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.