It’s always the French air traffic controllers. I wouldn’t be the least surprised to discover that Brexit is actually the result of a French air traffic controllers’ strike. For reasons that I will explain shortly I googled “French air traffic controller strike” and discovered there is actually a website that gives you a full list of planned French transport strike action for the year ahead. FOR THE YEAR AHEAD!
“Allo Henri, what have we got planned for November 2019? Nothing? Sacre Bleu! Who is next on the rota? Channel ports? Excellent, a perfect match for le Brexit.”
Whether the French transport unions handily give out a list so that you can avoid travelling or so that you can pack up your picnic and sit on the sidelines and watch is not clear. However, on Sunday 1st September there was a big blank spot next to French air traffic controllers. Why then, I wondered, were we sitting on a Ryanair plane at Edinburgh airport while the captain patiently explained that due to an issue with French air traffic control we were going to be sitting on said plane for at least three more hours before take off.
On this occasion the French air traffic controllers got a bonus in their holiday chaos bingo game. It was a technical fault. Whilst we were bemoaning the fact that we had had to get up at silly o’clock to be on a 6.55 flight, in the long term it worked in our favour as I gather that many of the flights after us were cancelled.
So it was that we arrived in Santander a little later than planned, but we arrived nonetheless. Car hire sorted and we were on the road to Hondarribia in the Basque Country. Rolling green countryside (it is the wettest part of Spain earning the nickname of Green Spain) made the somewhat longer journey that we had expected quite pleasant.
Lo and behold we had arrived at the start of what is transpiring to be a never ending festival! When confronted by hordes of happy celebrating people dressed in green we did a bit of internet searching and found that Sunday was the culmination of a Pelota cup and it would seem that Hondarribia had won. The band marched around town (several times).
Led by a young lady spinning her fan and protected by two burly but grinning chaps!
So we settled down in a bar with a glass of Txakoli (Basque sparkling wine) and a few pintxos (a sort of tapas unique to the Basque Country of which more in another post) and soaked up the atmosphere under the red geraniums.
The following evening we headed back into town and the joint was jumping again. This time, the brass and drums had been replaced by pipes played by young men and women in the red beret of the Basque Country.
Clearly the celebrations were continuing, which was fine by us! This time a rather good glass of red and some baked camembert and garlic.
Twenty four hours later as I write this I can hear the pipes again. I think it may be another lively evening in Hondarribia.
Love Gillie x