We are still in Albi

We planned to leave today, but found the train connections for our next leg of the journey worked best on Tuesday. We had a good day yesterday of exploring the local bakery and hydro electric museum. We set out around 9:00 am and stayed at the bakery for a couple of hours working out accomodation and trains. This is proving to be a lot of work!

We caught up with Matt on FaceTime at the bakery cafe.

By the time we started walking again it was warmer. We are using our umbrellas for shade, no one else does, so we must look a bit odd to the locals. We stopped and had lunch just after 1:00 and then were able to get to,the museum shortly after it opened. We had a rest in a local park as well.

By now it was very hot. We found that all of the signage and the tour were in French only, so a bit of a struggle.

By the time we walked home, about 3 kms, it was around 4:00 and we were very hot and bothered. It was a relief to be in the relatively cool house.

An interesting outside spiral staircase on this building.

I took some photos in the front garden yesterday after sunset.

This morning we went to the bakery again and bought a large cheese and salad roll for our lunch and a meet and cheese platter for dinner. A couple of pastries made it onto our shopping list as well.

We’ve spent the rest of the day at home, with our hosts out at work. Today was about 38 degrees, the beginning of a heat wave. Our hostess did some washing for me yesterday in her washing machine, and I did a bit of hand washing this morning to keep up to date. The dripping washing, including a pair of jeans was all dry within four hours.

We switched the air conditioner on at about 2:00pm and have needed it ever since. We have watched the first three episodes of the HBO series CHERNOBYL, very well done and intense. It’s been a good distraction from planning trains and accommodation. We seem to,have to do some planning each day.

Paris to Albi

Our day of travel on Friday went well on the two booked stages, but not so well at the end. We caught a taxi from our hotel to the train station as our local Metro stops do not have lifts or escalators for going down and I was worried about injuring ourselves. We were in plenty of time for our train and boarded without difficulty.

This was all that we saw at Bordeaux. Later, when the train was due this platform was packed with people. There was a 15 minute delay.

The first train was very modern and the second not so much. The older train seats were well padded and more comfortable than the modern seats. We had plenty of space and napped a bit.

In Toulouse we hit a snag. Due to strikes trains weren’t running to Albi because of strikes. We waited 1.5 hours for a train, were told about a bus substitute too late to actually catch it, then missed a train as we were were walking back to the station. Our AirBnB hosts in Albi suggested we go on the Metro to an outlying suburb and catch an Uber, but we were tired and wanted to wait for the train, since they were finally up and running. Our hosts were picking us up from the station and had to do so much later than originally planned, which meant they were late for their social event for the evening.

The afternoon was warm and sunny and a bit humid, making the frustrations of the afternoon more challenging.

We realise that where we are staying is rather out of town, with a poor bus service. Our hosts gave us a lift to town yesterday morning and we caught the last bus home, with a 1 km walk at the end. We bought some food for an evening meal, plus a bit of food for today as the buses are even less frequent on Sundays and we have decided to have a rest day today. So we were carrying shopping for that last kilometre.

We like the house here, a traditional French house with shutters and nice outdoor areas. Our hosts have only been here a short while and the house needs a lot of work. The cost for staying here is quite low and we have everything we need, but it’s very much living in other people’s space. They had friends over last night, and they were sitting outside, Stephen continued to sit in the lounge, but I felt in the way and went to the bedroom where it is hot and stuffy. They gave us a fan for our room, which makes a difference as the only air conditioning is in the lounge room and our hosts don’t seem to use it, though they said we could.

We had a thunderstorm yesterday morning, which cleared the air for a while. It has rained again this morning.

Our day of sightseeing in the town was enjoyable, despite the heat. The morning was pleasant and we went to the famous cathedral and alto the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum of Art in a wonderful old building next door.

We had a meal at a restaurant with a set menu of three courses. We sat in the shade on a terrace and when there was a breeze it was very pleasant. The food was very good, of course and if you thought of euros as equivalent to dollars, it was quite a good price at $16.50 each. some photos from our lunch.

Stephen napping on the train.

Both the cathedral and bishops house next door look well fortified. They were built after the defeat of the Cathars, an alternative Christian sect that was persecuted in France. The buildings are in brick because there was no suitable local stone available.

A granita in the afternoon was very cooling.

There were quite a lot of tourists, but not too bad as Albi is not a top tourist site. Well worth a visit though.

Farewell Paris

Yesterday we spent the full day out. We went to the Musée D’Orsay to see the wonderful collection of impressionist paintings. As well as going to many of the galleries we had morning tea and then lunch at two of the cafes. We were able to get a lovely view over Paris from the upper deck, as in the above photo.

There weren’t just impressionist paintings, as you can see.

Our lunchtime cafe.

We were at the Musée from 9:30 to 3.00 pm. Afterwards, we caught the Metro to a famous cemetery where Stephen found the tomb of Oscar Wilde, whilst I sat things out in a nearby bar. Very tired legs.

On Wednesday we had had a very frustrating time trying to catch the 69 bus, a local bus that goes near many of the main attractions. Yesterday we finally managed to find it and were rewarded by going by the Louvre after squeezing through a very narrow passage. We must have been on a magic bus to have got through.

Not a very good photo from the bus.

We had an evening meal near the Musée D’Orsay which was on the way home. For the first time we were out well after sunset.

We were too tired to do too much packing last night, but getting up at 6.00 this morning we had plenty of time to get ready and have breakfast. We caught a taxi to the station as I was worried about carrying our luggage up and down stairs on the Metro. But then, we have a double decker train and our seats are on the upper deck. Stephen does the heavy stuff.

We really loved our little hotel in the suburbs, with low rise apartments and lots of cafes and little shops. I felt like I wanted much more time in Paris as it feels like we had just mastered how to get around and it was time to move on. We were able to hand wash our clothes and hang them in the bathroom to dry. In the warm weather they would dry quickly. The air conditioning worked when we needed it and otherwise we could just set to have fresh air flowing and open the window.

Our train seats are very comfortable with a good tray for messing around as we travel. We have two train changes on our way to Albi. The mild weather is about to change, we even had light rain on the way home last night. The forecast is for 38 on Monday.

London to Paris on the Eurostar

We’ve had an interesting day, starting early so that we could leave the house by 0700h to catch the Eurostar to Paris. We had booked the first class, not actually called first class, and one of the perks was that our ticket included breakfast. We had cereal before leaving home, but after a fairly long time on the train to St Pancras International we joined long lines of people to go through security and then through passport control.

The train journey took about 3.5 hours, I think. There was a time change, of course, going back one hour, so we are only 6 hours behind Beijing time, also Perth time.

The breakfast included fruit juice, coffee, a small roll, butter, jam and a croissant or two. The coffee cups were small, but they kept returning for fill ups. We felt rather spoilt.

Getting from the station to our hotel was quite a business. Fortunately it has been mild weather today and we didn’t get too frazzled. Our hotel is quite small and sweet. Modern and a bit quirky.

We have supermarkets nearby and bought some salad and a sandwich to share before having a nap. We went out at about 1900hrs, the sun was still high and after checking out some local restaurants, many Chinese, one Japanese, and quite a few Italian we eventually saw a French restaurant.

We took the metro to the centre of the city. It was very busy along the river and we thought most of the people we saw were locals enjoying the long evening. By the time we were back in our own area the sun was much lower and was no longer glaring. We chose a small Chinese restaurant for tea, mostly because we could point to food to choose and because we could eat in an upstairs room.

Breakfast on the Eurostar

A beautiful old bridge on the river Seine.
The Hotel Issy where we are staying.
One of the many beautiful old buildings near our hotel.

Once again I am writing this entry whilst feeling very tired. None of the images have been processed. But I am not sure how much time I’ll have tomorrow and it’s best to get something written whilst it’s fresh.

Wandering around East Croydon

We find that little has changed since last year. A couple of different cafes. Fairfield Hall is still being renovated and looks awful, though it is supposed to be finished before we leave here in mid October.

Stephen is starting to think of activities for the next few days. We leave for France next Tuesday.

In general, we are adjusting well to the time difference. We slept from around 8.30 pm last night until 6.00 this morning. We rested for a while in the afternoon, but have not been too tired.

We went down town to get our English SIM cards, going with Three this time because we can use them without roaming charges in Europe. We have a bit of data, and also have a Vodafone SIM from home which has 100GB of data and can be used in England Europe for $5.00 per day. We also did a fairly large shop for food. We were amused that the young lady at the checkout thought it was a fairly healthy shop, given that we bought a bar of chocolate, a small fruit cake, and some McVities, as well as salads and fruit. We bought mince and have made a pot of spaghetti bolognese which will last us for a few meals.

We came home for lunch, a rest and some Wimbledon, then went for another walk to get our special rail pass that allows us a 30% discount on fares. We also topped up our Oyster cards.

We’ve been very fortunate in the weather so far, it is warm enough for summer clothes during the day and cool enough at night for sleeping.

We went to the library, which closed just as we arrived at 6.00 pm

Our apartment building

Time Travellers from Perth

We left Perth at about 10.30 pm last night and arrived at Gatwick Airport, London at about 12.30 pm today. As England has daylight saving we only go back in time seven hours. The featured image is a distorted version of a photo I took near Burswood, which suits our feelings of disorientation with the familiarity and strangeness of our travel.

We had a very uncomfortable 11 hour journey for the first leg, with no extra space, then a far more comfortable and enjoyable seven hour second leg. It might also be that travelling during the day is nicer. The sun rose as we were waiting to board our connecting flight in Dubai.

Our allocated seats were two next to a window, which they must have changed because it isn’t what we would choose because of being locked in by a third person. Fortunately there were spare seats and our third on the row decided to sit elsewhere. We were able to enjoy having a window and also being able to share the three seats. Much better for napping.

View of mountains with snow as we passed over Turkey. Or in that area anyway.

I think this was taken over Iraq.

We didn’t get photos of the White Cliffs of Dover because of cloud cover. The White Clouds of Dover? We are tired enough to think this is very funny.

We struggled a bit with our baggage and the train, but thanks to the kindness of various men who helped with lifting bags, we managed. Our train, the Gatwick Express, was cancelled due to a derailment, but we found that there were other trains making a first stop at East Croydon and we didn’t actually need it. There were no large baggage racks so all we travellers had to fit our baggage on a normal train. There was a bit of drama as the door wouldn’t open to let us out of the carriage at East Croydon, so I went ahead to the next available door and called out to the guard some distance away to hold the train so Stephen and another man could get our bags off.

We caught a cab from the station to our apartment building, a very short journey for him, but saved us a lot of drama. A young resident was leaving as we arrived and carried the heaviest case up the steps.

Gary has left us some basic food and has done a big cleanup of most of the stuff left here by various visitors. There are new curtains in the living room and the old iMac Stephen used on our first visit here has been restored. Stephen finds it very useful for planning our adventures.

Back to basecamp

15th June, 2018 Saturday

Yesterday morning we had a meeting with an RN from the Palliative Care Team at Regis and watched as Mum went through her end of life plan, a simple enough form, but very emotional for her (and us).

Geoff heated up pies for our lunch, very welcome as it is still quite wintry. We had a rest, then packed up the Winnie for going home. I think we arrived here at about 4.00 p.m. We now have about three weeks until we leave for England.

G, our housesitter and exchangee, has left most of his stuff here, at Stephen’s suggestion. He has put things out of the way, but the house felt alien and I retreated to the van. Not before doing three loads of washing, of course.

By not making up the bed I ensured that Stephen also spent the night in the van. We found our 10amp hookup a wee problem as we can only run one power intensive applicance at a time, but we managed. Stephen used the shower in the house and I used the one in the van. It was cold enough overnight for our down comforter to be very welcome. I thought it would be warmer here than at Roleystone, but it seemed about the same.

This morning my attitude has changed. First things first, I set up my laptop and hard drives on the dining room table to upload all of the photos from the trip to the cloud. Some uploading has happened, but I mostly disable it to preserve our data for watching movies and TV programs and listening to podcasts, as well as general internet usage.

Then, I made up our bed, bringing our down comforter to the bedroom. I’m not sure if we will need it in the house, but it’s lightness makes it very good for sleeping.

We still have a great deal to do, but have made a start. More washing is happening today, mostly linen from the van.

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Today’s photos are from our time in the Blue Mountains.

Status update

Wednesday 12th June, 2019

We have had the ‘big’ meeting re Mum’s treatment. The lovely doctor has confirmed that she is not a candidate for tests to confirm whether or not the cancer has spread, chemotherapy and an operation, but will instead take a medication which helps to shrink tumours. As well as involving us, he spoke directly with Mum, holding her hands as he told her she has cancer and that this is not a cure. Of course, she is fine about that, being philosophical about dying. She was having a good day, very on the ball, and it worked out well. We were anxious for about a month and a half about the meeting and are very grateful that it went off so smoothly. She keeps forgetting about the cancer, of course.

Stephen came along, travelling with Marie on the train. He came in handy to be in the waiting room and guiding Marie, then Robyne, on where to go. Robs had trouble getting parking, normally she is early to appointments.

The Winnie is still waiting on her spare part, which works out well for us as we haven’t had to drive down to Belmont to have her fixed. It would easier to wait until next week when we have moved back into our house so we are not concerned about the delay.

We had a successful evening with the Men of the West and the Brunswick Womens Choir last Friday night. Driving all the way back to Roleystone late at night wasn’t fun, but we got home safely. We had a few of days of getting up late and watching movies in the afternoon. We watched ‘On the basis of sex’, ‘Green Book’ and ‘The Favourite and found all of them enjoyable in different ways.

Yesterday was strenuous as we had the appointment, me driving to Regis and travelling to and from RPH in the ambulance with Mum. In the evening we went to Solidarity Park behind the Parliament building for a little memorial service for Bob Hawke. I didn’t get any photos and UnionsWA haven’t so far posted any photos of us on Facebook, though they have posted a few photos of the speakers. We had a meal at the Dome in Adelaide Terrace with Eversley and Ben, then back to Roleystone.

Today we have walked to Raeburn Orchards Cafe and confirmed that we can catch a bus back.