Sunday, 8 November 2009

29. Winter's here (I think)

Sunday, 8th November 2009. More storms last night.. I woke up in the wee small hours following a loud crash of thunder only to find that we'd been joined in bed by the dog (who was shivering for Britain). I lay there listening to all the hullabaloo outside for a while before dropping off back to sleep again. There's something curiously satisfying about being wrapped up in a warm bed while listening to Mother Nature doing her worst outside. It's even better in a tent. I think there must be something about this experience that's tied up with some early folk memory in us that harks back to ancient times. The storm lasted through till around 10 this morning when the clouds cleared to reveal a bright blue sky. While the worst of it has blown through it's still very windy. I think we'll drive to Biarritz this afternoon to see the waves crashing against the rocks..
I walked into Bayonne this morning to pick up the bread and there were very few people out and about. Opposite the Galeries Lafayette someone has set up a hot chestnut stand ("Marrons Chauds") that looks like a small steam locomotive. Winter's here. We've started doing chestnuts at home during the last week or two. Just back from a good blowy walk around Biarritz. I've been meaning to mention something for a while about the pavement (sidewalk for US readers) rules of the road in France.. In England, there's no rule or set side for which way to let people pass who are coming towards you on the pavement. In fact, quite often it's all too easy to end up in a pavement tango.. where you both step the same way left and right and left before finally saying "I'll go this way.." I had it drummed into me as a callow youth that I should always pass on the outside (ie, the road side) if approaching a lady. This can complicate things. Here, the rule of the road applies.. you always let people approaching (regardless of gender) pass to the left.. Easy.

We went to Biarritz straight after lunch where the sea was running very high.. with boiling surf and huge breaking waves that crashed with a sudden explosive whumph against the foot of the cliffs by the lighthouse. We weren't the only ones there.. and parking space was at a premium. The dog's ears were horizontal as the wind caught them! It's quite sobering watching a stormy sea - even though in real terms the waves weren't that big compared with, say, the Southern Ocean between Australia and Cape Horn. At times like this, my admiration for those solo round the world sailors knows no bounds. After watching the violent sea for a while, we walked down into Biarritz and along the promenade that we'd been sunning ourselves on - only a week ago. This time, the sea had thrown up on the beach great wobbling banks of foam or spume (good word for after lunch!) about 2 feet thick that rippled in the wind. We found our way to the Hotel Plaza (an ornate Art Deco hotel) where we had a hot chocolate each. This is (another!) one of Madame's favourite places as they make them from real chocolate here.

As we left Biarritz about 4pm to return home, the roads leading into Biarritz were solid with glassy-eyed post-Sunday lunch traffic all eager to see the sea.

Monday, 9th November 2009
Last night we had the last of the thunderstorms and now it finally looks as though the week of rain is over. This afternoon the skies are blue and the pavements are drying out.

One good thing - my new grass is growing.

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