Today I met up with my friend Birdie and we went to Porquerolles, an island due south of Hyeres. On the way to the port to get the boat we passed the saltings full of flamingoes and Birdie, who is keen on birdwatching, gazed longingly out of the window at the bus as we zipped past.
We get on the boat and zip across to the island. It's windy and a bit choppy but the sky is cloudless and we're sitting outside taking photos.
I love this island and go there every time I'm in Hyeres. There are virtualy no cars on it, no dog do no smoking, in fact none of the things I object to most. We set off for the plage d'argent (silver beach).
The path changes from tarmac with houses and gardens to gravel with gardens and houses and we pass marshy bits and foresty bits and get at last to the pine woods that fringe the beach with soft, white, sinkable sand between the trees.
If you are wearing sandals, this is murder to walk on, and it's bad enough in trainers. You slither and skid and it's very hard work though probably good for the calf muscles, if you're thinking of your calf muscles.
Through the pines we can see the glittery blue glass of the sea. The scent of the pines and the sea is something that would make you millions if you could bottle it.
The weather is superb today. The sea is sparkling and the sand is offwhite and we sit on a log for lunch and look at the view.
Birdie comments that the beach looks tropical and I reply it was the first white sand beach I ever saw. It is still one of my favourite beaches. There are half a dozen people, some yachts moored and a gull eyeing us balefully. You wouldn't believe the water could be that blue if you'd spent your childhood paddling in the North Sea, which I did.
So we potter around taking photos (Birdie is keen on this and has a whole bagful of camera stuff. My camera is from Argos). We consult the timetable and Birdie suggests a stop off at the saltings to look at the flamingoes. So we head back and get off the bus halfway along the saltings and try to get into the saltings but for some reason the way in is shut so we have to hover along the edge of the road.
There are plenty of flamingoes. There are flamingoes with their heads in the water, flamingoes looking at us, flamingoes having a barny with each other, at one spectacular point flamingoes flying along to the next salting. Even my camera can take pix of them, they are that close.
This is the place where I took many grey photos on Sunday. Now the sky is brilliant blue, the reflections are briliant blue, there is green from the greenery and a couple of egrets which Birdie points out to me are white, therefore not flamingoes (yes I got it wrong. You can't take me anywhere). So after an hour, we get the next bus back to Hyeres and I walk Birdie to the station. Then I walk back to the hotel, taking a pic of the castle at the top of the hill, which I climbed up to on Saturday.
Then I have a shower and get changed and go for dinner and find a stupendous restaurant and eat:
Fish soup with aioli and cheese and croutons and medium steak with mushrooms and morels and potatoes roasted in their skin with olive and cream sauce and bread and a pudding called a farandole. I order this because I don't know what it is. It turns out to be a tasting plate of FOUR puddings:
white chocolate mousse
hot chocolate fondant
tiramisu with chestnut puree in it.
Owing to having walked an awful long way today I eat it all without difficulty.
Thank goodness for long walks, eh? I'm just off to track my exercise minutes against my food consumption and see if all this was justified. If it's not, you'll hear the howls, I promise.
You don't really need to know how much wine I drank, so stop asking.