Whitby Goth Preparations

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As  posted earlier, in late October we are off to Whitby. ‘’Where is Whitby, exacxtly’’ asked my lovely wife.

I replied ‘’Coordinates: 54°29′09″N 0°37′14″W / 54.4858°N 0.6206°W / 54.4858; -0.6206.’’

She smiles by way of reply.

Whitby is a small coastal settlement in Yorkshire, just up t’ road from Scarborough.  Picturesque cottages have been redefined as lovely from their former status as ‘mean’ hovels for the lower classes to live in. Picturesque it is, cold it certainly can be! Along the coast another worthwhile place to visit is Robin Hoods Bay. But this is Yorkshire I hear you exclaim, go on, exclaim. Better? Good. Well in fact, as much as we can glean from history, Robin was a Yorkshire man. Which explains a few things!

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Anyway, Whitby is going to host a Goth rock music and general dressing up weekend to tie in with Halloween.Should be nifty. Wife planning clothing. What do I go as? Anyway, simply have to fly into one airport, hire a car, drive on the wrong side of t’ road, with steering wheel on wrong side of car, at night. Party and parade whilst trying to stay warm, go to the gig, drive back in t’ dark to another airport. Pay extra for the privilege and all in one weekend. Not so dusty.

(t’ = the).

I haven’t told anyone yet, but they must learn the words to the following song before being allowed to leave Yorkshire. A one, a two, a one two….

Wheear ‘ast tha bin sin’ ah saw thee, ah saw thee?

On Ilkla Mooar baht ‘at

Wheear ‘ast tha bin sin’ ah saw thee, ah saw thee?

Wheear ‘ast tha bin sin’ ah saw thee?

On Ilkla Mooar baht ‘at

On Ilkla Mooar baht ‘at

On Ilkla Mooar baht ‘at

Tha’s been a cooartin’ Mary Jane

Tha’s bahn’ to catch thy deeath o’ cowd

Then us’ll ha’ to bury thee

Then t’worms’ll come an’ eyt thee up

Then t’ducks’ll come an’ eyt up t’worms

Then us’ll go an’ eyt up t’ducks

Then us’ll all ha’ etten thee

That’s wheear we get us ooan back

 

I foresee no foreseeable problems.

 

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Roadtrip Nice Thru’ to Verdon Gorge

 

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Onwards McDuff. Meandered along the coast to Cannes. I guess we were expecting something a bit cheap, gaudy and classless. Well, that was reserved for Monaco. Cannes was a real delight. Of course expensive, especially as young man had an ice-cream obsession, where can I sell my next kidney? But a place  with a lovely ambience and wonderful streets to peruse back away from the seafront. Wealthy yes, but not tawdry like Monaco. The beach was great for the children, of all ages, with beautiful views along the bay in both directions.

Then we made our way to Nice which was very nice. The horror that would unfold there the next week was unimaginable. Again a wonderful place to spend time and simply take in the atmosphere. This included swimming, splashing and blowing up inflatables until I had cheeks as red as a lobster! All good fun in other words. Monaco was tacky, dirty and seemed to shove its vulgar wealth down peoples’ throats. A large ugly underpass comes to mind and a huge car park that didn’t want us to leave. Some things have passed me by, due mainly to the fact that I want to move onto the Verdon Gorge.

Verdon Gorge. There, it’s easy to say, yes? My wife showed me the map and the route. Assuring me it wasn’t the Alps and the way to Chamonix. Not ‘too’ high. So we headed to Moustiers-Saint-Marie. The Gorge  is 700 metres deep, or high and about 25km long. On I drove, upwards and upwards. The drive was stunning, my hands were wet and my eyes so focused they could have bored through rock. The road is narrow. Very narrow in places. As we rounded corners one could only see blue sky ahead, and still blue sky and then back online. Only to twist outward again. Tunnels wide enough for one vehicle at a time added to the fun. And still upwards. The view down was impressive. But a view I tried to avoid. A two brick high barrier marked the edge of the road. A barrier that couldn’t stop a sickly mouse.In some places nothing along the edge of the road apart from gravity. We stopped at a viewing point. Took pictures, had a look around, wrung out my shorts, that sort of thing. My wife spotted a twisting, switchback, extremely narrow drive down to the canyon floor. Super I said as we clambered back into the car. The way out of the Gorge is stunning and teasing. Just as you think you are going down, upwards swings the road again. I don’t do heights well and so felt proud of myself when we came out on the other side. A side with fields of lavender, wonderful trees and FLAT roads. Flat is good.

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Whitby Goth

Back to England for our next foray. Haven’t been for quite some time. And this will be  a little different. Going to the Whitby Goth weekend for a little posing and a good music. Great for the kids, too with all the costumes. But what should I go as, something hideous and scary? I know, I’ll go as me!

Staying in Scarborough and will have to drive on the the left again, should be fun! Visit will coincide with Bonfire night and hot potatoes round the fire, great stuff.

Now, where ar my spare vampire teeth?

Further Southwards into France

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Went into Avignon by bus which was cheap, clean and let me have a good gander as I was not driving. I did ask, but the driver said, ”Non”. Avignon was home to the pope between 1309 – 1377. Well he had one advantage then, the walls kept people out. They are still an impressive sight. However Avignon was beset by hoardes of tourists, they swept all before them. Really it was too much. Souvenir shops for instance. A few tacky shops are okay, however Avignon had its fair share. Nice bridge too, but when will it be finished?

Took in Aix-En-Provence which was a combination of the beautiful and the slighty grubby gracefulness. Prices for food were bad. Basically what we will pay in Polish Zlotych cost the same in Euro’s. The best way to negotiate this thorny problem was to stop and buy fresh fruit and vegetables at the roadside stalls. Great food from under the provence sun, and far better prices. Even managed to get service with  smile.

Headin’ down we drove through the Camargue. This is one beautiful place, truly. Low lying and flat, none of those pesky mountain passes with inches to spare! Driving past rice fields and then the most beautiful white horses. There are plenty of places to stop take in this area. We alighted in Cassis. Cassis in the sun is great. A long sweeping esplanade with a great beach and a free pissoir in the car park. What more can you want! Although there were tacky shops the place had a wonderful feel to it. Just walking along the roads one could see it was well looked after, with splashes of colour from beautiful flowers thrown in for measure.

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Pottered around and went to the most unhelpful information lady in history. Her Gallic indifference and shoulder shrugs were superb and her English, well, bazik. Anyway we discovered that safaris into the Camargue cost around 120 Euro for the four of us. So no thanks. Eventually we plumped for the cruise which was about 12 Euro for an adult and discounted for the children. The ferry trip went up the mouth of the (Lesser/smaller?) Rhone and although we draw close to some beautiful views, it was all a bit distant. The chop on the sea as we took in the swell of the sea on the return trip was pretty cool for me. Onwards and along the coast…

 

Lavender to the horizon

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The lavender fields of Provence. A stunning view, with the Alps as a mountainous backdrop. The plant itself is part of the mint family and magnet for bees.IMG_2174

Such scenery was an inspiration for the beautiful works of van Gogh.

IMG_2185Used as a herb in cooking and and cultivated for its oil. The word lavender itself is thought to derive from the old French for, ‘to wash’.  Awash in a field of lavender is to feel invigorated by nature itself. A memory in the mind forever.

Bill Hit The Nail on The Head

IMG_1948“But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”

Bill Bryson, Neither Here Nor There: Travel in Europe.

Annecy

Annecy is situated at the northern end of Lake Annecy. Their has been a setttlement their since at least Roman times. And this is very important. The roads are flat and normal, such a relief after the Alps;-) IMG_1545

This is the Palais de l’Isle which stands on the river Thiou. To me it is reminiscent of the bows of a boat. The scaffolding dates back as far as a few months ago! IMG_1526

A (flat) canal wends its way throught the town which is wonderful on the eye.

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Well worth a visit with a lovely atmosphere.

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To Germany and the South of France

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Across from up near the Russian border to the border town of Słubice. A true border town, neither fish nor fowl. Then off again to Baden Baden. We stayed near the airpark, not an airport, what’s the difference? But the men stood and watched a few planes take off close up. Great stuff. Germans sometimes get a bad press. But let me tell you that they have excellent motorway driving etiquette. Precise, polite and fast. Standing at a petrol station outside Baden Baden I was met by the site of only black petrol pumps. Not wanting to make a silly mistake, I was checking them over thoroughly when a German offered to help and explain in very good English. Unbidden, helpful and polite in my mother tongue, and it is not my first experience of  such German helpfulness and hospitable behaviour. Danke.

Whilst in Baden Baden we took the children to Europark, or rather they dragged us to Europark! A family ticket cost 170 Euros, which seems pretty steep, but then some of the rides are steep, and fast too. The children loved it, but to be honest the park is rather hyped and we have been to better.

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By the way, I’m not a a screamer. More of  a just hold on tight, head down and pray kind of approach. And anyway, my wife had a plan which for me, as the driver would be much more fun than the rides at a plastic park. Off we went to our next destination, Annecy which lies on the other side of the Alps. We glided past Lake Geneva and as we came the motorway I spied a precarious little road clinging to the side of a mountain. ”Look at that” I said, ”Some crazy fool drives up that.” Wife remained silent. Five minutes later I’m the fool driving up this steep narrow road, seemingly to the heavens. Cars flew up behind us, motorbikes performing kamikaze overtaking, and on we went, switchback, curve, climb and sweaty hands all round.

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Finally we arrived at Chamonix for a well earned rest and a reassuringly expensive burger and fries, along with a long deep breath. Chamonix was full of people intent on climbing high, gliding off mountains and hanging from ropes off sheer cliffs. Good luck to them!! After that a leisurely drive took us into beautiful Annecy.