Wednesday Wander – Biarritz At Dusk

I recently took a trip to Basque country, visiting San Sebastian in Spain and Biarritz in France. Less than an hour’s drive lies between the two cities, even though they are in different countries. I thoroughly enjoyed the holiday – there is a magic to that stretch of coast and I felt very at home there, for some reason.

I saw a lot of different places while I was away, including two locations used for Dragonstone in Game of Thrones (I blogged about them here and here), so will be writing a few Wednesday Wanders about the various locales. This week, I’m wandering to Biarritz, and the beautiful main beach at dusk. We spent a lot of time walking along here, both day and night, as it was the direct route into the town centre. With the beautiful view, the combination of rocks and sea and sky coupled with Art Deco architecture, it was a pleasure every time.

One of the buildings along the seafront at Biarritz is the Casino. Built in the 1920s, it was opened only a few weeks before the Stock Market crash that marked the end of the glittering art Deco era. It is a beautiful reminder of that decadent time, nonetheless, and a survivor – plans to knock it down in the 90s were thankfully scuppered, and the building restored and designated a historical monument. Nowadays it contains a pool, restaurants and a casino, and was full of people every time we passed by.

The walk along the beach also passes this lovely islet, connected by a stone bridge to the mainland. It seemed like something out of a fairy tale (so I loved it, obviously). There was also a lovely church, as well as the old fishing village, which I’ll write about in more detail soon.

But for now, let us look at the gold and violet sky, the shimmer of ocean against dark sand, the clean lines of the Art Deco building, the warm lights of the coastline against the dusk sky. It is a supremely romantic coastline, with a warmth in the air that filled me with joy.

I can’t wait to go back one day.

Thank you for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and would like to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Wednesday Wander – Monterey, California

This week I’m wandering along the California coast line, to the town of Monterey. Almost half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Monterey has been a fishing village and cannery, both the Mexican and the Spanish capital of Alta California (during the Mexican-American war), the only point of entry for taxable goods in California, the place where a guitar god created his legend (Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop), home to California’s first theater, the backdrop to a Star Trek movie, and, nowadays, a popular tourist destination.

Monterey is set on a coastline teeming with wildlife, where you can watch sea otters and dolphins as you eat breakfast, the clear blue waters home to sharks, shellfish and delicate kelp forests. Ancient shell middens found along the coast speak of a rich hunter gatherer culture before Spanish settlement, the Rumsen Ohlone tribe hunting and fishing the plentiful waters .

I’ve been to Monterey twice – once in 1985 and once in 2015, almost thirty years later to the day. And it doesn’t seem to have changed much in that time, at least as far as I can remember. The famous aquarium is still the same, as are the charming streets. A building I remembered as being blue is now painted dark red, and I would imagine quite a few of the shops have changed hands. It’s still a lovely place to stay, perched midway between the cool of the North and the heat of the South, with that particular feeling you get on the Pacific west coast, a sense of pine and water and nature crowding at the boundaries, just waiting to take over once more. and the coastline beyond is beautiful, sea mists and mountains meeting water, the views some of the best in the world.

But that’s a wander for another day… Thanks for coming on this week’s Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Amazon Author Page to see more.

Wednesday Wander… On A Thursday – Morocco

I know, I know, yesterday was Wednesday. But the snot monster who has returned to lodge in my head and chest forgot to remind me, and so here we are, Thursday, and no Wednesday Wander written.

So, as I’ve still not managed to dislodge the beast, I’m going to wander somewhere warm. I’ve wandered there before, but this time I’m hoping the reminder of sun and sand and sweet ocean breezes might tempt it away, and I can get back to normal again.

I’m in Morocco, on the coast north of Agadir, where the Atlantic waves roll in. If you’re looking for warmth, this is the place – the food, the people, the very air vibrates with heat, welcoming weary travellers from far and wide.

It is a place of light and roses and the scent of orange blossoms, of lanterns and stone walls and camels by the side of the road. A place where you can go and just be, listening to the waves and watching the sun set, golden, a sense of magic in the air.

I’d like to be there right now, to be honest.

Thanks for coming along on another Wednesday (Thursday) Wander with me – see you next time!


If you enjoyed this post and want to read more, you can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJFacebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Plus my latest book release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon. Visit my Author Page to see more.

Thursday Doors – Casa Del Mar

img_0534This lovely ornate door belongs to Casa Del Mar, also known as House A, at Hearst Castle, California. Casa Del Mar, which translates to House Of The Sea, is one of three guest houses on the site, and is where William Randolph Hearst and his family stayed while Casa Grande, the main house, was being built.

img_0505Hearst was a collector on a grand scale, spending months travelling through Europe buying up art and antiquities, even parts of buildings, then shipping them back to California to be incorporated into his dream home. So this lovely door may have started life long before it came to live on the Enchanted Hill. Nowadays Hearst Castle is a National Monument, open to the public for tours and events. However, there is still enchantment to be found on the hill high above the ocean, and the castle remains a place of fascination for me.

img_0504This is my entry for Norm 2.0’s Thursday Doors Challenge – for more doors, or to add one of your own, visit Norm’s site and click the link.


You can find me on Twitter @AuthorHelenJ, and check our my Facebook Page, Instagram and Pinterest Page for book info, photos, blogs and more.

Plus my latest release, A Thousand Rooms, is now available on Amazon.

 

 

Wednesday Wander – Portmeirion, Wales

portmeirion-2I’ve chosen to wander to the village of Portmeirion, North Wales, this week. There are a couple of reasons for doing so; one, it’s a pretty interesting place and, two, it’s fifty years ago this week since filming started on cult television series The Prisoner, which used the village as its backdrop.

portmeirion-3The Prisoner starred Patrick McGoohan as a man known only as Number Six, held prisoner in the village for reasons that remain unclear. Every week he would try to escape, and every week he would fail. The other residents of the village were also known by numbers, rather than names, and huge white balloons called Rovers floated about, preventing the inhabitants from escaping. (For more info, check out this BBC News website article). While the show only ran for seventeen episodes, it became a cult classic – Prisoner conventions are held at the village every year, and the annual music festival  is called Number Six, in homage to McGoohan’s character.

portmeirion-5But even without the bizarre alternate world of The Prisoner, Portmeirion is, as I said, a rather interesting place. Built between 1925 and 1975, it is the brainchild of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, who wanted to create an homage to the Mediterranean coast. However, this particular slice of Italianate heaven is set on the rather less balmy, yet no less beautiful, North Welsh coast, where the sea shines silver under rolling clouds, mountains stretching green into the distance.

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The lush gardens and buildings have inspired many writers and musicians over the years – Noel Coward wrote Blithe Spirit while staying there, while Iron Maiden wrote a song called The Prisoner which included a sample of dialogue from the show. The village has also featured in videos for Supergrass, XTC and Siouxsie & The Banshees, to name a few, as well as being used in film and TV productions including Doctor Who and Cold Feet. Frank Lloyd Wright, the esteemed architect (and one of my favourites) visited the village in 1959 – the list goes on…

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I first visited Portmeirion as a child then, later, returned as an adult. It was as magical as I remembered, even on a cloudy day – the colours and shapes beautiful against the lush green shrubbery. And, hidden among the trees, my friend and I found a small pet cemetery complete with gravestones – a poignant reminder of the family who owned and lived in the village for many years. Now Portmeirion is owned by a charitable trust and you can stay in the village itself, as most of the buildings were designed, and have always been used as, a hotel and self-catering cottages. I think it might be an ideal place to go for a writing retreat – anyone interested? 😀

Thanks for coming on another Wednesday Wander with me – see you next time!

Wednesday Wander – Aughris House, Sligo

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This is the Beach House at Aughris, Ireland, an ancient pub and B&B that happens to serve very fine meals. Sitting on the curve of a silvery bay, it looks across the shifting sands to mountains and the burial cairn of a legendary queen, while the stones on the beach contain fossils even older still, treasure for small hands to find.

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There is not much in the way of so-called civilisation to be seen in these parts – just a few other houses behind the dunes, cattle calling in the evergreen fields. Yet not far away is a burial ground that predates the pyramids, vast stones levered into place to mark and protect the dead by a culture long gone.

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The streams run clear and cool from the misty mountains to the edge of the Atlantic, the ocean stretching West to new lands. And the evening brings warmth, music and good food to be had, with a place by the roaring fire.

Thank you for joining me on another Wednesday Wander – see you next time!

Wednesday Wander – London Bridge, Portsea

London Bridge

No, it’s not the London Bridge you might be thinking of. This is a rock formation called London Bridge, at Portsea back beach just outside Melbourne, Australia. There used to be another arch of rock stretching into the ocean, hence the name, but it collapsed quite suddenly, leaving only two remaining.

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It’s a wonderful place to look for sea glass and shells, or mermaid jewels, as we used to call them. The vast rock pool next to it is calm and warm, perfect for days when the surf is too rough or the swimmers too small. The surf pounds hard on the southern Australian coast, the water much colder than you would think, and it shapes the rocks into towers and caverns and sculptures, magical to explore.

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For quite a few years this was my back yard, the beach just a short walk from home, cool sea mists wreathing the ti-tree and moonah. I miss the sound of waves at night, the smell of salt in the air. And so this week I chose to wander back there again – thanks for coming along with me.