Last blog – 05 June 2020

It has been awhile, I know, our usual routine went out the window and still hasn’t come back. So why is this the last blog? – well it is and it isn’t, it’s the last blog about our lives in France, because as I type this I can look out of my hotel window at the City of Perth in Western Australia. We arrived last week after a manic two weeks of packing cases, finding flights, shipping 2 suitcases, getting permission to enter Western Australia and cleaning our gite as best we could. We had accumulated a lot of junk over the year and thought we would be able to go to the dump and the like but due to our lock-down no such luck. All of this happened after we received an email saying that our pet transport company had found flights for our pets to get to Melbourne (where animal quarantine is).

Currently we are in quarantine for 2 weeks, we hopefully get out next week – dependant on a negative COVID-19 test. Which will be wonderful as Perth is now opening up and we can see so many people out and about on the streets. However back to France.

Once we knew we could go and had hired a hire car to get us and pets and baggage up to Paris CDG airport. So on Sunday the 24th May we packed up the car, said farewell to our landlords and headed off on our long drive to Paris. It was mostly an uneventful journey and only one gendarme check – which did cause me slight anxiety as Siena was illegally “housed” in the car footwell due to the fact that we couldn’t fit her crate, the cat crate and all our luggage into the car – our solution was to dismantle her crate and store the cat crate inside – it worked but it did mean Siena was not appropriately restrained. Thankfully we got waved through the check point.

Finding the hotel was entertaining and the sat-nav in the car was not useful, but as the airport wasn’t busy and it was a Sunday we were able to drive around a couple of times until we found it. We had a similar experience the following day to get to the petrol station. So Sunday night we were in the hotel room at the Ibis – one of the few hotels still operational at CDG – a little bit different to our last stay at The Pulman. We off-loaded everyone and everything into our room and then took Siena for a walk and surprisingly came across quite a few rabbits nibbling at the grass around the various hotels and buildings! These did interest Siena, but we continued our walk and headed back to the hotel. Wallis had exited his cage and taken up residence under the bed.

We feasted on take-away pizza and cheap but good red wine that night. Not exactly the best last dinner in Paris but these are not normal times. The following day the pet transport people came to get Siena and Wallis we said our good byes – I cried – and then Pat and I had to sort ourselves out, return the hire car and get to our terminal. We did all this and then proceeded to sit in the airport waiting for our check-in info to come up on the display – it never did! Around 2 hours before we were due to fly I did a walk down the entire terminal to see if I could find our check-in desk – which I did, 20 minutes later, 2 lengthy phone conversations (to check Pat’s visa for Australia) and a waiver for my luggage being overweight and we were on our way. Next passport control and security, by this time we were close to our gate open time, but I thought I would have time to find our gate and then have a look at the duty free (there were a couple open). However by the time we got to our gate they called boarding for our flight. So no duty free for me! So on to our flight with Qatar Airways and into our very empty economy class seats. I will say this much, the stewards on Qatar were wonderful, considering the circumstances and the full protective gear they were wearing, they were cheerful, polite and couldn’t have been more wonderful.

We arrived into Doha at about 8:30pm our time but around 12:00 midnight in Doha and everything except a couple of eating places were closed – so again, no duty free. I think we had a 3 hour wait in Doha, but we were surprised to go through a security check again at our gate to board our flight, which also meant we lost the water we had bought. So through security and then on to our Perth bound flight this time in business class (thanks to a cheap upgrade offer). Again absolutely amazing staff on board, and after a glass of champagne and a drink of water, we took off on our final leg home. Pat chose to have something to eat and I chose to sleep, so one of the stewards made up my bed and gave me some pj’s to put on (they are sooooo soft) and I headed off into the land of dreams. It was wonderful I generally don’t sleep on planes but this time I got around 4 hours sleep, which was really good. After that some food, coffee and a couple of films, we arrived in Perth. Pat will be also writing a blog about our time in quarantine on our new blog site called “On the Beach – Delia and Pat in Australia”. I have been keeping myself busy with my art while in quarantine, but here are a few paintings from my final few weeks in France.

Click here to go to the new blog. You will be taken first to enter your name and email address so that you get added to our list. You will get an email to confirm your address (I may know it already yes, but you have to authorise the site to email you. Its the law)

Lock down in France – 29th April 2020

Sorry I know I haven’t been on top of my blog writing but sometimes life is like that.  Up until 2 weeks ago I was a little despondent and slightly bored.  I’ve got no work to do at the moment, and spring cleaning only takes so long.  So wasn’t I happy when there was a skillshare 2 months free offer on one of the YouTube channels that I watch.  I signed up and I have since been painting like a fiend.  Following tutorials on various watercolour things and also how to use Instagram (deliawallace81 if you are interested) etc, I’ve been keeping myself occupied and loving it.  Unfortunately I ran out of watercolour paper yesterday.  I’ve ordered some more but that is looking like it will take 10 days to arrive, so I will try and keep myself occupied with other things.

This Saturday is Pat’s birthday – he is 65 – very disappointed that we can’t go out for a nice meal (or do a trip somewhere) but I’ve lined up a couple of video calls for the evening so we can chat to friends. 

We really don’t know when we will be able to leave France, our gradual move out of quarantine starts on the 11th May but as to when we will be able to fly home (and when our pets can go) we just don’t know.  But here in our rural part of France we are currently safe and sound and enjoying our daily walks around the countryside.

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful but small part of France – Delia

4 Weeks of Lock down – near the end of Week 2 – 29th March 2020

Flashback…“So we are back in our rural part of France, hoping that the next two weeks don’t cause further delays for us.

Well we got that wrong didn’t we?  So what delayed us apart from being in lockdown? – firstly our flight via Singapore got cancelled – we were able to book on an Emirates flight, but then we were put into lockdown and the airlines stopped taking animals on indirect flights in case they were to get stuck somewhere other than their destination country – fyi. no direct flights from Paris to Melbourne.  So now it looks like we are here in France until May sometime.  Yep May!

We are also in lock down until the 15th April – which is after Easter.  I have been leaving the house once a day to go for a walk, but we’re now restricted to only being 1km from our house for our exercise!  It’s frustrating and not a lot of fun.  Pat has been doing our shopping once a week as we’re not sure where my immune system is at after my illness.  So I’ve actually not been anywhere for over 2 weeks.

Pat is still working, which is good, but I’m not at the moment, so I have a lot of spare time – so far I have completed my colouring pencil course – which was 3 pictures in 1 week, and last week I went back to a picture that I hadn’t completed for an earlier assignment and finished it.  I’ve also been painting cards so hopefully I can still send birthday cards.  I’ve made hot cross buns – which have all been eaten so I now need to make more and today I tried cinnamon biscuits for the first time – they are really, really nice.

We’ve also being slowly spring cleaning the house – which actually has been good – so far the attic and the lounge have been completed and I’m part way through the bathroom.  We were going to do the kitchen this weekend but I really couldn’t be bothered.  I’ve also spent a lot of time on my couch watching YouTube and painting my nails.  Maybe I can get good at painting them by the time I get to Australia?

We have been fortunate that for the most part the weather has been lovely spring weather, however we do actually have snow forecast for tonight (and, breaking news from late blog, it snowed all day Monday) interesting as we were thinking that it had all past.

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful but small part of France – Delia

Delays – 26th February 2020

Well what has been happening in our part of the world, unfortunately we appear to have a delay – we didn’t have our import permit for Siena or Wallis and it means that it looks like we will have to delay the transporting of them.  At the moment we are still trying to decide if I will travel on our original date and Pat will come later or if we both wait and come later.  It is frustrating as the delay was caused by a breakdown in communication.

So what has been happening here – we sold the car, and have been trying to catch up with various people to say goodbye.  We’ve had one lunch so far, an afternoon tea and tomorrow we have both!  Thankfully one of my friends has been incredibly generous and has lent us her car to use while we are still here – she is also dropping us off at the train station when we know when we are going.

I will admit I did have to buy another bigger suitcase – it appears I have been buying various items (and been given a few) over the past 12 months so what 12 months ago filled one suitcase now takes up two!

I have started to put in job applications; I had forgotten how long each application takes.  It is difficult.

Today we did got notice that the import permit has been granted so hopefully we can travel when we originally planned.  We’re just waiting to hear if that is possible. 

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

The UK Farewell Tour – 08th February 2020

We’ve been in the UK for 10 days, starting in London and finishing in Nottingham.  We got to catch-up with most people that we wanted to see, we have 2 friends from our London days that we didn’t get to see and planning is in place for when we will catch-up with them before we leave.

Our UK tour started in London on a very wet Monday, where we got a few little things done and then met with C&C – Pat’s daughter and son-in-law for dinner and an overnight stay at their lovely place in Wimbledon.  On Tuesday we headed out to R&L’s in Buckinghamshire, which was lovely and I had my first bath in a very long time.  We also got to see a couple of Pat’s nieces and the great nephew and have a lovely lunch out one day.  Thursday we returned to London to catch-up with K from Aberdeen (H joined us on Friday). Thursday afternoon was afternoon tea, followed by a night at the theatre – we went to see The Book of Mormon – it is very irreverent and funny, we enjoyed it a lot.  Friday was breakfast out and then we headed over to the Wallace Collection – it has been 20 years since I last saw it, and it was great to see again, we then headed out for an early dinner at a Greek restaurant – which we all really enjoyed but we were all very glad to head back to the hotel early.  I think I slept for 10 hours that night.  Saturday was a good bye to H as she headed back to Aberdeen and the rest of us headed for Leicester.

Saturday we got to stay with T&R and then we headed out for dinner on Saturday night to see B&S – who we hadn’t seen since their wedding back in September.  It was a lovely night out.  Sunday was a final brunch with K before she headed back to Aberdeen afterwards we decided that since the weather was so clear we would head out to Bradgate Park for a walk.  Another place I haven’t been to in years and it was wonderful to walk around and see the deer and the ruins of Lady Jane Grey’s house.  Late afternoon we went off to see L & P and I finally got to see their house and meet their dog.  Monday we slept in as for me exhaustion was really starting to kick in, the afternoon was spent at M&V’s chatting and meeting their new baby girl and a rather more grown up son (last seen 3 years ago).  Monday night was a lovely meal out with T&R at one of their favourite pubs.

Tuesday we then headed to Nottingham on Tuesday morning to see M&S, we had a lovely relaxing afternoon and evening.  Wednesday, the plan had been to either go to Kedelston Hall or a final visit to Chatsworth (one of my favourite houses) unfortunately both were closed!  So a visit to Ilam was decided on and a walk to Dovedale and the stepping stones – another place I haven’t been to for a long time and it was wonderful to see the Derbyshire Dales.  Thursday was our final day and we went out for our last brunch and then off to the airport and homeward bound. 

Both Siena and Wallis were very happy to see us, Siena unfortunately came home with a limp and had to go to the vet’s on Friday morning, she is recovering and got back to her walks on Saturday.

It was a lovely tour of the UK and most people we had seen during 2019 so this really was just a chance to say goodbye for the next few years. 

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

The year that was – 28th December 2019

Whilst it has been a tough year it is very easy to forget about the good stuff that happened during the year. So this blog is about some of the good stuff that happened this year.

January – we got to go to Paris – it was cold but a lovely clear day with some medical appointments for Pat (this was for his Australian Visa) but we had a great time, found a wonderful restaurant (which we visited later in the year). I got to go to the Musée de Rodin and we both got to go the Eiffel Tower.

February – we had a quick trip back to the UK for Pat’s brother’s birthday, it was a lovely weekend and we had a really great time.

March – We moved into our lovely gite, and again a trip to the UK for a quick visit with R&L and K&H complete with a visit to the Tower of London – which I had never seen.

April – We had a night out in Limoges – we stayed overnight at a nice hotel, went out to dinner at a very nice restaurant – ate good food and drank good wine. It was a lot of fun.

May – We had a weekend at the seaside – we got to explore a different part of the coast that we like and we got to visit our favourite beach. I must admit I always love a weekend at the seaside and Siena adores it.

June – We went to our old neighbours for a piano and cello concert – friends joined us – it was a lovely afternoon and enjoyed by us all.

July – we had the first of visits from friends – M&S joined us for some lovely weather which was great. I also had the Vernissage for art class, we had a wonderful lunch at a friend’s house, mum arrived and we explored an international watercolour exhibition spread throughout a local town, so while July had some really hard bits, it had a lot of good bits.

August – T&R came for a visit which was a lot of fun and we got to go and see the amazing Chateau Hautefort.

September – L came for a visit and I got to see a lot of art and do a few things that I hadn’t done for a while. Pat and I had our 11th wedding anniversary (yes it has been that long) and we got to go to B&S’s wedding at the end of the month – that was a really fantastic day.

October – Aunty B came for a visit – which included a day trip to Paris (and lunch at previously mentioned restaurant from January). Dad arrived and we got to go to Champagne for my birthday – now that was a lot of fun and interesting.

November – Another trip to Paris to catch-up with K who was heading back to Scotland via Paris from a conference. It was a wonderful weekend, with some art and fabulous hot chocolate.

December – We’ve had a few nights out, or course there has been Christmas (where we got to consume one of our bottles of champagne, which had been purchased in October). Hopefully this week – the last Star Wars movie (once we find out what time and date when they are showing original language version).

So as you can see, there were a large number of good things that we got to experience this year.

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

A weekend in Paris – 20th November 2019

Radiotherapy has started, I had my machine line-up on Friday last week and then I went to catch a train to head to Paris. This last minute trip came about as a friend was flying home from a conference and had to go via Paris, so we decided to catch-up for the weekend. I arrived to a very wet Paris, but thankfully I knew that my hotel wasn’t too far away. So off I headed, one of the things I love about old cities is you can turn a corner and just find something, such as the Fontaine George Cuvier – here is the link to the Wiki page – I didn’t take a photo as it was dark, raining and I had my bags and an umbrella –
After getting to the hotel, I dried off, unpacked my bag to check for anything that had got wet – thankfully nothing and I went to meet K at the Metro. What I wasn’t expecting to see on my walk to the metro was the burnt Notre-Dame cathedral – it is interesting you can still smell the burnt wood, and that is from across the river – I smelt it before I saw it! After K and I meet up we popped into a nearby Brasserie for our dinner and low and behold another fountain in our view – Fountaine Saint Michel – this wiki page is in English –

The following day, and after breakfast at our hotel, we headed out for a walk across the river through the Louvre heading for Galleries Lafayette Haussmann as I had always wanted to see the building. It isn’t that much from the outside, but my goodness the inside is fantastic. And they had their Christmas tree up – which I actually co-ordinated with as I was wearing a bright pink jumper. After a very expensive and very nice glass of Champagne we headed off to find somewhere for lunch. A small creperie was located after much searching – we wanted something light – we headed to the Metro to only discover that we couldn’t get to the station we wanted to go to because of the gilets jaunes (yellow vests). I hadn’t realised that it was a year since the protests had started, and to be honest I hadn’t seen any protesting since summer. So after a rethink about what to do we walked back over the river to the Musee D’Orsay – took one look at the queue and decided it was insane and I must admit by this stage I was shattered, I had just done too much walking. So instead we headed for Café de Flore – one of oldest coffee houses in Paris – where we sat for 45 minutes drinking one of the best hot chocolates I’ve ever had. Then back to the hotel for a bath and a rest before heading out for dinner. My fit app on my phone stated that we had done over 10km of walking!!!

Sunday we decided to head out of the hotel for breakfast, so after signing out and leaving our luggage, we headed off to a local café for an omelette and a coffee – coffee in Paris is much more expensive than my local area – around double the price! But as we both felt like eggs for breakfast it was a much an enjoyable breakfast. We were again on foot – off to the Musee D’Orsay and as it had only been open for 30 minutes – no queue – we headed through security and dropped our coats off at the cloak room (interesting that we still call them that and not coat rooms?) and off to the top of the gallery to see the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. It is interesting what art speaks to you at different times of your life, I loved a self Portrait by Van-Gogh (the shades of blue were just wonderful) and I was really enjoying work by Odilon Redon – someone I hadn’t recalled noticing previously. There are some photo’s below. We finally had to leave the gallery and by this stage decided that taking the metro as far as we could back to our hotel would be a good idea, so this we did. We then went to a restaurant near our hotel, called Le Passage, for both of us definitely the best meal we had the whole time we were in Paris. We parted ways, both feeling incredibly full and I walked back to the station to get my train – this time through a garden – which had a Wallaby enclosure??? Back on the train with a snack and the realisation that I was getting a cold, so as I write this, I’m in bed trying not to feel sorry for myself as I have a sore throat and a bunged up nose. But it was worth the cold for a wonderful weekend in Paris.

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

Storms and not much more, 3rd November 2019

I’m sitting on the couch writing this, whilst looking out the window (hey I’m a touch typist I don’t have to look at the keys/screen) at the absolutely foul weather we are having here. It feels like winter and yesterday was identical. Though having such hideous weather did make me feel that yesterday it was fine not to go outside, not get out of the pj’s, light the fire and just chill for the day. It was a lovely time, watching some You Tube videos, reading my book, playing a game or two, very relaxing. Today would have been identical but one of our friends is having a birthday tomorrow and is having a little get together later this afternoon so we will be heading out into the wind and the wet.

It has in all honesty been a very quiet week. Monday I had an appointment at the hospital to explain the radiotherapy and to have the preliminary scans. This went very smoothly and once again we were very thankful for our translator as there were a lot of questions to answer and information to go through. Radiotherapy starts mid November. I’ll put a more detailed blog up about this on my fit & fab blog later in the week.

The rest of my week was quiet, we worked, walked Siena – and I was even able to get up on Friday and do the walk to the boulangerie and back – this hasn’t happened in a very long time. It’s been nice to have my energy back, unfortunately I do know with the start of radiotherapy that this will once again decrease – but thankfully not until the end of the treatment.

I’ve started a new painting in art class, I was at a bit of a loose end as to what to paint this time, as last week I actually took my rooster picture back and did a bit of a background on him – I felt he needed it (after Pat suggested it). I’ll put the before and after photo’s below.

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

Where have I been? 20 October 2019

So where have I been – or where have we been. Well here is a photo to help?

No we have not been to NY, this is a small version of the Statue of Liberty which is based on the L’île aux Cygnes (Swan Island) in Paris (near the Australian Embassy and the Eiffel Tower). So why were we in Paris – well my Australian Passport was due to expire so I needed to go to the Embassy to submit my paperwork etc. It effectively was lunch in Paris though, we got to Paris at 12:30 were in our favourite Brasserie by just after 1 o’clock and enjoyed a lovely lunch with my Aunty B. We then headed over the Australian Embassy which didn’t take long so we went for a walk along the Island took some photos and headed back to the train. We had a really nice day.

One day we also headed over to Hauteforte Chateau again to enjoy a wonderful afternoon out – complete with lots of sunshine. On Aunty B’s last day we had a lovely walk in the morning and then we headed around the Troc’s (second hand stores) as the rain had set in by then. The following day she headed off to continue her travels.

2 days later my dad arrived. He is still here with us and yesterday we decided to head off to Perigueux which is a city just over an hour away and one I’ve never been to. It’s fabulous, a great amount of parking, a fantastic Medieval and Renaissance section of the town and then a short walk away to a different part of the town – a Roman villa. It was a great day out and one I would like to repeat before we leave France.

Today is a quiet day and I have all of next week off so next Saturday there should be an interesting blog from Pat.

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

Woo Hoo – 16th September 2019

First the apology of a late blog, we have a friend over and have been out and about enjoying ourselves – a full description below.

However the Woo Hoo title is in relation to the fact that Pat’s Partner Visa (Provisional) has been granted – on Friday 13th to be precise! We are ecstatic, so we are now planning our departure from France – once I’ve finished my treatment and we have done some of the travelling that I really want to get done!

So on to last week and the weekend. Last week was a surprisingly busy one for me at work, but that was good. Our friend L arrived late Thursday afternoon and after an early night for us all, she and I headed down to Brantome to have a lovely day out. We enjoyed wandering around the market and we found 2 art exhibitions at the Abbey – both were very good. Then off to lunch which we were able to score a table on the river front and enjoy our relaxed meal. After lunch a little bit of shopping then a slow journey back home via St Jean de Cole – where we got to see another 2 art exhibitions and relax having a cool drink before getting back into the car to head home.

Saturday was much more of a slow start – but we headed over to Saint-Yrieix-la-Perche for a wander around the medieval quarter and to have a look at one of the Limoges porcelain shops. Pat was able to join us as it was Saturday, we also got to see a Porcelain exhibition which was fascinating as it had modern pieces juxtaposed with old pieces and you really could see the inspiration – Pat and I really loved some of the lamps and vases and if we hadn’t already packed up our house I think a piece of Limoges porcelain would have found its way into our possessions. Instead we satisfied ourselves with a couple of Christmas decorations. We finished the day at an English tea room for cake and tea (well scones for me) and really enjoyed ourselves.

Outside the church in St-Yrieix

Sunday we were up early for a local Vide Grenier and artisanal market – we were surprised at the size of it – streets and streets of stall holders. It was amazing, one thing I have been looking for, for quite a while has been a glass or crystal dressing table set as I always remember my nana having one on her dressing table (which I now have). Much to my surprise I found a complete glass one for the grand price of €16 – I didn’t even barter on the price. So I now have something that I have to pack well and put in my suitcase!! Oh well.

More happening today and tomorrow but I’ll leave that for Pat’s blog next week.

For now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia