Yeah, alright.
I’m in Spain, and they are a pretty relaxed bunch, but no.
Tokers, I have no thrills for you here, however, cruising from Pau to a 2 day stop at a beautiful wee place called Orio, I passed this.
20150527_133611When you click it, you can see it is a BIG hole in a mountain of presumably granite. There are a couple of other excavations similar, but this one was so geometrically and symmetrical perfect, the scale just blew me away. It put me to thinking of the wonderful stone works I’d also seen in Pau and that gorgeous viaduct the overhung the uphill straight on the track.
Working in stone (and steel) is such essentially masculine stuff. Man art. Man handling. Man made. Man-gnificent

Onward to Orio, a beach town becoming a resort spot (but not quite there yet) on the north coast in the Bay of Biscay.
On one side of the harbour, all the land is tipped UP out of the sea. On the other side, it all tips DOWN into the sea.
Massive flat rock structures where the land simply “slips” off the rock plates in huge landslips.
20150526_182548 Whatever happened there, maybe a rift valley in the middle of the harbour, it was gimungous moving of a LOT of stones, and the buggers are regularly slip sliding away as huge thick sheets of igneous rock laying on thin layers of crumbly, sandy, limestone like rock, part company and some head into the sea. Build a hilltop house on this stuff? Sure, what are the chances it’ll be “Slip sliding away” (in my lifetime).
20150526_094620 They do nice work with bricks here. (Bricks are kinda stones, aren’t they?). Stores and shops of all kinds are under, with apartments over. Plaza courtyards inside with proper frontages and all modern construction. Amazing how wide promenades and attractive buildings can either, apparently be decreed by the town planners here, or are expected to be built like this by the builders.

20150525_100116OK. A side track. Thought whoever left these all there must be a bit,… well, stoned too.
There are in total about 15-20 cars all overgrown by weeds and vines.
The adjacent barn, also overgrown (and it is about 100 metres long 20 wide and 10 metres tall!) must be likely to hold some really interesting barn-finds. However,… the modern type of cars, the dilapidated state of the property, the language barrier, but mostly, the three junkyard mongrel dogs that went flamin berserk as I walked along the high bank at left, persuaded me that I have enough headaches already and I scarpered.

Next stop, Bermeo.
Truly, a gem of a place a little further west. Stayed here 2 days, one night in a free park that the council provides for 20150527_161319camper vans. Oh, and look, there’s one of the ‘stones’ that came out of the mountain. Its about a 2.5 metre cube.
And they use other stones like this 20150527_164528

Along the breakwater, they also had these; 20150527_161551 Concrete stones, about 4m x 4m x 2.5/3m. Each one is like a bedroom that got filled with concrete. Enormous bloody things that are frankly, quite daunting to even look at. Some at the end of the breakwater have big steel lifting eyes, but most at this end just have marks left on them by a crane claw from hell. Numbers like 23.8 on them, might indicate tonnage (anyone know concrete specific density?)
At the end of the breakwater, there were a few more ‘stones’, from the mountain.20150527_162715Probably only a few,…….. thousand?
And then turn around and have a look back at the city,20150527_162936 try to work out how many stones they cut or made to build this breakwater, about 50 metres wide at the waterlevel (in a not very significant town of around 17,000 lovely, friendly people).
I love this place and I love the spirit that said, “we need a breakwater, A PROPER breakwater”.
So someone with real bollocks said ;”go and cut down that ugly mountain (in that contested border area with France) and put all the blocks in the harbour until you get out to THERE, and no arguments Jose!

Then; “Senor sculptor, make me art with steel. Make it man size. Fit for a town of proud Basques, all 17,000 men, women and children of them.
And don’t even think about putting a weatherboard state house on the end of the wharf. We would be a laughing stock! 20150527_164656  20150527_164817 
Yes, yes, Si Si.
THIS is what I’m talking about Jose! Show them your cojones!!!
Ok, Send this to Len Brown. Build something worth having instead of perpetual apologies.

And on into Bilbao. The architecture is so very pleasant, easy on the eye. Ronnie, you’d love it mate.
Along the river, like a little Venice, (except they keep the buildings dry), elegant, simple, eye catching details everywhere, and generally ALL are neat, tidy, painted, maintained.
20150529_120945 20150529_112230
Even working with brick, it is magic. Just a most delightful and attractive building20150529_120727
So, I’ve covered about a weeks worth of blogs and thought I’d stop and have a spot of lunch, parking myself in the Plaza with the warm stone all around.
1:30 on a friday, a glass of tinto and a spanish omelette 20150529_143139  a long read of my book (Jennifer Saunders) followed by another tinto, more reading, then chorizo in cider sauce and another tinto, more reading, a cafe con leche, a bill for the princely sum of 12 euros about 4 hours after I started, then a casual vaguely stoned stroll through the neighbourhood.
One for the wives; what happens when you see this? 20150529_121233
“Manolo shoes” and “10 Euro” displayed together? I thought there’d be a crush of women stomping the men to death to get in.

Time now to sample friday night in Bilbao. Maybe get a teeny bit stoned,… the beer is good here.
Tomorrow it is the big football final, Bilbao Athletic vs Barcelona.
The town here is literally draped in the red and white stripe of the home team. Almost every kid, male and female is wearing some of the gear. Astonishing support for the local club.
Although it is an away game in Barcelona, it will be HUGE here so I’m staying for the fight,.. I mean the night.

Anyhow compadres, Ollie signing out for a few days.

Be good.


2 thoughts on “Stoned

  1. Can we expect a coming publication by Tony O “Rock and St one Formations of Southern France and Spain”. At least the weather seems to be an improvement on that in the UK ………….


  2. Laughing my head off.
    Mate, the (very) tenuously connected thoughts of a scattered mind. When it rocks, it rocks.
    So stone me.
    Southern France (with any luck) will be all boobs and thongs, so keep an eye open
    Today I am getting properly buzzed. This town has gone nuts for the big Bilbao Athletic / Barcelona football final tonight. Whole families have been out for 4 or 5 hours now, with the kids going bananas and the parents getting well fuzzed and it is still apparently 4 hours to kickoff. It is brilliant!


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