Sunday, April 30, 2017

Back in Normandy

We call her Ducky.  She is very friendly and even enjoys being picked up and petted.
Bill and I are housesitting in St Pois, Normandy.  The house is large, actually divided into two houses, but we only have to live in and heat one.  (Although the dishwasher is in the side we don't use, so we visit often.) There is also a lovely sunroom, which heats up wonderfully on sunny days.

The rest of our charges, who stay in their yard.
We share our land with 3 ducks and 2 chickens.  The chickens are older, and only one of the ducks is laying eggs.  We get one egg every other day.

The owners, a British couple, are off to Germany to visit friends.  They left 3 hours after we arrived.  They will then go to the UK to spend Christmas with their children, ending up staying at their daughter's house while they go to Greece.  We are hoping to spend a bit more time getting to know them when they return.

For now, we are getting to know the quirks of the house. The water heater runs at night, so we have to be careful about using hot water during the day so we don't run out. The tumble dryer has to run completely through it's cycle before setting a new time. The red faced duck will follow us around the yard, even though she is supposed to stay in her pen, she flies over the fence.  The heaters in the rooms are on auto, so we don't have to worry about them.  We use the sink and toilet in one of the bathrooms, but shower in the other. They are both in the same hall upstairs, so it's not a problem.

Our main heating is a wood stove in the living area.  There is a good supply of logs in the wood barn and a wheel barrow to haul them in.  We have experience heating with wood, so no worries there.

Notre Dame; A Grand Old Lady

Since the last time we were in Paris, the outside of Notre Dame has been cleaned and new bells are in her towers.  She looks lovely!

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Food in Paris

Moules in wine sauce, with cheese.
This little cafe was almost directly across the street from our apartment.  The food was good and priced right.  The White Horse, I think.
Creme broullie.
Our starters: Moules in wine sauce for me and Onion soup for Bill.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Gardens of Versailles

Notice our happy faces at having survived the Chateau tour.
There are several new items in the gardens of Versailles.  One, which we really had fun with, is a mirror where you can take pictures of yourself, along with some of your new friends.  On one side, you are right side up, but the other, you are upside down.  The clarity is not as good as the one at the casino in Monaco, but France isn't as rich as Monaco, either.
A rather odd piece set in the center of the gardens.  It reminded us of a partially buried, rusted soprano saxophone.  I'm sure if we had read the artist's comments it was something "artistic".  

The fountains are on!
The fountains came in two time periods.  One side of the garden ran for 45 minutes, then the other side did the same.  Not all of the fountains were turned on, as there has been a drought in France, so they are conserving water.  The fountains that were working were fabulous!  Several of the larger ones even had music which coordinated with the rhythm of the water.
The Grotto, all man made, with statues.

The fountains are only turned on once a week, on Sunday.  There were several which were not running, and a few which were being renovated.  The water used comes out of the river, which was diverted by Louis XIV when he built Versailles.
A very nice man and his young daughter took our picture.  Thank you!
Despite the fiasco of the Chateau tour, the gardens at Versailles were worth the effort. And, on the train home, we met two young Canadians who had just come from a Marching Bands Competition in Scotland!  They had sent their instruments and kilts home with their family, and were on a backpacking tour of Europe, to end in Turkey.  I hope they had a wonderful trip!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Versailles with 10,000 of Our Closest Friends

We decided to visit Versailles on Sunday, when they turn on the fountains in the gardens.  We took the train and arrived early, only to be greeted by thousands of others waiting to enter.  The hold up is going through security.
Lines of people waiting to enter the Palace.

People with the exterior of the Chapel behind.

Everyone waited, most patiently, in the courtyard, going up and down and around and around.

The Hall of Mirrors.
Once we made it inside, the crowds were so thick, it felt like herding cattle.  MOO!  It was impossible to really look at anything.  Bill was especially bothered by all the people.  So, we rushed as much as we could, looking for a way to exit.  It
Bill was looking for a way to escape; maybe open a window and jump?

The Palace is quite beautiful.  The ceilings were easily viewed, but trying to look at walls, floors and such, was nearly impossible.
The ceiling of the Chapel.  Bill took this picture through a 8 foot wide doorway.

We finally worked our way through the crowds to find the exit.  What a relief!  Fresh air, no elbows, and the noise level had dropped to where we could carry on a conversation!.        
Louis XIV
Next time, if there is a next time, when we arrive to such a hoard, we will skip the chateau and head directly to the gardens.  When we came back from seeing the gardens, there was no line to go into the chateau.  Now we know.
The original entry gates; they keep the crowds away from these.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Paris Apartment from AirBnB

Note to self; next time make sure there is an elevator when not staying on the ground floor!
When we decided to stay over in Paris for a few days on our way home from Scotland, we really didn't want to be in an hotel.  Several reasons; cost per night, cost of breakfasts (which are usually only croissant and coffee for 10 euro), space and laundry.  We had heard of Airbnb, so decided to give it a try.  What a good idea!!
Panorama of the kitchen, livingroom, part of the entry hall and the bathroom doorway.
We stayed in Katia's apartment, while she was in Italy for a holiday.  We had a living/dining room, with the kitchen in the corner, an entry hall, bathroom and a bedroom. The apartment windows opened onto an interior courtyard, so were private. There was a washer/dryer, but we used the drying lines in the bathroom. The place was comfortable, had wifi, and tv, although the only channels in English were news; boring!  The kitchen had all the necessities for cooking, including condiments and coffee.  It came with all the necessary linens and all that was asked of us was to leave it clean, but not a deep cleaning as that would happen after we left, and the garbage emptied.

Our apartment was on a pedestrian street in the 5th arrondissemont, also known as Rive Gauche, the Left Bank.  We were two short blocks from the river and could hear the bells of Notre Dame!  We loved it! The price was much less than staying in a hotel and included doing our laundry, which usually would run about 20 euros.  We chilled our own wine, cooked our own breakfasts (which included scrabbled eggs with our croissants!) and on one occasion, we returned to eat take away from one of the Greek restaurants on our street.

Would we do it again?  ABSOLUTELY!!

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Good Bye Scotland! Bon Jour Paris!

The coast of Scotland near Stonehaven.
Flying out of Aberdeen, the sun was shining!  We were able to see the land beneath us, places we had visited during our travels.  We passed right over Newtonhill, though it was under a big fluffy cloud. but Stonehaven was visible; the harbor, the village, even the Castle!  Quite a change from the day we arrived in June.
On the plane out of London.
We flew to London, then changed planes to Paris.  It seems so odd to me that with our AAirmiles, it is less cash to fly home from Paris than London.  Enough of a difference, that we could fly on to Paris, then home and still save money.  Of course, after adding in the cost of our apartment and other necessities (museum passes and metro tickets) it did cost more, but we were in Paris!

The stairs in our apartment building.  We were on the second floor, which is the third floor in the US.
The only hitch in our travel was leaving the train at St Michel station.  We were suppose to be able to take an elevator directly from our 3rd level underground arrival platform to the street.  Unfortunately, the elevator was not working!  A very nice Parisien woman helped us get back to the platform with her pass (we had already used our tickets to exit) and showed us where we needed to go.  We had a deadline to meet host at the apartment, so were rushed and anxious.  BUT, we made it just fine.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Home from Malta

After a wonderful two weeks in Malta with family and friends for the wedding of their son and new daughter in law, Gary and Sarah,  Eleanor and Brian are home.  We usually take a picture ourselves, but this one from the day of the wedding shows such happiness, I just had to steal it from Eleanor's Facebook page.

Since Eleanor and Brian were arriving home late, we again spent the night at The Priory Hotel in Beauly. After a delicious breakfast, I had a wonderful bowl of porridge, we returned to the house to say our goodbyes.

Charlie had returned home with his family last night.  Brian told us how Cameron and Charlie were very excited to see each other.  We could imagine that reunion, after knowing Charlie for two weeks.  He was always happy see us, so Cameron would have made him ecstatic!  Lucy was still here, though.  She barked, turned in circles with her ball in her mouth, and peed all over the steps!  Yep, she was happy!

Staying in Muir of Ord at Eleanor and Brian's house was fun.  The house was comfortable and the dogs were good.  Allowing us to use their car to drive the dogs to various walks was a big plus.  We were surprised we could be added to the insurance, but apparently, Scotland's rules are different from England.
They were also very generous, with two nights at The Priory and an assortment of food in the fridge.  Perfect homeowners for housesitters!  Oh, and we loved the Charlie and Lucy, too!