We had a wonderful break, cruising round some of the less well-known towns and cities of north-western Europe. Stops included Falmouth (in Cornwall), Dublin, Bilbao, Bordeaux (via a small port on the Garonne estuary), and Brest. All were interesting, but the star of the show was definitely Bilbao, which is a vibrant buzzing city with a staggering mix of old and new. We spent most of the day in the amazing Guggenheim Museum, a work of art in its own right, exploring the weird and wonderful modern art inside. We also spent a morning in the National Gallery of Ireland, an art gallery of a totally different kind but every bit as interesting.
The French cities were the least interesting. Bordeaux is a UNESCO world heritage site and filled to bursting with beautiful 18th century architecture. It's very elegant, but also rather sedate and insular, and if truth be told, ever so slightly dull (although I expect those good people from UNESCO would have a blue fit if they heard me say that). And Brest was a typical sea port - slightly grubby round the edges and still showing the signs of having suffered a pounding during World War II.
The weather was terrific throughout - we set off in hot sunshine and towed it round with us until we got back on board for the final sailaway in Brest, when it started to rain. But goodness, we've gone straight home to winter. It was 30c in Bilbao on Wednesday; four days later in Brum it was only 8c. No wonder we've broken out the winter woollies and stuck the heating back on.