10 August 2007


Yo ho - back from our hols. Everything went pretty much according to plan as we made our way from Biarritz on the Atlantic to Argeles on the Mediterranean - running parallel to the mighty Pyrenees and staying for four nights with my brother Robin near Pamiers. We ate well and enjoyed two fantastic meals at "Logis de France" restaurants. Sorry to all you religious wallahs out there but by far the weirdest place we visited was Lourdes where there were traffic jams of unfortunates in wheelchairs and Victorian bath chairs. How weird it was to see people lighting enormous prayer candles and filling their plastic souvenir bottles with holy water. As a lifelong atheist, I felt as if I had landed on another planet. Rather than rattle on about our holiday in southern France here's a little "gallerie de photographie" for your edification:-

Above: The beach at beautiful Biarritz.

Below: Aliens collecting holy water in holy plastic bottles from the holy taps at Lourdes.

Above: Snails bubbling at a village party near Mirepoix

Below: High on an Ariege hill - my brother Robin's farmhouse and gites.

Above: Pyrenneen horses roaming above 2000 metres.

Below: The changing face of the ever present mountains.

Below: The Mediterranean just above Cerbere and three miles from the border with Spain.


  1. welcome back. agree with you about lourdes, full of weird people doing weird things and all those little shops selling religious statues, icons, plastic bottles? what ever happened about not worshiping craven images or what ever it was? glad you had a nice time & spot on pics too!

  2. Muddyboots-- If people are doing it right, they're not worshipping graven images, but collecting icons of their favorite saints much as one would snap pictures of their favorite people. The temptation to give into "magical thinking" is there, though. I have often prayed before going on a journey not so much out of heartfelt devotion to God as hope that the prayer will shield me from angry, crazy motorists.

    I enjoyed the photos, YP! Did you eat the snails? I ate part of an escargot once and didn't enjoy it. I suspect that had the critter been sauteed in butter and garlic, I would have had a much better experience. Butter and bacon make everything* better!

    *Well, maybe not gin and tonic drinks.

  3. Fabs holiday pics as ever YP.

    Love the mare and foal and the blue blue sea ...

  4. Not an atheist. Some of us pagans use holy water too. Only we make our own. Also water caught from the first rain fall of May is good too.
    Yea..I don't want snails either.. Went on a date with this ass once that ordered snails.. trying to impress me.
    Did you eat snail pudding??

    Wonderful photos as always.

  5. Great photos, especially the changing face of the ever present mountains. Brilliant!

    And I agree about Lourdes. I'm with Dawkins. Nuff said.

    I must put in a word in favour of snails. I like them and in fact have cooked and eaten my own at home. Collected 2 dozen adult garden snails, purged them for a couple of weeks, 2 changes of strong brine to get rid of the slime, cook in a stock and white wine sauce. Serve with garlic butter - yum!

  6. Great photos, YP. I love the Pyrennees. Keith and I arrived home last night - all today spent washing...:(

  7. Great pics YP. People at Lourdes - all fucking weird, man. Those horses - hope they tasted nice. I love a bit of horsemeat myself.

  8. Stunning photos. Is it okay that I live vicariously through you? Oh, and I've always been curious; do you and Shirley speak French? I'm betting you both are multi-lingual.

  9. you did better than I, on my recent jaunt into North Yorks....

    remembered my caqmera accessories but forgot the camera!!


    looks like you had a good time - it's a long time since I swam in Biarritz.


  10. is lourdes still crowded with people from gloucestershire? I heard that finding fresh water in Cheltenham this summer really IS a miracle. It's a shame you don't believe though dear, and when I next buy an indulgence I'll get one for you as well..

  11. MUDDYBOOTS. Glad you share my cynicism about the Lourdes experience.
    ALKELDA. No snails but in a restaurant I order a starter I didn't understand and ended up with some delicious prawns accompanied by seven great whelks and a thin fork to prise out the tasteless rubbery flesh.
    M&M I included the horsey picture specially for you.
    BY GEORGE. Thanks for the photographic compliment. Did I eat snail pudding? OR Did you eat snail, Pudding? Snail pudding is not my favourite dessert.
    ROB CLACK. You have not convinced me on the snail front. Snails make my palette feel clacky!
    JENNYTA. How come you got so dirty in France that it took all day to wash yourself? Keith could have hosed you down in the garden!
    REIDSKI. Shhh! M&M might hear us but I have (whisper) also eaten horse. Barbecued horse steaks are delicious.
    FRIDAY. English people abroad generally expect everybody else to speak English but I do speak some rudimentary French mon cherie! "Voulez vous couchez avec moi ce soir?" usually goes down well at the supermarket checkout.
    ARCTIC FIX. Biarritz was a lovely surprise. I could happily spend a week or two there and I would never forget my camera!
    RILLY SUPER. What is an "Indulgence"? A new chocolate bar from Cadbury's?


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