Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Road trip to Paris

With the end of the canal cruise, the party went their separate ways, and George and I rented a car to drive to Paris to fly home.

A search of the net turned up 'Nine of the Most Scenic Drives in Europe'. I noticed that two of them could be tacked together as part of the drive to Paris: No 4, in the Dordogne, between Sarlat-la-Canéda and Montignac, and No 3, along the Loire Valley, between Amboise and Blois.

So we took a taxi to Bordeaux airport after the boat drop-off, and drove a rental Renault via Saint-Émilion (a World Heritage listed special wine and history spot) to Sarlat-la-Canéda and then Montignac, staying in a hotel there.

Note to self (and others). Never ever do top tourist spots in Europe in July or August. Plenty traffic, rubber-neckers, and shoddy rip-the-tourists-off food and service.

Roofs of Saint-Émilion

Saint-Émilion square

Restaurant in Saint-Émilion square


Montignac roof-top café 

Montignac waterfront restaurants. They look cute, but the food was terrible.

Lanouaille, on the road between the Dordogne and the Loire Valley

We had Bed and Breakfast at this run-down old farm-house near Amboise, grandly named Chateau Pintray.

The Eiffel Tower from a park in Sèvres

Thursday, July 16, 2015


We flew from Bristol to Bordeaux and met up with Tiff and Dawne, and their friends Paul and Kay. We are staying with Tiff's cousin Liz who lives in a little village near Blaye, on the Gironde Estuary.

We arrived on Bastille Day, and were treated to a fireworks display at Blaye Citadel.

George storming the Bastille

Fireworks from the citadel


Cousin Liz




Cable waterskiing

Blaye market

Inside the citadel

Dinner in Cousin Liz's garden

Girondins Monument, Bordeaux

Miroir d'Eau, Bordeaux

Bordeaux has attractive public spaces

Cousin Liz lighting a BBQ 'à la Jeanne d'Arc'.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

George arrives in London

The trip involved me going to the UK before George, to sort out some family business. George flew in to Heathrow and was picked up by our friends Pedro and Tina. I drove up to London and met her at their house just north of London.

Morning view over Salisbury plain. Salisbury cathedral spire on left.

Pedro and Tina's house Penmans. Aussie flag in our honour.

Pedro showing George his horses

Pedro practising on his violin

Tina and Pedro

Tina was once married to my brother, Pete

Tina and George preparing for a big lunch

Richard, a guest at the lunch

Country life in Worcestershire

My good friend and neighbour in Austinville, Tiff (short for Christipher), comes from Worcestershire in the english midlands. In the tradition of regional rivalry, southerners like myself have played on the stereotype that everything north of the M4 (a motorway between Bristol and London) is the 'Black Country', covered with motorways, factories, coal dust and immigrants. 'Where there's muck there's brass'.

Tiff has tried to persuade me that he comes from a bucolic rural farming Eden, and that my teasing was misplaced.

I had a spare day, so I drove up to Worcestershire to see him and the world he came from before he migrated to Canada, NZ, and eventually Australia.

David Attenborough investigates the native habitat of the Tiff. 

Tiff's family farm - Bredonfields

Tiff and his youngest son, Matthew, on his 'gap year'.

Matthew outside the pub where he works

Matthew, known to locals as 'Wal' the Aussie, after Crocodile Dundee's mate

A Pick-your-own fruit farm called 'Clive's Farm'.

Cherry picking

Matthew and Tiff sharing a cider with Charlie from Clive's Farm

Clive's Farm reminded me of 'The Darling Buds of May'

Tiff is one of five: this is brother Rory the dentist

Brother-in-law Pete training his dogs

Posing with Pete's 12 bore South African big game rifle

The Monkey - cider house

Worcestershire countryside

View from the Malvern Hills

Pointing out Bredon Hill