February 2008 Cayman ~ England ~ France

We spent the first few days of the month lapping up our holiday in Cayman Islands strolling along the 7 mile beach ~ we could happily spend a winter here no problem at all ~ John & I would like to bring our family here to sample this wonderful dream Island.

We started out strangers on this holiday and left good friends to meet again.

John, myself, Alwyn & Linda flew on to London, it was a long flight back but we enjoyed every moment. A few days later Paul & Carolyn flew back to Michigan. We look forward to another reunion in France, Cayman, England or Michigan, USA. I think Linda & Alwyn have already booked flights to Michigan for the summer.

John's Birthday celebrations carried on most of the month.

We had several birthday nights out this month with John's friends & family. The day we arrived back from Cayman Islands was a curry night out in Manchester with our family. We enjoyed a few days sightseeing in Manchester with son Michael & daughter Teresa they both took some time off work. We stayed with Teresa and packed all our bags ready for our drive back.

Our good friend Willem made this birthday card for John. It has always been John's ambition to have a pint with Ray Davis seen in this photo with his guitar (The Kinks).

Mike enjoyed singing in a concert.

Willem was not able to arrange for him & John to have a pint this birthday with Ray ~ but he is working on the possibility of one day having a pint with their favourite singer song writer. Does any one know Ray Davis? You could ask around for us see if he would like a pint with John & Willem. I am throwing this question out to the Universe to see what comes back, watch this space... We managed to stop over night in Chagny, France for a pint with Willem and enjoyed our time together, much to catch up on.

Son Michael is taking singing lesson's nice to hear him sing again - he has some auditions lined up and is singing for three months every weekend for charity WELL DONE... Mike, ~ good luck with X Factor. You might meet Ray Davis...

Harely & Jo moved out of their home for us - it's your home while you are in Leeds

We were bowled over when Jo offered us her home, staying in one bed when we were in Leeds. We had many invitations out for dinner, lunch or an evening with family, nice to come back and kick our shoes off. Jo & Harley were so generous and made us so welcome ~ we almost moved in for a few months. Jo moved in with her mum & dad Mick & Pam, " I get a baby sitter for a week"...

John's mum asked for our help in re-arranging her kitchen and renewing her cupboard doors, I do love planning kitchens, but would have enjoyed not rushing so much. We managed to contact a friend Phil and his son Adam who could do the job including the electrical work straight away, before we left for France.

John's mum needed a large coffee out while we planned & arranged the upgrade of her kitchen.

It was a busy time shopping for the kitchen, planning & trying to get all the correct fittings for the job. Olive was so pleased with the end result of her new re-modeled kitchen we were surprised it was all done so quickly. It was good having some time to catch up with John's family.

Joe, Tom, John & Jack who very a like - our card night was most enjoyable

We played cards till the early hours. I think Joe & Tom won every game. Super evening with John's sister Susan, husband Neil & son's, both keen ruby players. Olive and her brother Jack joined us too. Sadly Jack lost his wife Ann last month.

Our Lock up in Leeds looking for photographs

Although we had a week in Leeds we had so much to do that time passed very quickly, and as usual we did not find time for everyone.

We buried ourselves in our lock up for hours looking for photographs, for the new Cd Carolyn was producing for the class of 1958. Not an easy job as we have hundreds of boxes of photographs. We did managed to find some thankfully, we had a blissful time looking through 35 years of our life together. I am so pleased digital photography came into our lives not a big enough locker to store all I have taken.

We enjoyed stopping off at the Royal Armouries on our way to dinner in Manchester ~ just enough time to stop and take a photo.

Leeds Royal Armouries Museum, view from the lock

20 years this development took to design & build. "Royal Armouries Museum"

We moored in this dock when we first bought the Moet Chandon in 2001 dreaming of owning an apartment happened for us too. We met our friends David & Pam here the week we took the keys for our apartment in July 2003. For David & Pam it was their very first trip in their new boat "Lea Crest" built by same boat builder as our boat. We cracked open many bottles of wine to celebrate that month, and talked much about transporting our boats to France the following year.

Leaving Leeds and driving through England & France took a week ~ many friends to catch up with.

We spent our first winter in 2004 together in St Jean de Losne in France ~ no longer city dwellers we set off to explore another country and it's roads & waterways. How quickly the years roll on.

Lawrence & Ann in their home.. Moira & Peter & "Chantemerle"... "Les Charmilles B&B"...

We stopped off for a night in St Jean staying in our favourite B&B with Sylvie & Gerard "Les Charmilles" in the town. We visited David & Pam in the Port, enjoying an evening on board Lea Crest enjoying a walk around St Jean following morning. (Think I left my camera behind no photos)! We visited Lawrence & Ann in their home, they are no longer boating and seem settled in their home.

Willem's boat "Cornelia" it's colder up North at times...

Sadly time was short and we had to drive on, without seeing all our friends in St Jean.

Our next stop over was Chagny, near Chalon sur Saone. Willem my brilliant web guru & teacher, booked us into our usual hotel and we had a night out with him & son Alex, they were off to Holland for a holiday the following morning.

We enjoyed working together again on my computer, and Willem helped me scan photos and we sent them on to Carolyn & Paul for the new reunion Cd. We both enjoyed capturing the beauty of France as we drove our separate ways.

Lavender in Provence

I have yet to see the Lavender in full bloom, (Aug) still on my dream list.

We telephoned friends Moira & Peter when we were in St Jean on the off chance they were in residence in Chantemerle-Les-Grignan, as we would be passing. (See Feb 2005).

We were shocked when they answered the phone ~ Moira invited us to stay with them straight way ~ we spent an enjoyable evening together + lots of wine over dinner. (Oh my head driving back to Carcassonne following day). "Chantemerle" is a credit to them both and it was so nice that all our invites & dates came together.

Carcassonne our winter home town

Always magical the drive past the Medieval Cite to the Port.

Arriving back into Carcassonne our winter home ~ many friends here now living in the Languedoc-Roussillon. It is always a joy to come back, added by the biggest WELCOME BACK sign put up in our boat, and invites out. Carcassonne though did seem darker and less sunny after Grand Cayman, but it has it's own unique magic.

We enjoyed being back in the port with some really good weather. Nice to see everyone busy getting their boats ready for cruising and much excitement around this time of year, some boats already cruising early, all making plans for the summer months.

Art & Paintings continued throughout the winter.

Carcassonne is a meticulously restored medieval town, encircled by ramparts and turrets overlooking the River Aude and the lower newer town. It was originally established by the Romans and its strategic position meant it was often embroiled in medieval conflicts.

It was controversially restored by architect Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, (we don't think the breeze blocks are in keeping). Within the two sets of ramparts is the well-fortified Château Comtal, with a moat, five towers, defensive wooden galleries, and a museum.

The Basilique St Nazaire is a vast Romanesque and Gothic church; inside can be seen the famous relief carving of the 1209 Siege of Carcassonne. Also some very impressive windows especially when the sun is shining through. I do so love the narrow streets and charming shops & cafes inside the Cite. English tours are held on a Tuesday.

Ten of us arranged to have a day out in Albi for a festival ~ oops we arrived a week too early.

The “red town” of Albi, built along the Tarn River, is dominated by the intimidating red-brick Gothic Cathedral of Ste Cécile. Founded in the 13th century. Its tall towers and narrow window slits look more defensive than spiritual. Inside the single nave, the fine Gothic vaulting and the 15th-century frescoes depicting the Last Judgment.

Next to the cathedral is the Palais de la Berbie with lovely terraced gardens overlooking the river, you can see Janet looking over the wall, "have you seen Des" she shouts. Within is the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, the most complete collection of the work of this artist who was born in Albi. Unfortunately this was closed so we did not get to visit the Musée but the gardens I guess in the summer are a wonderful site - lacked colour when we visited.

Afternoon tea in the Market square some really good art shops here.

We enjoyed driving to Albi some wonderful countryside, stopping off for coffee. We all met up for lunch then strolled around in wonderful sunshine, enjoyed visiting this beautiful city with some wonderful views over the river. We were lucky to enjoy the market - but no festival to be found, can't even remember what it was supposed to be- Ursula shouts "Mafa dumpa" ( means never mind, her grandmother in Switzerland used this saying). We all had a good day and enjoyed the drive back too.

John, Myself, Mike (Bon Adventure) & Des (Traquire) enjoying a day out.

We enjoyed a week of getting ourselves sorted and trying to find storage for the many things we brought back with us in the car. our boat needs a serious de clutter. We seem to have so many parties & celebrations to attend much food to prepare since we arrived back.

Lots of nice new restaurants opening up in Carcassonne we can see lots of changes taking place here.

Accident with a gate, my Lap top, front tyres, and my head....(too much going on).

We had a week of crash bang wallop ~ first thing was I drove into the Port gate ~ John caught my lap top and it landed on floor in the boat, damaging the screen, sadly this was not repairable, much frustration caused, lap top is my life line).

I walked into an iron gate and hit my head so hard I almost fell over, thankfully Ursula caught me and we went into a shop and placed frozen veg on my head, no lasting damage just tears & bruising. John & Mike at the time were trying to replace our front wheel (we had been on our way to the coast). John drove into a kerb and burst a tyre so it was one expense after another.

The garage after selling us two new tyres tried to tell us that both shock absorbers also damaged needed replacing at a cost of 350 euros.

Willem sent me some funny cows, what do you think?

We doubled checked this with friends and we did not need new shock absorbers at all. I was shocked and upset at this con man in the garage. We told him so too.

Thankfully we had no problems with our Saga car insurance they were most helpful, all was sorted within days. We are just waiting for the new door to be delivered at another garage and work can begin. Hope the rain keeps away we have had some.

I hope next month will bring some good luck and better weather for us & all our visitors, the month started so well too. That's life I guess up & downs... no matter were we are.

Happy Easter To you hope you enjoy a good month