I didn’t realise quite how much the French were into the founding spirit of rugby until I met Eric. He told joke after bawdy joke, in English,Â as we sat eating Basque food in Biarritz with a couple of mutual friends. He then started relating back bits of monty python movies. It seems that to be a true rugby playing connoisseur in France you have to suck in a little bit of English university lads culture too and It it was very different to my memories of a France where people wouldn’t talk to you if you were from North of the Isle of Wight. Vive la France and Brian…Brian…go to your room…
I actually spent a little more than 2p getting flying to Toulouse (my last two flights cost me 2p and 4p to Newquay and Ireland) but it wasn’t a fortune. I was met at the Airport be a very talented photographer friend of mine called Rodolph who was nice enough to put me up. We teamed up with a girl he knows called Biata and hi tailed it (well, after some fine food and wine at the local restaurant) to Biarritz to watch a surfing competition.
Now I don’t know about you but I have always had trouble watching things like surfing. We have turned into a race of voyeurs who are happy enough to toast like ros bif on the beach to look a little more appealing for the plastic surgeon, but oh not me. I’m a man of action so in I went to the freezing Atlantic to dunk myself. It woke me up, cleared the remains of last nights beer from my system and reminded me why I haven’t done that since I returned from a three year stint in South East Asia ten years ago. It needed doing.
We decamped to the local restaurants that night and ate the fine Basque fare…cheeses you could frighten children with and lots of sea food, but the cider had to be the star turn. The locals swear by it but I did cheekily try to explain the merits of Strongbow…a bit like extolling the joys of a ginsters pasty in Cornwall, you’d expect an escort to the county line by a bunch or purse lipped lynch mobsters but no, I think they are going to come and try it.
I left my laptop in Toulouse as I didn’t plan on doing any work, but at one point, whilst back on the beach, I was sent a text by a customer saying they had no mail server. I had to sort it out so I went to the little surf village (it was the french leg of the world longboard tour so pretty well equipped) and voila, six laptops and wifi for the general public generously supplied by Orange mobile phones. So, from a beach in Northern France I managed to reboot a server in California that powers a website for a company in London, I may be getting nerdy but I love that stuff.
So, from the windy roads that are fit for Commander Bond, to the harbour of Arcachon where we managed to find an Irish pub on the way to stay at our friends place. Nowhere else was open and in this place we managed to catch them at last orders. ‘Non’ they said to our requests for ale. ‘But our guest is Irish and HAS to drink’ said Biata (our lovely sex starved Polish hostess). ‘Well of course we have to give him beer in that case’ was the reply so we feasted on yet more of the black stuff. My family is Irish but as for me I’m from London, but it’s good to pull out the family roots when needs are great.