The Road Trip Part 2
Ok, story so far: We have arrived in Martigues tired, hungry and feeling dirty from travelling. So after booking into the Ibis motel and taken a much-needed shower we went down to supper, enjoyed a couple of stress relieving drinks then went to bed. We were woken by the noise of the traffic, now you have to remember that we do not hear any traffic noise at home so what was normal city noise to most of you was loud to us, but it was a good thing as we were able to have breakfast and get an early start. We headed for Port St Louis which is one of the “gateways” to the Camargue.
Now this is the place we were originally heading for. It’s a nice little port with a wide promenade and yacht basin and two hotels one at each end of the promenade. As you can see from the pictures Michael is still fond of his boats, and headed along the pathway by the marina looking at the boats. We also found the small market where local fishing boats sell their catches, very modern and run by the fishermen’s cooperative. The boats, yachts and fishing boats were all intermingled including the lifeboat, with the visitors pontoon along the main edge of the promenade, as we sat in the shade of a bar drinking a fanta this one turned up.
After our walk round Port St Louis we headed for the ferry to cross the Rhone. This is one hell of a wide river and the ferry is obviously a very popular crossing. There was quite a queue and very busy even taking the odd lorry. It cost us 5 euros to cross but the experience was well worth it as you can see from the pictures the Rhone is wide enough for large shipping.
Once on the other side we turned right as the map (yes we had one the tourist office was very kind) and headed out in to the Camargue. Now I have always had this image of the Camargue as being marshy with lagoons filled with wild Black Bulls, White Horses and Flamingos. In actuality we could not see much of anything in places as the canes and rushes were so high they blocked your vision.
So our first sight of the Flamingos came suddenly when we came out into a clear part which gave us views of the lagoons. Off to the right was a large lagoon filled with Flamingos but a bit too far for our camera to get a good shot. This made the Navigator a little bit miffed so off she went along this little path that led to a fenced off standing space nearer the lagoon and got her picture. Not as clear or near as she would have liked but a little further on we had better luck. Here there were pull in’s for cars and coaches and as you can see the Flamingos were used to tourists as they carried on feeding despite the oos and ahhs from a coach load of Japanese tourists. Off went my Navigator to take her pictures returning a happy soul. But although we had travelled quite a way we had seen neither Horses or Bulls then our luck changed……
As I was driving along a tree-lined avenue I spotted some dark animals moving in the fields, we had found the famous Black Bulls. Obviously we could not get closer but sat and watched as they munched away moving towards the cover of a small clump of trees. Now all we had to do was find my horses!
We were driving along when my Navigator said “Horses! Stop!” so being a well-trained Driver I did as I was told. (really??) What can I say, it was wonderful seeing them in their natural habitat. I spent a long time just talking to and stroking this wonderful animal, and watching the others enjoying the shade and their meal. One happy chappy had a wonderful day. But it was not over yet nor had the weather finished with us.
By now we were hungry so I headed for the coast and the small town of Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. It’s a pretty little place very popular with tourists and locals alike so we had a job finding a parking space but eventually we found a spot opposite a fish restaurant. We wandered across and ordered up mussels with a side of chips plus a salad. Boy what a mistakea to makea, oh nothing was wrong with the food it was the amount that floored us. I was really enjoying the meal when I heard a rumble and looking up I saw the sky was darkening and it began to rain ooops…. you can tell from these photos that my Navigator was trying to ignore all that.
But we didn’t let it spoil our day we finished our meal and enjoyed our coffees as it poured down. Then we made a mad dash for the car oh these Flamingos? they were outside the restaurant plus this is a close as we got to Flamingos.
On the way back we went through several squalls and managed to get lost in Arles AGAIN…. After taking yet more detours round the area we eventually ended up on the right road and two tired but happy chappies headed for the hotel and bed.
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc
Posted in About my writing, Forest Life, Our Life | Tagged birds, bulls, Camague, farming, horses, Ibis hotel, national parks, restaurants, rivers, wildlife | Leave a Comment »
The Road Trip – Part 1
Now ever since I saw Belle and Sebastian on television I have wanted to visit the Camargue and see the horses for myself. Living where we do it is only a short drive – 6 hours – but considering I have driven to Bilbao in 8 hrs it should be a piece of cake….. oh yeh??
After doing a few bits and pieces we set off on Monday around 11.30. It was a sunny morning as we headed for the A9/E15, little did we know what was coming. Driver to Navigator “have you got the road map?” Navigator “What map???” Driver “I put it on the coffee table” Navigator “Oh its going to be one of those trips, just wing it.” so we did. Nearing Barcelona I noticed dark clouds with lots of flashing lightning not a good omen, we had seen these deluges on TV and they were not to be taken lightly. But we were, so it seemed, going away from this one – who was I kidding… a bit further on and we couldn’t see the road let alone the vehicles in front. Lights came on all over the place everybody slowed down but in a few minutes we were out into light rain phew…. This happened not once but three times before we were past Barcelona.
Now although we got through that ok which was a good thing, what we didn’t know was as we went through that squall we had missed the sign telling us to move over. So when I saw a sign that said France – Franca I naturally thought that was the route to take – wrong…. it turns out that these are suburbs of Barcelona. This meant we ended up going through and round the city eventually to be re-directed back the way we had come to join the C32 to Badalona before re-joining the A9/E15 and another squall…. this was to be our lot until we were well past Badalona where in warm sunshine we stopped for a coffee and snack while I tried to find a road map of France (no luck) before going on. Well that’s the first ‘detour’.
We enjoyed the scenery, crossed the border and after this the journey proved to be straightforward until, that is, we came to Arles. It was here that we really proved our ability to get lost not once but twice! My advice is don’t come off the motorway until you hit MARSEILLE!!
Navigator “we want junction 5″ Driver “you sure?” Navigator ” yes that’s what it says here. Its where you pick up the D35.” Driver “ah, well junction 6 is coming up we’ll come off here!!!” don’t ask…. Now we wanted the D35 because it ran down alongside the Camargue to Port St Louis where I decided to make our base….wrong Michael, (best plans of mice and men and all that). Arles although a pretty little town is one hell of a place to get lost in take it from one who did – twice. The road signs are not clear – where there are any – and even when you can see one it does not match the map (oh yes we finally got one in France….). ‘Detour’ number two.
I drove along roads heading south for some while looking for this bloody D35, stopped, asked directions and finally after driving down avenues of Silver Birches – I do so love these trees – came to the D35. We now needed to head for FOS. Suddenly there was this Fire Brigade Landrover heading to Fos (it had Fos written on the side) my Navigator uttered those immortal words “follow that Landrover” so I did. We had our first glimpse of the white horses, Camargue sheep, lush green fields and the sea.
We went right past the Fos turning and ended up in Martigues a small town on the edge of the Camargue near the mouth of the Rhone. ‘Detour’ number three, but our adventures were not over, oh no.
When we entered the town I followed the signs for the Ibis hotel, came to a roundabout where all the buildings had the word Hotel on them. So I pulled into the first car park I came to and sent the Navigator to book in…. Not quite the safest thing to do. You see the police station, town hall as well as the Ibis (which was tucked away at the end of a curve) had the word HOTEL before their name so you just KNOW I had parked in the wrong place. When I went to look for my Navigator I found her laughing like a drain and telling me to go move the car now as the police were about to call the bomb squad because I had walked away from the car after parking it in amongst theirs. Ok not quite true, as she explained, they were concerned until she uttered the words “your not the Ibis hotel are you”….
Anyway when they had stopped laughing they kindly pointed us in the right direction. Unfortunately this Ibis was full but they sent us to another one where we booked in, had a meal then hit the hay and slept until 6am when we were woken by the noise of the traffic, to begin our exploration of the Camargue.
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc
Posted in About my writing, Forest Life, Our Life | Tagged barcelona, black bulls, Camargue, france, history, Ibis hotel, Marseille, restaurants, river Rhone, spain, trees, white horses, wildlife | Leave a Comment »
Well another week with the weather people promising rain and not delivering. Mind you all around us its been pouring, and my wife even did the washing in the hope it would rain but it was all dry before the clouds got here and no still no rain. Oh well at least the drop we had during the Tuesday night watered the garden, and yesterday afternoon it got so hot and humid that I really thought we were in for a storm, but even though the clouds gathered nothing came of it as they decided to bog off somewhere else mind you I did my impression of ‘The Flash’ as I dodged the six drops of rain that did fall.
Now this picture of me working at the airport is about as near as you’ll get to me in class. Last day at school today and we got our certificates to say we can speak and understand Spanish (oh yeh??). Oh yes and here’s something you did not know Walthamstow has moved to Ireland, they had got me down as Irish…I do so love these people. Mind you its not as if they don’t know me I spent two years trying to learn Catalan Oi Vey…..
I found this old photo of the tree outside the house so I put a few together to give you an idea of how things have changed. From an overgrown lump to a clear space for the birds water bar and ‘Sam’s’ garden, with a new wall plenty of bulbs plus the odd plant. You can also see the beginnings of the new flower bed (just in front of me) this was taken through the netting of the fly free zone and the grape vine which this year has taken off.
Now the reason I have included this last picture is because a friend of mine will appreciate it, This is the tree I have been pruning and managed to pull my shoulder muscles – and no Pat NO chain saw… So the result is that I shall be missing the petanca competitions this year but no matter there is always next year.
Right we are off on a road trip. I have always wanted to see the white horses of the Camaguey and as France is just up the road we are off for three days. Now it should be an interesting trip as once we are on the E17/AP7 it goes all the way there but I bet we get lost we always do so cars filled up clothes packed maps at the ready hit the road Mike…….
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc
Posted in About my writing | Tagged birding, catalunia, E17, farming, forest, forests, gardening, Ireland, London, mountains, night, Spanish wine, vineyards, walthamstow, wildlife | Leave a Comment »
I hope you will excuse me if I repeat myself here but I am rather proud of our roses. This one was given to my wife by her friend, also a keen gardener, who found it difficult to grow roses where they live. Every time we visit my wife comes away with cuttings or small plants, some of which take whilst others die, so it really does depend on our little ECO system here as to what we can grow.
So this morning we were weeding the edge of the terrace where I have planted Flags and Lilly bulbs in the hope that they will hold the terrace top together, building a small retaining wall was not an option here as the original terrace wall has crumbled in places – ant works. This was their first year and to my surprise and joy they put on a good show, especially the white Flags that the our friends in the local Petanc club gave us. I was a little worried about whether or not these would survive as down by the Petanc courts they got plenty of water up here they get some, but basically like the wild Flags they are on their own. We were well pleased not only when they flowered but as we weeded we noticed they had begun to spread, always nice when that happens. The other nice thing about the garden are the Cacti they are in flower now and looking well.
I often mention the fact that although there is rain all around we never seem to get much if any. Living in a valley in the mountains you would expect to have a fair bit of the wet stuff, but no! the clouds gather grumble then ‘bog off’ somewhere else to drop their water. Realising that it might be difficult for some of you to grasp I took these photos on such a day in question, and no – no rain! Think I might get one of those rockets the French wine producers use to make the clouds drop their water now where’s Google…………………………….
Right now for a little titter. Those of you who have followed our stories when we go out and about, know that nothing is simple where we are concerned. If there is a way to get lost going from A to B in a straight line we find it or if we try to get something done again it turns into a saga or adventure depending on how you look at it. So being in town and doing something simple like sitting in the café working on the laptops should be plain sailing shouldn’t it? well grab a coffee and try not to laugh too much.
Let Us Out!!
Monday morning found us heading into town around 10am as my wife had a dentist appointment. So with laptops in the carry bag off we went. She was supposed to have a small filling plus a small adjustment to her new dentures which would not take long so she had already decided to be a ‘big girl’ and go on her own. Therefore when we found ourselves outside the dentists an hour early (see where this is going?) I headed for the car park which is near the top of town not far from the dentists then we descended on the café opposite. We often use this little café its friendly, clean and upstairs there are plenty of plugs for people to use laptops/tablets.
The ladies in there are used to us so while I headed upstairs to our normal table my wife ordered the coffees then joined me. Everything sorted out she began to type up my Social Freedom blog so I could carry on translating another of my books into Spanish. I noticed the time was getting near her appointment so off she bravely trotted – must be horrid to have a fear of dentists. Anyway she was soon back and a happy bunny, ordered more coffee then settled down to finish typing. We were so engrossed in what we were doing that it was a while before I realised that it was quiet – too quiet! No music, voices, door opening or closing. I looked at her and said ‘they wouldn’t have forgotten we’re up here and locked us in – would they?’ she thought for a moment then stated the obvious ‘yes!’ So I decided the alarm needed to be set off, the fact that we could be clearly seen by passers-by was no good as most people had gone to lunch. Whilst my wife packed everything away I wandered down stairs towards the door off went the alarm we waited no one turned up. Ummm so with my wife sitting at a table in front of the door I took a few steps into the café then off went the alarm again, bloody noisy. This time it worked there they were two slightly concerned ladies but chuckling away as they let two OAP’s out who acted like two puppies let out to play. The result was we were so traumatized we had to go to the coast for lunch – well that’s our excuse and we are sticking to it.
So today is hopefully peaceful but we are going into town I have school this afternoon……………
(c) Michael Douglas Bosc
Posted in About my writing | Tagged barcelona, Cataluna, holidays, language schools, my books, sailing, sea, seaside, spain, water, writing | 1 Comment »