February 2009 John's 60th birthday

Our Family arrives for John's 60th birthday celebrations here in the village of Malras.

Family arrival in Malras

House in Malras

Teresa, Jo, Michael & John all arrived on the 1st Feb we picked them up at Carcassonne airport, they hired a car for the week, so all eight of us could get about with ease. Louise & Alan arrived in Toulouse airport from Canada early morning following day, so very tired after a very hectic few months.

Treasured moments in Malras, Limoux & Mirepoix - Michael's camera a joy to look back on.

Sunset in Malras France

Me and the kids visiting Mirepoix

Me taking pictures in Limoux

We whisked all our family off for a wine tour plus some tasting in the Limoux cave. John & I thought it would be a good start to everyone's holiday. We had fun sampling the bubbles. Buying plenty of bottles for our week together, some good sunsets here.

Limoux wine tour

Wine tasting in a bar in Limoux

Michael was not sure about this wine tasting as good as the other one

Several glasses later we drove back home to settle in front of the fire and rest. Mike & I are the drivers this week, so we were careful not to over indulge, we settled in front of the fire. Louise & Allan managed to stay up and fit into French time (6 hours difference).

Settling in front of the fire and having family time is always magic.

Family in front of the fire

We had fun, playing games, all taking it in turns to cook meals and taking turns working in the kitchen. All sharing in the shopping and preparing.

Teresa & Jo bread duty & cooking evening dinner always a feast.

Teresa and Jo cooking dinner

Morning bread duty

What can I say about the bread duty, each morning the start of our day, listening for the bread van. Bread, cheese, wine & plenty of rest was everyone's ideal holiday.

Photography was on the agenda this week - especially for Michael & I as we share this passion.

Malras memories

Louise horse riding

Malras church bells

Malras church bells

Words would not describe our week of celebrations together. I hope these photo's will show the fun & joy the week brought to us all, with a big grateful thanks to Earl & Fiona for all their hard work in getting their home ready for our arrival.

The villages and workers were also out in force this week getting this village ready for the Toques et Clochers wine festival to be held here in April, to which we have been invited to stay over here again. It will be our 4th one.

Read more about Limoux wine festival last year.

Fitting all the candles onto this three tier cake was a joint effort

Fitting candles on John's birthday cake

Music docking centre

Music docking centre

Music was the theme of the week, this is a sign of the times, when everyone arrived in Malras our family placed their ipods next to the docking station. John enjoyed learning how to put music onto his new ipod. Thankfully we do all enjoy each others music.

The family are pleased that John & I will no longer have music on the loop! That's what used to happen on the boat. Our ipods have opened up a whole new enjoyable world for us, if we remember what we have been taught about lap tops & ipods.

Domaine Gayda, Restaurant and Winery near Limoux

Fine Wine and Gourmet Cuisine in the Languedoc-Roussillon. Something a little special during our week was dining in Domaine Gayda restaurant, ten minutes drive from Malras, 25km south west from Carcassonne.

Domaine Gayda, restaurant and winery near Limouxwww.domainegayda.com

I love the broad driveway through the vineyard to the restaurant I picture bygone days, (this photo was taken from their web site), especially since it was all lit up when we arrived. The Domaine Gayda, is the new face of wine and cuisine in the Languedoc Roussillon, (very nice wine ). Their grapes are hand picked and then sorted berry by berry. This Domaine is all about using all the latest equipment. We enjoyed all the wine they choose to go with each wonderful mouth watering course (6 I think), of course we all tasted each others wine too (hic) well worth a visit here, or a wine course in helpful English.

Friends arrived in Carcassonne to help us celebrate John's birthday & meet our family.

John's birthday party in Carcassonne restaurant

John and Irene

Our friends here in France helped us celebrate John's 60th birthday. Beate worked hard helping me bake the cake & cookies and arranging to book restaurant with lots of wonderful surprise banners for John.

The Moët-Chandon family in Carcassonne port.

The Moët-Chandon family together in Carcassonne port

All too soon our week with family here in France came to an end and we were on airport duties finding ourselves saying good byes, sadly Louise & Allan can't come to England for more celebrations and had to return to Canada. Filled up with bread & cheese and hopefully some happy moments to cherish. We joined the rest of our family a few days later in England. THANK YOU TO OUR FAMILY for making this a wonderful holiday.

The song "Never forget" (Take That) Michael sang this to John in Knowsley suites hotel.

We invited family & friends to join us at the Suites hotel were we where stayed to celebrate John's birthday & support Michael & his band. I felt very proud that all my brothers, sisters & partners wanted to share this night too.

Tulips spring is on the way.

We had a good week in Liverpool, Manchester & Leeds, staying with John's sister it was so nice to catch up with her and John's family, also friends.

We never have enough time to see everyone and that makes me sad some times.

My friend Sue & Matt invited us out for a special meal for John's birthday and it was so lovely being able to stay over with her at last and catching up on all their news, they will soon become a family, a son due to be born in May.


We settled back on the boat on our return - I began weight watchers again with Beate, thankfully I am still losing weight be it very slowly, John too with his biking many miles cycled.

I enjoyed early morning long walks this month with Kathy & coffee in the square after. We enjoyed some good meal's together also. Kathy & Danny are staying in an apartment here in Carcassonne for 2 months and it's nice catching up. Their boat is up north, they hope to spend next winter here also.

We have started having Monday evening's in the New Irish pub the Celt. A darts night with a prize of 5 pints, who ever is around joins in, we all need this prize, the Euro- Pound is hitting us all hard in our pockets. We have all had to cut back in one way or another. John was more than happy painting with Earl.

Boat painting in Carcassonne port

Boat painting in Carcassonne port

Eating outside

Earl helped John with the task of preparing our boat for painting. The weather was just right for painting. Much hard work was involved in all the preparation, they thoroughly enjoy working together, I rather think it will be a long job. He asked Earl for a shiny new boat for his birthday, you will have one said Earl.

I received a phone call to say mum was in hospital, I have booked a flight back to Liverpool to be with mum & family.

Photo book the Plunketts & Co.

Photo Book "The Plunketts & Co."

Another big surprise arrived via post later this month, a gift from Michael. He designed a hard back book then had it published with some of his favorite moments of this holiday a book for us all to enjoy.

Amazing treasured photographs, (I have used some on this page), such a tear jerking present for us... if you would like to share in this gift too.