several times in the same places and recorded the same views as Penny’s grandfather eight decades ago.

We drove on to Quimperlé, which the map showed had a suitable river which might match one of the unidentified views and desperately tried to make it fit the sketches. The river was just right, complete with an avenue of trees on each side and a church in the background, and there were some lovely half timbered houses in the town.


Nothing quite matched up though, however much we tried to make things fit. We tried to persuade each other that this or that building must have been demolished or rebuilt, and even the local residents we asked thought that Quimperlé must be the place in the picture. Another puzzling feature of these paintings was that the view from one side of the bridge seemed to be autumnal, whereas we knew that Ernest had only been there in the summer. Nevertheless, we had high hopes of Le Faouët’s market hall, and the next day went to have a look.