Friday, 10 October 2008

The East Anglian Anthem

I have been waiting for this song all my life. Or at least, since I moved to Norfolk...

Friday, 15 August 2008

La belle France: 2008

Back from another tranquil meander around France. As last year, we travelled by car, using the highly civilised Chunnel crossing, rather than the ferry.

Our travels took us in a large diamond shape, from Calais at the top to the Limousin area in the south. Five B&Bs - one in England in both directions, two in France each way - and two gites for a week each. You can see the locations here.

The more masochistic reader may wish to begin our travels here, and then click on Newer Post after each entry to move to the next bit. Some individual photos are included; some link to a set of photographs on Picasa.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

On to the Limousin

We crossed the country south-west to end up in what must be pretty much the centre of France. Here the countryside became more interesting again, with beautiful mountains and greenery; and we arrived at our second gite.

Run by English couple Rachel & Jamie, we loved the little Gite au Chez, and relished sitting in the garden under the tree, eating supper, gossiping, and watching the mad careering of the hirondelles. A simply furnished, light and comfortable bedroom, excellent shower, and beautiful views.

France 2008: Le Gite au Chez

A week in Burgundy

The Burgundy area - or, at least, this part of it - wasn't actually one of the nicest we've stayed in. The scenery is a bit unexciting, and the nearby towns felt a little utilitarian, to say the least. However, we enjoyed some excursions to enjoyable places.

The church in Vezelay

The striking spring in the middle of Tonnerre

Selwyn in the Abbaye de Quincy

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Le Petit Sauzay

We were relieved, after 3 nights' B&B, to stop for the next week. Le Petit Sauzay proved to be a lovely home - in fact, much larger than the photos made it appear. We were given a friendly welcome by the owners' friend, Sheila, who owns a cottage two villages away.

I quickly identified the suitability of the village for a running circuit - just under 1.2 miles - and at least I managed two runs during the week (one, on an obscenely hot evening, just one circuit; on the second occasion I managed two.)

We were also entertained by some scops owls, who seemed to have a very precise timetable that meant they sent out their plaintive cries every evening between 10 and 11 pm; by a tawny owl; and by two spectacular thunderstorms (we encountered several days of what the French call la grande chaleur during this week).

Here are some photographs of our home for the week...
France 2008: Le Petit Sauzay

Friday, 25 July 2008

Into the Champagne region

Now we travelled down to Clamanges, in the Champagne-Ardennes region. Here we found ourselves staying with the delightful Valerie & Didier Coulmier in their beautiful farmhouse; the room was without doubt one of the most comfortable and relaxing we've ever stayed in.

Our fellow guests shared the delicious evening meal with us, and we enjoyed the company of Mike & Joanna (who, it turns out, are hotelliers themselves in Manchester) and their three great kids. The conversations were an interesting mixture of French and English, accommodating the linguistic knowledge (or lack of it) around the table! Finally, our hearts were captured by the amazing Ramedame (we think we've spelt it correctly) - a Berger de Brie, a great soppy bear of a dog. The photo below links to a few photos taken on the morning we left.
France 2008: Au Pre du Moulin
Finally, on driving away from Au Pre du Moulin, we were treated to one of those beautiful moments. The French seem to be making a habit of planting fields to wild flowers - we saw many such during our holiday - but this was by far the most beautiful.
France 2008: wild flower field

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Nobody on the Chunnel?

Yes, this really was the view that greeted us in the car park for the Channel Tunnel. The comparison with the chaos and crowds of last year was astonishing.

However, I suppose we need to point out that last year we were travelling on the August bank holiday weekend; and this year, it turned out that a major accident on the M20 (north of our B&B the previous evening) was preventing many travellers from getting there...

We arrived safely in Calais, and trotted off towards our first pre-booked gite, about half-an-hour from the port. After a bit of trouble finding the place, we arrived to discover a note on the door to tell us that our hostess had had to go away because of a family emergency; but she had booked us an alternative B&B at the wonderful La Motte Obin. (Oddly enough, this had been our next choice of accommodation when we were booking anyway...)

Mme Breton and her farmhouse were a real pleasure, as was the simple room, the delicious food (the best tarte au citron in the world, the rest of which was given to us to take away the following day!) and the calm surrounding countryside.

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Owls (and other animals)

In Herefordshire for our usual post-Easter break. This sad geek has brought her beautiful new laptop with, which enables uploading of today's photographs... A wonderful day - freezing cold, but beautiful - in the lovely countryside between Kington, Leominster and Hereford, including a visit to one of the best "woleries" (our expression - don't worry about it) we've ever found.

The Small Breeds Farm Park & Owl Centre is an absolutely delightful place, majoring (of course) in owls, but also with red squirrels, goats, small fluffy creatures for petting... fabulous day.

Click on the image below for our album of the day - including the little gang of owls who sit obediently outside the tearoom, just waiting for a fuss from their adoring public.
The Owl Centre, Herefordshire

Friday, 29 February 2008

Freda & Barry

I was shocked when one of my girlfriends didn't recognise the line "beat me on the bottom with me Woman's Weekly"... Here is the YouTube showing of Victoria Wood, comedienne supreme, performing, one of the best comedy songs ever written.