One of the best things about the modern holiday is disconnection. Many of us spend our work days and nights tethered one way or another. So the holiday provides us with an old-fashioned life: we cook with gas, we suffer the small refrigerator (we still waste food, weirdly), we get our news from the papers or the radio, like in olden days.
This summer we spent a week in Brittany in July and a fortnight in Menorca in August. Neither house has television or internet.
The area around Josselin in Brittany is perfect for lazy cycling: the Nantes-Brest canal has lovely towpaths: I saw an otter on one bike ride, and only about two metres away too. We stayed in a village in the middle of nowhere, without street lights or other light pollution sources. We had two cloudless nights and had as good a view of the Milky Way as we’d had in ages. Loads of shooting stars too.
The three of us sat in the car bound for La Rochelle, but still in Brittany. Our car has a cassette deck for which we have a flimsy shop-bought device that also plugs into an iPod. Said device (the 4th we’ve bought) failed as soon as we departed. What this meant is that we discovered FIP radio. A radio station that plays Bach, then Gillespie, then JAE, then some country, then some funky shit, then tons more jazz. It took me hours back home to work out what station we’d been listening to.
FIP was a revelation. It still is. I know that tons of other people knew about it (particularly in Brighton) and this might seem like saying “I’ve discovered that I like air!”. Like it ought to, FIP provides good archives of its playlist. Which is mostly great. I’m working on having the station play permanently on this site. I think it’s only fair that I inflict this on as many people as possible.
In Menorca, we connected an Android phone to some speakers we bought and listened to FIP online. I listened to the World Service as I read my le Carré. We also listened to some Miles Davis and Charlie Parker. I like jazz, but don’t really know enough about it. I always love Coltrane, Davis, Bird, Ornette, and I adore the old-timey stuff you can find on Spotify.
We also listened to a fair bit of Magnetic Fields, tons of Talking Heads, and the odd Stones or Royal Trux song when in need of rock.