London to Biarritz and a bit beyond

We were about to board the Eurostar when Graham Schlecht asked where I’d put my suitcase. Penny, her sister Steph and husband Bob shrugged their shoulders. The last time I’d seen it was when we were passing through the chaotic security section, prior to quarantine and Customs.

I walked back slowly attempting to appear as if I was travelling in the same direction as those entering St Pancras Station. I saw the suitcase, raced over grabbed it and set off to join the group. I got past quarantine without difficulty even got a smile from the young woman on the desk. I say a smile – it may have been a smirk with her thinking “Poor old fool hasn’t even got on the train yet has forgotten his suitcase”. The French Custom’s officer was not nearly as understanding – “try to pull that stunt again and I’ll have you escorted from the building”. What else can you say “Sorry officer, thank you, thank you…”

On the train and hurtling along at 260 kilometres an hour there is little to see. I wondered why there weren’t port holes in the tunnel wall so that one could watch the fishes swimming above.

In Eastern France and Northern Spain, we encountered a flurry of wind turbines. A flurry for those who may not have encountered the term is used by the informed to denote an indeterminate number of wind turbines. Some of the wind farms had more than one hundred such statues.

Australians may have encountered a similar term to flurry as in “No flucking furries.” Well as we rode the Eurostar and other modern trains across the region we, as loyal conservatives thought about our immediate past prime minister, Tony Abbot, and attempted to reason as to how and why he had come to describe wind turbines as ugly. The sleek modern technological lines of their blades as they cut through the sky producing renewable energy left us bemused until we reflected upon a recent trip to the upper Hunter Valley in New South Wales.

As we had headed towards Muswellbrook we saw several coal fired generators belching smog. The architectural lines of these fossil fuel plants were largely obscured from view by the haze. Clearly Tony Abbott has never clearly seen what a coal fired power plant looks like because of the indistinct fog which shrouds such plants. For some obscure theological reason, Tony must have assumed that behind the veil of vapours lay a beauty unsurpassed.

You can clearly see the impertinence of the modern outlines of wind turbines, and presumably as a result of this same theological reasoning, Tony has come to believe they are unattractive.

In Salamanca in the town square they are in the process of rewriting history. powerful political or religious figures of the past have added their sculptured vistas to adorn the interior of the perimeter walls which embody the arches. A month before we visited General Franco’s semblance, which he had ordered to stand atop of Exit No. 1 was removed. Maria, our guide, said in a quiet voice “We thought he had been there too long.”

It was a wonderful feeling to photograph the bare roughhewn stone plaque denoting the absence of the dictator.