Monday, 14 October 2013

Home now

4pm Friday - Taxi picked us up from Little Venice, London
1 1/4 hours to the airport
3 hours chilling in the Qantas lounge
Took off at 9.30 for 6 hour flight to Dubai
2 hour chill in Qantas lounge
13 hour flight to Sydney
2 hour chill in Sydney
35 minute flight to Canberra 
and at 9.30 Sunday morning into the waiting arms of family and friends.

So 31 hours all in all but safe and sound and home.

Back to work Thursday and 1000 things to do before then. 
And so much catching up to do here. So no, we're not done with this little blog just yet. Happy bout that!
cya soon.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

From the Qantas Club Lounge at Heathrow

The timer says 40 days, 14 hours and 6 minutes since we lifted off from Canberra way back on the 1st of September.

And although this trip turned out so very different to the one we had planned, we still had an amazing adventure.  But now it's almost over. We're very sad to be leaving all the familiar sights. Paul and Alan's lovely apartment and your infallible hospitality really did become such a wonderful home, and indeed a genuine sanctuary. The canal, the long boats, the walk to the shops near Paddington Station, Westbourne Terrace, the pretty blue bridge, Bake and Spice breakfast bar at Maida Vale, the pub on the corner... and so so very much more. All strong memories that will stay with us forever.

So we stopped and took some photos of Warwick Avenue Station in the pouring rain as we walked up the stairs for the final time today. Then the last of the pack up, warm genuine hugs all round, before a taxi picked us up in the pouring rain and took over an hour to drive to the airport.  Fixed price thank god.

We'll board the A380 in a couple of hours for 22 hours in a cocoon. A stop over in Dubai for 2 hours after an 8 hour flight, then land in Sydney 14 hours later. Short stop in Mascot, then onto Canberra landing at 9.15 Sunday morning EDST.

But as sad as we are to be leaving, winding up our adventure of a lifetime, although as it turned out nothing like we planned, we're also looking forward to seeing everyone at home again.  We know we've been missed, and we've missed you too, and it's right, and it's good, and now is the time.

This blog isn't finished yet. There's a lot of things still needed in here, but for now, the adventure has to come to an end. Thank you for following us. Your comments, your emails and your thoughts along the way.

Some of you we'll see very soon, others not for some time. But we love and appreciate you all.

So for now, and for the last time from London, goodbye and goodnight and see you on the other side.

Janelle and Terry.

Friday, 11 October 2013

So, our last day here.

We plan to do the same breakfast we did on our first morning in London. Buy a coffee and fruit yogurt and go sit quietly by the canal to just take it all in. Although it doesn't look like the weather will be as kind. It's wet and freezing outside now. Looks like London is showing us it's true side at the end.

Then upon an inspiration, we'll take the Tube over to Camden for a wander around, before back here, grab all the luggage, say a fond and sad farewell as we walk slowly back to Paddington Station and the Heathrow Express.

Here's a couple of songs that you might want to listen to. Not suggesting we share the sentiments exactly, they're just really timely right now.

No explanation necessary.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Only 2 more sleeps...

Tomorrow is our last full day here before our appointment with Heathrow on Friday evening.
Going to see "Once" at the Pheonix theatre on the West End, have dinner with Paul and Alan and then, well find a nice way to see off our holiday together.
Goodnight from Little Venice.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

What a way to say farewell to Paris.

Indulge me on this one if you will...

At no time during this entire 6 week adventure have we actually gone out to a club or pub at night, except for a meal, and then we've never really stayed.  We've walked around a lot at night, but never done anything more.

So while walking through some Paris back streets yesterday we came across a couple of jazz/blues clubs, and decided that we might just drop into one of them for a drink and some live music. So about 10.30 last night we did just that.

They call it the "Tennessee Jazz Club", a dark almost empty bar on street level, with an intriguing stairway heading down to the basement where the unmistakable sound of live music wafted up to us.  Why the hell not? So we wandered down for a look.

A small room, more like a cave really, about 20 people of all ages, a small bar in the corner, and a guy on stage playing acoustic guitar and singing in English. Then I noticed a few other guitars around the place, and it took me about 5 minutes to nut it out and talk to the organiser.

So, only half a drink later, I found myself on the stage, borrowed guitar, appreciative audience, and with the earlier singer lending his voice, we banged out a pretty good rendition of John Lennon's Imagine, followed by Under the Milky Way, Hotel California and then, of course Wish You Were Here, which I even sang for as the audience sang along.

What can I say! I haven't picked up a guitar for a month, so it was a bit rough, but even so, how many co-incidences came together for that to happen.

Our last night in Paris, playing a mini gig in a random bar, in a random back street, with a borrowed guitar and an appreciative random audience. 

Seriously, how much more perfect could it have been?


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Last night in Paris

We're about to go out for dinner, then hit the streets with our last bottle of red (bought a half-case in Amiens) and see what trouble we can get into.

We've walked kms around the city and seen so much, we've stood on top of the Arc de Triomphe and marvelled at the cityscape, we've fought the hordes to see the Mona Lisa, we've reveled in street performers and the beautiful noise that drifts in our window from the musicians at the la Fountaine St Michel, we've attached our own TJE2013 padlock on the bridge Pont des Arts, we've immersed ourselves in it all and loved every minute.

It has truly been the best possible way to end our European adventure.

Tomorrow we catch the Eurostar back to London, back to our Serenity Base at Little Venice for the 4th, and now the last time.  We are really looking forward to walking up the steps from Warwick Avenue Station, taking the short walk down the lane and across the now very familiar canal, and then to Paul and Alan's lovely little hideaway where we will prepare for our long fight home.

So here's some photos of our wonderful time in this most special city, Paris, and at the end, Ive added a slideshow of Monet's Gardens from last week.

And here is a short sideshow of the enthralling Monet's Gardens. Without doubt the highlight of Janelle's holiday.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Saturday evening in Paris

It's 8.30 on Saturday night and we're in the middle of Paris. 500 mtrs from Notre Dame to be precise.

Through the open window we can hear resteraunts, cafe's, buskers and thousands of people out on the street.

Now I could hang in here, safe and sound, and blog away while watching movies we have saved for a slow day, or we could head out and see what all the fuss is about.

Tough call I know.


Saturday, 5 October 2013

Au Revior Champange. Bonjour Paris.

Our 2 days in Hautvillers, literally the heart of Champange has been very different, and as with everything we've done in France, quite special.

The Moet grape vines and presses are literally a stones throw away, and today we walked up to the ancient Abbey on the hill where, it turns out, Dom Peringon himself is interned.

Janelle has been in heaven with all the tastings and more then a couple of purchases, and we've worked out how to fit them in our backpacks so all good.

As always, we've taken loads of photos but no time now to sort them into sensibility.
We drop the hire car off tomorrow morning, then train to Paris for 3 days in a lovely (according to the photos) motel, before the Eurostar back to London on Tuesday to prep for the long trip home.

Thursday, 3 October 2013

So much to write about, so little time

I apologise for missing out so much on here.
Im determined to catch up. Really.

It's just that we bought carton of lovely Bordeaux, and well, by the time blog time rolls around each night, our days have been so full and... well... you know.

Soon. Ok. Really.

Tour of The Somme

We spent today visiting the Australian Memorial at Villers Bretonneux, a number of Somme museums, including the Victoria School and more cemetries than we should have.

Now we're about to eat a lovely evening meal in the L'auberge Fleurie motel where the owner has a wall dedicated to Australia.

When they said they wont forget the courage and sacrifice of so many young Australian men who fought, and died for them, they meant it.

And now, almost 100 years on, they still mean it.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Monet's Gardens

What can I say? It's everything you'd expect and more.
Took so many photos, I'll put them in a slideshow when time permits.
In the meantime, here's a sample.

Monday, 30 September 2013

Time to leave Chateau Scary

We'll miss this place. Time to move on though.
Tomorrow will see us visiting Monet's Gardens and staying the night in Giverny.
Then onto Villers Bretonneaux.

Im still putting together the slideshow of all the Omaha Beach/Pegasus Bridge pics and vids we took. 
Soon hopefully.

So goodnight from the Village by the Sea. 

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Driving in France

Hilarious, challenging, stressful but when you get you're head around it, actually pretty good.

And an amazing improvement on England.  Basically because there's far fewer trucks. The roads are just as narrow, everyone drives on the wrong side, including me most of the time but there's far less congestion and it's all pretty smooth.

Bicycles. It seems they own the roads and can do whatever they want with complete impunity. Everyone slows down and patiently waits for a chance to go past.  They ride 2 or 3 abreast, taking up whole lanes and no body cares. Amazing, but I suppose understandable when you consider how popular it is here.  In UK the bicycles take their life in their hands and are just crazy, here they are a protected species.

Motorways. Three points to make here.
1st no one travels in the left (inside) lane. They all sit in the outside lane, move over to overtake, and then back again. It makes things really easy and there's never any angst.
2nd, they tailgate like you wouldn't believe.  Seriously! If I wasn't warned I'd freak out, but it's very normal apparently.

And 3rd, the speed limit is 130 in the dry and 110 in the wet, and the road is narrower than our lovely Hume Highway.  Ive had numerous arguments over the years about the stupidity of holding everyone at 110 in Oz. This place proves it and I rest my case.
But seriously, it's incredible to see a train of half a dozen or so cars, belting along at 130kph, nose to tail with only half a meter or so between them.  Snaking out to overtake, then back in again. All holding station and speed.  We could learn so much from them.
I don't know if they're actually better drivers, they just all follow the same conventions and it works. It really does.

Roundabouts.  Weird. Well, the same as at home really, but everything goes the wrong way and it's so hard to get used to. You have to look the wrong way! I nearly took out a nice Merc the other day in the middle of Caen, simply cause I looked the wrong way.  Good thing he was alert cause I wasn't.
The other thing is more often then not there's more then the normal number of entry roads, in any possible variation of angles.  And the GPS doesn't recognize  motorway exits as one of them.  Counting and early preparation is a must.

Navigation. Thank god for our GPS. We'd be lost without it. Literally. We hear "recalculating" an awful lot.

Driving on the right.  All good, most of the time, but there's been a couple of moments and I'm so thankful to have Janelle to remind me.  I cant imagine what the on-coming cars think.

And I've left the best till last...

Crazy one way streets in crazy little fishing villages where any semblance of a logical road layout disappeared centuries ago.
Watch the video.  Nuff said.

Hire Cars. We've swapped the Renault Megane for a Ford Focus.  I want to drive a car, not a brick. Both were manual/diesel, seems most everything is here. The Focus has this awesome party trick. If you stop in neutral and take your feet off the throttle and clutch, the engine cuts out, then restarts as soon as you touch the throttle.  It takes some getting used to.

Anyway, we've been here almost a week, traveled over 700 kms on all kinds of roads and I haven't hurt anyone or marked the car (touch wood) so between Janelle as my extra set of eyes and chief road sign interpreter, we must be doing something right. She hasn't got her head around actually driving here yet, but her day is coming. Watch this space.

The awesome Mont St Michel!

Did anyone notice that I missed a day. I hope not.

Ok, this was a big one.

The building of Mont St Michel was commenced over 1000 years ago, and has undergone numerous restorations since. There's part Roman, part Gothic, part medieval, and part French Revolution.

Out of all the clips I took, I've put together 2 vids.

The first is just random stuff as we climbed up higher and higher, the second are bits and pieces of the guided tour we went on, including the entire intro.  There was no point filming the tour itself, too much and too crazy, but these clips will give you an idea.

And a bunch of random pics in no particular order.
This first lot are pics of the gallery photos on site.

And these are the shots I took along the way. Don't let perspective fool you. This camera has an amazing zoom.


We were left in awe of the engineering, the effort and the amazing scope of it all.
However, tips for young players. Be prepared for large bus groups all traveling together and blocking the roads. And Americans who know everything. Seriously. I even overheard one conversation about seeing England just across the bay.  Don't these people ever look at a map?

Friday, 27 September 2013

Tomorrow the D-Day Beaches

Apologies for leaving Mont St Michel tonight, but it's late and we have an early start in the morning. A big day of D Day sites and memorials.  And a few military cemeteries too I'd imagine.

If I try and tell you about the amazing Mont tonight I wont do it justice. So tomorrow ok.

Goodnight for now.

Chateau sur Mer

The town is Villers sur Mer, meaning Village by the sea.  So this is (completely unofficially) Chateau sur Mer. However, we're nicknamed it Chateau Scary.

You've got to admit, if you drove up here at night, especially a dark and stormy one, add lightening bolt on que for effect just as you open the creaky iron gate, and well, you get me?
But no, that's not the reason.
And yes, it's very high up. And those (like me) with vertigo shouldn't lean too far over that balcony.
But no, that's not the reason.

Basically, it's the stairs. Yep. The twisting, narrowing, creaking, 200+ year old, complete with lion (read gargoyle) wood carvings... and that view from the top down the middle.  It's to die for. Literally!

But our little apartment in what was the attic... It's simply beautiful. Small, clean, modern, and equipped with everything we need, including that million dollar view. It completely belies the building from the outside.  I wouldn't have thought is possible, but here, see for yourself.


Now, of course, being the only aussies in town, that we know of anyway, it's important to let them know we're here.  We thought you might enjoy this little edit from the main street.   Note please the go-kart track and public swimming pool.

The really amazing thing is that 90% of the town is boarded up. Summer is over, everyone has gone back to work, and well, this is now a quiet, peaceful village.

Except for those stairs, there's nothing peaceful about them.  I promise you.  Here's another look just in case you were wondering.