United Kingdom, France · 26 Days · 72 Moments · June 2017

Susan's take on UK & France June 2017

30 June 2017

Our final day in the UK Today making our way south with a pit stop @ Oxford for 4 hours. Though not a heap of time to spend there we saw enough from the "/Hop On Hop Off" tour to recognise the history of the city is as significant as Bath. Again the architecture is daunting to a Colonial. Now @ Heathrow & looking forward to catching up with family & friends once back on home turf. An amazing time away with so much to reflect upon . We 've had a ball with some wonderful people in some special surrounds . Hopefully many will make the trip south 'Down Under" so that we might continue the fun & attempt to return some of their superb hospitality . We have some great memories! XXX to all ! .

29 June 2017

A Monet Moment ! Think though the poppies are not the intended crop. Still very pretty. Noticed a lot of cornflowers growing on the roadsides too.
Last pic for the ride adventure.
More prettiness.
Down town Burford
Apologies for the selfie.Today with GPS & back wheel sorted there was no stopping us! We did the 30 mile circuit stopping @ Burford for lunch. Very busy centre with lots of Tudor architecture mixed with the Cotswolds stone. A few road climbs but an electric bike takes the pain away & then always some thrilling down hill runs on the other side.

27 June 2017

Bourton - on- the Water some 12 miles out.
Harry in hi-vis .Now attempting to wear off the previous 3 weeks of good life ! We are in The Cotswolds where every charming small village that we ride through is cut from the Cotswolds stone We did 24 miles yesterday on our bikes ! Impressed ? Not as good as you might think but still had a work out The truth is our bikes are electric! Makes going up hills much more pleasant. I want one. Only about two & a half grand ! Two more days of exploring this way before returning to Heathrow for flight home late Friday.

26 June 2017

Lunch by a tributary of the Thames Now in Oxfordshire.
Our day travelling with Mel & dog Ozzie which is taking us to the Cotswolds for the final adventure in England this time. Though not obvious, post Neolithic man drew into the hillside by scoring the topsoil to expose the white chalk .The white then featured in this case the outlines of a gigantic horse but totally proportioned in scale. Perhaps a means to show off to any advancing peoples how clever they were . PS as you can't see wrong angle but we were there!

25 June 2017

History again. At the highest point of the ridge are burial mounds ( in foreground) dating back thousands of years again. A lot of dirt was moved with only the use of hand made tools from the flint stones Tough going.
Working off lunch with a walk to the ridge which overlooks Pewsey Vale & further to the Salisbury Plains. Absolutely beautiful panoramas
A nice spot for Sunday lunch where the canal boats pull up for a pint

24 June 2017

Typical grain crop (not sure which) ...barley I think but liked the colours.
Ozzie looking for a badger!
The dear cottage side view.
Not very pronounced in the photo but this hand dug gutter extends for miles. It was a defence strategy to deter any invading forces. Over thousands of years the original steep sides have filled in but still the walls are high enough to easily cause serious injury if you lost your footing.
Ozzie our canine friend.

23 June 2017

Our wonderful hosts Mel & Wendy in their kitchen.
A Neolithic chambered long barrow which has five burial chambers that we could walk into. These sarsen boulders were brought to the site from the Marlborough Downs some 12 miles away.
More lovely country & a history to boot. It is truly beautiful here. Also grateful to do a little exercise as we've both noticed how " travelling broadens the behind " ! !
Taking in some real history in the villages of Avebury & Marlborough where much began four & a half thousand years ago. The Avebury Henge is just as impressive as the more famous Stone Henge with 100 pairs of stones of this magnitude creating The Avenue
OMG this is the country cottage of Mel & his wife Wendy where we are staying for 3 days. It is truly out of a fairytale & the most charming place imaginable. Standing alone in glorious fields with a pretty English garden. The inside is amazing also !
Their lounge area. Wendy is an art director for style magazines such as House and Garden hence the touches inside are lovely & add to the charm of this 300 year old house

22 June 2017

Harry 's school friend from 40 years ago in Tas , Mel Nichols picked us up from Poole & took us on the 2 hour drive to his place in Wiltshire. Did the " drive by" Stone Henge " (pictured). Also Salisbury Cathedral from a distance. The villages & countryside are stunning.

19 June 2017

Good bye Poole Fortunately the weather is cooling a little so perfect for heading to Wiltshire where quite a few walks are planned.

18 June 2017

Back at the sea side on The Avenue , 10 mins dip away. A heatwave this last week so well positioned in every respect Very comfortable. Thanks Trevor !

17 June 2017

Also coming into port, went past Henry VIII 's weekender. Hopefully no one got the chop there!
Made the boat at Cherbourg in comfortable time despite the Paris detour. A smooth 4/hour passage back to Poole harbour England on the French owned Brittany Ferries in supreme comfort being well watered & fed. All done extremely well A good model for The Spirit of Tas ? Would encourage more tourists to Tasmania via the boat if they did it like we experienced. Pictured here coming into Poole harbour around 9 p.m.on Sat evening & catching the light on the white chalk cliffs of "Old Harry Rocks" .
Object sort of accomplished. Weekend traffic jams not foreseen, & also not foreseen was how close we were to the centre of Paris ! Not expecting the Parisian experience but saw the Eiffel Tower in the distance & crossed The Seine twice ! So can say now I have seen Paris. Couldn't get too excited as we didn't want to be there & high risk of missing our ship back to Poole England. But nevertheless a box ticked !
From the royal red box of La Paix. Farewell Reims Tomorrow back on tour in the black Jag.. Trevor driver, Harry navigator, & Jacqueline & me in the " cheap seats " in the back mucking up ! Object ; to avoid Parisian traffic in order to make it to Cherbourg on the west coast where the ship departs for England late afternoon.
The day was capped by a sumptuous meal in house @ La Paix hotel which has been our "home" all week A little time to reflect on all matters French Surprised myself by "finding" words from the back of the cortex & winging phrases in French that I didn't know were there ! Impressed my travelling companions! The French are the loveliest & in the whole time we were here we encountered happy helpful ( when the words didn't come),& polite folk. Their sense of civic pride is astounding .Everywhere seems to exude neatness from the inner cities to immaculate, prosperous farmland. Nothing appeared out of place & said to me they have a real measure of respect & sense of value in what they have . As you can see, I'm a total fan & sad to be leaving. They do it well & think maybe a parallel in attitude & enterprise with the Kiwis.?

16 June 2017

A big day continuing. Part of the package included a lovely lunch in Epernay ; the city that claims to be in the heart of the Champagne region as opposed to Reims where we are based. Lots of little detours & expansive views of all the individual plots that combine to fill the landscape.
We had been touring all day & still more surprises. Andreiux -Lefort champagne maker extraordinare for the independent small growers co - op joined us &/took us through their operations. Not only the chief winemaker but also running his own plot & doing serious hours in the field. Very wiry build not from sitting around I suspect ! Pictured from. left - Sebastian our tour guide & driver, Andrieux , Jacqueline, Trevor, & Harry.
Now to the big end of champagne country "Champagne Castellane " This is conveyor belt production on a massive scale . Again the chalk tunnels under ground are mesmerizing & huge ...totalling 6 kilometers . We 've been a little spoilt this last week & we all agreed this generic style of champagne production didn't .measure up. Didn't buy any show bags!
All very eclectic & intimate. Harry knocking out a tune on the piano while we listen with our Russian host Elena , washed down with the mandatory bubbles.! So tough going!
Our last full day in the region with the four of us taking a private tour of out of the way wineries . Sebastian our knowledgeable guide treated us with private visits to some very special operations, each with their unique family history. "Joseph Desruets " was founder of this winery in 1888, . The current 5th. generation are adopted brothers from Korea who continue the family tradition. Their original wooden grape press is the oldest working press in Champagne. Though slower than modern presses it is much gentler in the crushing process & optimises the flavour. Can verify that. Good drop!
The 125 year old press. The juice runs out the wooden slits & is collected in vats below the floor & then later pumped into first fermentation tanks
The church of Dom Perignon. We stood on his grave !/

15 June 2017

All this galavanting through vineyards every day was always completed by finding a watering hole somewhere back in the town centre. Three beers for Trevor, Harry & me, & a glass of red for Jacqueline .. by then we were all champagned out ! Pictured here @ The Ernest Hemingway ( Must have scribbled a few lines there).
The four us went to the outskirts of Reims city to visit the Pommery centre standing magnificently above 18 kilometres of excavated chalk tunnels .Everything to do with Pommery is on a huge scale. Their tunnels not only store millions of bottles of their champagne , but also become spaces for large scale contemporary art installations.... shades of MONA .....amongst the wine. The family Pommery empire built by a very savvy 39 year old widow ( Madam Jeanne Alexandrine Louise ) in 1858 was keen to marry the arts with their champagne. She commissioned magnificent chalk friezes of the style of the day ,& the patronage has continued through to today. We left this place gobsmacked. In terms of impressiveness , it seemed a hard act to follow.

14 June 2017

A typical boulevard eatery that was the order of the day. Gorgeous weather & as it wasn't dark till after 10 pm the city streets were buzzing.
Did the art gallery @ Reims .There were only a few that caught my eye including a couple of Monets ( sadly not his Reims Cathedral) & this one.
Just to prove I was there too ! PS note how the vines are trained so low to the ground This architecture is universal across France it seems At home our trellising Is way above my head !
Back amongst it ! Different hemisphere !
We are overwhelmed with the beauty of the Champagne region & each day here we learn so much about the history & the evolution of making champagne. This winemaking family Pierre & Sophie Larmandier from the village of Vertus was experimenting at all levels Applying organic & bio dynamic methods in the field as well their champagne making. Using Austrian oak barrels, cement, ceramic vats to supplement the standard stainless steel,home grown yeasts, & only grape sugars for the fermenting process.Result? The best bubbles we 've tasted to date !

13 June 2017

Inside Reims Cathedral. An immediate sense of history with the site being where the first coronation of a French king took place in 800 A.D. The cathedral itself came later around 1223 with many kings crowned up until the French Revolution & Paris became the capital. Reims was like a Canberra until then.
"Joan" ... riding the horse!
The four of us are now based in Reims & staying put for the rest of the week. A beautiful city famous for its cathedral , regal history, Joan of Arc, & central to all the champagne houses. Tough going as you can imagine!
Champagne country now distinctively so because of the white chalky soils from a Jurassic Age. The chalk is tens of metres deep & many wineries saw its advantages ; a unique character in the wine but also easier to excavate for their cellars. Like Pierre's (the previous day ), we had a private showing of their champagne process.Another 3rd. generation family business which has converted to organic status ...taking almost ten years to acquire accreditation. Surprisingly, the " Biodynamic" practice of farming is a big thing amongst the boutique vineyards here. Cow horns & phases of the moon etc! It's a highly regulated industry so it is believed that these special approaches to viticulture & wine making give the smaller operators an edge over the bigger​ ones like Moet etc.
"Charlotte" our charming host from Champagne de Sousa ... grandaughter of founder. Here she is showing the sediment formed while the bottle has been lying horizontally for approx 3 years. We learned so much from this winery. In particular, their innovative wine making techniques. They would seem ahead of the curve in many respects. We will definitely share the info with the "trade" back home!

12 June 2017

With Pierre, Harry & our travelling companions Jacqueline & Trevor.
Burgundy! Our contact "Pierre" through Harry's brother Ron. The first taste of up close French vineyards. He (pictured) is 3rd generation of this 10 hectare plot amongst others. Wonderful history in their wine cellars which are like catacombs expanding for huge distances underground. .

10 June 2017

The Pile at Poole (back yard view) ....our base camp for this adventure.

8 June 2017

Harry getting the Poole ambience

7 June 2017

Not in chronological order but working through the adventure so far! I Still in England enjoying a convivial spot @ The George en route to Poole with T Bean.
Some 90 years on. The address 32 Milsom St Bath, where the famous Herbert Lambert photographic studio took pictures of my 5 year old mother. The beautiful leather bound booklet of 6 portraits is still in our possession today . Nice to pinpoint the address which is now a dress shop!

6 June 2017

Whale-watching in Wales ! Our last glimpse of the Welsh coast before heading to Bath. On closer inspection the neat vegetstion everywhere is a combination of Blackberry, Bracken, Hawthorne & Gauze ! Xx

5 June 2017

I think the Macrocarpa sculptor that blots the landscape in TAS. is responsible for this as well! It's "supposed" to be Dylan Thomas. Lots of marvellous sculptures in the centre of Swansea, BUT this is not one of them ! !
This is the statue of Dylan Thomas to which I referred back in Wales. Somehow this pic wasn't entered with my scathing note!
These are comments describing the school aged Dylan Thomas. The D T centre in Swansea, Wales where the poet spent his youth was full of fascinating mementos including his drawings ! Could see a big influence on John Lennon's artistic bent also. A combination of alcohol & asthma did him in @ 39!