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

Moving forward

We’ve been working towards getting all the things together for our final departure. Organising the shipping of Wallis and Siena had been supposed to be handled by a single company, door to door. However during our delay, that Aussie company is now only handling the Australian end of things. In dealing with the French pet transport side we are now subject to the French way of doing things it seems – we have needed to pester them at every stage to confirm that something (anything) is happening. We lost a good deal on a flight on 3rd March and had to go a week later, because we couldn’t confirm that the pets wouldn’t arrive before we did, nor leave after us. Even though we have agreed and instructed them to go ahead, we are still waiting to find out how to pay them. It is quite common that a French company would just go ahead and do stuff and invoice you later. But its difficult to know, so rather than find out that we were supposed to do something they haven’t told us about, we’re getting a bit twitchy.

Its been pretty wintry here, some frost a lot of rain. As well as the sunrise at the top of this blog and the star trails at the bottom here are a couple of other shots taken locally.

We met up with some friends from our now disbanded photo club. They have moved to the coast – Ile de Ré near la Rochelle. It was a lovely lunch (at the same restaurant we had been for our aniversary last September). Hopefully we will be able to visit them before we finally leave – but spare days are vanishing quickly. We have been trying to organise a UK farewell tour.  Anyway, so far we are seeing Catherine and Chris in Wimbledon, then onto my brother and family in Bucks. Back to London to meet with K and H for general London things (a show, galleries and restaurants). Then up to Leicester and finally Nottingham. All this without a hire car because the last two times we hired a car were problematic. Our driving licence can only have a UK address (my brother’s) but they are now using a credit checker to confirm that it is genuine (which strictly it isn’t) and they demand our French licence – which we can’t have because issuing has been delayed by Brexit. I actually applied in May 2018 because I had points but we have heard nothing.

We have also decided to try to arrange a few days in Paris before we actually leave. Dumping our international luggage at a hotel near CDG airport and training into the city. We had originally planned on Eurodisney but I wasn’t too keen because I can get pretty motion sick. Delia realised she was also less keen on most of the rides too and it seemed better kept as an idea than a reality. Anyway Monets Paris gallery and champagne at the top of the Eiffel tower are planned. A fitting farewell to Paris.

Its been a year.

The year started with a focus on the Oz visa and finding a place to rent. I was still recovering from the post shingles neuralgia (which as of today has faded but never quite goes away). Of course the main occupation from March onward was Delia’s cancer. This prevented us making the year the Farewell to Europe we had hoped for. Looking at our plans in the blog at the beginning of last year we didn’t make it to Prague, Amsterdam, Berlin nor Dublin. Though we did achieve some different goals as Delia listed last blog.

There was a lot of hurrying up and waiting around Delia’s treatment. The diagnosis on 11th March. The wait and postponement for Delia’s operation to remove the tumour on 9th May, the pause for healing and the second operation to remove residual cancer in 11th June. Then waiting for the chemo to start on 22nd July, then 12th August and 2nd September stopping there because of the extreme side effects. Then a further wait for the radiotherapy to start on 21st November and most weekdays to follow. Delia now has just 3 more to go and the final consultation on 10th Jan when we hope to confirm our final emigration plans.

I must say that the thought of losing Delia focused my mind and we haven’t really disagreed on much at all. The Champagne trip was a definite indulgence. The ongoing stress has brought its “moments” but for the most part its just been a matter of us getting along pretty well. Stress-wise, Delia’s illness distracted from the silence regarding my Oz visa. In fact this actually arrived more or less on-plan and, all else being equal, we would have been able to enjoy an Oz Christmas. As it was we perhaps had a Christmas that was our last quiet one for a while and certainly the coldest one.

I treated myself to a new camera and have been playing with my new toy. Here are some reminders for me later of what green looks like. 🙂

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

Only 2 more shopping days before Christmas

Well not counting today (Sunday) when it turns out, at least in St Junien, most shops were open this morning; or so Delia has reported after coffee and Lidl there with a friend.

Yesterday, also in St Junien – this time to go to the factory shop of a glove maker, who apparently the “discrete supplier for luxury brands”, for Delia’s Christmas present. I have to say it looked unprepossessing, faded sign, with just a piece of paper stuck inside the glass of the door saying “Ouvert”. Things seemed hopeful as another few people had arrived at the door with us. They rang the bell but no-one answered. Eventually after several minutes, someone – a departing customer – opened the door and in we went. No expense spared on shop display (an I mean none) – just a long shelf with trays of gloves. No complaint though, the gloves were all wonderfully crafted and about half the price that we had seen on the web page. Still and opportunity to top up on a handbag and a purse just in case we were in danger of saving money :-/ Delia loves them all though and that’s what matters.

On into town through the Saturday market. The market in the top car park was shutting down though so we had just a few stalls to stroll through. But we did manage to buy some of the best made patisseries in Nouvelle Aquitaine to go with our lunch.

On into town through the Christmas market. The artisan market in the top car park was shutting down though so we had just a few stall to stroll through. But we did manage to buy some of the best made patisseries in Nouvelle Aquitaine to go with our lunch.

This afternoon we have been invited to an “apero” (late afternoon drinks) with our former neighbours in Beaulieu. We haven’t been back since the concert in summer so it will be nice to see them again. They haven’t seen Delia since she lost her hair, and though it is growing back, it still makes quite a statement, short as it is.

So happy holidays to all our readers.

Xmas is coming

A christmas market at St Laurent sur Gorre. We ran into so many people that we knew, mostly from my conversation group. And we had a hot dog french style (ie with a baguette). Also this week we had a lovely visit from my brother and sister-in-law. The weather hasn’t been too photogenic these past days but we did manage a couple of fine days.  On Thursday, R&L and us went to a restaurant near the hospital immediately following Delia’s midday radiotherapy session. The restaurant (Restaurant La Villa) was set beside the river Vienne and, on hot summer days you could enjoy the shade of the riverside patio. Not in December however, since it was not warm, albeit it was sunny. The food was lovely, I had a terrine en croute (essentially a fancy pork pie) followed by lamb cooked two ways (small chops slightly pink as they should be and a piece of confit shoulder – almost falling apart). Dessert was a nut macarron with citrus sorbet. We all ate very well and scarcely felt hungry again that day.

Afterwards we went into Limoges to show R&L some of the sights of this lovely city. The Christmas market was on too, and not being spread out in the main square due to building works, was charmingly spread out through the side streets.  We enjoyed our wandering about.

Here’s a taste of what it was like from a couple of years ago at the same time.

The next day we were able to take Siena for a sunny but cold walk around Lake St Mathieu.

On Saturday, R&L were due to fly back but, due to the general strike that included the Air Traffic Controllers, their flight was cancelled. Notwithstanding the steady drizzle that had set in that morning we drove into Limoges again (following the same route that Delia has to endure everyday, except weekends). We visited the Museum of the Resistance. A first time for R&L, an interesting experience for them showing a different French viewpoint than one usually gets.

Back home that evening for a lovely shepherd’s pie cooked by my sister-in-law as a thank you for the extra day (courtesy of the air traffic controllers). R&L taught us Gin Rummy which made a change from out usual Sevens when guests visit. Lost of sparkling (and otherwise) wine drunk and good company what more can one ask for.

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

Lost in Limbo

After the exciting week in Champagne it all feels a bit flat. We are in a kind of limbo, unable to travel much whilst Delia is undergoing her radiotherapy. This happens every weekday until a week after Christmas – apart from a day off at Christmas and one for New Year’s Day. So even though I have my visa (and our houshold belongings are currently on the high seas voyaging to Oz), we are still hurrying up to wait before we can go ourselves. We have to get Delia’s treatment completed before we go, I wouldn’t want to interrupt that but I don’t have to like it.

Not a lot happened this week, we did pop over to our (ex) language teacher for a visit, and several other people turned up later too. Also, last night we had our first “dinner party” well, two friends for dinner anyway. We have had visitors but this is the first time they’ve gone home straight afterwards 🙂

The weather has often been cold and wet though, as usual for here, the afternoons often fine up. Stirred up by the release of a totally unaffordable new Sony camera I have been playing around with my existing Sony camera. The new one can do a lot of fancy low light things and I managed to find a tutorial that did something similar in photoshop using my own one with many shots (60 in fact). Below is a shot of La Jolie Maison at night. Low light shots need to be extra sensitive (high ISO for what its worth) and this can lead to a lot of random flaws on a photo. Taking lots means these can all be put together, the two crops below it show the difference.

And below that is a panorama of my regular morning walk, its still sunny albeit a bit chillier.


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