Well, to put it succinctly, “on the road”. Since my last blog several days ago, I have been bombing from one place to the next with little time except for the basics: eating, sleeping, touring sites, driving, car maintenance, laundry, etc. Time to write the blog has just not been available. So here is a rather long “catch up” post.
Southern England and Isle of Wight
After leaving Penzance and touring the far reaches of Cornwall, covered in my last post, I headed east along England’s south coast, the so-called Jurassic Coast, named for the incredible quantity of fossil material found here and the millions of years of exposed sedimentation.
The weather was good and some of the views especially good. England really has a lot of nice beaches, and while the high season is over, and the kids back in school, with the good weather, many looked promising. The little tourist towns were largely empty and many of the attractions and restaurants already closed for the season…. just fine by me. The photos below will tell the story.
Along the way I came to Fort du Latte (coffee fort, maybe I was just looking for a break?). No I was expecting it. Very interesting site to Google, pix below.
Try climbing that to attack!
Cap de Ferret in the background, famous view point, but seen it from here, do not need to see it from there. Besides 5 hour drive today.
Yes, I climbed to the top
Proof I got to the top!
This is the central room in the keep. The owner was a big shot. In addition to a fireplace, furniture, etc., this is an indoor “privy”! Right in the middle of the bedroom. The “stuff” ends up running down the walls, which makes them more defensible. Clever!
Route through the New Forest: https://tinyurl.com/yb58hk4a
After a couple of nights on the coast, I took the 40-minute ferry to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. The Isle is not large (maybe 10 miles by 30 miles), but much of the coast line is picturesque white chalk cliffs. No one told me, but if you ever go, drive the Isle in a clockwise direction for the best views. I often found great scenes in my rearview mirror and had to turn around and re-drive the route to see it at its best.
About half way around, I stopped for the night in Shanklin. My beach side hotel had a great patio out front, and the weather and beach so nice that there were many sunbathers. The south coast of the Isle faces the northward flowing Gulf Stream, so the water is “warm” and the temps mild. Could have hung out here for a few days.
Route to hotel on Isle of Wight: https://tinyurl.com/ybmyy4r9
Pix below are on the ferry back to Portsmouth
Next morning, I drove a bit more and decided to go inland to the island’s only big town, Newport. Big mistake. The traffic was horrendous, and I barely made my 1pm ferry to Portsmouth. Another short 40-minute crossing, then on to my hotel in Sherrill Heath for three nights and the Goodwood Revival.
Along the way I passed through the New Forest (and several other AONB’s). New Forest is home to a.) the great Beaulieu Auto Jumble (if you know it, you know it, but it was last week), the National Motor Museum (more below), and lots of wildlife in the road, including ponies, horses, cows, sheep and other unidentified four legged objects, which have no fear whatsoever of cars.
Route through the New Forest: https://tinyurl.com/yb58hk4a
I have been to the National Motor Museum before, but now there is a special Top Gear exhibit. The 20-minute video brought back lots of fond memories and some of the special vehicles on display were great to see, though in horrible condition! Those guys really risked their lives on some of these stunts. Visited the museum again, as the pix show. The motorcycle exhibit was the best. Cindi, I want a Triumph Bonneville for my next birthday!
Route from Isle of Wight to Hotel in Sherrill Heath: https://tinyurl.com/yck6bbuh
(My apologies. Due to “circumstances beyond my control”, (i.e. I lost me frickin’ cell phone), photos of Goodwood will be delayed, while I spend numerous hours trying to retrieve, backup, cancel, download, wipe, disconnect, trash, hide and otherwise try to preserve my privacy. At least with “find my phone” I know where it is, they just won’t return my calls! Am I surprised? No just stupid.)
The Goodwood Revival
Most of you know all about Goodwood and the Revival. Pre-1966 vintage races and a “back to the 40’s” full on nostalgia experience. I will let me friend Mike Biss’ (a first timer) report on his impressions stand for me:
“FAR beyond anything we have in the US and I could have imagined. The racing was pretty much like the Monterey Historics but with more eclectic cars racing (Ed: Here is disagree with Mike. In the US we have “Gentlemen’s Rules”, over here it is all out fender-scrapping racing in million-dollar cars). 80-90% of the folks in attendance were in 20s- 60s period outfits. The women are really into it. There were all kinds of shopping tents with car stuff, car restoration, cars for sale, beauty stuff, and places that do period make-up and hair styles. Also, lots of vintage clothing shops (new and used) for both men and women.
There are carnival rides for the young and old. There are old buses, trucks and cars on static display as well as a small train you can ride and a full-size steam train. There are the typical pits you can walk thru or around. There are WWI and WWII aircraft that do flyovers and are on display. There are also all kinds of WWII equipment on display with all the folks in period correct uniforms (men and women). There is an outdoor movie theatre where you can sit in lounge chairs or old cars that they have sitting in front of the screen playing famous old movies.
Bonham’s has an auction as well. And… there are a couple of places that play live 40s big band music some with performers like the Andrew’s sisters and lots of folks dancing the swing dance. It is absolutely amazing! And it is the most well-run and organized event I have ever attended. I hear they get over 150,000 people thru there, but it is a breeze getting in and out. Especially if you are in an old car. Which brings me to one of my favorite parts. There are two parking areas. One for pre-65 and one for “tax exempt cars” up to somewhere in the mid/late 70s). It is the most amazing car show you could imagine. There were several MBZ gullwing cars, over a dozen Aston Martin DB5s, a couple of Ferrari 250s, several Dinos. The parking lot was AMAZING!!!! “
Much to my chagrin, Goodwood seems to have become a victim of its own success. This year they sold 160,000 tickets each day. That’s up from 80,000 when I first attended 15 years ago, and it was crowded then. If anything, the nostalgia craze is bigger than ever, with at least 90% of the people, and all of the service staff, in vintage clothing. It seems this event has really caught on with the younger crowd, and the 20 and 30-something gals were clearly in their glory.
I met up with Frank and Jean Gauer and Patti Fox and we all stayed at the same place. Jean commented on the “tarty” interpretation of clothing styles that some of the younger gals had on display. “We never dressed like that!”. Maybe not, but I enjoyed it!
Though we attended all three days, I think I only saw a half dozen races, one of them being the kid’s peddle car race in vintage Austin A40 peddle cars (see pix). There were so many other things to see and do, the days flew by and my legs were aching by the end of each one. Fortunately, I was able to park in the special “pre-66” parking lot, right by the gate, so that saved some long walks. That lot alone was a car show worthy of an hour a day. On the first day we parked next to a dozen Facel Vega’s!
Yes, I was “in costume” all three days. See the pix.
Anyway, I would still go back to Goodwood, but with a more researched and disciplined schedule.
On the way to Goodwood I suffered a “mechanical”. Blew out the exhaust manifold to pipe gasket on the front manifold. Not serious but LOUD! I sent an email to my friends in the Jaguar Driver’s Club, and within 30 minutes they found a guy to fix it on Saturday only 20 minutes away! He did a great job and even checked over the car and adjusted the carbs while it was there. I rode with Frank and Jean to Goodwood that day, so didn’t miss a thing.
Off to Europe
On Sunday night, in order to save a day, I took the overnight ferry to St. Malo, France. Well at least I thought I was. My lack of military experience (and telling 24-hour time) resulted in arriving at the ferry port just as my boat set sail. I misread the departure time as 10pm instead of 8pm. Fortunately, the nice people at British Ferries rebooked me on a later boat to Caen (which actually arrived two hours earlier), and even managed to get me a private cabin. I really didn’t sleep much and had a 5am wake up call, but at least the privacy and quiet were nice. These overnight ferries are a great way to get from A to B and save a night in a hotel.
My ferry to (St. Malo) by way of Caen
Cabin not to different than my first cruise 40 years ago
Of course, once I got to Caen, I had a two-hour drive to St. Malo, so ended up arriving about the same time as planned. I had rented a nice little apartment for two nights. It wasn’t ready yet, but the owner met me and helped me park the Jag in his private garage space a few blocks away. I spent the rest of the day touring around this remarkable walled city. If you have read “All the Light We Cannot See”, a long-term best seller a few years back, you will recognize St. Malo (no pun intended if you read the book). So much history here.
The apartment turned out to be a love-hate thing. Cute place with a peek a boo view of the ocean, located right next to the old walls, washer and drier and a little more space than the usual hotel or B&B room. However, it was on the fourth floor and accessed by a narrow, unlit spiral staircase with treads not more then 4” wide. You definitely would not be carrying a suitcase up those stairs.
The square at the center is a unique salt water pool, see below for how they refill it.
Now it’s low tide, page back to see the same view at high tide.
Views from my apartment window.
This is the swimming pool at high tide. No pumps or chlorine needed, just let the sea do it.
Ok, food news. From the time I got to France and headed south, it was crepes everywhere. If Ireland if full of bars, this part of France is all creperies. Restaurant, bars, sidewake cafes, and take aways. All Crepes. So you learn a little bit. Firstly, there are two kind of crepes, sweet (as we think of them) an savory (called Gallatin or more properly Gallatin de Saresin). All are served on buckwheat pancakes with a sort of performated look from the bubbles (i.e. crepe). The pancakes themselves are neutral in flavor, the distinction comes from the toppings. Crepes are sweet…..toppings include (almost require) chocolate, whipped creme, berries, etc. These are served for breakfast, afternoon snack, and desert after dinner. Gallatin are the same pancakes, served with something non-sweet. As above this is my breakfast, with eggs and bacon.
As above, this is a Gallitan for lunch, with rolled pork and onions. Both were great. (Sorry, I had a bite or two before thinking to take the pix).
The next day I made the one-hour drive to Mount St. Michel (way too crowded) and then on the less well know medieval city of Dinan. There I walked down the steep main street to the river side and “climbed” back up a rough zig-zag path to the old town. What a work out, but worth it.
Route to Mt. St. Michel and Dinan and back to St. Malo: https://tinyurl.com/y7nrpdby
Mt. St. Michel pix below. The line for the BUS to get to the Mount was over 90 minutes! I can only imagine how packed that little rock was. Not for me baby. I paid my 6 euros parking fee, took a few shots and left.
The town of Dinan proved a much better choice. The main city on the upper mount and the port down by the river.
This is the street down to the port, it does not give the full impression of how damn steep it was, and for half a mile on cobblestones.
Finally down to the river. Now it’s back to the top via this path! The path was called “of the Apples”. Nice because in addition to the steepness, there were these little fricken’ apples on the path!
Proof that I made it to the top.
Down the French Coast
After leaving St. Malo, it was down the coast toward my destination, the Pyrenees. Stops in the coast side village of Trebeurden, Rochefort and Bordeaux were interesting, as were the Atlantic views and miles and miles of vineyards. Bordeaux was a great find, sort of like taking all the good parts of Paris and enclosing them in a 1 square mile pedestrian zone. Grand Plazas, monuments, fountains, inviting little plazas with outdoor cafes, shopping, bars, narrow alleys, cobblestone streets. This is definitely a place to stop for a day or two if you are ever in the area. Outstanding seafood too. And of course, the wines. I must have passed 200 wineries.
Pix below of Bordeaux
No matter how far you go, you can’t get away from SoCal. See beer at bottom.
The beach at St. Jean du Luz
Route from St. Malo to Trebuerdan: https://tinyurl.com/yaq3wtkj
Route from Trebuerdan to Rockefort: https://tinyurl.com/yb432bsg
Route fro Rockefort to Bordeaux: https://tinyurl.com/ycpl93v6
Route from Bordeaux to Anglet: https://tinyurl.com/y8taxm5y
Off to the Pyrenees
So today I have a day off in Anglet, France, near the higher end, and much more expensive, towns of Biarritz and Cap St. Jean du Luz. Two nights, beach, pool, spa. I write this as I sit in a laundromat waiting for my clothes to dry but enjoying a croissant and coffee. The French know how to do life, even the mundane parts. I also gave the Jag a good wash and complete check over before starting my daunting trip tomorrow. I can see the Pyrenees from my hotel window. They look AWESOME (and a bit scary). What a test for the Jag! Three days and almost 900 miles. Hope you hear from me on the other (Mediterranean) side.