Monday, 13 June 2011

150. River bank tales 2

11th June 2011. We went to Biarritz this evening to see a new film just out - "Midnight in Paris", written and directed by Woody Allen. Regular readers of this blog (yes, both of you!) might remember I'm a Woody fan and although he doesn't appear in the film you can hear his unmistakeable views of life, death, love, sex and marriage through one of the actors. Something of a fairy tale - without giving the plot away - it's a charming film set in one of the world's most photogenic cities. Carla Bruni (or Madame Sarkozy - take your pick!) does well in her cameo role. I think it's his best film for a good few years. Well worth putting your knitting down for one night and getting your fancy duds on for a night at the cinema!
13th June 2011.  I went down to the club late yesterday morning to lend a hand with the organisation of the "3 Rivières" event. We were going to drive the rowers (well over a hundred of them) up the Adour to Peyrehorade (try saying that while eating a Cornish pasty!) where the boats lay after Saturday's epic row on the Gave. But before that, however, there was the small question of lunch. We were all to have lunch in the brasserie (on the first floor above the club). 

I squeezed into a gap on a very convivial table and I had to remind myself that once they'd finished their 3 course lunch everyone (apart from your correspondent) would soon be facing a 35km row (almost 22 miles). I think it's fair to say that, in the UK, sandwiches would have been the order of the day. Things are done differently in France however. Come what may, whatever else happens, France stops three times a day for meals. Lunch is sacrosanct. Sandwiches? Ah beh non! The main course was a delicious tagliatelle with chicken and mushrooms. Naturally, wine was served and so I, as a non-rower, had a couple of glasses. Towards the end of lunch, the word went around that a girl in one of the crews was suffering badly with blisters and I was surprised to hear some idiot offer to take her place. Unfortunately that idiot turned out to be me! I missed yet another golden opportunity to keep my mouth shut! I shot off home and quickly changed into my rowing kit before dashing back in time to leave for Peyrehorade. All the way there I was asking myself why I hadn't chosen to remain silent.. aaargghh! As it happened, once there, the girl in question decided to carry on so I was let off the hook. Phew! 

There was just the one smallish pontoon and somehow we had to get about 30 IVs down the narrow sloping ramp one at a time and into the water and away. I was there to see the last couple of IVs in the water before jumping in a small speedboat to act as security in case of problems.

Bec du Gave
Once we left the relatively narrow waters of the Gave, we joined the mighty Adour at the Bec du Gave (left). I would think that the Adour is not so well known back home, but, believe me, it makes any river in the UK look like a mere stream. The sky had been covered to start with and the air was heavy - not good rowing weather. The sun burnt off the haze and soon we were frying in that small boat as we slowly chuntered along behind the last two IVs. It was around 7.30pm when they finally arrived at the club in Bayonne. For those carrying on into the evening, there was just time for a quick shower and change before going on to a Cidrerie in Petit Bayonne. These evenings can get very lively and the whole weekend becomes a test of endurance - both in and out of the boats! 

For some reason I've been humming this tune (to myself!) for the last few hours without knowing what it was - I do this all the time! Finally, I went downstairs where Madame was slaving away in the front garden now that it's cool. Earlier I'd cut down a vast overgrown nondescript bush that the previous occupant had allowed to run wild and some of the branches had died. Extracting the roots with the aid of a sledge hammer, a pick and a spade in the mid-afternoon heat had just about finished me off so I was indoors cooling off with this tune playing over & over in my head. Once I'd hummed it to her she told me it was "Parlez-moi d'amour" and that it had been in the soundtrack of Woody Allen film we saw the other night (which is where I must have got it from). Anyway, to cut a long story short, and to implant it in your brain, here it is:

14th June 2011. Saw a story on the BBC News page this morning.. is this a blow for the few remaining beret makers in the Pays Basque? A quote from a soldier in the US Army was that it was like wearing a "wet sock" on his head. (we'll just have to take his word for that!) US Army spokesman Colonel Tom Collins told Agence France-Presse: "The beret does not have a visor and doesn't shield the sun, doesn't absorb sweat well." Well, I think the problem is that the military-style beret has lost its roots..

 The Basque beret has clearly taken a styling cue from Basque houses as they all sport overhanging roofs to shield the walls from the worst of the weather. Rain comes in only one size here - a downpour! - and the Basque beret provides a good measure of protection against the rain to the wearer. The Basque beret with its generous overhang also does a good job of providing shade for the eyes. And from what I can see as well, it doesn't appear to fit like a wet sock either! The military beret reflects the military mind - they have to look soldierly and providing the ordinary soldier with a Basque beret would be to invite even more opportunities for the ever-inventive soldiers to mould their berets into shapes that even the manufacturers could not imagine.

No comments: