Up early, apartment cleaned, car packed and goodbyes said to Madame Micoine and the little dogs all before 10am. We dumped the last empty wine bottles into the recycling bins by the port, filled up with diesel and were on our way around the bassin to cross country and the Gironde to Cambes to stay with friends in their wonderful house. We planned to take the bus into the city and stood at the bus stop for a while before realising it did not run on Saturdays so it was back to get the car. Since we were last in Bordeaux, the quays have been developed and as it was so hot, many people were out enjoying the sun.

Bow of a rather unseaworthy boat on the river
Bow of a rather unseaworthy boat on the river
We had lunch at La Belle Epoque restaurant and then took the tram to go to a fabulous brush shop to get new non-plastic brushes for the floor (and maybe paint brushes and more!) but it is closed on Saturday. It was great just wandering around the streets, popping into the second biggest bookshop in France and people-watching. We must return.
Street in Bordeuax 30 Aug 2014
On the journey back to Cambes, we purchased some Bordeaux Clairet (now being consumed in the garden) and a great present which will be ideal for one of my friends at Christmas. Relaxing this evening before the long drive to Caen tomorrow.

Last day in Arcachon

Breakfast merged into morning coffee on this overcast day as we plotted next year’s trips. We have had the Orkney Islands on the list for quite some time so the current plans are: shoreline cottage near Wick for a week followed by a house on South Ronaldsay. This will be in early summer. En route we will catch up with friends in Inverness and Aberdeen. Later next summer, trekking on the volcanoes in Sicily and the Aeolian Islands is on the cards which will motivate me to get fit enough by then. At some point we will return to the Bassin and walk the Sentier Littoral, all the way around it. We had a foray to the shops near the port for some essentials and spotted the local Ferrari now under its custom-made cover (no old tarpaulin for him). On the way back it was lunchtime and we passed the local police station. Several police cars parked outside and a dozen or more policemen were sitting around a large table with the barbecue fired up. After lunch, I sat on the terrace with a coffee doing some choral society admin. as rehearsals start again on Monday evening. Two crows were noisily conversing and as the weather was improving, the neighbours were busy in their gardens.

Corner of the garden at Villa le Golf
Corner of the garden at Villa le Golf

By 4pm the sky was blue so a walk along the beach was essential, past all the people topping up their tans. The bay has a limited variety of shells, broken oyster shells, tellins, cockles and a few small scallops. I did find one piece of seaglass to add to my collection. Now it’s time to make the apartment bedroom look less like a Tracy Emin artwork and get packing.

St Emilion

We have not been there for 10 years: the last time was enroute from the Limousin to Lacanau Ocean on the coast. This time we had arranged to meet some friends at St Emilion. They had got delayed a little but after a welcome coffee (my caffeine levels were dropping) we wandered around the town before a very good lunch at which James tried the Duck Burger. I settled for the more traditional Magret de Canard. We then drove down to the Gironde before tasting and buying wine at Chateau La Sablière. The proprietor explained that there had not been enough sun this summer and that the grapes were still too acidic and not ready for picking. We saw several of the huge mechanical grape harvesters.
St Emilion 4-0076
After a cup of tea and guided tour of their new home we had to head back to Arcachon for a light supper.
St Emilion 19-0098

In and out of town

The weather today promised to be dry until at least 11pm. As we wandered out after breakfast it was sunnier than forecast and the beach promenade was in full swing again. On the pavement was a slug marooned, who seemed to be thinking ‘where has all the water gone?’ There was on trader selling loom bands but no others and no buskers. After a coffee, I purchased some very nice chocolates for a friend’s birthday and at one of the few hippy-esque stalls (dream-catchers etc) I bought a long-sleeved light-weight dress that will go over leggings or trousers in places like Iran where women covering up is essential. On the way back to the apartment I spotted an illuminated sign ‘Saint Roch’ which I just had to photograph to send to someone I know called Roch.
Teasels Parc Ornithologique du Teich 27 Aug 2014 (1 of 1)
After lunch and a rest we headed out along the coast road through the many communities around the bay to the Parc Ornithologique du Teich. It was a relief to be among nature after a few days in town. I was testing out my new telephoto lens and many of the birds are familiar. The tide was coming in and the sun sinking lower by the time we left.
Little Egret Parc Ornithologue du Teich 27 Aug 2014_edited-1

Enforced laziness

It was raining when we awoke but had eased off by the time we set out to visit the market and purchase more supplies. The port was quiet but nearer to the piers, the police were out checking that no-one had been sleeping on the beach. A brave couple who perhaps had not seen the weather forecast were setting up their chairs down on the beach. Provisions purchased we wandered back through the shops as we have some presents to purchase for birthdays. The rain returned with a vengeance and the cloud was descending over the sea as we headed back to the apartment. The couple seen earlier were rushing back to the shore.
Basket of Figs copy
As we dried off and had coffee, our landlady appeared with a basket of figs for us from the tree I had admired the other day. An ideal partner for my goat’s cheese lunch and they have solved the need to look for desert for the rest of the week. My much smaller tree back home has so far, produced three figs to eat this summer. The rest of the day was spent decluttering my computer of old files and numerous copies of photographs, a task that has been long overdue. Tomorrow’s weather forecast is much better.

Cap Ferret

Yesterday evening the weather reports promised 25 degrees and no rain so it had to be the day to take the ferry over to Cap Ferret. By the time we got down to the pier, there was already a long queue at the ticket office, remarkably well-behaved and soon, tickets in hand, we ambled over to the the pier to board. The boat was busy but we got a good spot at the stern for the 30 minute crossing. The tide was out when we arrived and the oyster beds visible.
Oyster beds at low tide: Cap Ferret

As we had explored the peninsula and climbed to the top of the lighthouse on a previous trip, we headed straight over to the Ocean Beach, just under 2km away. When we arrived, the surfers were already on the waves and it was getting busy. The second world war tank traps have been wonderfully decorated.

Beach Art 3 Cap Ferret 25 Aug 2014


It was easy to spend a couple of hours relaxing on the beach, dipping toes in the ocean and beach combing. As the tide came in, covering much of the lower beach, we left and took the boat back to Arcachon. I had a siesta, James went out to hunt for dinner in the local fishmongers and we hope to be able to watch the latest Scottish Independence debate later this evening.

Lazy day in Arcachon

We woke at 8.15 and had a very welcome slow breakfast before heading out to explore. Walking towards the coast and the port, we saw only dog walkers and joggers initially and then some people emerging from their hotels. Many of the houses in the Ville d’Automne resemble those seen in Nob Hill, San Francisco (if they were made of wood and jammed closer together on steep streets). As it was Sunday, the port and fish market were very quiet. Closer to the piers and beaches, we had a coffee and it struck me that Arcachon is very like Santa Monica without the wacky factor: it has wealth, beaches, palm trees, people exercising on the boardwalk and lots of bijou boutiques but no hippies/new age people.
Bag on the beach 24 Aug 2014
The only homeless person we saw was sitting on a bench with his morning beer and in reluctant conversation with a police officer. There was only one busker (a guy playing the guitar) on the promenade. Such things are obviously policed quite extensively. Not so the parking on Sunday; if you cannot find a space on the street you park on the centre of the mini-roundabout.
Parking in Arcachon 24 Aug 2014
The market, surpasses any in the USA and we will not need to visit another supermarket on this trip. After a lazy lunch with a glass of wine back at the apartment, I sat on the terrace, soaking up the sun for a while and continuing to read Dayton Duncan’s ‘Miles from Nowhere: Tales from America’s Contemporary Frontier’. The chapter I am reading at the moment on the Navajo Nation and their governmental seat in Window Rock, Arizona and the Canyon de Chelly are particularly interesting and poignant as we visited the area last year.

On the boat

After a leisurely drive down the motorway (most people were heading north or southwest) we spent a couple of hours in Portsmouth and had an early evening meal before boarding the boat.
Ferry sign 22 Aug 2014
Once on it and ensconced in our cabin we had a lazy evening, bottle of wine and reasonably good sleep before the drive. Brittany Ferries have obviously changed their morning wake up music. Previously, an hour before arrival in St Malo, we would have to wake up to La Primavera from Quattro Stagioni by Vivaldi (quite acceptable), followed by Widor’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (badly amplified) and culminating in the Dies Irae from Verdi’s Requiem. The only refuge was the shower or setting the alarm to go off early and getting out of the cabin before it began. Now, all you get is a snatch of an inoffensive melody. We had breakfast on the boat and once we were disembarked we headed south. I always stop off for provisions fairly early so that we don’t have to go hunting for them on arrival if we get delayed. LeClerc in Rennes was the stop this time. After that, no major problems other than a slightly longer than usual delay on the peripherique at Nantes and an even longer time around the Rocade at Bordeaux. At times, the cornfields, sunflowers and Route 66 playlist were reminiscent of last year’s long drive. As soon as we entered Aquitaine, the vineyards appeared. There were times when we were almost at a standstill and at others, the opposite carriageway was static with returning holiday-makers. Now, ensconced in the apartment after my tired brain tried to follow the landlady’s accent, we will sleep and explore the town tomorrow.

The Fringe 2,3,4

Days 2 to 4 of our time at the Fringe passed by in a whirl of street performers and comedy acts. A change from my usual focus on the visual arts and music (although there was plenty of street music). We did visit the West End Craft Fair looking for gifts and inspiration for our own craft ventures.
Craft fair 1Street performers 2
On Saturday morning we picked up some goodies for Sunday Brunch at the farmers’ market. They were gobbled down on Sunday before we headed to Biggar for the Vintage Rally (lots of cars my relatives had driven) and then a 60th birthday party in Symington. We could not stay until the end but had to head south and back to the grindstone for a while.

The Fringe 1

Up very early today and on the train north. Off to Edinburgh again to sample the Fringe/Festival and anything else that appeals with a friend. After dumping our bags at the flat we had lunch at the Canny Man’s which has an amazing variety of open sandwiches. Fiona was scouring the charity shops for shoes and I found a fab pair of white jeans. After a siesta and early dinner we headed into town to sample some comedy. En route we heard some buskers and then wandered down Candlemakers’ Row to the Cowgate.
Buskers 1 13 Aug 2014
We arrived at the Cowshed to hear a great band and to appreciate the graffiti-decorated cow
Cow at the Cowshed 13 Aug 2014
Two comedy shows later, we were flagging and decided to give the late show a miss so ended the day relaxing back at the flat with a glass of wine.