TechnomadicsVagabonding Europe

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For Katherine’s big three-zero birthday, our plan was to hire us some kayaks and paddle around some sea cliffs and tranquil cyan water.

Unfortunately, it didn’t quite turn out that way on the day – first, we were too late and all the kayaks were gone. Then, we caught sight of the water – it was white-capped and very, very choppy. Not so tranquil.

So, leaving those poor suckers that beat us to the kayaks to their fate, we head to the beach instead. The near-flat, crystal-clear blue water has been replaced by murky waves which make a startling rattling as they pummel the pebbles that make up the beach. We find a vacant square centimetre or two, between people in various highly advanced states of undress, ditch our stuff, and stumble and lurch our way into the warm waves.

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We get hungry (visions of crispy fish and chips flitter across our imaginations), and wander up and down the restaurant strip, searching for something appetising-looking. Not a damn thing — it’s all boring-looking crepes, salad, and ubiquitous mussels and chips. Eventually, stomachs growling and feet aching, we collapse at a table, and order some soggy crepes and decidedly unpleasant mussels and chips, the mussels drizzled in a slightly salty yellow sauce and all dangling mystery appendages and surprise crunchy parts. Gyyahhhh! Cassis: Not the place for food.

A bit underwhelmed and in miserable-tourist mode (lucky this is Katherine’s birthday month, not birthday day, so the pressure isn’t quite as great to have a great time!), we limp our way back to the main beach, where everything is made better by floating around in the water, catching waves, people-watching and soaking in the late-afternoon sunlight.

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A couple windy days go by — we even get a thunderstorm, with torrential rain and lightning! — and then we have a beautiful, still day, perfect for kayaking.

So we make our way back to the kayak rental place, climb into a double kayak, and paddle our way out of the boat-lined inlet.

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The water’s so clear, the depths a deep, transparent blue, like a precious stone. We paddle alongside the limestone walls, turning into the odd wave caused by one of the many tour boats that cruise by. We shoot through a turbulent gap between a rocky outcrop and a little rocky island, and we can see right down the Calanque d’en Vau, to the cyan water and pebbly beach at the very end.

We amble our way down, occasionally swerving to the side to avoid incoming boats, and the water steadily lightens until we’re floating over luminescent turquoise. I dangle my feet over the side; the water’s deliciously cool.

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We paddle up to the shallows and I jump out and tie up, so we can munch sandwiches on the beach. Katherine’s picked up a perfect apple/pear hybrid at the supermarket (a papple!), which is totally like science in my mouth.

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The water’s cold, cold, cold still, and we inch into the water, up to that critical crotch level, and Katherine splashes in a good minute or two before I get the nerve. It’s an effort of will, but worth it, floating around and surrounded by little silver fish.

Soon it’s time to paddle back, grab some ice cream and a bottle of red, and trudge back up our hill to Nettle (looking slightly pitying at the tents around us, and feeling grateful we have our own couch to collapse upon!).

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