Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cruise II

Well, we're off tomorrow for Marseille on our second (annual?) cruise.  This time we're going down the west Mediterranean coasts and out to North Africa.


You may remember last year we found a deal we couldn't refuse.  This time it costs us half of that!  And children under 18 go for free.  So we decided to take Claire and Olivier, both of whom could afford to take a week off school for such a trip.


Claire has made herself a notebook for the occasion and plans to keep a complete log of the trip.  Here is her first page with an outline map of projected stops; Marseille, Barcelona, Alicante, Gibraltar, Tangier, Casablanca, Malaga, Almeria, Genova, Marseille.  Sounds like fun, don't you think?

Friday, November 26, 2010

No comment

Raph, with a smile, picks up a yellowing scrap of newspaper from the mantelpiece over the roaring fire this morning, and says "This come out of your office, Dad?"

Of course I've never seen the thing before.  I ask everyone there who had seen it and who had put it there... no one had.

It's dated Sunday, 20th of October 1968.  No comment.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

David with Mary and Joseph

David got a new rabbit the other day.  Before he ever got here he had decided he was going to call him Joseph.  Here they all are ...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Isabelle

If you're ever looking for your name-tag bracelet (I don't know what it's really called) I've got it here.


Don't ask me who Isabelle is—I don't know.

Don't ask me how her bracelet got into the hidden drawer of my desk—I don't know that, either.

Don't ask me why she decided to hide it here / give it to me—I just work here!

Another mystery?  Well, I'm not going to waste too much time on it.  After what I've seen over the years here, this is small fry!  (Remind me to tell you sometime about the rosary and the five-franc piece I found in the front pocket of a suit I've never worn...).

Have a nice day, everyone.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Louvre and England

We had only been back from the Netherlands for a week when it was time to be off again!  Sarah and I had planned a day at the Louvre a long time ago around the once-a-month free day (first Sunday of every month).  I couldn't decide what to expect: crowds due to free admission or the place to ourselves due to the season.

Nine o'clock opening?  No problem, we're ready!
Well, we were there standing in line a half an hour before opening time (nine o'clock) and we were glad we were because there was already quite a queue!  It's a good thing the Louvre is huge because people just kept coming until by noon there were thousands.  A little later we decided to pause for lunch after already a great morning seeing over some of the sights (we started out by touring the personal apartments of Napoleon III and went on from there).

Since we had planned to go over to England for a couple of days afterwards, at the last minute we had decided to bring both Claire and Olivier to give them a little educational break!  They enjoyed it a great deal and were so excited with everything.
We laughed so hard at this!  (You had to be there to appreciate it!)

It's always funny the things that children appreciate, when you take them on a trip!


Anyway, on the way up to Cheltenham we did a little detour by Salisbury plain to show the kids what they heard and read about before: Stonehenge.  We didn't bother with the official guided visit (£££) but made the trip around the area and found a spot where they could get out for a picture, then another road that brought us right up close, within metres of the monument, where we paused again for a quick look at the site.

Next it was up to Cheltenham where we spent a lovely relaxed time with Rosemary, and Peggy & Tony who took us out to a few of the local sites, like the quaint Bourton-on-the-water where, besides lots of interesting things to see and do, there is a complete model of the village itself (at 1:9 scale) which dates from 1937.

Olivier had to be there to give you an idea of the scale.
Of course, one of the first things we wanted to do was find the model of the model village   Well, we found it but the model of the model of the model village had been taken out that week for cleaning and maintenance!  Here's a shot for you...

Bourton-on-the-water





Monday, November 01, 2010

Amiens

My report last left you with our visit to the museum at Waterloo.  Before we left the town we had lunch there but were not particularly impressed with Belgian cuisine which, in a French-speaking restaurant turned out to be rather mediocre.

We had a good laugh, though, at a couple of misunderstandings we had with the waiter.  Olly ordered a religieuse for dessert.  The waiter fixed him a funny smile and tilted his head and said, "And just what do you call a religieuse?"  (After Olly described it, he said they called it a Choux à la crème—which it is, of course.  Sigh.)

It just occurred to me non-francophone visitors may not get the point here unless I show you what I'm talking about.  Here's a photo I pinched off another blog I found while googling a picture for you.  Behold a religieuse:


Next came Becky who decided on a Fondue au fromage for her main dish.  Instead of the expected delight she was amazed to find a couple of little pasty pastry balls which had a vague overtone of cheese (if you were looking for it, says Becky).  It was no use trying to explain to the waiter what we call a fondue this side of the border . . . .

Next stop was Amiens, just a couple of hours away.  As always, we headed off here with a clue as to what we would find—and we weren't disappointed!  The town turned out to be rich in culture and things to see.  How good it felt to be out of The Netherlands, through Belgium, and home!  (The road system in Belgium is disgraceful; we had expected far better!)

After finding a place to park we set out to explore and found we were right next to the ruins of a convent that had been built  in the 11th century for the Grey Sisters.  We were struck, once again, that so many wonderful old buildings were destroyed during the Second World War—not by the German occupiers but "friendly fire" from Allied bombers.  Anyway, this was almost completely demolished and now only the outer cloister remains which we visited.


We spent quite some time walking around the down-town area and reading all the informative signs everywhere (the city Belfry, the Cathedral, as well as a wall plaque commemorating the Peace of Amiens, which I vaguely recalled from my high school history class).


But the most fun we had was exploring the house where Jules Verne lived and which is now a bookshop (as you might expect) and a museum, each floor dedicated to displays and characters from his novels.  It was exceedingly well done and we could have spent a lot more time there than we did.


The mural on the side wall outside well reflects the fantasy world inside:


After lunch we continued our pleasant visit of the canal and decided to overnight there in a Première Class hotel (39€ for a room for three!) ready to head home in the morning.