Fishing off St Tropez: Oblade, Sar et Saupe

So………. to use common parlance, we arrive back at Frejus.  We have had a three and a half hour sail to the straits between Les Iles Lerins where we swam and ate bavettes before making a run for our home port.  We have a drink at La Terrasse before eating a light supper around avocadoes and a handful of prawns.  Before I go to bed I surf the internet and find various articles and commentaries amongst which is this piece in the Guardian regarding Boris Johnson and whether he has been outmanoeuvred:  if he runs for Tory leadership and fails to trigger Article 50 he is finished, if he does not run and abandons the field then he is finished, if he runs, wins and pulls the UK out of the EU, then it will be over.  Scotland will break away, there will be upheaval in Ireland, a recession, broken trade agreements.  Then he is also finished…………..  In actual fact things play out rather differently over the immediately succeeding days which just goes to prove that in politics you cannot predict anything.  And as I and others are prompted to say several times as events unfold in a way beyond the most fanciful of fiction “You couldn’t make it up…..”

On the morrow we have arrived at the penultimate day of our holiday with the Tailles.  Nick and I plan to take them out to lunch in one of the nicer restaurants in the marina.  After lunch we have some quiet time on the boat then Olivier turns up to help Francois and Nick install the new batteries.  Finally.  We give Olivier a thank you apero at La Terrasse before returning to the boat for supper.  I log on to read my messages and download thirty including one from Liz with a photo of Mum and the legend “She’s been all smiles since she got here!”  I know what this means 🙂

Next day we take the boat along to St Tropez.  Asked where I would like to go I make this suggestion which does not immediately find favour but this is because our hosts think I want to land and explore.  No thanks, I am happy if we anchor offshore and chill out.  As we are leaving the marina someone asks where Rachel is.  ??!!!  Well she is certainly not on the boat so we motor back to the pontoon and spend about twenty minutes searching for the errant cat who has hidden herself behind the console on a neighbouring boat.

Once anchored off St Trop in the Baie de Canebiers Francois and Nick try a bit of fishing both before and after lunch (Christine Street’s chicken curry) and are successful in landing enough for supper.  They catch three species: oblade, sar and saupe which are all bream-like fish which fillet nicely and give us a delicious supper.   Then there is the Joy of Packing.

Le Parfum de la Ville

It is clear when I wake up the next day that it is going to be a hot one.  After a couple of Ryvita and a super shower I have been kick-started for the day.  We need to do a quick shopping foray for ship’s stores.  It is swelteringly hot as we set off from the boat and have to toil uphill to the shopping area which is set above the restaurants and the tourist area.  Walking downhill I am knocked back by swathes of Morning Glory cloaking people’s frontage walls and railings as Fefe and I walk past.

Much later, after a light supper, Francois encourages Nick and I to go back into the town to explore its hinterland, la Vieille Ville.  We climb up flights of stone steps and reach the church with the lovely clocktower and the Magnolia grandiflora in the adjacent courtyard.  The cool stillness of the church interior is striking and so restful.  We linger a while, each in our own reflection, then come out and track east towards the old town.  We walk along dark, vaulted lanes, alleys, impasses.  Deserted and hushed – there is little sign of life.  Looking up I see the occasional open-ended pipe projecting fromt he floor of an overhanging wooden privy.  Probably not in use these days!!  Some of the heavy arched wooden doors are perforated by a circle of holes at eye level.  Well that is tempting 😉  The couple that I peer through give into what looks like a fairly basis kitchen.blogIMG_4545 (2)

We come to the end of one of these ‘ruelles voutees’ and stumble on some small bistrots which straddle the narrow stairways that lead down to the area which is dominated by restaurants, cafes and bars.  As we meander past the various establishments we can see that several are showing football matches on the big screens: Sweden v. Belgium, Italy v. Ireland.  We settle at a table and order a drink as our payment for a ‘ticket’.  Belgium and Ireland are the victors.

We walk back along the Cliffside passage and notice the large moon across the harbour.  I try to photograph it but moons are fickle when cooperating with a mobile phone camera.  In fact any but the most sophisticated cameras in my limited experience.  Earlier I did manage a photo of a horizon sporting lovely pink and mauve stripes running along where the sky meets the sea.  Francois says this phenomenon gives rise to ‘Cote d’Azur’.


Une Balade aux Ils Lérins

I’m awake early after a few sound hours of sleep.  Our cabin is pretty tiny and we will need to be imaginative and inventive in finding places to stow our belongings.  But it is managed and with this task achieved I feel we have moved onboard.

With a tartine for breakfast out of the way we go ashore to use the washing facilities.  Féfé has an appointment with her hairdresser, François joins Nick and me for a swim off the beach at Fréjus.  There are some endoskeletons of Velella on the tideline but no splashes of violet to indicate that their prey are about.  It would be fun to find a few Janthina shells on this holiday, no other souvenirs would be required….. except happy memories.

The swim is good and Fefe joins us at the beach before we return to ‘Till’ for lunch.  After we must stock up on supplies from the supermarket.  Originally the intention was to set sail for Corsica on this day but the weather for an 18-hour crossing is not clement so we are going to run along the coast to anchor off les Iles Lérins. blog-Dolphins We are five living beings on the boat, not forgetting the ship’s cat, Rachel the Siamese.  blog-shipscatAs we leave Fréjus marina and head out to sea we are thrilled to see the tell-tale splashing and flash of dark curvaceous shapes which suggests that dolphins are about.  François steers the boat towards the activity which in the end we realise is taking place all around us.  As we reach the headland where we will turn east to sail along the coast our last sighting is of a large pair, cavorting in tandem.  It is a sight to warm the heart.  We motor for some two and a half hours, passing at one point a stretch of coast at the headland of Dramont in the heart of the Esterel Massif, where the lithology is a startling red, the colour of rocks rich in oxidised iron.  Juxtaposed is a reef of distinct green rocks at sealevel.  I will need to search the internet to try and find out what is going on there geologically.

We find an anchorage in the strait between the two islands: Saint-Honorat and Sainte-Marguerite.  I had hoped for a second swim of the day but not long after dropping our anchor we find ourselves in the middle of a startling thunderstorm with forks of lightning streaking down around us.  In the sanctuary of the saloon we survey the scene and tuck into supper which we have ordered from ‘Catamaran Pizza’, a floating purveyor of cooked-to-order pizza.  A long day and late night catch up with me.  I am asleep by 22.00h and will sleep for a good nine hours.







A Voyage with Fefe – Part 1

After a ‘super-sympa’ soiree with our neighbours, at which we were served delicious raie a la crème by Anne, we tumbled into bed,  setting an alarm for 7 a.m.  Nick is up several times in the night: he remembers he has not packed his pyjamas, he has not turned off the water heater, charged his camera, scooped up some holiday Euros from the secret cache!  When the day begins we have three hours in which to perform a few basic preparations before shutting up the house.  Amazing how that time evaporates and before we know it Bri is on our doorstep in good time to drive us to Valognes station.

There is a train strike in France and we are thankful that, at least, our first train which takes us from Valognes to Paris St Lazare is running to schedule.  There is, however, a problem with the Paris Gare de Lyon TGV which should take us to St Raphael-Valescure and we will have to wait two hours to board that train.  Dinner at Frejus will be late tonight.

We board the Paris train and find our seats.  They are squashy so I decide to take a punt and sit at a table.  There are so few passengers on the train at this stage that it does not appear to be a problem.  Certainly the inspector does not see one as he clips my ticket.  Much later in the journey I a joined by two burly eastern Europeans and Nick finds his seating companion is a suspect character who seems to be using avoidance strategies with regard to the showing of his ticket.

We arrive at Paris St Lazare and then weave our way round the concourses and down escalators to find Metro Ligne 14 and then Trains Grands Lignes.  Nick so hates it……… unfamiliar, he stresses, feeding his Metro ticket into the wrong slot and losing it and getting all hot and bothered about the waste…….  But eventually we find ourselves in Hall 2 with our rail tickets updated and the prospect of a train at 1719h.  I phone Fefe and pass on our joyful news.  And then with a bucket of Costa Coffee beside me I start my paper journal.  It is some seven years since I kept a written travel journal but I am moved to do so because I think access to internet to blog will be limited and potentially costly.  Whilst waiting for our train we grab sandwiches and salads to tide us over then at 1700h we go out onto the concourse and there is a multitude standing and staring at the screen waiting for the platform number for their train to appear.  I just know that nearly everyone is expecting to board our train.  And so it transpires.  Number 23 flashes up and there is a headlong rush.  Fortunately we have placed ourselves on the periphery of the crowd so we reach the narrow barrier where all the eager passengers are being channelled through by rail staff who issue tickets for a coach number based on priority.  Because we were booked on an earlier, but cancelled train, we are assured of a place.  The whole process is thoroughly undignified but we are thankful to find ourselves in seats half way along the train.  We settle down to read, listen to audio books, playing a bit of Bridge Baron.

The train speeds down through France.  From the corner of my eye I see landscapes, vistas but would have to be vigilant to monitor the shifts of topography, terrain and vegetation type.  Chusan1We arrive at Marseille. Marseille1960 I recall that I was last in Marseille sixty years ago when the P&O ship, ‘Chusan’, docked there on its way back from Hong Kong.  I remember the doll my sister Christina was bought for her birthday, “Bella” and the lovely white leathersantonscasual shoes I was bought and grew out of in weeks.  And the flower market and the collection of little painted terra cotta figurines which my parents bought.  These are figures are called ‘santons’ and are for Nativity creches, being unique to Provence.

It is not that long after that our train pulls into Saint Raphael-Valescure and there is Francois with a jolly friend Patrick who has kindly agreed to pick us up in his car.  He has even forgone a first date with an Englishwoman because our train was delayed by two hours.

We meet the boat that will be our home for the next three weeks.  Her name is ‘Till’.  There is a splendid Osso Buco on the stove, to be eaten with linguine and amid much merriment we enjoy our first meal on board.  It is 0100h when we scramble into our sleeping bags lined with red silk inners and tumble into our bunk.