Something…

After an entire day of doing absolutely nothing yesterday, today was all about doing something.

I have been wearing the same 4 sets of clothes now for 2 months, 1 week and 5 days so today’s ‘something’ was to find something to give the suitcase wardrobe a bit of pep.

En route to Oxford Street in London town I thought I was quite familiar with the trains and tubes etc…. But for some reason on this trip I can’t quite get my head around where everything is.  I keep getting off at London Bridge (I’ve done it 3 times now!), heading for the exit or to the crossing over tube line or even the overland train, only to realise half way there that I shouldn’t have got off at London Bridge at all!

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When I lived in London many moons ago London Bridge was my go to station – all trains/tubes/buses and roads lead to London Bridge… but alas, this is no longer the case.  The fact that I wasn’t going to work should have been a clue!  If I suddenly turn up at my old school in Dartford, Kent, then I’ll really start to worry.

So, back I turned, followed my steps and got back onto the tube and rode it to my actual destination of Bond Street and Oxford Street – the central shopping strip of London.  I actually remember it being a bit more full with high street named chain shops, but this time there didn’t seem to be much on offer or it perhaps it was that there wasn’t much I cared for.

When you start seeing fashions like this on the street…

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…you start to wonder if there are any shops left that sell the stuff I like.  I mean, I’m a simple sort of dresser;  I don’t ask for much, but I’m not sure who is designing the crap in the stores today.  I mean, this girl in the picture above, who is probably a lovely lady, is wearing cut off denim shorts that have had pleather legs sewn onto them.  That can’t be right, can it?

After about an hour of shopping misery I decided to drown my sorrows in some lunch and headed for a Carnaby Street eatery where I could watch the world go by.

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I had the perfect view of a lady, who was obviously trying to spread to word about something to do with animal welfare or something.  I guessed this because of her cute ears on the top of her hoodie.

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She spent about 20 minutes dramatically waving at people as if she was one of those Times Square Elmos and pretending to be a cute animal with little paws. When people looked at her a little confused and just walked by, she would lean back and give them a big two handed wave.

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She was mesmerizing.

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She finally got that man in the picture above to stop.  He had a look of exasperation on his face, but took a deep breath and then stood there where he was talked at for a good 20 minutes!  The lady was waving her arms about and using her playfully realistic ears as props to enhance whatever she was saying.

He nodded a few times, but that was the only bit he could contribute.  She didn’t look like she was asking for money; she didn’t have a clipboard, so wasn’t doing a survey and she had no pamphlets to hand out.  She just wanted to have a chat.

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I wanted to stay longer and see how long he held out, but I needed to be about my day like the other 100 people who passed this animal lady by.  As I walked further down the street I noticed another lady, sans ears who was asking people for a minute of their time as well.

You would have to be pretty passionate about your cause to be trying to stop Londoners on their lunch break!

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I’m not sure that this quite is appropriate for this story…. or is it?

Nothing!

Pack suitcase, pack up and tidy house, clean hire car, 4 hour train ride from Gare du Vannes to Paris, race across town just in time to board the 2 hour train ride on the Eurostar to London, cart suitcase up and down stairs to get to the Victoria line on the London Underground, swap lines and catch the overland train from Highbury-Islington to Sydenham Station, walk up a slight incline pulling suitcase over uneven pavement slabs, hand suitcase to friend to carry up narrow staircase – thank you lovely friend, catch up with peeps I haven’t seen in some time before finally crashing!

That was yesterday.  So today, this is what I have done on my first day back in London.

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My most arduous job has been searching for these google images of nothing and it feels great.

PENGUIN!

You know when something is randomly funny and you laugh until you almost wet your pants and then you laugh at other people laughing and then for the days/weeks/months after you laugh every time you think of the incident.

Well on our train ride earlier in the trip from Paris to Narbonne we were whiling away the time playing games. We’d played all the card games we knew and had moved onto word games.  Jason suggested that we play the alphabet game where you choose a topic i.e. animals and go through the alphabet saying names of animals until somebody couldn’t think of one.  You start at A, so Jason went first… “Antelope” to which Deb randomly shouted out of turn “PENGUIN!”  We all turned and stared at her, in what can only be described as confused disbelief.  Nobody was sure what game Deb was playing, as Penguin neither began with an A, nor a B….. it didn’t even start with the last letter of the previous word.  This began the uncontrollable laughter and from then on, if anybody did something that was considered a bit stupid – you called “Penguin”.

On our last day – Deb was awarded the Penguin Award.

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Dernier jour en France

I can’t quite believe that this leg is coming to a close after 3 weeks in France, this is our last day!  I feel that Bella can sense that something is amiss because she is reluctant to leave my side (this is not actually true – Bella does exactly what she wants) Although Edward, Our host and Bella’s human asked if I had been feeding her because she had gone missing since our arrival (again, I didn’t lock her in my room, she chose to sleep there of her own accord!)  So we sat here together soaking in our last moments together.

NB: I just read this paragraph again before publishing and realised that we have an Edward and Bella relationship – ala the Twilight movie!!!  That just made things a little odd.

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Our last sitting out on the back area of our chateau (with another of the resident moggies)

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It was goodbye all things French – I mean, can you get anymore French than this car in front of this pharmacy.  There are at least 12 pharmacies in each village.  I think it’s a law or something?  Not only that – every second person seems to be on crutchets!

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We think that Chassanay, the resident French bulldog – well, they’re just called bulldogs here, maybe crossed with a pug, it was hard to tell, she was pretty happy to have new people to talk to.  She came around as often as she was allowed, generally followed by her human who was calling out for her to come home.  Chassanay’s owner didn’t know that we were holding her down for kisses.

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Deb was in love with every dog she came across and I think this photo aptly shows how much the dogs loved her right back.

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And this little one made herself quite at home laying on the table and crawling from person to person for loves.

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So we say goodbye to Bella and to Chassanay and the other ginger moggie.  We say goodbye to Montertelot and our new best friends Yannik and Valerie who owned the pub, but the most sad of all goodbyes is the one to the peeps.  We’ve had such a fab time, but as the saying goes – all good things must come to an end.

Thanks to Deb, Jason, Kylie, Brian and Jackie and not forgetting Scott and Jen for such a great trip.  It’s been awesome and I’m chuffed that I was invited to join you….. or did I invite myself?

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NB: This photo came about because I was doing something on the computer and Deb sat down quickly to look at that something…. then we started chatting and realised that we were still sitting right on top of each other.

Deb: “Do you think I could possibly move over a bit now?”

Mont St Michel

One of my favourite places in the France, nay, they world is Mont Saint Michel – purely because of its beauty and its history and that this is a monastery that has been built on the top of a rock!

Since my last visit here with my lovely friend Madeline quite some years before the road in to the island has changed somewhat.  When were here last you could drive out on the road at low tide and park right at the front door, but it seems the tide may have taken its toll on the road, and a bridge has been built for the use of pedestrians, buses and horse-drawn carriages only.

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It was nearly high tide when we arrived, however we were experiencing a neap tide – meaning it wasn’t very high due to the position of the moon and to be honest – it was completely anticlimactic.  We did consider walking in the mud and so many people had clearly done…. but thought way better of it.

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The history of this monastery dates back to the 600s and it has been reincarnated many times since then.  It was a fortress, a monastery and even a jail for a time and now – it’s a full on tourist trap if you try to eat or drink or purchase anything.

But once you get past all that… it’s stunning!

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Deb is so little and petite that she can fit in all manner of nooks and crannies!  This is probably where the monks would just sit and watch the other monks go by…

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When ever you see a sign that has anything to do with you – you take a photo.  Stella Maris was the first primary school and Jason and I attended before we moved to the new St Francis Xavier Primary School in Grade 4.  Stella Maris – she was the star of the sea.

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There was a couple of gigantic taps in the walls – hand is for scale.

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View from the top of the new bridge – imagine all that area covered in water.

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The abbey is right at the very top and it still amazes me how they managed to build it.  Just getting materials up there was a massive feat.

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The mont was obviously swarming with tourists, but these ladies were among my favourites for the day.  I was watching them for a bit as the girl on the wall posed and then her friend said in English “Yeah, I got it – do something else now.” to which the girl on the wall swung her legs over the wall to get the all important ‘look over my shoulder’ pose.  There was a sheer drop over that wall.  I held my breath for a minute whilst she balanced and then I backed away.

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There was a group of priests/monks/brothers? in the abbey singing.  There were a few people there who looked like they were participating in a mass, or they could’ve just been there to sit and take it all in.  It was quite beautiful to listen to.  You weren’t meant to take photos, but I thought this tableau would be ok cause you can’t see their faces…. just like that dentist ad!

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You also weren’t supposed to touch the pillars apparently – This sign said ‘Please don’t touch the pillars’ – that’s just asking for it, isn’t it?

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Wandering through the abbey was just as beautiful as I remembered it.

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This room had massive fire places which would have been need to heat a room of this size.  Here Deb, Jason and Kylie demonstrate what the fire would have looked like back in the olden days.

Monk 1: “Which wall should we put this cupboard on?”

Monk 2: “I think the left wall.”

Monk 1: “Really?  I was thinking the right side.”

Monk 2: “Really? Well, how will we ever decide?”

Kylie had a sneaky peek into this cupboard and found a fire extinguisher and a hose…. lucky it was signed.  We could have spent hours looking for that in an emergency.

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This was where they kept the hamsters back in the day in order to spin the wheel and pull the pulley up with materials and probably hamster food.

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There was no sign saying how many hamsters were needed for this task, but my guess would be quite a few.

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That pulley trolley seems pretty heavy…. and look, there are some of the hamsters down there now on their lunch break.

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When we walked into this room a couple walked in just before us, stood for a moment and then purposefully strode to a pillar on the far side…

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And then posed like this…

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After a lovely day at the Mont, we walked back over the bridge and trekked the 15 miles back to our car.

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I do like to be beside the seaside

Today’s adventure took us to Malestroit where there was a small market.

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Here are some of the fabulous things that were on offer for us…

Can you believe that somebody did this model’s hair up and thought “Yup – this is going to sell a lot of hair clips! and you know what?  I’ll leave that dirty mark on her face as well.”

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Fresh figs

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Crepes

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Roast chicken

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Paella

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Olives

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Slippers

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High heeled slippers at that!

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I quite liked the idea of this being a new aged ‘hear ye, hear ye’ speaker system for the whole village.

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And it really was one of the prettiest places that we’ve been in France.

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And the quaintest.

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France was clearly full of tiny little people.

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But not as gorgeous as the ones who were there that day!

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On the way out of town, we found ourselves behind this van with the smallest trailer that any of us had seen.  Surely his trailer load – including his trailer could have fitted in the back of his van!

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We were on our way to the south coast of Brittany to a town called Damgan.  It was full of shells and rocks full of oysters that you could collect yourselves.

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Instead we chose to go to a restaurant – the only one that was open after 2pm because France has a fantastic work system where they close in the middle of the day for a Spanish Siesta – my kind of town!

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Jason was super happy that he finally got some lovely French cuisine in France!

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Then it was souvenir shopping – I won’t tell you who I bought these for…

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I don’t know if the people in this photo are famous or if they just come with the frame…. but it’s pretty special either way!

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After lunch we popped down to the beach to see if we could see where our oysters had come from and did a bit of beach combing…

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You are allowed to collect 5 dozen oysters per person per day.

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This chap had captured a few and gave Deb a taste of a welk which she described as salty – funny that!

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Excalibur and the Frozen Pizza!

Today’s adventure took us to Tréhorenteuc, or more specifically to the magical forest of Brocéliande where the legend of King Arthur lives on. Its newest attraction is artist François Davin’s golden tree, L’Or de Brocéliande – which symbolises the enduring life of the ancient forest, which survived a five-day fire in 1990.

Is was greatly discussed as to whether these standing slate tiles were naturally occurring in this spot.

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The Mirror Lake where the watery bint caught the sword, Excalibur after King Arthur threw it into the lake.

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Arthur: I am your king!
Woman: Well I didn’t vote for you!
Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.
Woman: Well how’d you become king then?
Arthur: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering silmite
held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine
providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. THAT is why I am your
king!
Dennis interrupting: Listen, strange women lyin’ in ponds distributin’
swords is no basis for a system of government! Supreme executive power
derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic
ceremony!

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Once we walked through the forest, we climbed to the top to take in this lovely view.

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Then it was back to our new best friend’s Yannik and Valerie’s pub for beers and wine.

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Yannik

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We’ve been trying to go out for dinner in Brittany since we got here and tonight was going to be the night, except the little village where Yannik and Valerie’s pub is there are no restaurants, so we walked back to our château and up to another village – no restaurants open!  We even tried to buy pizzas from a random coin operated take away box on the street, but the lady from the supermarket came out and told us that it wasn’t working…. so frozen pizzas were purchased from the supermarket.

Nobody can quite believe that we’re eating frozen supermarket pizzas in France.

It’s just not right.

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Debra

This is Debra.

Debra had some very groovy sunglasses that magnetically stuck to her seeing glasses, but sadly they broke during our trip.

After many a trying on of sunglasses to wear over the top of her seeing glasses, Debra was forced to purchase these clip on numbers.

Today the glasses flipped up with a little too much gusto without Debra realising.

We love Debra.

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Enough of the Pretty Villages Already!

This is our trusty people mover that we’ve been getting around in whilst in Brittany.  I’ve been doing the driving and Deb has been our awesome navigator.  So far we’ve seen a number of places that were not on our intended itinerary, but how lucky were we to have spontaneously added such fabulous scenes to our journey without having to plan them?

I think I can say that my driving has improved over the week.  At first I was a little nervous  about driving on the wrong side of the road on tiny, one car laneways in such a big block of a car, but I’ve slowly moved across the lane with more confidence and now I don’t mount the curb on the right hand side as much – which is a thrill for all concerned – especially those sitting on the right hand side.

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Today’s adventure is brought to us by Yves Rocher who owns the town of La Gacilly.  “Don’t be gasilly”, I hear you cry, “how can you own a village?”  Well apparently he does and it’s only because of this power that he is allowed to put on this spectacular photographic exhibition throughout the whole town.

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La Photo Festival de La Gacilly…

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Photos have been blown up to building size and plastered on the sides of buildings…

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and in a park area – like this…

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The photos were amazing.

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The day was beautiful.

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And the gardens were lovely.

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the town of La Gacilly, especially the older section was just gorgeous and full of arty farty type shops in tiny little buildings, decorated with bunting and flowers…. so many flowers!

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It was a great way to see an exhibition.  Well done Yves.

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Even though this sign said that there were more artworks to see up this laneway, Sampy just needed a little break from all the village beauty.

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From one beautiful town to the next – down the road a little bit was Rochefort en Terre, the doll houseiest (yes, that’s a word), touristy town we’ve come across thus far.  It was ridiculously lovely, but more like a movie set than a village that people actually lived in.  Also – all the shops were shut until a bus load (or 12) of people turned up, then they all magically opened their doors.  It was if they knew…..

This restaurant was just at the carpark – we hadn’t even got into the village yet!

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This is the stuff that we had to contend with…

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Here’s another sneaky shot of me, just to prove that I was on the trip.  So natural – I’m probably thinking about something really interesting.

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We had lunch in the terrace gardens of this restaurant.

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Then wandered around the village, trying not to get into any of the obvious shots where they were probably filming.

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The French pride themselves on making everything beautiful.  It’s amazing what some colourful flowers and plants can do to a place.

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Cuteness overload!

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And doors…. don’t get me started on the doors!

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I mean, look at this one!

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And this one!

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And the knockers!

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This town also has its own château, because what self-respecting French village doesn’t?

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Which at first we thought had possibly seen better days, but this was just the back of it… the front was much nicer.

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Where do these doors lead?  What were they used for?

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Here’s Deb attempting to be in my panoramic shot of the château – so arty!

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and here’s the château – sans Deb

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The view over the higgledepiggldy rooftops was quite lovely.

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And then a great big sit down was needed – this pretty village malarky is tiring!

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It’s just the little details…

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In Brittany there is a sweet dessert that they are famous for called Kouign Amann… It’s made from butter and sugar and looks like this:

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So we bought all of them!

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and then purchased a little apple dumpling cake for afters.

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Mull of La Chapelle-Caro

Each morning we’ve been waking up to some amazing fog – as amazing as fog can be.

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So on this particular morning I went for a walk down to the canal to catch the magic over the water.

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and to try and capture some of the pretty things we pass along the canal

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like this lovely lady…..  we don’t see a huge amount of her in the blog as she’s generally taking the pics, so here’s a rare treat for your all.

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A Short Course in French

Today’s mission was to visit a pretty town called Josselin that had its very own castle.

We got there, we parked the car and this was the first sign we saw in a window.

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One of the things that I love about France (or Europe) is that they don’t knock things down when they become crooked or looking like they might fall down of their own accord.  No – they just make continue to live in them or use them for everyday buildings as if they were going to last another 350 years!  People back in those days obviously had to take their hats off before trying to get through the doors.

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We are a group of dog and cat lovers and France is a country where you can take your dog or cat anywhere you go.  We’ve seen a kitten on the train, dogs in restaurants and hotels.  It’s great.  I don’t know what we’re afraid of in Australia by not letting our furry friends join us in more public places.

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Josselin was definitely one of the more pretty places that we have visited, but without having a doll house, touristy feel where you know that nobody lives there.  Josselin seems to be a local place where locals live, which is nice.

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They certainly don’t make houses like they used to.  Look at the workmanship that has gone into this wood carved face above a doorway.  I’m not sure why you’d have that, but somebody, 100s of years ago clearly wanted it.  Perhaps it was to ward away evil spirits?  Perhaps it was to piss off his neighbours?  Perhaps it was a depiction of the chap who owned the house?

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And here’s the castle!

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It’s quite regal, although not as huge as some other castles that we’ve seen.

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So we paid our money to get in and as the lady was passing me the tickets she told me that we couldn’t just walk around on our own, it was a private property and therefore we had to follow a guide… and that the tour was in French …and there was no English tours that day.

So we walked up to the castle door with about 50 other people (half of them would have been English speakers) and listened intently as the guide spoke in French.  I caught the words “château” and “castel” (how the French say castle), but that was about it…. in fact – that was it.  She spoke for about 15 minutes before we even got into the castle and people were starting to become quite disinterested and wondering away from the group to take photos.  I felt a little bit sorry for her in the way that teacher knows what it’s like to lose the interest of her class, but I stopped feeling bad for her when she said in perfect English, “I know that a lot of you are English speakers, but I’m sorry, this is a French tour.”

Please don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t expect anyone in a different country to speak English just because I can’t speak their language, but I do feel that this particular set up could have been handled in a different way.

One entrance into the castle we were told that we were not to take photos nor were we to sit on the windows seats.

Our guide spoke for about 20 minutes, in French whilst we stood in one spot due to the numbers in the group quietly taking sneaky photos of each other.

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The doors had been locked, so there was no way out!

Mercifully the tour only took in 4 rooms and then we were set free.

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Once back home at our converted stable, next to the château we made our way up the familiar path to our local pub…. minding the droppings.

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This lovely lady is Pascale, from www.visitmyfrenchvillage.com.au that I told you about.  She is in France with a group of woman from Thelma and Louise Expeditions – a charity group who are raising money for relief in Nepal, and also helping a small village in France to clean up their river.

Funnily enough, we actually met some of these women in Josselin earlier on in the day, but didn’t twig that we were all there under the same guidance from Pascale!  We only realised this because we met the ladies again at the pub and they invited us to join them for dinner by the canal.

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Visit My French Village

Besides Deb, the other woman responsible for organising a major section of this trip is a lovely French lady, who lives in Queensland named Pascale.  She is the proud owner of www.visitmyfrenchvillage.com.au and she was the person who put us onto our converted bull stable, next to a lovely château in the quaint town of La Chapelle-Caro in the middle of the French region of Brittany…. although in France, I think they’re just called ‘regions’.

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On our first night there was a ‘rave party’ being held next door – see the marquee? Well that doof doof music went at full throttle until about 8.00am.  I didn’t hear it because it has been established that I could sleep for Australia in any Olympic games you care to name.

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This is the château that we didn’t stay in and were advised not to venture too close to…. there is obviously a story here, but we are yet to find out the details from our host, Edward.

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Our abode comes complete with menagerie – We have the French bulldog (but I think they just call them bulldogs here in France)

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and there’s a beautiful cat called Bella who has made herself completely at home – even sleeping with me on the odd night when I’ve carried her all the way up to the third floor and held her down….. I’m joking.  Or am I?

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Edward, our host, who lives in the house next door told us all about the places to visit close by – one being a pub in the next village along the canal.

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There is the beautiful path down to the canal from our maison…

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But Jason, Deb and I chose to go down a different path and across a field in order to get to the canal path… having to walk through stinging nettles…

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You don’t want to walk through these if you can help it.

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And if you do – look for these leaves.  Now, I’m not a botanist and I don’t want you to take this as gospel, but I think these are dock leaves and that’s what you should rub on the area that has been stung by stinging nettles.  I learned this from my Holy Trinity students on a forest walk back in my teaching days in the UK.

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So…. we couldn’t actually find any of these, but we found something else that sort of looked the same, so we probably just rubbed some random leaf on ourselves in the hope that it would help.  I think it acted as a good placebo, but that’s about it.

So, we walked about 2kms up the canal to the lovely little village of Montertelot which has one bar/cafe and one bar/restaurant – but doesn’t actually serve food that we’ve noticed.

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The whole village is filled with colourful flowers.

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It’s crazy how so many towns have embraced Jason’s visit by putting up these shrines to him!

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The houses are quaint and some you would call elfinlike.

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There are flower pots everywhere.  These ones in shoes are covering up the bins.  What an ingenuous idea!

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Other plants around town are in old painted soccer balls.

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These are the lock keepers.

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The day after we arrived there was a special Heritage Day in France and we’d been told about a place that’s a little bit like the French version of Stonehenge – Menhir or ancient megalithic standing stones.  Menhirs have been found all over the world   So, we checked out the ones right near us.

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Is that it?

Noi!

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Is it down that path?

Noi!

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Which way should we go?

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Apparently this is what it looked like back in the day.

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And this is what it looks like today…

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This was probably a sacrificial stone, even though there was no evidence that the people back then sacrificed anybody/anything.  This stone probably just fell over.

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Apparently these stones have been here nearly since time began but the stones were only discovered  – and they have deduced, based on the tools that were found, that they were man made – as in people carved the stones and stood them up in that pattern.  Nobody seems to know why they did it though.  Regardless, we had a lovely walk through the forest.

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Then after all that hard learning and walking, we all deserved a beer at a lovely pub in Augan.  Well, I had a panachè (French shandy) cause I was driving.

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This pub brewed its own beer downstairs.  The crew tried out all three varieties – blonde, blanche and rouge and agreed that they were all pretty damn good and at 2.20 euros… it was some of the cheapest beer we’d come across.

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The Back Blocks of Bordeaux

So we got on the train, only slightly worse for wear and settled in for a 2 hour journey to Bordeaux.  Feeling a little peckish, I walked down the food carriage to purchase myself a tasty snack.

Ham & cheese baguette?  Yes please!

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Except, this is what I got.  Possibly the only place in the whole of France where they didn’t put any special love into their food.

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Jackie noticed my feeling of slight underwhelment (yes, that is a word) and offered me contents of the pantry that she and Brian had been carting with them since we left the boat and I was able to beef up my sandwich to acceptable proportions.

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We were met at the station by Corrine, a lovely lady whose guest house we were going to be staying in – about 12 minutes drive out of Bordeaux.  She picked up our bags and we walked  up the boardwalk in the city…

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Crossed this amazing bridge and had lunch at a place that served awesome food and overlooked the whole city.

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Our thought was that we would walk down to the next bridge, cross over and have Corrine pick us up back in the city….. We walked through some of, what could only be described as Bordeaux’s back blocks…

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but when we got there, the bridge was open and wouldn’t be going down until about an hour later.

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Apparently, the only boat that went through was a flat river boat – so lifting the bridge to its full capacity seemed like a bit of overkill!

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So, it was back through the back blocks and Corrine picked is up near the restaurant where we had lunch.  Not what you would call a successful day of sightseeing so far… We drove to our new abode of the next three days and we weren’t disappointed.

A beautiful French house – or simply ‘house’ as they call it here in France.

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With a lovely French country driveway

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Complete with pool – it was a pity that it was too chilly to go for a swim.

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There was a couple of cats that kept us company…

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Deb looking very happy with herself about all the fabulous accommodation that she has organised – and rightly so!

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Plenty of room for lounging…

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Day 2 – Corrine dropped us off in the city again, this time to do some exploring.

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We managed to walk up one street – the longest shopping street in Europe, apparently.

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We were really going all out to have a French experience today.  We walked all the way up the street to this archway which marks the end of the longest shopping street, ate a kebab and then…

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… caught a tram to the wine museum.  Apparently the shape of the building is meant to represent an upturned wine bottle?  I can sort of see it.

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So there’s a little bit of wine available here and we started our tour of the museum with a little wine tasting.

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Which made the technological interactive displays more interesting.

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This one was everyone’s favourite…  you squeezed the perfume puff thing and then put your nose into the trombone bit and got to smell the flavours that you would normally smell in wine.

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Honey, for example.

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Then these displays showed what texture wine can have – smooth, furry, creamy

To keep the theme going, the next day Corrine took us to another wine museum experience… where we got to do some more smelling and trying to guess the smells.  We played name that bottle size…

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Which is apparently, in France, is a game for kids as well.

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Then we did some more wine tasting.  By now, you’d think we knew what wine tasted like…

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This is Grace, who is English, but has lived in France since she was a young girl.  We all thought that she would be a great match for Prince Harry.  We are currently in the process of writing a letter to HRH to set it up.

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Then it was time to shop in the cellar.  Some of us were more excited than others.

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The wine was lovely and really cheap, so we bought lots of it!

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Corrine had suggested lunch in a winery called Le Terrasse Rouge.  We were quite excited about this prospect because there was going to be wine and food involved.

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On the terrace, there are these little red pebbles that are laid out to make it look like red grapes.

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It was very busy when we arrived as there was a bus load of American tourists, plus two huge tables of English people who were part of a wine club, so we were told to go and sit by the wall until our table was ready.  We all felt like we had been sent to the principal’s office.

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We all felt guilty about something, but didn’t know what we’d done!

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Then when they did sit us down the people who had just got up from this table had sacrilegiously left uneaten desserts!!!!  What sort of place what this where their customers would do such a thing?

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We were handed a tablet wine list and a menu by a waitress who wasn’t one bit interested in being there let alone serving Australians who couldn’t understand French.

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We ordered our meals, cutlery was thrown down on the table randomly, and we all felt a little uncomfortable, like we weren’t really that welcome….. soon enough the big groups cleared out and the restaurant lost most of its ambiance.  I mentioned our waitress to the manager at the till who informed me that she was leaving very soon…. great news for all concerned I think, except us who would never benefit from the move.

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On the way home Corrine showed us this lovely castle that was being renovated by the owner.  It had been left to crumble, but they were slowly trying to build it up to its former glory…

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We weren’t allowed inside, but we peaked through the windows and saw this…

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We wandered around the grounds to take photos and admire the rustic beauty…

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Whilst Jackie foraged for berries and nuts and treasures…

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and Brian was her favourite find…

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Get me to the station on time!

Our train was booked for 9.10am from Toulouse to Bordeaux.

The day before Deb spoke to Leo, the chap who lives in the apartment building and checks people in, about ordering two taxis for the morning.  Leo then called Pierre, the guy who owns the apartments, to get him to call the taxis.

The train station was about a 25 minute walk (with no bags).

Pierre confirmed that he had booked the taxi for 8.15am.  He’d suggested booking at this earlier time because the traffic is horrendous at that time of the morning.

So, it’s raining, we’re all squashed inside the alcove that leads up to the apartments… at 8.30am one taxi pulls up.  Jason, Deb and I jump in thinking that the second taxi must be right behind him.

The driver asked me if we’d booked two taxis.

“Yes, we have.” I told him, then tried in my best broken French if he could check.  We went back and forth a bit before he eventually called his dispatch office to confirm that only one taxi had been ordered.  By now it’s 8.45am.

Deb called Pierre to explain our predicament and he said that he would call another taxi. But called back moments later to say that all the taxis were booked.

Deb then called Kylie and suggested that they look for a taxi on the street or start walking, in the rain, to the station.

We tried to ask our driver if he could go back and get them, but he told us that we must ring his dispatch office.

Once we’d arrived at the station, we made enquiries about changing our tickets to the next train.  There was much back and forth with the only person who thankfully spoke English. We could change our tickets, but we had to change them before the train left, but we weren’t sure if they were going to make it.  If we left the ticket change until after we’d missed the train, it would be too late!  A catch 22 dilemma.

It was touch and go as Brian, Jackie and Kylie ran through the wet streets of Toulouse dragging their suitcases.

Then Jason, who was on lookout signalled to Deb and me in the ticket office that he could see them.  We had about 5 minutes before the train was leaving.

Brian ran in with his case, drenched and dripping with sweat.  He dumped his bag and ran back out into the rain to help Jackie with her bag.  Jason ran out after him to grab Kylie’s suitcase.  The girls ran in looking a little worse for wear, but we made it to the platform in search for carriage number 9 where our reserved seats were.

We showed our tickets to an official looking person to make sure we were on the correct platform and she informed us that there was no carriage 9 anymore and we were to sit in any seat in carriage 6 – all the way down the other end of the platform.

Everybody got their jog on to carriage 6 and we finally made it, lugged our cases on and fell into our seats;  As the train pulled away from the station, three of us felt awful…

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This is clearly bullshit!

Toulouse

I have been to Paris a few times now and I have just decided that Toulouse is my new favourite city in France.

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This is the main square in Toulouse and there are lovely little windy streets that come off the square full of cafes and shops and bars filled with vibrant French people (and the odd tourist!)  It had a great feel and it was a collective vote that we liked it more than Paris.

Deb has been absolutely amazing throughout her planning of this adventure because she has pulled out the most amazing accommodations in the most fabulous locations.  These set of apartments were in the centre of Toulouse, above a cafe….. at first glance you could have safely thought that once we went into the building there was a good chance that we weren’t going to come out again alive.  It was reminiscent of Fagen’s house in the movie, Oliver with its slopey staircases and wonky walls, etc… but then you opened up your door and found this!  At totally renovated apartment with all the mod cons – including a washing machine!

And this was the view out of my window…

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Our first job was to get down to the square for a bevy and a stare at people.  Brian and I weren’t quite sure how we were going to tackle these giant head sized beers.

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But it tuns out that using two hands is best, especially when you have fingers the length of mine!

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Then we had dinner at the cafe that I could see from my apartment window…. pizza, very French!

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It’s a great feeling when you can meet people and immediately know that you like them.  Jen and Scott were some of those people for me.  From day one, all the way back in Narbonne, when we met for the first time I knew straight away that they were good people and that it was going to be a great trip with them….. and it was!

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After dinner we wandered down to the river to see what happened on a Monday night in Toulouse.  It appears that a Monday night here is like a Friday or Saturday anywhere else.  We thought that maybe it was students drink free night or something because there was a lot of big groups of rowdy young lads.  There was also hundreds of people sitting along the river with wine and picnics.

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Then we came across this little piece of magic!

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We stood and watched for ages before the day caught up with us and the thought of having a proper bed and not having to sleep on the boat anymore was too much to wait for.

Day 2 in Toulouse saw us doing a bit more wandering around, lunch and more beers and wines.

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When we went to pay for the bill we realised that they hadn’t charged us for the first round of drinks.  When we told our waiter, he said, “You are too honest!”  He went inside to reprint the bill and the manager told him to only charge us for half that round… so apparently honestly does pay – cheers to that!

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Deb had read about a free city walking tour which we were keen to jump onboard with, so we met up with Maxim, who was a great tour guide.  He knew more than anybody his age should know about a place and he took us to all the city highlights.

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The obligatory cathedral

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The random people sitting/laying with legs akimbo around the cathedral

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Jason and I went to St Francis Xavier Primary School in Geraldton…. who knew the school had their own patisserie in Toulouse?

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Apparently this arch way had a carved inscription that said something along the lines of “This archway will last forever”….

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This was either a method of projecting images onto the wall or it was the worst hidden security camera set up ever!

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This was the church that “Jack” built.  It was designed by a whole lot of different people and rather than follow on from the previous person’s ideas, they just went on with their own – regardless of how it looked!

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The highest organ I’ve seen in a church. The organist must go through that little door to the right and pop on an oxygen mask before settling in to play.

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Our final night in Toulouse and the final night with Jen and Scott who were not accompanying us on the rest of the tour, so what better way to celebrate a super trip than with crepes?

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And then a couple of wines at No.5 – the best wine bar in Europe…. how do we know this?

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The writing is on the wall – literally.

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I Know Boats!

We’ve been on the boat for two nights now and sleeping outside on the deck has been divine.  Not a lot of sleep has been had due to the flood lights shining directly onto the deck of the boat, however the fact that there is a strong breeze completely outweighs any light issues for me.  I could sleep under interrogation.

Today is the day that we set sail (so to speak) up the Canal du Midi to our destination of Castelnaudary.

This morning, Jason, Scott, Jackie and Brian set off on the bikes to the supermarket to get breakfast supplies, so whilst they were gone our fearless leader, George suggested, as a joke, that we move the boat… it only took us about 2 seconds to agree to such a mature and devilish idea.  So we moved it about 100 metres away onto the other side of the bridge that they would have to have carried their bikes over.

It felt silly.  It felt naughty.  It felt good.

Here’s how mature we were…

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Jason and Scott were such good sports about the whole thing!

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When Jackie and Brian turned up, we all hid again.  Brian was mid bike lift to get over the bridge but Jackie just stopped, looked at us and asked what we were doing.  I’m not sure what this says about the observation skills of the males onboard?

Now, since I am WAY behind on the blog, I’ve decided to give you a montage of the entire week onboard.  So here it goes – the pics are not necessarily in order, because I can’t remember now what we did on any particular day – so here it is…. enjoy.

George showing us the ropes – literally!

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This is George, our Intrepid leader

In the whole trip we were only going to be travelling about 50kms, but when you travel at a maximum speed of 8kmph, that can take you all week!

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This was just one of the obstacles that we had to face…

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Well, George faced most of them.  We mostly drank a lot of wine and tea and ate a lot of bread and cheese.

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The cork count grew and grew over our week

We went through 61 locks in total. Each of the locks had a lock master’s house that were so lovely and quaint.

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and we all had our own style when holding the ropes on the locks…

During the trip we all decided from time to time to hop off the boat and ride …

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or walk between locks…

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One day Deb stayed onboard…. and got to drive!

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When you walk along the tow roads, you never know what you’re going to find…

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Sometimes the scenery was just too much to bear.

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Jackie and Brian are born foragers and the whole way along the canal they found fig trees, wild blackberries, hazelnuts, sundried gooselwhats…. you name it – they found it.

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Below George kindly edged the boat into the shrubbery so Brain to reach the berries.

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Jackie was our much appreciated self appointed cook onboard and continuously produced amazing meals out of a very small galley.    Like this amazing plate.  I would have taken more photos of the meals, but they were pretty much gone before I could think of it!  One of my favourite meals made my Jackie was the French onion soup…. but I think they just call it onion soup here!

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On this day Jackie found cactus fruits that she wanted to use in the salad for lunch… she returned from foraging covered in cactus spikes.  We removed them from her fingers with tweezers, but she had collected all the fruits up in her hat and when she gave it a little flick over the side of the boat, those little bastard spikes had minds of their own and we were finding them for days after – in all sorts of places….

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Jason needed a good sit down and relax after the debacle!

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In fact, most of the trip was sitting down and relaxing…

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Each lock required the assistance of 4 people.  Two people jumped off the boat (or if riding, would meet us at the next lock in order to hold the ropes).  Two people would station themselves at the front and the back of the boat – that’s stern and bow for those not in the know, in order to throw the ropes up to those waiting on the top of the locks.

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Here’s Brian and Scott waiting at a lock for some expert rope throwing/catching.

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Sometimes if there were boats already in the locks come the other way there was a bit of a wait before rope holding/catching/throwing was required.

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But then the floodgates would open and the water would rush in, filling the lock and lifting us up to a higher plane.

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It was important to hold the boat close to the wall so it doesn’t get jostled in the force of H2O.  It was also important to make sure that the edge of the boat didn’t catch in the big holes that had appeared in the walls of the 16th century locks.

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At a couple of locks, there was no lock keeper, you just press a button to open them.  This strenuous job went to Deb.  Sure, it wasn’t the most exciting of jobs, bit it was hers and she owned it with much enthusiasm as you can see here.

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Along the canal we passed quite a few gorgeous chateaus, but none more lovely than this one.  It was decided that we would all go in together and purchase this house, even though it was not for sale.  We would do it up, grow our own herbs and vegetables (that was going to be Jackie’s job) – I just liked the massive sloped front lawn that would be perfect for the slip and slide directly into the canal!

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We stopped off at the major village/townships to have a look.

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Jason surveying his kingdom at the castle in Carcassonne

The castle!

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This castle comes with its own amphitheatre!  I don’t think the seats are original though.

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Jason and I often talk about the fact that when we were in primary school, we would never have thought that one day we’d be wondering around a castle in France together!

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We walked all around the top of the wall….

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…. and ended up at the castle’s own cathedral!

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More scenery…..

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Some of the bridges we had to go under were really low and on about day 5 George let me drive the boat into the lock – under close supervision – with great success I might add…

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Then on the last day whilst we were waiting for the lock to open, George jumped off the boat to chat to the lovely lady lock keeper, so, with his ok,  I casually took the wheel and drove the boat into the lock, kept it close to the wall and then drove it out again under a bridge much like this one below!  There’s not much room for error….. but as we approached Kylie asked, “Do you think the canopy will fit under this bridge?”

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Then panic happened.  In slow motion George lunged for the throttle to throw us into reverse, two people hurriedly untied the ties as I shouted “Canopy down! Canopy down!”  There was really no reason for all the mayhem – we had it totally under control.

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Speaking of untying the ties, one of the best things I’ve learned on this whole trip is Kylie ‘truckie’s hitch’

and here’s Jason’s version…

This little restaurant is apparently so good (and famous) that people come all the way from Paris to dine there.  George knew how busy it got and booked us in.  Kate, our lovely tour guide joined us for dinner …..

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…. and Deb had the best scallops that she’s ever had in her life!

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Then there was more of this…

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Our last stop was Castelnaudary

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Whilst visiting the castle in Carcassonne, we noticed a rodent of unusual size under the bridge.  We were all amazed and a little revolted at the same time…. thinking it was maybe fake (it never moved), we were even more surprised when we saw a few of them swimming around with the ducks fighting for the bread crumbs that people insisted throwing in.

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Check out this video for a better look.

Here’s me getting arty with the reflection in the canal.

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After a while we were getting a bit sick and tired of this view…

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This was a regular occurrence amongst our lovely group.

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Then this is how we get back to the boat…

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Cause we’re REBels…… well Kylie is anyway.

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On our last night together we had a special dinner at a specialty cassoulet restaurant – which is a dish of meat and beans – very tasty.  We started with a plate of escargot, which was the first time for Kylie, Jason and Deb… but I think they got the hang of it.

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Jason – not too sure

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Kylie is still undecided.

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And this was the final scene as we said goodbye to George; goodbye to our boat – “Classique 13”; and goodbye to the Canal du Midi – about 500 French Foreign Legion members jogging around the marina, although I think they just call it the Foreign Legion here.

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It has been an absolute blast and I would do it all again in a minute.

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The Premier Nose

Today was all about wine.

Vin en Vacances is the name of the company that we went on THE. BEST. WINE. TOUR. ever!  I’ve popped the link to their website right up the front because I want anybody coming to this region of France to use them…. and especially to ask for:

Kate Wardell

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Kate, our guide extraordinaire is actually English, but has lived all over the world and has now settled in her favourite region of France – the Languedoc-Roussillon.  It has great wine and food; it’s close to the skiing magic of Andorra; it’s not too far from either coast for a bit of seaside action;  It’s close to Spain, and who doesn’t want to be close to Spain?

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The best thing about Kate was that she didn’t try to baffle us with wanky wine jargon.  She read the vibe of our group perfectly and simply joined in.  We learned things about wine and the wine industry that we’d never heard of before and Kate made it all make sense using analogies  such as:

“Bottling a single grape wine is like cooking a chicken without any herbs or spices – it’s still a wine, but it won’t be as tasty as a chook smothered in salt and thyme!”

or

“Growing Sauvignon and pinot in the south of France is like leaving a redheaded person out in the desert.”

It just all made sense, plus Kate is quite hilarious which made the trip all the more enjoyable.

The first winery she took us to was a local place called Chateau de Rieux

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During the summer the winemaker, Emmanual sets up these barrel tables and invites the locals down for food and wine on a Friday night.

Just a little snippet of information here…. see the slope on the left hand side of the building?  That is built like that on purpose, because when the grapes are picked, the truck drives up that side to drop the grapes into large vats on the inside, and by dropping them from a great height, the grapes smash into each other, taking away the need to squish them which gives the wine a different texture/flavour.  I’m not sure I’ve explained that very well – but that’s about the gist of it.

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Here is Jason speaking his best French with the wine maker, Emmanuel (Kate only had to do a little bit of interpreting)

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These are the old barrels that were used in the old days, but they found that it was very difficult to regulate the temperature for the fermentation….. if it got too cold, they would light a fire underneath the barrel, effectively cooking the wine.

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Now they use these fibreglass vats

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We learned that only a special vintage, where all of the wine gods – the god of rain and the god of good soil come together with the god of just the right amount of sun and said, “Let’s give them a good year” will go into these oak barrels, cause they’re quite pricey to purchase and they will only last about 2-3 barrellings (I reckon that’s a word)

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Then after all the hard learning – it was time to taste.

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Kate didn’t let us off completely though – there was more learning to be had whilst tasting.

You look at the colour, checking for the lightness or darkness of the meniscus – a telling sign if the wine is going to taste of red fruit and berries or darker fruits and cherries.

You take in the premier nose – the first sniff.

You have a think about what you can sense.

You swirl your glass around, aerating the wine, then you take your deuxième nez – the second nose and go crazy over how the aromas have changed since the premier nez.

Then you taste.

You take a full swig letting the wine fill your entire mouth, covering all the senses on the tongue.

If your saliva glands are activated, this means that this is a good wine to have with food.

So much tasting and learning was rewarded with a picnic lunch….

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Catered by the lovely Petra who spoilt us with a homemade 4 course extravaganza

Check out Petra’s website here

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We had homemade pate/terrine; pork with a beautiful coleslaw, baguette (of course) and then a homemade pannacottary style dessert in a jar.  Plus, more wine – It was divine!

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After our luncheon, Kate took us to our second winery – Chateau Coupe Roses in Minervois where we tasted some more amazing wines.

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  This is Carolina, who was a great sport and cracked out all the big guns for our tasting.  There was one particular wine from a perfect wine growing year that we loved and luckily they had 3 magnums left….. which we relieved them of.

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Kate was so awesome that we insisted that she join us for dinner later in the week, which she did!

We love Kate 💕

Le Boat

Our Intrepid guide, George showed up exactly on time, however the boat wasn’t going to be ready for another hour, so he took us over the bridge to have a beer and a look in a local wine/tourist shop.

Jason nearly had a conniption when he saw these monstrosities!

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We were in the Languedoc wine region of southern France – so only local wines from the regions shall be drunk this week.

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We were all thinking/hoping that our boat would look a little a lot like this one…

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However, this was our boat and in hindsight, going through locks and under small bridges etc….. the one we got was a lot more practical.

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Here’s Deb having a bit of a go at driving whilst we walked and rode to the next lock.

On our first night George took us to the only restaurant in Homps that was close enough to walk to – funnily enough it was the same place he took us to for a drink in the afternoon.  Jason ordered the beef tartare which was pure theatre.  The owner made it at our table and it was quite delicious…..

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… even a random woman from the next table came over to watch and once it was ready, Jason invited her over to have a taste – which she did, swapping it for half a prawn from her own plate.

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Being the single people on the boat, Kylie and I elected to have what would eventually be dubbed ‘The Coffin Room’ which was, shall we say… tight?  Alright, let’s say it was small and poky, hot and airless and we only slept in there once!

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Which gave me a leg cramp because the mattress/bed wasn’t long enough and Kylie’s knees were bruised from trying to roll over in her half bed.

Now, there are people who are taller than me.  In fact, nearly my whole family is taller than me – how on Earth do other people fit in there?  It is beyond me – so we carted our mattresses upstairs each night and slept under the stars, which was perfect.

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Narbonne

Deb has been brilliantly organising this whole French leg, so I’ve had no input into the where or the what or they whyfors which has been a bit of a mixed bag for me because I’m usually the one who has done it and therefore knows all about the vital accommodation/travel information….. but this time – no.  I don’t know anything and if I’m honest – it feels great.

After four hours on the train from Gare du Lyon in Paris, we hit Narbonne, which was really just a stop over on our way forward to the canal boat.  We weren’t expecting much from Narbonne and nobody really looked into what it was all about – because, one night stop over.

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Deb booked us into a hotel near the station called “Will’s Hotel”.  It was unassuming, but close to the station, which is really all we needed from it.

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It was a Monday night, so we thinking that everything would be closed, but after four hours on the train, we were all keen for a quiet beer and there was reason to celebrate as Scott and Jen were joining us here. Our host at the hotel pointed us in the direction of the canal suggesting we ‘might’ find something open down there.

So, 10pm on a Monday night – looking for a table for 8 people just for drinks…..

Hello Restaurant Le France.  They were just starting to pack away when we arrived, but let us sit down for a drink, which turned into two, which turned into 5, which turned into 2am and they were keeping the bar open just for us.

Which you can see here, everybody was happy about!

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Awesome bar staff, even gifting us a shooter of something green when we were leaving.

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The journey home was very interesting.  Luckily we had photos of the evening to identify some mystery bruises.

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When night turned into day…….

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We found a park to sit in to enjoy our picnic patisserie breakfast and coffee

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This park even had its own library

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Then it was time to explore.  There is a beautiful old cathedral in the middle of Narbonne.

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The architecture is quite spectacular.  It’s hard to imagine how old it is and what the builders/designers/engineers were able to achieve back then.

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Hugh Jackman Jorgan

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Intricate carvings

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As we were wanting around taking pictures, there was a wonderful wafting sound of singing.  These nuns were practicing a few chants and songs

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Then they moved inside for better acoustics before continuing on.

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That was our whistle stop visit to Narbonne done and dusted.

Next stop: Homps.

We weren’t sure about how long it would take us to get there from Narbonne, so we allowed plenty of time.  What we didn’t consider is that the boat office wouldn’t be open when we arrived, so we had to stand around and wait for an hour before we could meet our guide or hop on our boat.  Have I mentioned how hot it was?  Just to clarify – it was hot.

We certainly didn’t waste any time though…

Jackie got right into the foraging, finding figs and blackberries – quite delicious!

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With Jackie and Brian around – we certainly were not going to starve.

The French Connection

What happens to a blog when there is no internet?  This has been my blogging dilemma this week.  But fear not dear readers, I will endeavour to get us back on track over the next few days.

When last we spoke I was arriving in Paris to meet up with some peeps from my original hometown of Geraldton and then travel through France.

Let me introduce you to the crew.

Jason

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A primary school pal from Geraldton who I had semi lost touch with over the years.  I’ve always known where he was and I guess vice versa, but still out of touch – until now!  Graphic Designer, videographer, and producer/director of Bogan’s Guide to Wine

Deb

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Deb and I used to work together at Mitchell and Brown in Geraldton, which is our combined family business – partnered by Deb’s brother and my father (and my uncle and cousin, but sorry chaps, that bit doesn’t seem relevant to this part of the story).  Deb and I not only worked together, but we played netball, hung out and went to see shows at Theatre 8 and Queens Park Theatre in Geraldton.  Deb is a fabulous photographer and runs a holiday accommodation business in Geraldton – Geraldton City Stay Cottage

Kylie

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Kylie is Deb’s niece.  She works in the oil and gas industry as a super duper important and powerful environmental/safety person on Barrow Island.  As part of her job, she has learned to wrangle snakes, which impresses me no end.  Kylie was also part of our netball team and knows how to tie a truckie’s hitch.

Jackie & Brian

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These two come as a package for me because I had never met them before and were always referred to as “Jackie and Brian”.  Brian is a physiotherapist and lives next door to Jason and Deb in Geraldton.  Jackie also runs a holiday accommodation business in Geraldton – Weelaway on Gregory and together they have spent many an evening on the Jose Street porch drinking wine and talking bollocks.  J&B and J&D have done many an overseas trip together – sometimes with Kylie as well.

Scott & Jenny 

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Again, these two also come as a duo for the same reason.  This was my first time meeting this lovely couple who hale from Taunton in Somerset.  Jen is a hilarious accountant and Scott is a martial arts practicing IT wiz. They had first met Jason and Deb & Jackie and Brian on an Intrepid tour in Thailand 5 years ago.  They all fell madly in love and decided to travel together again.

So…. Day 1 in Paris.  Kylie, Brian and Jackie had already arrived in Paris the previous day so were well versed in the arrondissements and rues around the city.  Deb & Jason arrived the same time I did – midnight, meaning that we went straight to bed and met up with the group in the morning.

Nobody was super interested in doing touristy sightseeing, which was great, cause I’d just seen it all!  So we grabbed some breakfast on the go…. Quiche Lorraine, crepes and pain au chocolat, thank you very much!

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and got to walking around the town to get a feel of the vibe.

Our hotel was right near the Notre Dame Cathedral.

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The temporary beach along the Seine during the summer months.

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Brunch beers.

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The bruch beers pic was taken just around the corner from the Picasso Museum – so when in Paris…

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I don’t know – is this art?

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Note to Pablo…. if you have to do this – your artwork is probably too small.

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Also, if your art is something that everybody did at primary school (painting on a plate) …..

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yeah…. what is it?

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View from the window of the Picasso museum

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Um……not sure you should be touching the art Kylie

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The building was gorgeous!

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They were obviously expecting a large crowd today…

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Choosing some souvenirs at the gift shop…. It think these will be perfect.

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Paris – art on every corner!

Then it was to the Louvre and the Tuileries Gardens

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We sat in the gardens to have an overpriced drink and since it was a hot day thought that a lovely rose’ would be a winner……. it was not a winner.

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Deb, who thought she’d quench her thirst with a lemonade was served lemon juice, water and sugar syrup…

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The results were mixed…

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In order to get ride of the overpriced rose’ we played the drinking game – coins, whereby you bounce a coin into a glass and the if you get it in, everybody has to skull their drink….. however, as the aim of this game was to get rid of the wine – if somebody got it in, we all skulled.  The game and the wine was over in about 3.5 minutes.

Then is was on to doing a bit of art imitation.

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These people have really thought out their needs on their canal boat living spaces…

Child’s play area – tick.

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There was time for one more drink before catching our train down south to Narbonne.

Jason, being the wine wanker expert that he is spoke to the waiter and did a bit of tasting before choosing a bottle for us.  It’s great having you own personal taster!

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Testing the premier nose…

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She’s a gooden…. so cheers!

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Then it was au revoir Paris and bon jour Narbonne via 2 hours of learning new card games.

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