The long march to Soustons Fête

So finally the Soustons Fête has arrived and this year we’re still here! The Fête’s are a local tradition to this region with all the major (and many minor) towns hosting them as a ‘tourist advertisement’.

Soustons Fête is one of the largest for a minor town with people coming from all over to visit. During the day there are markets (to be honest, it looked like a load of second-hand tat being sold), various parades – many for the kids and some sporting events (Pétanque of course [a Bayonne form of Boules], the Soustons 10 Km run [I declined] and a Rugby match) – and of course don’t forget the fun fair! During the evening there are various types of music, including street “disco’s” for the kids until about midnight and plenty of street bars where each one has their own moniker’d plastic glass. The nearby streets smell pleasant the next day as the kids seem to ignore the portaloos and pissoirs that have been setup!  Down by the lake the next day is carnage as this is where all the drunk kids sleep in their cars.

Each town has its own ‘costume’ and colour, generally red or blue. The Soustons one is blue and consists of a blue beret or trilby-type hat, white shirt or t-shirt, white trousers, a blue neckerchief and a blue sash worn around the waist. Women also have blue handbags. Many people just wear blue and white clothing. Jasmin and I adopted a simple stylie of t-shirt and neckerchief …

Soustins Fête Uniform
Beer!

There was also a novel way to mix Mojito’s …

Cocktails

Not sure if it had been pre-used, but seeing as the barmen use their fingers to deliver the ice-cubes into the glass it wouldn’t surprise me to find cement in there.

Back to the title – as mentioned in previous posts, it is about an hour and a half to walk into Soustons.  Not so bad going, but coming home along the track through the forest in the dark seems never ending. The first part of the journey is past the rear of the holiday houses, which all host parties on the Saturday night, but didn’t see us in the dark to invite us in 😦
Luckily on the second occasion Lauren PJ was off to the supermarket and offered us a lift in. We were quite late getting back as the closing ceremony on Monday night didn’t finish until midnight … and rain was forecast. Not too bad as it didn’t start raining until we got to la Paillotte, the holiday centre, about 10 minutes away from our ‘Rig’.

Music …Saturday night, outside the Hôtel du Centre, was a brass band led by a couple of Sax players. Bit of singing from the lead, one that we recognised, Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” which he accomplished with flying colours, but it was mainly typically French ‘Chanson’ songs, all very pleasant.

Monday evening was very different, a folk music band with locals who encouraged people to dance. Very unusual steps, one forward, then one back with a twirling skip, and I suspect very regional.  We didn’t join in! Everyone had a good time. Not being particularly folksy this could all be normal!  As I said on FB, lots of strange instruments, including a type of bagpipes …

Folk Band

Monday is also the Fête finale and we had already purchased tickets to the ‘Course Landaise’ which was once described to me as ‘Bull Dancing’ where the animal isn’t injured. The Matador’s wear the typical costume, but have to dodge the Bull as it goes by. The Bull is partially controlled by a set of ropes over its horns, but this is released for the charge. The best ‘dodges’ involve the Bull brushing its flanks against the Matador without him falling over.

The very first ‘dodge’ was Bull 1 : Matador 0, as he failed to get out of the way in time and was caught on the buttocks by the horns (they have the tips flattened). He was very lucky as the Bull turned for a stomping and just missed. The other Matador’s shepherded the Bull away and out, then on rushed the first-aiders, but he managed to hobble off after a few minutes not looking too pleased.  To his credit he come back on towards the end of the show for another go. He wasn’t having a good night because the Bull’s body caught him in the same place. Ouch!! He wasn’t so badly hurt this time and hobbled off mouthing obscenities! The best ‘dodger’ all night was a Matador with only one eye, wore a patch!! The Bull brushed him on each turn.

The other side of ‘Course Landaise’ are the, for use of a better word ‘Bull gymnasts’. These guys are often announced as ‘Champions of France’ and wear white shirts and black ties with the white trousers. So no fancy Matador jacket. I think these Guys are the stars as they vault over the charging Bull! Double-somersaults, somersaults with a twist, a dive with a forward roll and toe-touching v-jumps. Very impressive gymnastic skills that are a must when a Bull is bearing down on you!

The middle part of the show is an invite for parents or guardians to sacrifice a child aged between 5 and 15 years old! Yes, children are invited into the ring to dodge a bullock that I reckon must weigh 70 kgs (no horns). At this point I am usually not seeing much – looking away in horror? Err, No, crying with laughter! Absolutely no way this would be allowed in the UK. No sign of disclaimers being signed, the kids are just lifted down by their parents or guardians.  There were 50 kids running around with the bullock and plenty of screaming. I expect when the younger kids found out how fast the bullock could motor! The older ones were wise enough the keep an eye out, but the smaller ones just run and don’t see the bullock behind them. This year only one kid got bounced hard that I could see and didn’t seem too hurt.

During the week there had been a couple of other shows at the Bull Arena, described by the Tourist Info people as 1) Corrida Portuaise, which is the traditional Spanish bullfighting, but the bull doesn’t get killed, he is just damaged from the cutting of the neck muscles, NOT for us!! and 2) Novillada, in which younger Bulls get the same treatment, again NOT for us!!

At midnight each night there is the ” Toro de Fuego” which I understand to be a Bull’s Head (not a real Bull, but a model) stuffed with fireworks which chases the general public down the streets.  I believe there is a warning that you could get burnt by the sparks from the fireworks!! Again no sign of any disclaimers. Sadly couldn’t stay out quite that late.

Wildlife …

While the walk home from Soustons is long, at night you get to see little green fluorescent blobs in the grass created by the female Lampyris noctiluca, the common glow-worm of Europe. All to attract a mate!

Female Glow Worm

Passed a really tame Jay today who hopped down to a culvert to get a drink of water and then disappeared through a hole under the fence into la Paillotte …

Jay

Finally the effort of bringing British birdfood back to Aquitaine has been worthwhile as we have tempted down the last Great Tit left in France (possibly false news, as I’ve seen a couple and no silly comments please!) …

Last Great Tit in France?

Other news … Jasmin was down at the pontoon the other evening and spotted some Wedding snaps being taken.  A popular spot, as it’s a beautiful setting and it has the ‘walk on water’ path (which turns out a bit wet for the Bride) …

Wedding Snaps

If you own a large SUP then get hold of a set of straps.  It makes carrying the board for a long distance so much easier. Thank you for mine Lauren PJ …

SUP Strap

The “Sardinade au Lac” is on for Samedi 12th Août.  This appears to be a parallel celebration of the Sardine festival that happens in Spain when the great catch is taken. For us, it means Sardines and Frites (I mean me, as J doesn’t like Sardines), mucho Beer (that means lots of beer in Spanish) and a late night disco with ‘Boom Light Animations’ not 100m from our ‘Rig’. I’m resigned to staying up late and partying!! It might mean setting up the bed ‘downstairs’ thus avoiding the climb up the ladder!

And the Fête season isn’t quite over yet, as Azur holds its own, on Vendredi 18th Août. You can pay €15 for a meal and spectacular show, however the single choice of main course (Moules and Frites) isn’t popular with Jasmin. So drinks only? Not sure what to expect with this one.

Au revoir!

 

To Dax and Beyond – I mean Bayonne!

Seignosse – I always pronounced this as “Sen-Oser” but after many corrections I now say “Sen-Yus” – thank you Lauren P J. I guess it’s similar for Tosse?

The Aire location at Seignosse is great with access to Hossegor by bike, and by Bus to many small towns between Dax and Bayonne (€2 per journey which is a little more than an oyster fare). It is a 10 minute walk, past the bus stop we use, to the beach at Les Bourdaines. With this type of access to the surfing beaches the site is busy with arrivals and departures all day and into the night. I would estimate that over 30% of ‘Rigs’ are ‘van-type’ with a stack of surf boards on top. We have only had one rowdy (too much drink) couple of lads during the whole 5 day stay and they went to bed by 2300 hours!

Thinking of statistics, I have driven 1200 miles so far and haven’t come across a single pot-hole yet.  British government take note!!

Dax …

The visit to Dax was a little disappointing as the town isn’t particularly attractive and a little run-down. Struggled to find a decent bistro for lunch and ended up with a prawn salad. I explained, in my best French, that I was a veggie that ate poisson, but that wasn’t met with much enthusiasm. Dax is ‘famous’ for its spa built by the Romans.  I got quite a shock when I felt the water, only to find it was the temperature to burn skin!

Roman Spa in Dax

There are the remains of an early Fort here, but only one wall remains. In the end decided to get the earlier bus home.

I forgot to mention … waiting at the bus stop that morning and the bus turns up.  Told the driver in my best French that I wanted to adult fares to Dax. Driver produced the tickets and requested €4, did a double take and said this bus goes to Bayonne!  I said “pardon” and started back off the bus, at which point the driver looked very peeved and pointed to the produced tickets.  I’m sure the accountant will understand! It seems that sometimes (and this is very variable) you wait at one bus stop to travel in either direction, so make sure you check the sign on the front of the bus.

Bayonne …

Up early the next day to go to Bayonne and waited at the same bus stop hoping that it would be a different driver. Thankfully it was!

Bayonne is a much bigger town, err actually a city, and once you cross the bridge over the river Ardour (the one I mentioned in an earlier blog that was diverted from Hossegor many moons ago) into the Grand Bayonne district it is charming, with narrow medieval streets.  The cathedral here is in the Gothic style and reminded me of the Notre Dame in Paris. Despite views to the contrary I was able to enter the Cathedral without bursting into flames – see 2nd picture as evidence!

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of Bayonne
Model of the Bayonne Cathedral

The river Nive also flows in Bayonne and both meet.  I think the Nive is officially a tributary of the Ardour.

The junction of the Ardour and Nive

When you cross the Nive you enter the Petit Bayonne district and this is where the Basque Museum is situated. Yes, Bayonne is in the Basque Region. The museum is well worth a visit and I couldn’t understand the negative comments reviewers had made? Lots about sheep farmers and Brebis cheese. In their spare time the men do a lot of dancing, there is the Fandango (a regional dance that we’ve all heard of), some dancing that looks like the ‘ pas de deux’ in ballet and some general ‘Morris’ type stuff whilst wearing large hats. Seriously, some really interesting exhibits from the Region. There was also an exhibition about Tromelin Island in the Indian Ocean, where in 1761 a ship ran aground.  The crew built a new ship out of the parts, but it was substantially smaller, that meant that they had to leave behind their cargo of Madagascan slaves. Nice!

15 years later, 8 women and one child where rescued and taken back to France where they where granted freedom. One exhibit of note, was a map being screened showing how the Basque Region was formed throughout the ages. This included maps of Spain and France – 14th Century and there it was … 60% of France was under the monarchy of ‘Angleterre’!!!!

Wildlife Special …

Some interesting wildlife has turned up, first was this I spotted walking past our Rig in Seignosse Aire – one of my favourites …

Female Stag Beetle

This one completely surprised me as I spotted it on the pavement while walking back to la gare in Dax, – an absolute stunner and another of my favourites …

Praying Mantis

We had strolled down to Les Bourdaines beach in Seignosse to walk off dinner that evening and I saw an insect struggling to carry something. This was the ‘something’ …

Paralysed and embedded caterpillar

I watched the wasp find a spot by some grass, then bury the caterpillar (I did put it back after the photo!). When you think about how thin a wasp’s legs are, shoveling sand is quite a task, which she accomplished at an impressive speed. This is the wasp

 

Red-banded Sand Wasp

This one landed on my leg in Seignosse, I assume after falling from a tree. It is the caterpillar from a Vapourer Moth.  Apparently it is the 3rd most commonly searched for caterpillar to identify and is very common in the UK, probably because of the hairs that look like antennae …

Vapourer Moth Caterpillar

And now a sad tale …

Jasmin squealed this morning when putting on her water shoes.  “Paul, there’s a slug in my shoe!” My job to clean up these things 🙂 I looked in the shoe and extracted some matter – it was the husk of our friend we have just been reading about (not the same one, who knows?). On further inspection, the squashed ‘slug’ was the ex-pupa of said caterpillar. Only one point to make in this sad tale, the size differential between the tiny caterpillar and the massive pupa. How does that happen?

Finally …

I’ve been writing this blog for a while now – do you find it interesting? It is aimed at providing a small insight into my retirement travels to a larger audience that my FB site, with more depth and a little humour. Let me know your thoughts, even with just a ‘Like’:-)

Au revoir.

 

 

Check Willy-Willy!!

A story that I’ve been planning to do for a while, but just kept forgetting to take the photo. I’m not sure if Her Majesty’s British Aquitaine subjects understand the delicate balance we have between Victorian and current decorum standards, but I’m NOT sticking it in there!!!

Check what?

So we arrived in Aire de Camping Car-parks Seignosse yesterday morning, timed with the arrival of hot, sunny weather again.  It’s difficult being a Master of Planning 🙂 Can I get letters after my name? I was apprehensive about this Aire and as previously mentioned changed how long I was staying here from 2 weeks to 5 days. Great location, but can park up to 110 motorhomes with only power outlets for 48 and each time I checked, there were always more than that number on-site.  As I said before M of P ( Mr. Paul Thompson MoP – looks good!) because as we arrived on a Friday morning I found a spot with power. It was a bit tricky to maneuver into, as the front of the pitch is very, very soft sand and judging by the wheel ruts people have become stuck before. It is a lovely location in a pine forest and like some of the other Camping Car-parks that we have come across on this trip, no organised layout, people park anywhere. So I can’t go forwards to leave because of the sand and someone had parked directly behind me.  Awkward, but he’s left already, so fingers crossed.

I am parked next to the Camping car-parks ‘Ambassador’ who I dislike already for two reasons.  1) He reserves power outlets for his mates and 2) He left at 0600 hours this morning after banging in his pegs to mark out his spot. Not impressed!!

Seignosse Camping Car-park

Small shower during the night, which is the best time to have them, so dried by the morning. Up early’ish and cycled off to find Hossegor Lac  …

Hossegor Lac

Then we were en route to Hossegor centre-ville so Jasmin could see what we couldn’t afford in the shops. It is a surfers town with all the major names like Billabong, Roxy, Quicksilver etc all charging premium prices. All I want to buy is a Surf Board when I’m here, so maximum restraint is in order. There is an Outlet Store area nearby where you can get substantial sale discounts for these makes – that’s where all my Billabong board shorts come from!

After a quick look around the Town we headed off to the beach a short distance away. Much the same type of beach, or should I say waves as the rest of this coastline. Yellow sand, huge waves! Today basse marée was a couple of hours away, however the red flags were flying – no bathing! The surfer dudes were out in force, along with a couple of paddle-boarders and jet-skiers. I decided to cycle up the coast to another area I could see on the map but again could just discern more red flags.  Oh well, no swimming, but maybe some paddling and of course skin scorching! Arrived at the entrance to the beach a short cycle later, along as usual a cycle track for most of the way. Hmm, what does that sign say? …

Say no more!

There were lots of family groups heading towards the beach so it couldn’t be that bad? And it wasn’t, most people were fully clothed with the exception of the normal topless girls and of course the old, fat, naked men! There were thankfully few of them and we were able to find a spot well away.

Nudist Beach Hossegor

Paddling was on and only a few of the waves reaching us were more than a couple of feet high. The drag of the water receding was something else. The sand is soft and before long my legs were buried half-way up my calves. Had to hold on to Jasmin to keep her upright. Skin scorched to a nice red shade we decided to go back to Hossegor Lac.  Another good plan because they have a managed bathing area.  Hossegor Lac is a bit of a misnomer as it was never a Lake. Originally an old estuary for the river Adour, which was moved from Capbreton to Bayonne, it is now fed by sea water via an artificial canal.  Nice swim for us both anyway.

Arrived back and was approached by an old’ish bloke (older than me anyway) who explained in broken English that he had moved my electrical hook-up from one post to another because his cable wouldn’t reach. Bit of a cheek I suppose, but no harm done as the fridge is still on, the beer is cold and one of the subjects is learning English!

Wildlife …

The pine forests around this part of France attract the Cicadas and within the fir trees of this Aire all that can be heard as soon as the sun is up is their ‘singing?’ A very loud mating call by the males which has scientists puzzled about how they can create the volume.  Never seen one yet as they are too high up.

Another Moth visitor who I have been trying to identify.  Guessing at some type of Carpet Moth as they are predominately white and black …

Carpet Moth?

Finally the new Gas arrangement …

Trying to find out on the Motorhome and Caravan forums what parts are needed to use French gas cylinders to replace 6 Kg UK tanks is a major exercise.  As I have mentioned before Gas cylinders are not standard across Europe, so you cannot get a UK one refilled. ‘Helpful’ comments from forum members such as “I wouldn’t buy a Motorhome that didn’t take 2 x 13 Kg tanks” just leads to nashing of teeth! For my Motorhome this appeared to be my only choice the 5.5 Kg La Cube …

New Gas setup

Au revoir

 

 

Bonjour mes amis

Realised that I hadn’t posted for a few days …

I am nearly fluid in French now.  I thought that would be useful in order to speak to our fellow British Aquitaine subjects. I was able to direct some of said people today and managed to slip in my new words “tout droit” (straight ahead).  Of course there was a little previous confusion with left and right!

We had a lovely dinner with Lauren and James at the Auberge du Soleil a few nights ago. The food is always very good, but as is normal in France you won’t get fat. I decided not to post the picture of Lauren trying to piggy-back James! (I must get a fancy phone that reverses the selfies!)

On the way back!

Cycled to E.Leclerc on Lundi for some essential provisions, Wine, Bread and Milk. However the weather was awful in the morning with some heavy showers and the cycleway was somewhat wet.  When I arrived back I hosed myself down outside with the bike!

We cycled to Vieux Boucau yesterday (Mardi) using a circular route, about 27 kilometres. Weather much nicer! Had Moules for lunch again and found very tiny crabs in some of the shells.  I wondered what the crunch was! The town was a little quieter than Bastille Day (see blog Bastille Day).

No foam pit!

Adventure today was my furthest SUP of the holiday – 3.81 kilometres up the small stream named “canal du moulin”, which translates to “Channel of the Mill”.

More balance and poise!

The first section up to a ‘pond’ is OK, but this year the ‘canal’ is very shallow and I had to carry the board several times.

Quiet Canal du Moulin

There is a small bridge en route which is usually fun to get under because I have to lay down on the board. Just made it due to shallow water.  This is one of the bridges we cycle across and where the handle bars just fit the gap!

Bridge on route

Only one mishap when the board got stuck and gave me a right jolt. This was at one of the few rocky areas and possibly where I gained this …

Wounded!

Nearly made it to the road (D50), but after I had passed one fallen tree I could see another further ahead and it had got shallow again.

1st Fallen Tree

Turned around and headed back, which is always nice as the current runs this way.  Once I had reached the main Lac needed my balance and poise again as the water was choppy due to the wind.  Such a difference between the canal and the lake.

Hope you can see the pictures OK. I have a Go-Pro clipped to the front of the board which shoots mp4, so ‘print-screen’ is the best way to get stills. I will have to investigate a more ‘professional’ method (without paying any money of course!).

Wildlife …

Cycled to Soustons this afternoon and met this beauty …

Elephant hawk-moth Caterpillar

I hope I get to see the adult!

Off to a barbecue with Lauren and James tonight and only a couple of days before we go off to Seignosse Océan.  We have abandoned the idea of getting the bus from Soustons to Dax as the walk to Soustons at a good pace takes 1 hour 20 minutes ( the sign at the start of the walk states 1 hour 45 minutes 🙂 ).  There is a bus stop in Seignosse Océan which is only a 20 minute walk from the Aire, so that sounds like the start of a journey plan. Ironically we will pass back through Soustons on the way!

Hossegor and Capbreton are both cycleable from Seignosse Océan.  Looking forward to it!

Au revoir

 

A quiet few days

Mixed bag of weather recently, some thunderstorms in the evening generated by the oppressive daytime heat, so very sunny and today cloudy.  Ventured to Messanges a couple of times now to the lovely beach. I’m not a great fan as my skin can only do about 20 minutes before the factor 50 goes on.  The other problem with the coastline around here, as I’ve mentioned before, is that this is a surfer’s paradise.  Crashing waves break right up the the beach. Hence getting into the water for a paddle is a ‘no-no’ and trying to get in for a swim is very tricky.  Much better than Vieux-Boucau where the waterline is more pebbly and once the wave hammers you into the beach it scrapes your skin off!

Messange Plage again

The impressive Coastguard Frontier tower in Messange, set back at least 400m from the beach …

Messange Coastguard Tower

Yesterday we decided to use the free bus to visit Messange.  It picks up at Azurivage and La Paillot before arriving at the Azur Marie.  Then off to Messange Centre Ville.  Great idea with one small flaw – the pick-up going back is two hours later and there are only three shops in the Ville.  So we decided another visit to the beach which is a 20 minute walk.  It was hot but I knew there was an Épicerie on the way.  There is, but they were shut for their 3 hour lunch-break.  Fortunately the bus on the way back starts at La Plage.

Wildlife …

We bought a bird feeder with the thought that we could watch the birds feed while we had breakfast.  Very common in the UK with some people erecting half-a-dozen and attracting the common song birds (chaffinch, sparrows, tits etc). The French birds are very ungrateful at this effort (maybe), with one Great Tit sneaking down for the bread we had put down to attract them.  To be honest we are surrounded by all types of deciduous and coniferous trees and there are very few birds around.  We hear and see the odd Great Tit and that is all.  Birds here just as common as Sparrows at home – Red Kites, Mallard Ducks and Grey Herons, are all attracted by the Lake.  I recall many years ago seeing in a bar in Paris a jar of pickled Starlings, but that seems to have faded away now.  The’re not up to mischief down this end of France are they????

However the insect front is more interesting as we have already seen.  Still not found a Cicada, but this did turn up today (nearly thumb size) …

Large Green Grasshopper

Followed by this …

Yellow Tailed Moth Caterpillar

The adult Moth is quite a stunner too!

Investigated the Bus journey from Soustons to Dax which is a large Town. The suggestion was that we could cycle to Soustons Bull Ring and lock our bikes in the cycle stand before catching the bus.  Checked out the bus stop to find that it has been suspended for a month and the alternate stop is over by the Halle des Sports some distance away with no cycle stand. Looks like a walk to Souston (about 1 hour plus)!!  As usual let you know how we get on with this.

Au revoir

Bastille Day – boo! hiss!

So we headed off to Vieux-Baucou to find a parking spot hopefully for the night.  I parked in the car park near the beach that I knew and the one Lauren recommended!  There was another ‘Rig’ in there but from Spain.  I was slightly suspicious that the place wasn’t packed.  After chatting to Lauren again moved to the car park up by the beach with views of the sea. That was when I saw the signs saying ‘No Parking for vehicles over 1.90m’.  OK back to the original car park as lunch approached.  Had a good look around the entrances to this car park and lo and behold ‘No Parking for vehicles over 1.90m’ signs at all entrances.  The only reason I hadn’t seen the one by the entrance that I entered by, was that some helpful person has turned it around!  OK no problem, I’ll head to to the Aire nearby and pay the €13 to park overnight. We had passed it on the way in and I knew it would be rammed but it had an card payable entry machine which would know if it was full.  Well I passed down the single lane entrance only to find a large notice on the machine stating that for foreign bank cards a minimum fee of €50 was charged.

European Community $%^&* !!!!  Brexit NOW!! I then had to reverse down the ‘alley’ onto the main road.

I drove back to our paid for site in Azur and went ‘SUPing’.

SUP’ing with balance and poise

Lauren saved the day, as Rockley were organizing a couple of 8-seater taxi’s home for their staff and kindly offered us the spare seats for the trip home.  Lauren drove us there (slightly fuming that someone had smashed their van window without owning up) and we would meet up that evening.  Tourist meal later (half the Moules shells were empty!) and a 1L pichet of rouge, time to go and find Lauren.

Dinner

The Rockley gang were on the beach entertaining the waiting public, who were gathering for the firework display.  The Rockely team are a great bunch of people, full of fun, and as I mentioned, entertaining the watching crowd with ‘acrobatics’ and at one point some interesting ‘robot dancing’.  They also shared their beer with me which puts them in my ‘Awesome’ list!!

Rockley crowd on the beach

We wandered around closer to the dance stage (opposite where we had eaten earlier) and partied on until the fireworks.

Fireworks

A good display but …  are fireworks displays becoming ‘old hat’?  I was surprised that ‘La Marseillaise’ wasn’t sung afterwards?  Maybe the Royalist revolution is beginning?  Long Live the King (or Queen) of France!  This whole story about the rightful monarch of France is complicated.  You have the the “Legitimists” – descendants of the last Bourbon monarchy (e.g. Charles X established after Napoleon [Britains number one arch foe? and why Europe drive on the left!]), the “Orléanists” who would like to give the throne to the heir of Louis-Philippe who was given the crown after the 1830 revolution, and the “Bonapartists” supporters of the descendants of Bonaparte III (we would have to declare war on France if that ever happened!!).  I vote for the “Orléanists” as they don’t consider themselves as Gods like the Bourbons and are ‘Atlanticists’ (i.e., friendly towards the UK and the US), socially liberal, and favourable to free markets.

Anyway, as usual I digress,  a great night out saw the oldies in the foam pit with the kids (actually me, as Jasmin was worried we would be soaked – err Yes!!).

Foam pit shoes

We upped the average age considerably. Met up with the rest of the gang at 0100 hrs at the Vieux-Baucou bullring  (well less one who hitched to Soustons and walked from there) only to find out the Taxi’s were running 30 mins late.

Waiting for the taxi with emergency beer

Got back to Azurivage for the 10 minute walk back to our site and finished our cup of tea about 0300hrs.  Tired the next day!

Lazy day followed by an invite to a barbecue from Lauren and the Rockley gang. I was treated to some lovely pieces of Cabillaud – salt, pepper, lemon and herb des provincial.  Sport was watching the kids kick their footballs into the water, try to retrieve them by wading into the water before suddenly finding out that the shelf dropped off suddenly – no volunteers to swim even though the water was warm?

Today was a weather turner, hot again.  Cycled off to E.Leclerc for shopping, but as usual thought I was in ‘Le Tour’ and raced every moving thing back. Ready for the water when I returned.

So out with the inflatable 2-man kayak purchased from superior store ‘Groupon’ – NOT!  I don’t know why I persist in buying from there as everything is absolutely rubbish. Take note Lauren!!

Fortuitously I have a compressor so not too much effort to inflate and off we trot to the lake.  It floated quiet well until I got into it.  I should point out that although it is a ‘2-man’, Jasmin wasn’t keen to jump in before I had tested it! I tried the rear seat first which appeared to result in a certain amount of kayak folding and taking in of water. Much laughter from the bank.  Front seat was slightly better but maneuvering forward wasn’t an option.

Groupon Kayak

Pulled it back onto land only to be approached by a couple of non-English speaking Frenchies (don’t know if they were Royalist sympathisers or not as the conversation was about buoyancy?). They intimated that there was not enough air pressure to keep the kayak rigid and suggested more air from their pump.

“OK merci” I said, and proceeded to help them connect the pump.  Well the sign on the kayak states 0.03 bar which translates to about 0.5 PSI, in my mind that translates to a cheap piece of $%^&.  So we pumped it up to about 0.5 bar and it didn’t explode which was a miracle. No difference!  I’ll leave it for the grandkids when they come out.

Tomorrow may see the first (free) bus trip to Messange for a day at the beach.  As usual let you know how we get on.

Au revoir.

 

English hopes destroyed!

“Is this about Wimbledon?” I hear you cry …

NO!  This is a more serious matter as Bastille Day approaches on the 14th July.

With the onset of the First French Republic in 1792, the English hopes of regaining the crown of France were dashed.  No French monarchy means no crown to hand over. The French peasants had stolen British Aquitaine (see previous posts) along with the other lands (Calais) rightfully taken during our many years of struggles, chiefly by Edward I. I would recommend a glance over this great Monarch (unless you are Scottish or Welsh, then its best to avoid the link).

We did give the French a chance to come to their senses and only declared the claim impractical to press in 1801.  So I would urge all fellow British people to help re-establish the Monarchy in France so that the claim can be remade with vigour.  Long Live the King (or Queen) of France!

It could mean cheaper holidays on the South-west coast of France and cheaper ferry transport 🙂

That being said, I am off to the Bastille celebrations in Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains.  I love a good firework display and from the beach we may get to see the other coastal towns fireworks.  The one downside is that we are leaving our paid-for camp spot with Camping-Car Parks and heading off to park up overnight in a public car park.  This is one of Laurens’ ‘good’ ideas (her and James are staying overnight in their van).  Shouldn’t be too bad if I can get parked and the police don’t want to move me to an Aire during the night.

Today was another 24 Km bike ride, this time to  Messanges which like Vieux-Boucau is a surfers paradise.  Am I really too old to start this?

Messanges Plage

The picture doesn’t really do this place justice, very much like Vieux-Boucau, the 2 metre waves just roll in all day long.  At V-B last year the waves were nearly 3 metres!

Insects were a feature of the cycle ride, apart from the Cicadas which make a din in the wooded section.  Jasmin was particularly astonished (scared stiff!) when this beautiful beetle decided to hitch a lift …

And when I went to put the bikes on the rack I found this fella having a rest (I suspect a very long rest as he wasn’t very active) …

Dragonfly

We’ve been down to the Lake most evenings recently as this is when the sun has been out more! Always a few fishermen down there and tonight some evening paddle-boarders – never a good mix and some death stares being made lol.  This area has a lot of Kites who are also attracted to the Lake.  There are some very large (I guess all sizes really!) Carp and Catfish in the Lake who often come up for air? especially when it is warm.  I haven’t yet seen a Kite fly off with a large fish, but have seen them strike the water.  Maybe the victims are actually the smaller fish.

Lake at Azur

Just started raining (well, drizzling to be fair!)  so I may be celebrating Bastille day here.  Awning, chairs and table in for moving tomorrow so that’s good – saved soaking them.  Will be off to purchase my French gas bottle and hose in the morning.  I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on!

Au revoir!