If you’re wondering where I am…

this post explains everything!

See you in September!

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Jazzing it up in Lyon

Yesterday evening we drove over to Lyon to listen to Pierre’s Jazz combo (Ozon Jazzer) at their Fete de la Musique concert – except we discovered that for the purposes of the Jazz Combo he is known as Pedro, which caused a little confusion to begin with. I don’t now why this should be, except that he is Portuguese by origin, so maybe he feels that he is going back to his roots and calls himself this while relaxing. Maybe it is his real name (in which case, why Pierre?). Maybe it’s a nickname. We don’t know.

Anyway, we arrived early hoping to find somewhere to have a snack meal (having eaten quite well at lunchtime) There wasn’t anywhere, as the only bar in the town had run out of bread and couldn’t do sandwiches; but we did manage to snaffle the last two rather doughy slices of pizza in the about-to-close boulangerie. With a shared millefeuille and a can of orange juice that was our dinner, which we ate sitting on the grass of a little park. Finished by 7.15 (the concert started at 8.30) we wandered back to the car and did crosswords from my ever-handy crossword book until 8.00 when we were let into the venue. Mr FD met someone who used to work at Sogemed,(where he & Pierre/Pedro work)  and so we chatted to him and his wife until the concert started.

It was very good: mostly modern jazz, all instrumental until the end when someone joined them to sing a couple of songs. He was, apparently, quite nervous as he had been informed there were two English people in the audience – his songs were in English and he was worried about his pronunciation!  He sang  something which has slipped out of my mind and “On the Sunny Side of the Street” – pronunciation was understandable if not perfect!

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After an interval during which glasses  of very strong Planters’ Punch were served there was a freer section, when other people wh had brought along instruments could join in. There was another singer, several sax players etc. This was good, but got a bit tedious as everyone got to play a solo section, which meant pieces went on for 15 minutes or so… We left at about 11.15 – with an hour-and-a-half’s drive home that was quite late enough, thank you!

We impressed several people when they discovered we’d come over 100 km to listen to the Combo, but it didn’t really feel too much of an effort. It was a nice drive over (we avoided the motorway) and we enjoyed ourselves. Next time we may plan better to find somewhere to eat but I certainly think there will be a next time.

Travelling from A-Z- thanks Kezzie!

I want to write a blog post, as I do think it’s important to try to blog at least once a week if possible – but equally I have NO idea what to blog about!! So I turned to Kezzie’s Blog Every Day in May posts for an idea. There I came across her post “Wanderlust: My A-Z of travel” Which seemed like an interesting idea. I may spread it over two posts however… (Edited to add: no I didn’t. I just kept gong because it was fun!)

 A // Age you went on your first international trip?
A good start – I have no idea! We used to go up to Scotland, with Aunty Cyn and Uncle Pat (not real relatives but very close friends of my parents) and I think our first trip abroad was to Brittany, a small town called Trebeurden

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Our hotel was on the top of the hill, and every day I would complain about climbing up the hill from the beach. And every day mum and Cynthia would say the same thing “We can leave you here, if you would prefer!”

That was the holiday I made friends with another English girl in the hotel, and we used to run up and down the wide hotel staircase. I was reading “The Happy Orpheline”

That was our first holiday abroad – there were seven of us -and when the waitress brought the cheese platter to our table and left it there we thought it was just for us…so we demolished it completely! When she came to collect it to take it to another table…well, her face was a picture! They never left the cheese platter on our table again!

It was the year my sister cut open a peach – and an earwig crawled out. I think there was probably some squealing involved. Judy, my  sister, joined “The Mickey Club” which was a beach club for young people – organised events such as volleyball etc.

Dad and Pat probably played golf..!

I’m guessing I was about 7 or 8, but I’m not sure.

B // Best foreign beer you’ve had and where? Again, no idea! I remember drinking from a litre glass in Cevtat in what-was-then-Yugoslavia, but I don’t know if it was particularly memorable beer! My first taste of Picon beer in a small estaminet in Lille was good.

C // Cuisine. Favourite? Probably south-west France. All that duck and foie gras.

D // Destinations. Favourite and least favourite? Why? France was almost always my holiday destination of choice when we were married and took holidays, and now we live here we don’t seem to go anywhere but back to the UK. I have very fond memories of a holiday taken in Amsterdam, the first year I stopped teaching (2000) which meant we didn’t have to go in school holidays!! Madeira also was beautiful. I’d be very happy to go back to either of those places.

Least favourite? I haven’t really got a least favourite. Thankfully.

E // Event you’ve experienced abroad that made you say “WOW!”? That must be seeing the Niagara Falls. Wonderful.

OR paragliding from the top of Puy de Dome. That made me go “Wow” but also “Bleeugh!” as I vomited at over 1,000 metres. I really hope there was nobody underneath!

F // Favourite mode of transportation? NOT flying. I am really uncomfortable flying. Possibly car, possibly TGV. Yes…TGV I think. For the relaxing way one can travel at 100 kph.

G // Greatest feeling while travelling? The idea of having new experiences, visiting new places, meeing new people.

H // Hottest place you’ve ever travelled to? I don’t do heat very well. I have bad memories of Toronto in summer – trying to go eveywhere in the city via the underground tunnels that criss cross from metro station to metro station, because they were air conditioned! Or walking around the city walls of Dubrovnic in the mid-day sun. That was very hot too. We didn’t want lunch as were so hot, but when we found someone selling slices of water melon we just sat down and devoured slice after slice.

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I // Incredible service you’ve experienced and where? I think it was in Austria. I won a ski-ing holiday in Zell am Zee, and the hotel was a 4 star hotel

When the meals came to the table they were covered with large silver cloches, and the waiters would all arrive  to remove the covers and reveal the meal with a flourish. It was all done in total seriousness. But thankfully, we have rarely come across poor service – except in Paris.

J // Journey that took the longest? I think it was the journey to Toronto by air. Although the journey from Milton Keynes to Iona by bus, bus, ferry, bus, ferry, and on foot was probably not much shorter…

K // Keepsake from your travels? I have lots of bits and bobs from all over the world all over the house, plus postcards shoved into books which I stumble across later on. The one I can see at the moment is a little Portuguese cockerel:

It is blue-tacked to my computer stand.

L // Let-down sight. Where and why? The let-down site was Paris. We had a miserable day of it when we went one New Year. It poured with rain, the waiter was surly, the onion soup was greasy, the Musée d’Orsay had a queue a mile long to get in, the Jeu de Paume had loaned all its Impressionist paintings to the Musée d’Orsay and we had an argument. Not my favourite place.

M // Moment where you fell in love with travelling? I don’t know. I was never a good car traveller (often sick) so wasn’t ever really keen on the actual travelling side – but I think I have always enjoyed visiting new places

N // Nicest hotel you’ve ever stayed in? We often stayed in gites when Mr FD & I went on holiday, and now we usually go to Chambres d’Hotes. When I was young we stayed mostly in a friend’s appartment in Geneva. So hotels are fairly few and far between…The SalzburgerHof (in Austria, see above) was good, and also the Hotel Aigle Noir in Fontainebleu was very good

That was a bargain New year’s break – the day trip to Paris was a disappointment (see above) but the holiday itself a great success.

 O // Obsession. What are you obsessed with taking photos of while travelling? I’m not. I used to be, but now I generally don’t bother. I take the odd snap from time to time, but it’s not an obsession. I prefer my memories – and postcards. I do still buy quite a lot of postcards.

 P // Passport stamps. How many and from where? None.

Q // Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where? I guess that the Chaos of Montpellier-le-Vieux was a bit odd. In the Cervennes area of France there are quite a lot of these Chaoses -natural limestone structures.

Or there was the Llama Farm in the Gorges du Verdon where there was The Man Who Loved His Llamas Too Much.

R // Really frightening. One place you’ve visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy? I think it might have been travelling by bus in the Dubrovnik area – the bus driver was a bit bonkers, with quite a lot of overtaking on blind bends with almighty drops into yawning chasms on one side of the road. I wasn’t sure if it was better to close my eyes and imagine what was happening or keep them open to find out!

S // Splurge. Something you have no problem spending money on while travelling? Food, I suspect.

T // Touristy thing you’ve done? Too many to mention – but why not?! They only become touristy because they are fun/ interesting/ breath-taking. Going on The Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls was touristy, yes, but fabulous!

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U // Unforgettable travel memory? I have many, many memories of so many different holidays. I don’t want to forget any of them. Big ones, like the Maid of the Mist, and going up the CN Tower in Toronto…to smaller, more personal ones like meeting René the Facteur when I was 16 in Tauxigny France…to Glynn’s appartment in Geneva…the sugar brioches from Zogg the Baker (the only French bread I would eat for many a long year)… refusing to eat the trout that I had picked out from the tank in a restaurant “I condemned it to die!” (I was still quite young!)…hiding the giant Tropezienne doughnuts we were eating as mum and dad went past on Le Petit Train de St Malo (we were not quite young. We were about 29!)…Our honeymoon in a North Welsh village where the evening entertainment was in the pub down the road: “Beryl on the Organ”I think about a holiday and little inconsequential memories come flooding back.

Source I’m pretty sure that this is a photo of the hotel we were staying in when I met René the PTT man in the bar (It was our last night in the hotel, when this good looking young man started to chat me up! That is where I learned the phrase “Quel dommage (What a pity)”. It wasn’t called Le Soleil Levant then, but I remember the ivy, the double front. We used to sit outside in the afternoon sunshine playing cribbage.

V // Visas. How many and for where? None – unless we needed them for Canada. Which I don’t think we did.

 W // Wine. Best glass while travelling? No idea! I like my wine, but I’m no conoisseur! However, we were members of 3-D Wines for about 5 years, so we often got the chance to try good wines, as we would go to collect them at the vineyards. There would always be something unique about the wines for 3D members. I remember tasting “our” wine in a vineyard and there were some other people there too. They tasted the wine, and said “Oh yes, we’d like some of that”. We felt very special when the winemaker said “I’m sorry, only the priveleged few can buy this”!

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I would say that if you’re looking for a gift for a person who likes wine – and who likes travel too, as it’s a good excuse to travel to the vineyard to taste & collect the wine! -this is a good thing. I gave it to Mr FD for his 40th birthday and we only let our membership lapse when we moved to France.

 X // excellent view and where from? Too many…too many!

Y // Years spent travelling? PProbably from when I was not much more than a babe-in-arms. We certainly used to go to visit Pat and Cynthia in Southampton before I can remember, so I would say 54 years or so!

Z // Zealous sports fans and where? Me – you must be joking! Mr FD – cycling, cycling, cycling! It is rare now that there isn’t a bike ride involved somewhere on a holiday! Usually up hills.

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Mr FD reaching the top of Mont Ventoux in May 2013

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At the top with Louis, his cycling buddy.

Thank you, Kezzie for the inspiration. That was fun!

Some views around the area…

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We are very lucky to live in such beautiful countryside. Here is the view from a walk I did last year, not too far from St Just.

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One of the “walks through the woods” that I enjoy. This one is rather long, so I’ve not done it for a while – maybe one day soon…but I’ll take the car the 2 km to the start so I don’t have to walk up the hill home!

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The old railway viaduct at Juré – part of a nice walk, on which you can do a 500 m diversion and go to friends’ house for reviving cups of tea/coffee/juice. Very handy!

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Mr FD’s photo of St Just from the Champ des Foires above the town. You can just see our house.

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Another “Walk through the Woods” – I did this with Cathy about a month ago and we found lots of wild strawberry plants in flower…perhaps it’s time to go back and see if they are in fruit!

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Spring flowers in a meadow near here.

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The church in Saint Germain Laval, about 16 km down the road. It is slightly bigger than Saint Just, and has a fortified Medieval centre.

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The war memorial at Veillas. It is a tiny hamlet, about 2 km from Saint Just, on the route of another of my favourite walks. There can be no more than 10 homes in the hamlet, and  yet there are (I think) at least 10 names on the memorial. Too many, too many…

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And this last photo is taken on a walk further away from home. It was on a walk I did from Clermont Ferrand – you can see Puy de Dome.

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I hope you have enjoyed a little photographic tour of the canton (plus a quick sortie into the Auvergne at the end!)

A new art project

Last year, while I was still teaching in Clermont on a regular basis, Caireen from church started a creative journalling group. It was really good: every week I had “permission” to mess about with glue and paper for no other end but for my own pleasure and creative growth. I wasn’t making a card to sell, or to send; there was no aim but to create.

Since I stopped going to the group, I haven’t done anything creative just for myself. I have  thought that it was too much of an indulgence, that I “should” be doing something else – even when I’ve not had anything else to do, and have therefore just wasted time surfing t’internet, reading blogs and just faffing.

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Well, at the moment there’s not much work around (fingers crossed for September!) so I’ve got quite a lot of free time. Doing my usual surfing of favourite blogs, I came across a post on  Arial’s blog, “A Blog of Hours” where she talked about the Desiderata, written by Max Ehrmann, a twentieth-century American poet.

I remember this from my youth – it was very popular then – and I had a rather nicely calligraphed version. It is an interesting mix of self-help and spiritual advice, or mantras. I won’t reproduce it here, as you can read it over on Arial’s blog, but several lines have resonated with me…

Remember what peace there may be in silence…

Be yourself, especially do not feign affection

 

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth

Whether it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

 

Therefore be at peace with God…keep peace with your soul

Be cheerful: strive to be happy.

 

 

I have decided to create 18  post card sized pieces of art which are inspired by this piece of writing…I’m not sure how long it will take me to do, especially as I start feeling guilty about having “me” time (even though I have no other work to do! Although I suppose I could do some housework! ) but I look forward to doing it.

I have already been inspired to create the first three, but I will put them away now until the next spark of creativity lights up! And in the meantime I should remember something that Ange said to me:

Every act of kindness and nurturing I show to myself impacts those around me: something “just for me” is in fact a gift to my whole inner circle who benefits in turn.

If I am nurtured, and relaxed and content then it will impact on those around me. If I take time to breathe and to create then I will grow and that will impact on those around me.

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Interestingly I discovered (thanks wikipedia!) that desiderata is the plural of desidiratum, which is Latin for “something that is needed or wanted”. So not only is the Desiderata giving us hints/mantras/call them what you will for what is needed, the creation of my version of the Desiderata is in fact a desideratum in it’s own right!