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A Sunday in France

This morning saw me - chairman of the bored - heading south-west on one of the most tedious pieces of road I have ever had the displeasure of enduring. I had gone to my bed last evening executive vice-chairman of the mildly cross, as I realised that I have brought the wrong cable for my camera, thus will be unable to share photographs of my time in Bordeaux until I am back in Blighty.

So, there I was driving down the N10 on the way to Bayonne. The first spot of rain had landed on the windscreen as I sat in the car poring over the map of France deciding into which corner of the compass I should point the nose of my hire Peugeot. When the rain started coming down a little harder, I thought I might try to outflank the depression by heading south and was encouraged to see signs for St Sebastian beneath those for Bayonne on the gantries under which I passed. I mean, direction Spain has to be direction sunshine, does it not?

The tedium of the road remains unlifted by a low sky resembling overcooked scrambled egg that's been thrown at a wall and left to corrupt over a period of months. The analogy turns out to be more apt than I first thought, as scrambled egg is invariably watery when overcooked and increasingly watery is what the clouds turn out to be.

The junctions tick by. Some amusement is had when I pass an exit for a town called Ychoux and wonder blandly whether one of the local bergers had been suffering from the common rheum at the place's naming ceremony. Crows flap about like umbrellas with nothing better to do.

The French have a limitless talent for surrounding their towns with undistinguished, nay hideous, architecture. I bypass Bayonne on a corridor of vast bunkers that, had the day not been a Sunday, would have been selling furniture, gardening equipment, televisions etc. I drive by one that advertises itself simply with a sign that says "Piscines" and I wonder whether it's piscine down in Spain. Perhaps I shouldn't have taken the Bayonne turning.

Finally, a signpost tells me I am on the way to Biarritz and decide to investigate. The place has something of a reputation after all. I arrive and drive down to the seafront. Visibility out to sea is three of four hundred yards and the wind is blowing the rain horizontally off the Atlantic. I stay in the car. Only having a small umbrella, I realise that I would only be able to protect my head from the elements and those of you who have met me will know that my head is probably the part of me that needs the least protection in such weather. Seagulls hang in the turbulent air like a child's mobile. Their feathers can't be getting soaked, or they would be unable to fly. So the rain must run off their wings. I wonder briefly whether the sensation of water streaming from their primaries as they hang in the wind is annoying to them. I hope so. I don't really like seagulls.

Hey ho. I drive around the sodden streets of Biarritz for a while and then head back towards Bordeaux on another, equally tedious road. Tomorrow the tasting starts and I predict that it will be rather more thought provoking.
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