THE LAST DITCH An Englishman returned after twenty years abroad blogs about liberty in Britain
Mission accomplished, now for home.
Onward to the voyage home

Bilbao baby

I rose at a sensible hour; showered, dressed and loaded the car. My remote room left me out of the way of early-morning childcare so Babička's grandchildren were up, fed and dressed by I appeared. Young sir remembered my name from yesterday and politely asked if he could drive Speranza. I led him by the hand and put him in the driver's seat where he looked very much at home while Babička took photos of him turning the wheel and pushing all the buttons. Today's childhoods are so well documented! He is probably photographed more per week than I was to age 18! Unlike his grandmother, he was suitably impressed with Speranza and offered no irritating observations about Man's greatest invention just being for "getting from A to B." I think he and I are destined to be friends. 

While saying goodbye to his Mum and other grandma, I asked if I could hold his little sister. She looked sensibly cautious as I took her in my arms, but was soon reassured. She rewarded my one-sided conversation (the late Mrs P. abhorred baby talk and insisted our children were spoken to in real words arranged into sentences) with friendly smiles. Given how long human children are dependant, the more big scary-looking guys they have in their friendship group, the better. I personally think they know that and that's why they usually like me. I am a gentle soul, but given my height and weight, I look like I might do serious damage to any threats and children find that subconsciously reassuring. 

Babička took this rather poignant picture of me disappearing off into the distance with Speranza's roof down. It remained down for most of the way to Bilbao, where I am staying tonight, though I did have to put it up due to heavy rain at one point. I just pulled into a truck stop and she did her 14 second party trick of becoming a coupé again. The weather had cleared by today's single refuelling stop though, so the roof was down again on the final sunny approach.

2024-06-11_155119My hotel —  opposite the Guggenheim – has underground parking accessed by lift. She barely fitted in (her rear end is quite wide) but by folding in the wing mirrors I just managed. The lift was so smooth I thought it wasn't working and was frantically pushing the button the whole time. Considerately, the hotel had installed control buttons on both sides so her being RHD wasn't a problem for once. Since I set up telepeage accounts years ago for the French and Spanish motorways, actually it's rarely a problem now. 

As for today's drive, Speranza was in fine form and the air-conditioning was not an issue with her roof down, My first 100km+ were on country roads. It took ages to reach an autoroute but I still averaged a good speed. The country roads gave me a sweet Ferrari moment – an overtake no lesser car could manage. Ten cars had formed a tail behind a slow moving truck on a winding road in Armagnac. None of them could pass, even though they were sitting on the correct side to have visibility for an overtake. I spotted an upcoming straight on the navigation map that was preceded by a right hand bend that gave me the visibility. The way was clear and before any other driver could take the chance, I roared past the entire convoy in one go. I couldn't hear the oh la la's over the V8 roar of course, but I know they were uttered. That moment will account for the trip computer's recorded maximum speed for the day. 

For the rest of the ride I broadly complied with speed limits - keeping up with local traffic. I was in no rush and I liked watching the French and Spanish countryside flash by with the sun on my forehead, the wind in my baseball cap and Speranza's V8 in my ears. I didn't turn my music on at all.

IMG_6185I had hoped to visit the Guggenheim and arrived in plenty of time to do so, but my mum has received a nasty letter from her county council about the fencing of some leased fishing land held in my late dad's trust. So I shall use the hotel's excellent wifi connection to attend to that instead. Ordinary life is intruding it seems, even before life on the road has quite ended.

I shall transition back to my old intermittent fasting breakfast/lunch regime today by having only the one (rather banal) meal I had at today's petrol station.

My Track My Tour map is updated here.



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I agree with the late Mrs P. I have never understood why adults use that perculiar 'baby talk' language.

I think and have observed that babies are enthralled by the one side conversation you mention.


What a fun read again. Bless Babička for taking that lovely photo of you!
Your relationship with children is such a special thing. Your gentle and protective soul naturally wants to care for them and they can sense it.

Have fun and safe trip back home.

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