Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

My first impression of Hendaye Plage was ‘wow, I feel at home here’.  It feels like Borth, but with palm trees, more sunshine and better food.  And the Basques have the same cultural sensibilities as the Welsh. There’s a definite ‘Sitting on the dock of the Bay’ feel here – which is appropriate because that was one of the songs that I sang at my leave-taking karaoke party in St. Catherine’s three months ago. 

Hendaye is a place where drifters blow into – and sometimes never leave.  There are a distinct number of eccentrics wandering around town: some ‘old money’, some ‘no money’.  There’s a surfing beach battered by waves and 250 metres inland there is a placid saline estuary that looks like a lake from every angle.   It’s a place of edges.  One where mountain, sea and river meet: where the GR10 begins (or ends). where two counties meet, where one can cross the border for cheap petrol and pastis and late afternoon tapas.  

I found a minuscule flat (25m square) with a kitchenette and a click clack (fold up fold down) couch and hunkered in on there for a month to do some writing and resting, fulfilling my fantasy of a literary equivalent of ‘doing a Matisse or Picasso’  (an extended working stay in a pretty place). The longer I stayed the more I liked it.   I started to accustom myself to being in tune with the rhythms of nature: high tide go watch the surfers on the sea front, low tide go bird spotting in the estuary, sunset go watch the sun set behind the Spanish Corniche. And I  thought this might just be THE place.  

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