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07 July 2015

Settling down in Château again for the summer.

We are starting to organize our suitcases for our trip to the Norwegian fiords and the Arctic circle.  Lots of thermals, woollies, and large ‘Muck’ boots.  Our papers and details of the voyage have arrived, and it looks very exciting and beautiful. 
A long walk is planned on Sunday next - we will take part as usual in the randonné at Jalogny, hoping to build up our fitness for climbing into and out of zodiacs, kayaking and walking on ice and snow.

Aussie visitors will come on Sunday night, and then the week will fly by with many things to tick off before we leave.  Including our Fête de voisins, our street party, at lunch time on 20th.  Richard and Fiona Campbell will arrive from London on Saturday evening we expect, and will stay on in our house while we are away. We leave for Paris on the Sunday, and a chartered flight will pick us up on Monday to take us to Bergen for boarding where the voyage begins.

Thursday, June 11, 2015
It is a beautiful summer’s day here in Southern Burgundy, warm with a soft breeze, and a delight to be outside working in my favourite spot in the courtyard, on the ancient stone flagstones where I was inspired to write Claudette’s story.
We have just finished the French version, and what a challenge it was.  When I say we, I mean with Rachel’s wonderful help.  I learnt a lot about the differences in French and English, punctuation, gender, formalities, and completely different ways of telling a story!  
However, it is done, and I feel a great sense of achievement.  Of course the locals recognize Rosemary’s wonderful illustrations, and are waiting to be able to get a copy in their hands.  The bookshop in Cluny will stock it, both French and English versions.

It is also a great relief that the English version is available on Book Depository with free postage world wide!

The garden is wonderful – what a season for roses, incredible. I have several bowls in the house, and the scent is magnificent.  We have been picking cherries, wild strawberries and yesterday first bowl of raspberries.





It was World Knitting in Public Day on 6th June, and I went with my group, La  Guilde de Filage en Bourgogne –(spinners and weavers) to spin and knit at an old woollen mill.  It is a beautiful place in the depths of the country, water sparkling and shifting with reflections in the mill race sporting a big old wheel. There is a museum with old machinery and a dreamy shop full of colour and supplies for crazy knitters like me.  It was such a pleasant day and fun, I had to answer the questions in French, which was a challenge sometimes! A wonderful day, about 20 spinners in all, the wheels turning away lazily on a very hot day.  The grounds and gardens around us were decorated with bright colours of wool, miniature knitted T shirts and pompoms hanging up everywhere, even a model of a cow - wool bombed!!

On Monday we had unexpected visitors, Bruce Dover, with Bich and Lelanh, so my tiny kitchen was taken over by two Vietnamese women, mother and daughter, great fun!  This little kitchen has never had 3 people in it before, I didn’t think it was possible.   We had a lovely evening and a great catch up on news – we hadn’t seen them for so many years - I cannot count them, they fly by so quickly.

It is hot and dry at the moment, so we walk early in the morning and hide in the shade or inside in the afternoons.

John is at his Bridge Club summer lunch today at Château d’Igé, with 4 hours of playing bridge afterwards! Might be a good game or two.
I went for a 3 hour walk yesterday with Katia, mostly through shady woods,  but a wonderful walk, and for me a 3 hour informal French lesson!  I really love our Wednesday morning walks. 
In the evening the breathing/relaxation/stretching course at the Mairie, run by kind neighbor Fabienne, so a great day of exercise.  It was John’s turn for cooking dinner, so I was ready for the delicious curry he prepared.
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I love the fact that anyone can just order a hard copy of Claudette and get it post free in 48 hours for E9.50, even in this country village, wish we could do that in Australia.  However, I also like the fact that I have been able to make the E copy at a very low price - then it’s not an embarrassment to promote it among friends!!  I will certainly bring a box of hard copies back with me from the US - our last stop in October. 
Weather was very volatile when we first arrived, but we were able to sit out of doors for our meals lapping up the sun and warm breeze, and using the good gardening weather.  Now with the warm weather it means starting the watering discipline again.  Which means I had better get out there now and do some weeding… and trimming….

What good neighbours we have.  A week or so ago when I was working at the bottom of the garden in the “jungle” starting to clear tall grass, weeds and blackberries, my neighbor across the road appeared with his whipper snipper and asked whether I would like him to clear it for me.  Yes, please, please I said very happily.  10 mintues later it was all done, it would have taken me days, and I was very content to clear the last traces of brambles and weeds, and managed to fill a whole wheelbarrow!

When I went inside John was in great pain.  He has been suffering from back pain with a pinched vertebrae.  What to do – it’s a public holiday and getting help would be difficult and impracticable.  So I went across the road to ask the advice of our neighbor Fabienne – with the kind husband Patrick who had used his whipper snipper so beautifullyl .  Fabienne brought me inside and said we will call Lucia – another neighbor 2 houses down the road who is a physiotherapist.  Again I was reluctant to call her because of the public holiday, but Fabienne said, we must!   15 minutes later Lucia walked up the road and helped John very much, she managed to release the pinching bit and gave us lots of help on exercises and on treatment, including freezer block against the back once an hour for 5 minutes across the spine. 

Monday 26th May: We are planning to go to Marseille tomorrow, a 4 hour drive, but I guess we will be stopping frequently, Lucia said every petrol station you pass, buy a cold drink from the fridge and hold it against your back for 5 minutes and you’ll get there!!!

In the meantime I will prepare the content about Claudette ready for my web site, and knit madly!   I read today that knitting is good for the health, it is calming and relaxing, my only problem is I have been knitting so much I have a sore right shoulder and arm muscles!!!
I have just finished a pair of socks, knitting a more complicated patterned pair at the moment, weaving a beret and knitting a pair of slippers for relaxation.  

So better get on, always lots to do.  The wildflowers are wonderful at the moment.

Trip to Marseille:
400km trip south was pretty smooth, stopping once for a refresher.  The service stations on the autoroute are so impressive.  A supermarket with salads and sandwiches, and frozen foods with microwave nearby to heat your choice for eating!  A fab piano and possibility of making video of yourself playing and entering a competition across the service stations in France!!   John had a massage in a massage chair, and we felt thoroughly refreshed before moving on.   The temperature was creeping up as we went south, but to dampen it down a bit, the mistral was in full strength, and bringing a real chill with it.

It was a challenge to find the hotel in the narrow and crowded streets of this teaming city, no parking -  so we caused a traffic jam as we unloaded our bags and I went inside, while John continued on the torturous route to find the car park. I wondered if I would ever see him again!! Glad we don’t have to do that too often.

When we had recovered, we took the metro to the old port, and walked and walked until we were weary. We were forced to stop for a beer as it was the end of the afternoon anyway, and happy hour!!   We strolled around a bit and found a very pleasant restaurant where I had bouillabaisse – but with
half a lobster, and John had a menu, I forget what, all washed down with a pleasant Côte de Provence.  Next morning we spent in the History Museum, which was terrific.  We spent several happy and interesting hours there.  Today we have booked a cruise around the coast to view the Callanques, a particular part of the coast which is now a national park and its ecosystem preserved.  We will take our new binoculars and try them out.   I will take my seasickness tablets and try them out, ha ha!   In the morning we will visit the fish market, and the history museum and hopefully enjoy the cruise in the afternoon if the sea is not too rough. 
 
Hope to do a bus tour tomorrow.  The cruise was very pleasant, but I was glad I had taken a motion sickness tablet as it was a bit rough at times.  However, when we nosed into the coast and into each callanque, it was calm, sheltered and beautiful. 
The next day we took an Open Bus tour which worked very well and isn’t so tiring, except for the climb up to Notre Dame de la Garde.  The stunning view was worth it though.  We were full of admiration for the drivers, getting round impossible corners with their large bus, and so patient. 
Our next stop was MuCem, a new museum of Mediterranean Civilisation. All very interesting, but not very well organized.   The material content was very good, but the administration really lacking.
Being a tourist is exhausting.  We were relieved to leave the busy city and head off to the wilds of the Ardêche, to visit Lindy and David.  We had forgotten how long, twisty and narrow that road to Marsanoux was, but so worthwhile and welcoming when we eventually arrived,  Had a tour of Lindy’s special garden, and it was just warm enough to have aperos and delicious dinner outside, joined by their charming neighbour Jean Daniel.

Of course we left the next morning loaded up with plants and cuttings, assisted by Lindy’s shared cat, Arthur.

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