Wednesday, 11 July 2012

190. Back to normal..

11th July 2012. Since the beginning of March, our usually leafy avenue has resembled a Beirut film set as, amid clouds of dust, various teams of workmen have re-laid mains electricity supplies to houses, replaced water mains, telephone connections, the curb stones and more besides. Previously, most of these vital services had been strung up on various poles and the road was festooned with sagging cables and wires - all these have now gone underground and swish new street lighting has appeared. Today appears to be the end-game as a monstrous tracked machine made its slow way up and down the road excavating the road surface down to a depth of ~9" or so, spewing out a torrent of muck forward into a waiting lorry. With the road newly re-surfaced, new pavements can't be far behind. Phew.. it's been a long time. I have to say though that, where they've finished, the work has been to an impressively high standard.

I spent the morning loading programs and tweaking my new PC making sure everything is where I want it..

Meanwhile for those of you anxious for another report of the continuing craziness at Pamplona, here's yesterday's encierro..
and this morning's..



Needless to say, this isn't a recommended tactic!  
Not a good idea to find yourself in this position..
Or this.. At least this Scotsman was correctly dressed!
Another "how not to do it"...
Moral: Never argue with someone who has a 48" neck! 
 
12th July 2012. More wince-making images from Pamplona..
These next pics fall into the "Too Close For Comfort" Department.. 

Not a good time to try the old "It's behind you" trick..!
Avoid eye contact!

It's a nice sunny afternoon so I'm off out on my bike..

Alain Afflelou
Les Arènes
Best news of the day? Alain Afflelou, president of Aviron Bayonnais Rugby, has declared that he has withdrawn his sponsorship (English translation here) worth 500,000€ of the Fêtes de Bayonne because to continue to do so would, in effect, mean sponsoring the bullfights that take place during the Fêtes. I wish I could offer my congratulations to him in person on taking a principled stance against this most cruel, degrading and barbaric of activities - I wouldn't dignify it by calling it a sport. Well done Monsieur Afflelou! We live only a few hundred metres from Les Arènes and I see whole families (incl. children) going there to watch the fights. Bullfighting has no place in France - and what grips me is that the Town Hall here uses our local taxes to subsidise activities, including the corridas, at Les Arènes. (Factoid: Bob Dylan is playing at Les Arènes on July 20th)

I've mentioned before here my interest in the Comet Escape Line that was very active in these parts guiding escaping and evading Allied aircrew to safety during WWII. A couple of years ago I walked part of the original route from St Jean de Luz - Ciboure - Urrugne - over the mountains - wading across the River Bidassoa into Spain and on to Sarobe Farm, Renteria and safety. In 1943, this route was fatally compromised by the capture of Andrée de Jongh, Comet's inspirational founder, and others at Bidegain Berri farm, Urrugne. Under new leadership, it was decided to abandon the coastal routes as border security had been stepped up considerably and so several inland routes were developed - none of which were documented at the time for obvious reasons. Jean Dassié, the president and guiding light of the present day local organisation here has painstakingly reconstructed what is considered to be the actual inland route used. Next Monday a few of us will be stepping out on a dry run retracing that same route. It's planned to take about 6 hours after which we will retire to a local restaurant..  ("What else!")

Many years ago we were down here in the Pays Basque for our holiday and the owners of the small hotel where we always stayed gave us some complimentary tickets for an event at St Jean de Luz known as Toro Piscine.. It sounded unpromising - the ingredients were a lively young bullock, a sandy arena with a small pool in the centre and some local youths itching to strut their stuff. Unlike the despised corridas, this was more or less a level playing field and no-one was hurt, no blood was spilled. It turned out to be quite hilarious as the makers of this short clip also found:

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