Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Three beaches

I've been to the seaside.

Several times, and in two different countries. Yes, get me.

The first was a day trip to the Dorset coast, along with Mr WithaY and the dog.  Despite it being autumn, the weather was absolutely gorgeous.  It was so nice that I even braved the water and went for a paddle.

Look at it! It's like July!

Mind you, I lost all feeling in my feet after about 30 seconds in the water. Also, I forgot to take a towel, so had to put my shoes and socks back onto cold wet sandy feet.

The dog had a whale of a time digging in the sand, and running in and out of the sea.  See note about lack of towel, above.

We walked the length of the beach, intending to sit outside the cafe and have fish and chips, but all the local smug newspaper-reading bastards were already there, refusing to move, watching passers-by with narrowed eyes that clearly meant "This small cafetiere of coffee WILL last me for the next hour, so fuck off out of it, you sad wannabe table scrounger.  And your little dog too."  We went home and had tea and buns instead.

The next beach trip was to Brighton, with my lovely sisters.  We stayed in a hotel right on the seafront, and were able to watch possibly the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen from our bedroom window.  Yes, all three of us shared a room. It was hilarious.  And noisy.

We drank cocktails, walked MILES across Brighton, around the shops, through the Pavilion gardens, up hill, down dale, along the seafront and even round an amusement arcade where we won a selection of tat for shoving hundreds of 2-pence pieces into those tipping point machines.

The weather (again) was excellent, dry and warm enough to make a trip on the Brighton Eye fun.

The view from the Eye looking out across the Pier, amusement arcade at the end there.

And the view inland, with the building that housed The Hungry Years heavy rock nightclub taking left-of-centre stage. I loved going to that place when I was young and thin. Well, thinner.  

I know sunset photos are a bit of a cliché, but just LOOK at this. It was just fantastic, all three of us took turns gawping out of the tiny window above my bed to take photos.

The third beach trip was in the South of France.  Mother-in-Law WithaY was 80 in November so as many of the family as possible went over there to help her celebrate.  Mr WithaY and I stayed in a small hotel in a place called Banyuls, where our room overlooked the sea. It was absolutely lovely.  The place has a rather funky modernist feel to it, and the food was truly excellent. 5/5 will visit again.

It was rather like being in a Jeeves and Wooster story, though, what with the sea lapping gently all night, and splendid aperitifs before dinner each evening. Not that I'm complaining, dear me no.

The view from our room.  Lovely.

The giant wine barrel at the top of the hill.  We did buy some local wine, and brought it back very, very carefully in our suitcases.  It all arrived unscathed, as did the pate, chocolates, turron ( nut delicacy not unlike peanut brittle) and black olive tapenade we crammed into our bags.

I discovered that I speak fluent* French!  For the first time in my adult life I had no worries about making myself understood to real proper French people. I told the lady in the supermarket that "nous somme touristes" and she gestured at the shopping in what can only be described as a laconic Gallic manner, and sighed deeply, as if to say "well DUH!"

This new-found fluency has much more to do with confidence and, I suspect, lack of shame, than actual skill,  I got to tell a shopkeeper " suis desolee" when they told me the fuzzy felt slippers I was admiring weren't available in my size.  That's something else crossed off the bucket list.

Note the small metal square on a pole in the bottom right of that photo. It is a conveniently-placed frame through which you can admire a perfect view.  What a great idea.  There were many of them scattered around the place.

This is it up close.

And this is the view, through the frame.  Nice, eh?

As you see, seasonal November weather. For Collioure. So, we ate perfectly-cooked fish by the bucketload, drank the finest wines available to humanity and walked alongside an azure sea in the sunshine. Not a bad way to spend a week.

In the midst of it all, we got to see Mother-in-Law Withay, brother and sister-in-law, niece and various old family friends, so that was good for the soul.  A birthday lunch in the glass-box restaurant at the hotel overlooking the sea was enlivened by a rattling thunderstorm coming in over the mountains, complete with end-of-the-world rain.  You get a lot of weather for your money down there.

Other news:  Still very sad. Trying not to be.

*very basic C-grade O-level French