Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Birthday Bash Part 1

Our holiday comes in three parts. First out to Bilboa and on to St-Etienne-du-Baigarry. Then from there to Camp de Levat (Howard's End) near Cahors for the week of The Birthday, with G's children and grandchildren. Next in the same place, but with my children and grandchildren and a Postscript takes us home.
So for the first bit. We started off the day before the ferry because it is quite a hike from Northumberland to Portsmouth and if you have a dead-line it is a nightmare. We spent the night at Ye Olde Bell Inn, an old coaching in on the A1, near Retford. It bears little resemblance to the Inn that our parents used to patronise before the war, but was comfortable and the dinner was good and straightforward. It has recently been taken over by a local man from a chain and he is gradually doing up it and its surroundings. It was not particularly photographic so I don't have a pic to add.
Next day we had a leisurely drive to Portsmouth, arriving in time to go and visit The Mary Rose. What an achievement her salvage was and so exciting to see her in real life. Currently, they are still spraying her with a waxy solution - the last stage of her preservation. As a result the glass you have to see her through is not very clear. I would love to be able to revisit in 2 or 3 years time when she will be safe and able to be seen directly. It was a gorgeous day, so we enjoyed walking round the Victory as well. We didn't have time to go aboard her as it all closes at 5.0ish. From there to the Ferry, where they kept us hanging around for ages but they still managed to sail on time and we had dinner in the mailstrom of everyone else eating too, at 9.00.
I had to make my mandatory visit to the cassino, where I lost twice my limit (!!) and then won back the overspend! 13 was kind enough to come up in the end!
On Tuesday, it was OK in the morning and we walked the deck in the sun. However, by lunch-time the sea was building and my head started to go mad - the first step to sea-sickness. I retired to my bunk and was amazed that G was still going strong! By supper time, I was able to go and buy a sarny and eat it in my bunk.
We came in to Bilbao pretty much on time the next morning (Wednesday) and we were off the ship by 8.00. G. drove and we reached St-Ettienne-de-Blairgorry by mid-day for lunch on the river-side at the Hotel Arce. It is in the foot-hills of the Pyranees. We had a room at the back, because the front rooms are over-exposed to the Church clock!! It was a double room with the bed at one end and chairs at the other. The bath was near the bed and the loo was at the other end, which I found rather odd.
This pic is the view from the French Windows. There was a gravelled area between the Hydrangeas where I did quite a lot of reading.
The next day we drove up a narrow road for a few miles to the pass over the mountain and the Spanish border. We saw 3 eagles on a thermal and a vulture sitting on rock in silluette. The following day we went to look at St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a staging post for pilgrims going to Santiago de Compastella. In the old main street, there are still lodgings at a reduced rate for pilgrims. It is a pretty and interesting old place, with a disappointing castle/chateau and town walls which we enjoyed walking.
We much enjoyed our break there, despite the food being disappointing. We both felt we needed the rest and certainly the rest of the holiday was NOT a rest cure!


Suffolkmum said...

It sounds exhausting already! I've always wanted to get the ferry to Bilbao and see northern spain - I did go to Santander once, but by plane as it was for work. Sorry to hear the rest of your trip was not restful - but I bet (hope!) it was fun! Glad to see you back.

WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Hi Withy - so glad you are back - knew you were away - forgot how long for and the day before you joined us I was wondering if everything was ok.

So far your holiday sounds restful and enjoyable . . but oh Ferries - I used to be ok - but now adays I get very very seasick. Went to Tiree to stayy with friends who thought it has hilarious that I was actually green when I got off the ferry - the open sea bit had been very rough . . . whole crossing was only four hours . .