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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