…The Ambassador’s Daughter being slightly sniffy about them, I bought the trousers in which I felt I would be most comfortable during my sojourn in the Pays Basque. They had an outdoorsy, quasi-military sort of look to them; light in weight and colour, cotton and with extra pockets that might be useful where, in the hoped for heat of South West France, a jacket would prove cumbersome. At Biarritz, greeted with temperatures in the low 30’s my wardrobe choices were not only justified but particularly suited to my new interest (in the absence of my spanners) – the observation of local fauna and flora. Not very interesting? Don’t you believe it. Ostabat is an ancient hamlet where three routes to Santiago de Compostela meet before heading towards Spain. You might expect a lot of razzmatazz celebrating this convergence but no, someone has kept the lid on the potential for gaudy excess and Ostabat remains a quiet rural idyll. Wild Fennel abounds and we helped ourselves to a few sprigs to have with supper. Across the other side of the lane Gladiolus Byzantine? These may have escaped from someone’s garden but nevertheless, they were existing in the wild so they count. But the real excitement of the day was when Cook alerted our party to the sky which suddenly filled with vultures that seemed to come from nowhere. The object of their interest was a newly born lamb that was clearly struggling to stand up. Its mother had retreated to the corner of the field as the dinner guests arrived.
But, quite extraordinarily, a cow came to the rescue of the lamb and put up enough of a spirited defence (along with others of the herd that came to join in) to keep the vultures at bay until the farmer arrived and ended the confrontation.
I wished I could have got closer but a wide stream separated the action from our viewpoint. I’m sure events like this are an everyday occurrence in the foothills of the Pyrenees but to stumble upon one as it unfolded was a great, if slightly macabre piece of luck. Once again I’ve asked around to see if anyone knows of someone with une voiture de collection but drawn a blank. I think my fix will be in Pau at the historic racing in ten or twelve days time so in the meantime this petrol pump will have to suffice.
And this is a Helibore. There’s a nursery not many miles from me that charges a fortune for prize-winning Helibores – obviously they’re a bit fancier than this example – but it’s nice to know that these things exist unadulterated in the wild. Of course, I wouldn’t know a Helibore if it jumped up and bit me but fortunately one of our party has some expertise in the field (so to speak) and is identifying each of my discoveries as I go.