Hitchcock

Attending an Open air Screening of Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” at the Didam, Bayonne.

My introduction into the world of Sir Alfred Hitchcock. For some reason I had a preconceived idea that his films were cheap slasher type flicks, probably born from bad promo clips of his popular title “Psycho”. Despite a lot of hype, I’ve never felt the need to watch one before.

I think I’ve had my eyes opened. I really enjoyed “Vertigo” (based on a French novel “D’entre des morts”) it’s left me wanting more. It’s quite a testament to think that even compared with modern movies where almost anything is possible, a simple film using very primitive techniques can still captivate a modern audience. 

It’s possibly helped along by almost presenting an alien world to the current generation. Looking back in fascination at the customs of people in the 50’s. The cars, clothes and dialogue all portraying a very proper era when men wore suits, smoked cigarettes and drank whiskey for lunch.

It’s nice to see an era with an identity, but mostly an era where things were done properly, even down to the dress. Now I’m in a hot part of the world, I’m paying more attention to clothing. Not in the sense of what label is stuck to my tee-shirt, but why in the modern world when we have everything, it’s the norm to have generic fitting clothes. From looking at the Hitchcock exhibition before the film, I questioned how he could wear a full suit during his tour of southern France, but I realised that it’s down to the materials and the fit. This made me think about how my own discomfort was mainly through ill fitting clothes, where even in shorts, I’m not comfortable in the heat. An expensive suit used to be tailored to fit you perfectly and made of the correct material to the suit its purpose. Now an expensive suit is a generic fit poly blend with a label, hung next to ten others just like it.

Saying that, I do like the freedom of expression that we all enjoy today. On your average walk through town you will see such a wide variety of people, but I just wish we could wrestle with the throw away culture, and demand better quality. Fortunately some of these traditions still exist. Maybe instead of buying quantity this year, save your pennies and treat yourself to something made just for you, that you can wear for years.

Back to the film… Without giving away any spoilers, there’s controversy over the letter writing scene two thirds of the way through. Hitchcock didn’t want this scene, but was pressured by the cheque books to leave it in. I think I’m with Hitchcock on this one, I would have preferred to have had this revealed at the end instead as I started twitching in my seat after this point (a sign that you’re not completely immersed anymore).

I would have had an alternative ending, as I felt a little let down that it ended in this way, and didn’t feel it really added any chill to the film. There’s an addition to the ending on the DVD, not really an alternative ending. This basically wraps things up a little more nicely for the American market (this also went against Hitchcock’s will).

Nevertheless I enjoyed the film, and it’s definitely worth a watch if you can overlook a little sexism and the fact that if you’re following someone you may like to take more care not to park directly next to them and persistently stare. Even with the cunning disguise of a hat, the chances are that you will be spotted.

For my next Hitchcock film I would like to watch “Rear Window”, as this also stars James Stuart. A great actor of his time, one that I first came to know in “Fievel goes west”, voicing the lazy dog Sheriff – Whylie Burp.

 I can now see how Hitchcock progressed film making, pioneering new techniques to gain suspense, and how he became regarded as one of the most influential directors in cinematic history.

Nice one Fred!

Bastille Day – Bayonne

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Bastille Day, celebrating the start of the French Revolution to stop the monarchy’s 800 year reign of absolute power in France. This gave start to the Republic of France, and then spurred on the military style dictatorship of Napoleon for a further 15 years.

Now celebrated world wide as Bastille Day, known as la Fête nationale in France.

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When in France…

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…Drink lots of Wine!!

Basically this was a nice arty picture of me, with a picturesque blurry (bokeh) background. I needed a reason to get it in.

There’s a night market (marche nocturne) in Bayonne on the quiet side of the bridge every Friday evening from 18:30. Treat yourself to a bottle of wine and some street food French style.

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According to a local source, this side of the river is about to undergo major redevelopment, but on French timescales this could be tied up in planning for years to come, so until then it’s an amazing riverside spot where you can just let time pass by.

Travel is the Elixir for the soul

This is an old saying that is true for many people, it’s widely believed that through travel you can discover more about yourself and possible become a grounded and all-round better person. I’ve had a lot of time recently to think about what this means to me, and what has ultimately led me down this path.

Fundamentally I place a lot of value in your gut feeling, throughout my life and more intentionally from my early twenties I became more in tune with the idea that you should listen to your gut feeling, stick to what you believe is the truth and work hard at everything you do. If you follow these simple rules everything will work out fine for you, and mostly this had been the case. I had a nice house, and a successful career, and I had worked myself into a comfortable position in life.

This is where another fundamental belief of mine has started to take over. The idea of equilibrium, (natures balance) and in particular my brain trying to save itself. This is quite an extreme way of saying it, but there’s maybe some truth to it. A theory/model that has been developed, called the growth rings, is a good way to explain the kickstart that I’ve subconsciously been working towards.

The basis of this theory is that repetition is the killer of time and growth. It’s commonly said that as soon as you hit certain age milestones like 25, 30, 40 etc your life just begins to accelerate and then you wake up at 60, and think to yourself where did that go? Similar to your daily commute to work, sometimes you can’t even remember driving to work. This is repetition, a state in which your brain goes to sleep, auto-pilot takes over, and time disappears. For some people, this can be your whole working career, as we all like the comfort of a secure job, usually because you have monthly commitments like your mortgage to pay.

I’ve done this for the last ten years, and I think in the last few years my subconscious has been plotting and scheming against my rational brain. I’ve been taking small steps towards the complexity ring (growth rings theory). This is a state where you’re experiencing new things, and you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. There’s more risk in your life, and you’re starting to learn new things and you begin to grow again. Similar to your early years in life, when you think time stands still and you remember each day. Travel is a good method of taking you into this state, and this seems to be the tool that I have subconsciously chosen for myself.

Earlier on in my journey and from the very start in the “about” page, I’ve been talking about these small steps that I’ve been taking. Not really knowing why I’m doing this, but knowing that I have to take this path. Sometimes questioning everything, and wondering if I’m having an early midlife crisis, but realising that I only doubt myself when I compare myself to other people’s situations, and their truth. Everyone has a journey and there are many paths to take, and the path that is right for someone else isn’t necessarily the right path for me.

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So, I find myself back in the complexity ring, and certainly not regretting anything so far. I’ve given myself back the gift of time, and as I continue to grow, I’ve opened myself up to concepts that I would have laughed at before. I’ve been spending more time considering important issues like the environment, and how I want to work towards a more sustainable life. (This is giving me a little turmoil in my head as I love engines and specifically motorbikes). Also stripping back the filters that are imposed on us every day. Social conditioning, that forces us to think a certain way, and leads us to conclusions like this is right and that is wrong. Maybe there is no right and wrong, there’s just an outcome that has been created through conditioning and applying filters. I’ve started to search for the tools to discover my truth.

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To be continued……..

 

Ps I think I’m getting closer to my yellow van!

Bayonne/Villefranque

WorkAway has led us to Bayonne, more specifically Villefranque. This is a really nice city right next door to Biarritz. Bayonne is a little slower paced and suited to people looking for nice architecture and restaurants along the river. While still being a tourist destination it does it with style, so if you’re after a postcard you will have to look around for one rather than having them thrust upon you and ruining all your arty photos of a bustling French town.

We’re staying in the grounds of a small holding called Les Salines. The surrounding area needs a lot of work to bring some of the old structures back to life. There’s the remains of an old salt extraction building and a few storage barns that are destined for a new purpose. Motivations for the project are to give back to the community in some way, providing a social space, possibly a retreat of some description to advertise living a little closer to nature.

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we’re staying in a small shepherd’s hut type of trailer as part of our workaway exchange. It has everything you need but with a smaller footprint. living in small spaces is becoming increasingly popular, and hopefully not just a new trend, I hope it gathers momentum and starts to ground people, changing the culture a little. With everyone striving to be bigger and better, the idea of just taking what you need has been lost among the ever-growing population of fat cats. This is definitely and interest of mine, being a minimalist myself, I love the idea of smaller efficient spaces, probably in the same way that some people like spreadsheets.

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The less you have the less mental weight you carry, and the more you can engage with what comes your way. Similar to the friends that everyone have, that have such busy social diaries that when something good actually pops up you get a text saying they’re busy. I can feel I’m going off on a tangent about the whole bullshit “busy culture”, but the point I was making is they miss the good stuff, the spur of the moment occasions that you can never replicate, but talk about for years. Free yourselves up, a good start is to carry less with you, live without excess and you will be amazed at the new avenues that open up to you. 

Back on topic, the reason we’re doing workaway is to be able to meet people and integrate into the local town and the family we’re staying with. Be careful what you wish for, we’re now enlisted into two 10km runs a week. After six weeks of croissant munching and no exercise this definitely got the heart pumping, this looks to be the start of a really great workaway placement.

 

Biarritz/La Plage d’Ondres

We finally made it over to Biarritz, which didn’t actually take too long and was a nice scenic drive, to find a really cool city with a young buzzing vibe. The kind of place I would have loved to holiday at when I was working and bringing in some decent money. Turning up in a van in my shorts and a tee shirt that could do with a wash didn’t have the same feel. There’s a mix of young professionals and tourist all nicely dressed and enjoying the many restaurants and bars, not quite what we’re looking for on this trip also we have security issues when we park the van up in city environments such as this, so we head for the outskirts to try and find a quieter spot where the van will blend in better with the surroundings. Looking forward to catching a train back into the centre of Biarritz though, I’m sure we can spend a day or so exploring, or failing that sat in a nice beach side café/bar.

We’ve found a car park on the beach at la Plage d’Ondres, that has a designated section for campers and motorhomes. They charge 8 Euros a night, but have really good facilities. There’s a few toilets, a cold only beach shower, Wi-Fi at the local bars, water top up and electric plug in point.

There’s an Intermarche just down the road (driving, or cycling) and you are right on a very popular surf beach. This is a great find for campervans. I will be pleased if this saves just one person the trouble of having to hunt around for decent spots to park, as I would love find other people’s blogs for camp spots. It can be quite exhausting hunting for a spot to camp in a new place, as you have to weigh up security, facilities, is it worth spending time in this place etc.

 

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We feel like we’re starting to need some purpose to the trip, just bumming around and hanging out at the beach is fun, but it’s not fulfilling. There’s definitely a hole that needs to be filled, but we’re not quite sure what to fill it with yet. Maybe we need to utilise our free time better, we could possibly put more emphasis on learning languages, or maybe we need to just keep on the move, are we just loitering in one place too long.