Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Pont du Gard

Tree lined roads are pretty typical just outside of Uzes. The journey to Pont du Gard took about 10 minutes. No traffic lights, no road humps, no pot holes, no traffic cones, no congestion. Just a thoroughly enjoyable drive with beautiful views.
What France does have though is plenty of fields full of sunflowers, olive groves and roadside stalls where farmers sell their fruit and vegetables.
We arrived at the Pont du Gard where, the brochure tells us, stands the tallest aqueduct in the Roman world which was built in 5 years. 2,000 years ago this structure provided Nimes with running water for 5 centuries.It stands 50m high (on 3 levels) and 360m long. You can walk along the highest level, although we didn't. Instead we walked along the lower level to the other side of the riverbank.

This is the view from the aqueduct. We picked out a picnic spot on the rocks and headed for it as best we could.

Although it was a bit more tricky to get to than it looked from above. 

Having made our way across the rocks we finally chose a place to sit as near to the water's edge as possible.
 Where we ate our baguettes followed by fruit and chocolate
Thomas was itching to get down to the water. We have to watch him like a hawk - one minute he's paddling
 The next his shorts are off and he's waist deep, although this was quite tame stuff really. There were people diving in off the rocks and swimming. Plus further upstream those with more energy than ourselves were hiring kayaks and canoes.
We were here for about 3 hours and in that time it got really busy with families arriving and setting themselves up to spend a full day here.

It cost us 18E for a family day pass but we could have bought an annual family pass for 23E which is excellent value for money, especially as there are no parking charges. 

As well as the natural beauty of the it all, there are exhibition centres, interactive rooms for children, and a cinema where the story of the Romans and the aqueduct is told. There are also a  couple of cafes, a creperie and a small shop. It is in no way over commercialised and if we lived in Uzes this would definitely be a regular haunt of ours.


Saturday, 26 July 2014


The whole of Uzes town is surrounded by countryside like this.
 There is one main road for traffic that circles Uzes and which is one way only. Apart from this main road, the rest of Uzes is pedestrianised. The whole town is make up of little streets like this one that mostly lead onto the Central Square (Place aux Herbes)

Which is where we've spent a few enjoyable evenings sat outside eating our evening meal.
 As night falls, the square lights up with thousands of fairy lights strung around the trees
There are no buskers, no nightclubs, no live statues, no hair braiders, no temporary tattooists, no musicians with their CD's for sale and no toy shops. 

In fact it could be called boring, but to us it's perfect.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Easing in Slowly

We are slowly easing ourselves into holiday mode and embracing the French way of life.

This is our home for the next 3 weeks.
 Just at the end of the walkway and to the right is the swimming pool
The first couple of days have seen simple lunches on the patio
Daily swims in the pool, which more often than not we've had to ourselves

Lazy afternoons sitting in the town square 'Place aux Herbes' people watching

Whilst drinking cappuchino's and coca-cola

And after our evening meal and a walk we've returned home to sample a few glasses of local French wine.

The sun is shining and all is good.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Countdown to France

I've had a tick list on the go since Monday. I like a list. Especially one with everything crossed of it.

Over the past three days we've had Thomas' sports day, an awards evening, (Thomas' teacher nominated him for class champion), a charity walk, a presentation evening, reading in school and a school attendance party. We've also had to fit in a visit to Wendy, (the puppy) and a visit to Aunty Edith.

In between all this I've had to wash, iron and pack for the holiday and leave a list of instructions with Matthew who is moving in to look after the house, Sparky and Ginny.

All of the above, apart from the charity walk, involved us participating to show our support. It was very easy to see each event as "another crossed off the list", but I was determined to enjoy every one as they took place.

It's all been good fun, if a little fraught at times, but I will certainly be glad to tear up the list tomorrow morning, get in the car and head off on our holidays to France. 

Here's a photo of Wendy. She will be coming to live with us on 13th August. We are all really excited. 


Sunday, 13 July 2014

Bolton Abbey

We did a different 'shire' today and decided to go to Bolton Abbey in Yorkshire.

The scenery is slightly different than Derbyshire.  

But equally as beautiful and breathtaking.

On arrival we paid £8 to park the car and and after a quick 'comfort break', we headed over to the river for a picnic. Nothing out of the ordinary, just some sandwiches, crisps, fruit and drinks.

This was the view in one direction.
 With a view of the Abbey ruins in the opposite direction.
 And just in front of us and down the embankment was a pebbly cove where children were paddling.

Thomas, who was too excited to eat anything, decided to go off on his own and explore. He slipped a few times into the water between the rocks and came back with soggy socks and shoes. Luckily I'd packed spares anticipating this trip would be a wet one.

We've never been here before and although I didn't do much research a quick look on the internet told me one of the main attractions were the 57 stepping stones across the river.
 As usual this type of thing doesn't faze Amy at all and she was across that quick that Mark couldn't get us all in the photo together. Thomas amazed me to be honest. He leapt across those stones without a care in the world, with me bringing up the rear at a much more cautious pace. Look at that massive gap between us! To be truthful I thought the water would be a couple of inches deep all the way across but it's really deep in the middle, (well above my knees anyway). And the gap between each stone seems double when you're balancing precariously on each one!

You can see how deep it is already just a few feet in. 
 After a good paddle we dried off and with socks and shoes back on had a little saunter along the footpath before heading back to the Abbey, over the bridge this time!
 Where Amy came over all creative
 And took some great photos ....
... of the ruins
You can actually go into the Abbey which is absolutely beautiful and is still used for worship.

There are also several tea rooms, restaurants, picnic areas, gift shop and a little village store with a post office. It's well worth having a look at their website for all the information.

Another lovely day out, this is one place that will definitely be on the list for a re-visit.


Friday, 11 July 2014

Anything You Want, I Foolishly Said

I met up with two friends Thursday night for a couple of drinks and something to eat. It's not a regular occurrence, we maybe get together 4 or 5 times a year and as usual we had a cracking time.  

By the time I got in it was 11pm - that's really late for me these days; I'm usually in bed for 10pm. Unfortunately, rather than helping me sleep I find a couple of glasses of wine have the opposite effect and I lay awake for a good hour before drifting off.

Then, Thomas was sick. Very sick. Not a hang your head over the bed and make it easy for Mum to wipe up sick. No. It was a sit up and projectile vomit sick covering himself, the quilt, the sheet and the pillows. And there was lots of it.

So at 3.10am I found myself bleary eyed, telling Mark about my night out whilst washing Thomas down, stripping the bed, putting a wash on and re-making the bed. 

With Thomas settled back down and both of us now wide awake we decided to have a cuppa before heading back upstairs at 4.30am. 

I think I finally drifted off around 6am. The alarm went off at 7am for Amy and at 8am Thomas woke me up to tell me he was hungry. You can have anything you want, I said. He thought for a minute and asked, Do you really mean anything? I nodded. OK, I'll have chicken nuggets and chips he said. 

At 8.15am I was in the kitchen cooking nuggets and chips for him.

By 10am I was knackered and ready to go back to bed. 

There's never a dull moment at Number 38.


Sunday, 6 July 2014

Peveril Castle

We decided on a trip to Hope Valley in the Peak District today and headed for Peveril Castle in Castleton. The idea was to also go down the Blue John Mines and then drive over to Eyam, 'The Plague Village'. But as usual we didn't set off as early as we intended and ran out of time.

The scenery as you drop down into Castleton is absolutely fantastic. There were cyclists, ramblers and lots and lots of sheep.
 It was easy enough to park at the Visitor Centre which is pretty much in the middle of the village. There's all the usual facilities here, toilets, cafe, shop and a small museum. 
 There's the castle (actually the Keep) on the hill, which didn't look that hard to climb to from where I was stood. But oh my! You can just make out how the path criss-crosses and it was a lot harder for me than it looked.  

It's owned by English Heritage and we paid £12.20 for the four of us to walk up. This was the first leg of the journey.
 Amy and Thomas bounded up like mountain goats and Mark wasn't far behind them, but it was a real challenge for me.
 Luckily there was a bench strategically placed at the top of each section .... 
 ..... which I took full advantage of.
 Just because I think she's beautiful. 
 After a slow walk up and with a fair few stops to admire the view, (well that was my excuse) I finally made it.
There were a couple of families there and maybe 3 couples so with plenty of space a bit of hill rolling was in order. It took Thomas a few goes to get into a rhythm but he got there eventually.

Amy has 6 years on him though and rolled down the hill like a true pro.
The view from the top was breathtaking and I felt a real sense of achievement making it to the top. We really do have some lovely countryside, don't we? If you were fit enough it would be great to carry a picnic up there and sit down and enjoy the scenery.
I gave up here. Those final steps and spiral staircase were just one ask too much. Mark very kindly assured me there was nothing much to see inside anyway so not to bother.
There is a notice explaining that the outer stones of the castle have been stolen leaving the cobbled inner on show. Really, someone must have been desperate for those stones. It's a long way up to steal a few bricks.
Back down on my usual level, we had a walk around the village eating ice-creams and enjoying the lovely weather.
Then we set off home, where having managed to avoid the Tour de France on our journey there, we somehow got tangled up in it coming back. 
It was a fantastic sight though seeing all those cyclists.
 We got home just in time to see the final few games of Wimbledon. We'd decided that it was just too nice a day to sit inside and the lack of Andy Murray in the final sealed the deal.

Can't wait to go back to the mines and Eyam, but I think it'll be late August now before we do.

We all had a great day out and it's inspired me to organise more day trips for us all. Family time, fresh air, sunshine and a bit of exercise. It's all good stuff.