Summer Vacation Begins!

Yeah, John and I are in France and then the isle of Jersey for two weeks this summer. Some may remember that we went to stay with a friend south of Bordeaux for a week last year and we vowed to come back with our bikes this year!

We set out on Saturday by ferry from Dover because I wanted to see the white cliffs. It was sunny everywhere but Dover which was covered in clouds…oh well…

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After crossing the channel to Calais it was nice and sunny again…

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After about a 5 hr drive and 1 bizarre turn of the GPS which got us stuck and lost at a toll booth off the highway we made it to Amboise in the Loire Valley where we have stayed for 2 nights. John got tired of driving about a half an hour before going around Paris, which actually turned out to be very heavy traffic and lots of turns…hmmm good thing it was my turn to drive on the right side of the road for me but on the wrong side of the car! I did fine though…

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Amboise is a touristy town in the Loire because of the Royal Chateaux…gorgeous…

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We also realised it was the final resting place of Leonardo Da Vinci…

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Sunday was “Bastille Day” or French National Day so Amboise was extra busy. We escaped for a bit by going on our first cycle trip, yeah…

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I had to stop in front of this chateaux for a picture. I love France!

Our perfectly timed stopover in Amboise ended with a top notch fireworks display over the river. I didn’t plan it this way but it was also directly in front of our hotel and we found the hotel balcony to sit and watch from on comfy chairs. It was perfect!

At home…

It feels very nice to be home and I have been doing a lot of visiting. HOWEVER… I just talked to John, who is still in England, and he said they are having a heat wave! Really, seriously, the day I leave the sun decides to shine…brutal is all I can say! Oh well!

Stay tuned for Lord Isaac’s Jubilee quilt but before I show you that I forgot to show the quilts that I found in Roland’s house in France…

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Apparently, he got 2 of these at the local market for 25 Euros. This makes me think they were certainly not hand done but I still really love the idea of the quilting pattern. I love how the lines are quilted so that they form little squares. When the quilt is lengthways on the bed they actually appear as diamonds. I think it’s really simple, modern and pretty. I also really like how around the edges are just a few rows of straight lines. They also reminded me how fresh and clean a solid white background can be. Also…what a neat idea to use just different alternating striped material with white blocks. I like!

Au Revoir France!

John and I were very sad to leave the beautiful and relaxing area of south west France. We went for a last bike ride in the sunflowers…

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Look I found my new holiday home that is being gorgeously renovated for us!…in my dreams…

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Back in the chilly UK rain! Actually, it was slightly sunny when we got back, smile.

Sunflowers and Lunch

After the excitement of the Tour we took it easy yesterday and went for a bike ride to have lunch in a very pretty village about 20km away. It was stunning. There were sunflower fields everywhere. See if you can spot us!…

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It’s nice to feel that you have earned your feed! We ate on a patio over looking another church stop on this pilgrimage walking route…

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And again aren’t the shutters perfect!…

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We finished the day with a cheese crepe and a chocolate banana and cream one for dessert. It is so relaxing in the south west of France. It is peak summer season but hardly any people about, perfect!

It’s my birthday today so we are going for a swim and to a nice pizza places for dinner! Happy birthday to me…having the sun out is present enough!

Vive le Tour de France

Years ago I lived in Ottawa and fell in love with how they closed some of the roads on a Sunday in the summer to allow cyclist etc. to use them freely. I saw many “pro-looking” Québécois cyclists take to the road and thought with my bad knees from running that that was the sport for me. I loved the idea of going fast and farther on the roads than a traditional mountain bike would allow. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that a good bike was the price of a small car so instead got more road like tires for my little red Gary Fischer mountain bike. Not the same! But I wasn’t to fear because years later while working at my first school in Cambridge I met a cycling enthusiast teacher friend named Kari who helped to fuel my old inspirations. She helped me to learn about the components of a road bike and what to look for when purchasing. I believe it was after one of John’s bonuses that I worked my magic and was able to convince him to buy us both bikes at a good entry level to the sport. (Soon enough he was into it as much or more than me and began riding to work!) We began watching the Tour de France on t.v. and got right into it. It is extremely exciting and you quickly pick a favourite to root for. You also get to see and learn a lot about the French countryside from the helicopter coverage. The long time commentators Paul Sherwen and Phill Liggett are wonderful to listen to and make any new comer to the sport feel welcomed and quickly knowledgable. It’s still on so give one stage a go! When I knew we were moving to the U.K. I immediately thought great, now we can go and watch the Tour. John added it to the long list of things I had already said I wanted to see, lol! My birthday is tomorrow and my present was to make sure we saw the Tour pass by. We went yesterday and it was better than expected. It was a quick pass by but we went to a lovely town called Auch were there was lots of Tour atmosphere. It was a comfortable and relaxed atmosphere which I wasn’t expecting. At what other sporting event can you A) get in free and B) sit at a cafe in the sunshine and drink coffee while waiting for it to pass!…

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We did walk and find a nice stone wall to sit and watch from, just above street level. In our magazine it said that the “caravan” would come through at 1:00. We weren’t sure what to expect. It turned out to be a wonderful parade from all the sponsors who were all throwing out free stuff. I got a little polka dot jersey key chain!…

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Here are some parade pictures…

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Then it all got really exciting because the red car came through which is the official car at the front of the race and the t.v. helicopters came right over head…

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The small break away came through first…

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And then the main peloton came through. They were quite stretched out in a line but I imagine going through a town can be dangerous and it looked safer on the narrow roads lined with fans to space out a bit! Below are a few of the shots of the riders, of course not as large as life as on t.v. but still amazing to see such incredible athletes. Take a close look at the picture with the rider in the yellow jersey. That is the leader of the race in the maillot jeune, British rider Bradley Wiggens. They went by so fast that I didn’t see last year’s winner Cadel Evans or my favourite sprinter Brit, Mark Cavendish but I think John did. (My favourite rider Andy Schleck is out with injury and didn’t start the race. The Canadian, Ryder Hesjedal got injured in the first few days of the race and had to abandon, boo.)…

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IT WAS SOOOOOOOO EXCITING!!!!!

After they passed by that was it and we walked around this beautiful town a bit. It truly felt and looked how I imagine France in my head!…

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After we drove back towards Roland’s house and stopped for a coffee in the lovely town of Condom, yes have a wee giggle! Apparently, Dartagnan, one of the 3 musketeers, came from this area so there was a modern statue installation, a bit tacky Roland thought but I loved it!…

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The statues are at the foot of a famous church. There is a pilgrimage route in this area of France and we saw many walkers at this church as one of their stops. They all had shells hanging off their bags for some reason?…

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A full day! Off for a bike ride and lunch now!