Friday, 5 February 2016

227. End of an era

21st February. You've not come here to read about Brexit have you? Good - that's just as well because I won't mention it again. We all have our views on the subject and if anyone is really interested in it, there's plenty of column inches out there in the print media - plus countless talking heads on TV and radio..  

20th February. I inherited Madame's old phone recently and I finally remembered to take it with me this morning when I took the dog down to the beach at Anglet.. There were very few people about. Looking at the picture, I can see I'm going to have to work on my technique, ie, keeping it level! That's Spain in the distance and the outcrop to the left of centre is known as the "Trois Couronnes" (the Three Crowns). The mountain scenery there is magnificent. Best in full screen!
Here's one of a sunny Biarritz taken an hour ago.. Again, click on it to see it best:

19th February. 

I read somewhere once that the overwhelming majority of visitors (something like 95% of them) to the Pays Basque in summer don't venture further inland than 5km from the coast. It's true that in summer, whenever I've been up on the hills and mountains, that you could be excused for thinking that it was not the prime tourist season as you seldom see a soul. Blissful solitude.. However, I would recommend to all visitors here that they take at least one day out of their holiday on the beautiful Côte Basque to visit the interior, and especially to climb the hills.. It's incredibly rewarding.. and the views of the Pyrenees marching away to the south east in their blue serried ranks will stay with you forever.

The following clip shows a gentle introduction to the pleasures of hill-walking here:

Spectacular aerial views of the mountains on the "other side" (Spanish Basque country) - plus Mark Knopfler's "Going Home".. 
7th February. After the first weekend of the "6 Nations", some dreams are already lying in tatters. Firstly, Italy, Scotland, Wales and Ireland can't now win the Grand Slam.. and secondly, none of the last three can win the Triple Crown either. And judging by their rambunctious performance against the lack-lustre French XV, my money's on Italy to cause an upset or two. Stars to watch over the next few weeks? For Italy, the evergreeen Sergio Parisse and the Italian winger Sarto. For France, it can only be the former 7s player Virimi Vakatawa - who made a hugely impressive debut.

Jack Clifford came on for England with about 10 minutes left on the clock. I hope we see more of him as the tournament unfolds. He's a future England captain if ever I saw one. As for Scotland, Greig Laidlaw would grace any team. Hope he has a good tournament.

Pleased to see that they played the Black Bear and Scotland the Brave at Murrayfield yesterday.. If only they'd kick that maudling dirge Flower of Scotland into the long grass.

The Ireland - Wales match was a hard-fought encounter with no obvious man of the match..

5th February. I've finally had to come to the conclusion that my rowing days are over.. This has been forced on me by circumstances, aka my creaky knees. Once I'm in the boat, no problem.. but the killer for me is that, after a sortie, I'm unable to get out of the boat without assistance.. and I don't want to be the lame duck in the crew. I've rowed for around 55 years with one or two breaks and I know I'm going to miss everything about being out on the water early in the morning with a good crew when all is working as it should. The whirring sound of 8 seats sliding to and fro in unison, the blades being squared and feathered together, the surge of power when the cox calls for it, the way the boat sings when it's running well, the total concentration on making the current stroke better than the last one, being "in the zone" when it all comes together.. all these things I'll miss. I know it. But - there we are.. I've enjoyed the sport more than I can explain. I had been hoping that I'd be able to row for a few more years yet.. but sadly it's not to be.

Sylvie et Philippe
2nd February. Just back from a very tasty (and very reasonably priced) lunch at the Café du Musée, Bayonne. It's situated at the confluence of the Adour and the Nive and it's one of those places that you hear about from friends. We've been there three or four times now - and the menu has been different each time. No walk-ins though.. Must reserve a table by phone (05 59 59 16 39). It's run by Sylvie (front of house) and Philippe (galley slave). Friendly & welcoming, it appears on a list of good restaurants in Bayonne. Highly recommended.

(March 2020. Edited to add: Sylvie and Philippe have moved to La Galupe at Urt..)  

While we're talking about restaurants, I must mention Les 3 Soeurs (Ahizpak in Basque) at Bidart. If you do make a visit, the Crêpe soufflée à l’orange (below) is a 'must'.. (more pictures here
Here's a short list of good addresses at Biarritz. The only one I can vouch for is the first - Miremont - the fabled pâtisserie in the centre of town. You owe it to yourself to try at least one of their cakes.. or ices. I'm not a great cake eater but the cakes at Miremont are really something special (look at the photos in the link!)


ines said...

Long time since I entered to your blog last time. As always interesting comments and nice to read!
Have a good day!
Ines - Pamplona

Pipérade said...

You're too kind, Ines!
It's not hard though to find something interesting to say about the Pays Basque. It truly is a fascinating part of the world.
Best wishes