Sunday, 10 February 2013

Safe haven

The palette changes daily here
We have settled happily back aboard. We've come up with a pretty good strategy to cope with the shower block shortcomings. It's trugs to the rescue again! We take the two largest with us into the shower so that the clothes and towels can be dryly stowed in one with the other over top. They also then provide a clean and dry place to stand in while dressing. Such are the small things that provide us with a sense of achievement these days.

Shrimper takes a mudbath in the outer channel
The weather has been very unsettled, with occasional very nice days scattered in between spells of heavy rain and powerful winds. The first bad storm we've experienced here blew through one day last week. The wind got up to 50 knots out of the west but so complete is the shelter in this harbour that we weren't troubled in the least. The boat rocked a bit with the gusts and the tarp crackled quite loudly but we were snug and safe.

L'estuaire - the flats have only been cultivated for 60 years
Tour de Beaumont - 19thC. navigational aid
St. Fort sur Gironde - another of the area's fine churches
Something we've noticed with the return to cooler latitudes is what a difference it makes to one's enjoyment of warm sunshine. All through the last warm winter we spent in the Canaries we were enjoying the sun all right, but it wasn't the same visceral satisfaction remembered from Scotland. It's the same with taking a hot shower.

Bad news for the rodent population
There are signs of spring already though. The days are stretching noticeably and the storks have returned. Bird watching on the mudflats has been particularly good, with large flocks of lapwings and avocets that fly around looking like shoals of fish each late afternoon. There are also shellducks, geese of some sort and various small waders that never come close enough to be identified. We've also seen quite a lot of a local pair of barn owls who start hunting over a nearby field just before sunset.

Tower above the 3rd century Hermitage
Our wellie boots are seeing plenty of action
This evening's tide was quite a high one. The French use a coefficient system to express tidal height. It ranges from 20, for a low neap tide, to 118 for the maximum spring tide. The mean spring is 95. Today we had 100 and it looked like this:

High water

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