Monday 30 June 2014

Cycle tracking

Hired bikes for half a day and cycled down the dead straight converted railway tracks to Biganos, 8 miles away.

Passed three ex-station buildings on the way. Very similar to those one finds beside the similarly converted cycle tracks in the Landes region - where we will be in 10 days time.

First section of track.

First station - station clock to right of main door.

Some grafitti

Second station - name plate removed above window and no clock.

More track

Third station with name plate and clock.
This cycle track is one of the officially recognised routes for pilgrims travelling on foot to St James Cathedral in Compostela, North West Spain.

Routes to Compostela
My local priest back in Glasgow and the Head Teacher of a local secondary school are walking this pilgrimage during July.

Last night's dinner:

Kir Cassis to begin with.

Pate and lettuce.

This year's tipple, Rose wine.

Cuttle fish and rice.

Across the road something from an Edward Hopper painting.

Post dinner walk.

We shared the table with a French couple with a limited English to match our limited French.

When the conversation got round to hobbies and interests, I asked the chap if he had a boat or played tennis. No, he preferred the armchair and reading. In particular he liked to sit in his armchair with a glass of Pineau and read the fables of the 17th Century writer Jean de la Fontaine.

Jean de la Fontaine
His wife then said that they had neither a television nor the internet and were genuinely surprised when I showed them my new Kindle and demonstrated that books by La Fontaine could be downloaded onto the Kindle for free.

Another view of the hotel.
Drumming practice update:

Mug of tea is essential.

Sunday 29 June 2014

Cap Ferret

On spec, we got on a bus in Andernos this afternoon. After much confusion with the language barrier we found ourselves taking an hour long trip to Cap Ferret. Hired a cycle for an hour and then came back.

Cap Ferret

These poles remind me of those Antony Gormley statues - see below.

The farthest point of the cape and the Atlantic.

Looking across to the Dune of  Pyla - where we are going on Wednesday for a week.

Typical wooden building on Cap Ferret

The modern church.

With spectacular stained glass window,
Antony Gormley statues at Crosby Beach.
Last night's dinner:

Kir Cassis to start

Salade Landaise with what looked like the testicles of some animal.

Duck leg and chips.

Custard and whipped egg white.

Walk along the beach afterwards.
Drumming practice update:

Practised with the drum-pad on our terrace this morning.

Drumming to a rainbow.

The necessary mug of tea for company..

The pad.
Later in the day the wind was up so I risked the actual drum - the wind smothered the sound.


The breakfast area plus cat.

Quite a spread.

Then Mass at the nearby church:

St Eloi, Andernos-Les-Bains

Not a seat to be had - stood for the hour.



More views of our hippy hotel.

The proprietress is a bit of an artist.

The grounds.

Saturday 28 June 2014

Staying in a hippy commune - by mistake.

We've arrived at La Maison de la Plage for our 4 nights in Andernos-les Bains. Not quite what we were expecting - most unusual.

Our room is under the eaves with the blue shutters - obvious fire trap

The room.

The terrace

Our welcome tray.

The building is made of wood. The furniture is every style under the sun. Downstairs is open plan with kitchen, bar, lounge, breakfast and dining area, library, kids running all over the place and, fortunately, a bloody great Boxer dog to jump up at you when you pass through so that you don't feel neglected.

I explained about my drumming habit and this was taken as being perfectly normal.

The place is just like a big home. A hippy commune is the best phrase I can come up with to describe the atmosphere and the people who run it - a complicated extended family. It's the sort of building one imagines Ernest Hemmingway staying in on the East Coast of the USA - Key West or somewhere like that.

An horage (storm) is predicted for overnight so this may well be my last blog - I don't see this place surviving. Plenty of shutter rattling I suspect.

Drumming practice update:

Last morning at St Georges so up at 7am to go down to the beach for a practice session with the drum. Totally impossible, the tide was in even more than yesterday and the sea was wild.

But then I had an early morning brainwave. A lot of cabins that face the sea and have elevated deckings looking out over the sea are unoccupied at present. Surely I could use one of these decks to set up the drum and not disturb anyone.

Perfect and it made a nice change to have terra- firma under my stool.

Drummed away for an hour watching the ferries crossing to and fro on the horizon. We will be taking one of these later this morning  to cross the Gironde from Royan to Le Verdon.

The ferries
Last night's dinner:

Drove into Royan last night for dinner. The roads flowed with thousands of Harley Davidsons all heading for the ferry, like a black leather army on the move - more of this later.

Duck leg and chips.
Before dinner, I went to evening Mass at Notre Dame, Royan. Amazing stained glass windows I hadn't noticed before; that's hardly surprising, the building is so huge

Last night's Mass.


Miscellany 1:

There is some huge Harley Davidson convention taking place on the other side of the Gironde and on this morning's ferry hundreds more were queuing up to get on. Quite a colourful site I must say. Average age of rider: 60 years old.

Yet more champing at the bit to get into the queuing area.

On the ferry

Passing the sister ferry going in the opposite direction.

Below deck

Miscellany 2:

After the ferry crossing, we drove south to Andernos-Les-Bains. Half way down we spotted this "Brocante" - open air jumble sale - and I bought this HO scale Volkswagen Karmen Ghia (on a key ring) for 2 euros. Very pleased. Naturally, I'll chop off the key ring; and it also needs a good wash.