Friday, 10 October 2014

A new jockey wheel and lunching in Biarritz

Firstly, for those still holding their breath in suspense: Yes! (the two animals we saw on our walk were coypu. Since then we have also seen a mouse and a v formation of geese. A European safari!
A shiny new jockey wheel and the knackered old one 

Tuesday was a potentially fraught day which turned out well in almost everything. Firstly, the French man who had suggested driving to Tarnos for our replacement jockey rushed over on Monday evening as he had seen similar wheels in the local Bricolage, only 3km away in Socoa. We started our quest there - close but not quite the right size or right size but not strong enough. So on to Tarnos we went and to a fantastic shop called Agest which sells motor homes and has loads of spare parts from bulbs to skylights. Even better, the shelves are spaced out and well lit so you can actually see all the stock clearly! We had a choice of jockey wheels on their own or in assembly and 'treated' ourselves to the posh metal €19 one. The all plastic match to our previous one was just €6 - no wonder the damn thing broke! The Agest salesman even replaced the split pin free of charge from their service stock. The whole experience was so simple that we were finished ages earlier than expected so, instead of our planned Buffalo Grill (*) meal, we decided to go and see Biarritz instead.

Biarritz is one of those places that is known for its glamour but I think this has faded a little now. The cream colored Casino on the front looked familiar - probably from old photos or maybe a Bond film - but many of the buildings looked worn around the edges. There were still dozens of expensive clothes shops though and lots of eating venues so much of the town's economy must still be tourism. We struck lucky lunching outside a creperie/salon de the just over the road from the concert hall. Dave had a savoury tart and I had a honey drizzled goat's cheese salad which was delicious. Then we strolled around some more and watched surfers riding and falling from the bigger waves back from the horseshoe beach.

Another day, another town and St Jean De Luz, almost walkable from our Larrouleta campsite, is well worth a visit. There's interesting architecture and the town has obviously been affluent for many years. The Villa Germaine on the promenade has brightly painted squares and spheres along its roofline. Again, expensive clothes shops dominate, but there are also boutique art galleries and several shops dedicated to edible regional products. I finally located the one food we'd been having no luck finding, even in the huge Leclerc supermarket - oats. Apparently the French don't do porridge!

One more place to tell you about and this one's a bit mad. We drove up a winding mountain road to Col d'Ibardin where we had be told we could go walking. We did do a nice walk to a lake and back seeing semi-wild ponies and the oddest black and white goat - front half totally black, back half totally white. However what was odd about Col d'Ibardin was that suddenly, in the middle of nowhere halfway up a mountain road, there is a large Avia petrol station and about a dozen shops selling alcohol, perfume, tourist tat, leather goods and shoes! We were flabbergasted! Dave talked to one of the shopkeepers in Spanish and we discovered that the border between France and Spain runs down the road at this point so we had technically arrived in Spain. The duty on the goods was Spanish, not French, so that little winding road was pretty busy.

(* We have a fondness for Buffalo Grill because not only do they do good fast(ish) food and I like their salads, but we were parked up outside one having eaten there when Dave asked if I'd like to move in with him all those years ago!)

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