Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Monknash beach

Spent the morning in Newport, organising paperwork for the shipping company to clear my car through customs. Temperature is in the low 30s but feels hotter especially after a quick jaunt into Newport town centre to visit post office.

I've been doing some research on where I can undertake immersive language study in Spain and France later this year. That is to say, I will go to one of those places for 2 months or so before Xmas. Without a difficult-to-obtain extended visa, Australians can only stay in the Schengen group of EC countries for 3 months in any 6. Note that Schengen borderless travel area is distinct from the EC. Schengen includes two non-EU countries (Norway and Iceland, adding Switzerland in 2006 ) and does not include all EU countries (notably excluding UK and Ireland).

Salamanca is my first preference for Spain, and probably Montpelier for France. I'm sorting out dog-friendly accommodation and places where I can park the car as a preliminary. Spanish course options seem to be much cheaper than French so it looks to be more sensible as a way to test the system ... unless of course I find some hero who can deliver cheap accommodation in France!

On the local front, I had a beach outing with Welsh dancer & performance artist, Marc Rees at an isolated beach near the villages of Monknash and Wick, south of Bridgend. After parking in a farmer's field, there's a half-mile walk down a country lane and through a beautiful shady glen and then out between the cliffs of the Heritage Coast to a rather rocky beach. Today the sea was extremely flat, with a rare wave coming in, Brigadoon fashion, to surprise those of us sitting in the water. It was my first time in Atlantic waters, and the Devon coastline (Exmoor National Park probably) could be seen across the Bristol Channel.

Picking our way back across the many fist-to-head size rocks and pebbles - some of which sat in curved indentations of rock like a huge natural attempt to show Einstein's demonstration of planets curving space around them - we headed back up the road for a splendid £5 meal at the Plough and Harrow pub. I dropped Marc off in St Fagan's, which is home to the Museum of Welsh Life. Evening approached and with it a release of pollen, headed straight for my eyeballs.

Today's radio treat: I Have a Cunning Plan: 20 Years On ; producer John Lloyd tells the inside story of Blackadder,

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