Thursday, 2 June 2011

147. Living in the Pays Basque

2nd June 2011. If you've made it this far, you must surely be aware by now that living in the Pays Basque is to be highly recommended. And if, for whatever reason, you can't live here, then you should at least try and visit it. If you're unable to visit it, then read about it, soak up all the nuances of everyday life in the Pays Basque. Where can I do that I hear you wail..? Right here..! All this is by way of saying that when you stumbled across this blog, you landed on your feet!

Yesterday morning we set off for Irun, just across the border in Spain, for a spot of shopping. Well, 50% of us went shopping while the other 50% (the part that writes this) went for a long walk around Irun with the dog instead. After the shopping bug had been temporarily sated, we headed back towards home on the N10.
The sheltered harbour of St-Jean-de-Luz as seen from Ciboure 
Recently I've been exchanging emails with a London-based couple who are in the throes of deciding whether or not to buy a property that needs restoring in Ciboure. This is the small community that lies along the southern edge of the bay of St-Jean-de-Luz. They've found a house up on the hill that rises up behind the riverfront. As we were passing by on the way home, I decided to take a look at it. I thought I knew approximately where it was but once we'd entered the rabbit warren of narrow lanes - some not much wider than the car - it wasn't long before my sense of direction let me down.
Fortunately, I'd remembered a key word in the address and I entered this in the GPS - bingo! It turned out that we were only a couple of minutes away - and suddenly there it was.. just as in the photos. In all the time we'd been visiting the Pays Basque, this was one part of the coastal settlements that we hadn't visited. From what I've been told, the house seems to have been neglected and hence there seems to be a daunting amount of work to be done. And "daunting" is not a word I want to hear in connection with house renovations.. as it's usually accompanied by this noise..
Ciboure
I liked the area very much - the steep hills, the smell of the sea, the tangled narrow streets, the views of the mighty La Rhune, the dazzling white-painted houses.. and all within a few minutes walk of St-Jean-de-Luz. My advice to the couple is to listen to the inner voice.. If it says this is for you, then go with it. If they ignore that voice, it will gnaw away at them for evermore.
2nd June 2011. We went to see "The Tree of Life" this evening which was showing in town in VO (= version originale). If you are intent on seeing it, don't read the reviews first - go and see it with an open mind - no preconceived ideas as to what it's all about.

I didn't offer a judgement on it when we came out - I thought I'd wait - I didn't want to colour Madame's opinion with mine. She said the exact word that I was thinking, "Pretentious..!" Some of it could have been clipped from a number of shampoo commercials.

I've just read the NY Times review and I start to wonder.. Quote: It is like Wordsworth's "Intimations of Immortality" transported into the world of "Leave it to Beaver", an inadequate and perhaps absurd formulation but one that I hope conveys the full measure of my astonishment and admiration.
The Daily Telegraph is less convinced. I still think pretentious. This review sums up how we felt about it.

This is a spectacular shot from the beach at Anglet looking south towards the Trois Couronnes..
4th June 2011. Hot sortie in an octuple/VIII sculler (take your pick!) this morning. Virtually no current on the river.. did 16km (Running total: 740km).

This next clip - Smetana's Ma Vlast - was one of my father's favourite pieces, and it featured in the soundtrack of "The Tree of Life":

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