Jan 29th – Travel Memories

Whilst travelling down through France today, we were close to a beautiful village called Lagrasse. We spent a lovely weekend there in 2009, to help my crazy brother-in-law celebrate his 50th birthday, but the main reason of this post is to highlight why it was so memorable

It started 2 weeks before in July 2009, and we had booked ferries to take the human kids on that occasion to a Euro-camp, but 2 days prior I was unexpectedly taken into hospital with kidney stone issues, and a stent was fitted. We missed our original crossing but finally managed to get away and have a nice time with the kids, and returned on a Thursday evening, as the kids were back to our ex’s so that we could fly and meet the Brother in law on the Friday

“Mum, is it too late to have a bath?” was a question from our eldest on the 2nd floor. “No problems” was the reply.

Well 15 minutes later there was a problem when the bath water was let go. The waste pipe had blocked and water was gushing back up through the toilets on the first floor, flooding the first floor and then the black water started coming through the ceiling. After a call into our dear friend (who happened to be a plumber), the problem was fixed and we got to bed at 4am after a massive clean-up operation.

We said goodbye to the kids and headed off to the airport, nothing else could possibly go wrong surely?????

Our flight was on-time and we arrived at Perpignan airport just as dusk was falling to collect our hire car. We collected the car and plugged in the sat nav but realised that the car’s cig lighter wasn’t working so went through the process of changing cars. By this time is was dark.

We set off in the 2nd car and soon realised that the sat nav was playing up which made trying to find our hotel somewhat challenging. We finally made it to the hotel, after many stops in cafe’s and bars asking for directions, and then discovered it had a key-pad entry system and we didn’t have the code. (It was now 1am). “I’ll call them”, I said calmly but then realised that I had left my phone in my car in the UK.

We finally managed to get into the hotel and retrieve the key from a safe box, and went up to our room. We hadn’t had a drink since leaving the UK and so I went to find my wallet. You guessed it – No wallet!! Heck, I knew I had it as my licence was in it which was required to hire the car. It also had our money for the trip in it. I frantically ran to a few places that were still open, which we had called into to ask directions. No one had it, so I decided to find the police station and report it missing. I made it back to the hotel at 3am. Tomorrow has to be better surely!!!

We woke, bleary eyed and headed for the car. The ******* Sat Nav was still playing up but we knew the name of the village we were heading for and I also knew it was Carcassonne way. using the motorway we headed off and I saw an electronics shop. I went in and bought a cheap mobile, but alas it wasn’t charged.

But progress on the road was good and sat nav seemed to start behaving better, and she told us our turning was 800, then 600 then 400m ahead when to our dismay we shot past the turning and she re-routed up to Carcassonne and the south again.

We stopped in the services, phone the brother in law and told him we’d be there for lunch – not breakfast, bought a map and relaxed.

Whilst recalling the various issues once we had arrived, it struck me that maybe my lost wallet maybe in the first car (with the broken cig lighter). We called the hire company and they found the wallet on the dash – Yipee, at least some good news.

We had a lovely weekend and then headed back to the airport early to sort out retrieving the wallet from the hire car desk before they closed for the evening. We planned to have a nice meal before getting on the flight home.

I stopped at the airport, left Denise (wife) in the car, and ran across to collect my wallet. With the wallet safe in my hand, and smiling like a Cheshire cat, and came out of the airport terminal just in time to see someone reverse into the hire car………

Well – we sorted it, had a quick bite and made our flight back home…..

Sitting outside and having lunch in a lovely restaurant we had used over 10 years ago in Lagrasse today, we smiled about that trip. Yes, it was stressful at the time, but we now laugh whilst recalling the story.

life can through up it’s moments when you despair, but many folk aren’t lucky enough to have the opportunities we have. We are blessed with a good sense of humour, and reflecting back now smile at the events. Everything was sorted out, no one died, and we now really appreciate a trip with no incidents.

The beautiful village of Lagrasse…..

Jan 28 – “Can I get it Dad?”

Today’s post stars our Large Munsterlander Alfie. At just 18 months old, he is a big slop, but he his hunting instincts are acute, with the slight nervousness about water 🤣.

The vast majority know that I love wildlife. I especially like to shoot wildlife……. Wait for it…… with my camera 📷, that way others can enjoy the animals around us also.

So, as an owner of a dog breed for hunting, but also a nature lover, where do I stand on hunting???

Unfortunately human beings have screwed up the natural balance within our wildlife over the last few centuries, which means there are insufficient natural predators, leading to a need to cull certain species (deer for example) to prevent other parts of our natural world from being damaged or destroyed.

I am not a fan of hunting for ‘sport’. I can’t understand why people feel good about shooting 50 pheasants just because they can…..

When it comes to hunting, and hounds are used, again I am not a fan. However, [if] there’s a need to control the population of foxes or other animals, then, although it is barbaric, I favour using dogs to hunt rather than shooting…..

Why would someone who cares deeply about animals make such a statement??? Not lightly, I assure you, but, again IF, culling is required at least with dogs a healthy fit animal is likely to escape and only old or ill prey will be caught.

I know it’s a subject which carries very strong views, and my intent here is to look at the debate with a logical approach.

You may not agree with me, and that’s fine. Sometimes, I’m not sure I agree with myself 🤣, but thanks for reading and I hope you like today’s photo.

I’m not sure I can swim Dad!

Jan 27th – The joys of travel

Now you may know that I don’t usually moan….. But, on this occasion, I will make a tongue in cheek exception.

Last night after a great day exploring we headed for an Aires in a little village called Thémines. We arrived and found that the service post was dead (no electric, water etc). No major worries, we had full batteries and tanks. The situation was right by a church and we were slightly amused that at 6pm, the bell rang 6 times, and then another 6 times about 10 seconds later (maybe the bell ringers wanted extra practise). Anyway, at half past the bell rang just the once. At 7pm the same thing happened, 7, rings – pause- 7 rings. We didn’t take to much notice, assuming that this would stop at 10pm or 11 pm at the latest.

How wrong could we have been. We must have found the only village in France where no one owned a watch or clock, and needed a second shot of counting in case they missed the first salvo, although why this was necessary at 3am is beyond me.

It’s one of those memories that will be synonymous with this trip. “Listen to those bells, do you remember that night in France…… “

Today’s picture isn’t of the Church in Thémines, but of a church in the stunning village of Puyceisi.

We have camped this evening in a quiet spot and both giggled when we heard church bells in the far distance. Hopefully some sleep tonight.

Jan 26th – 4 legged children

Today’s shot is of our 4 legged children (Callie, Alfie and Velvet).

Their lives are so simple. They don’t care where they are in the world; what the weather is like; who the prime minister is etc, etc. No stress….

Their wants are very simple: Food, Play / Walks, shelter and sleep. If there’s such a thing as re-encarnation I’m coming back as a dog and hopefully I’ll get soft owners like ours have 🤣🤣🐾🐾

Jan 25th – Ingenuity

Whilst travelling through France today, we came across homes built into the side of cliffs. (Grotte du Grand Roc near Sarlat – A fab town if you get chance to visit)

It never ceases to amaze me how humans can solve problems, in very creative ways. It is just such a shame we spend our working lives fixated on making massive corporations richer, rather than helping one another.

I am OK with capitalism to a certain extent. I believe that if you work hard then you should be rewarded more than people that ‘choose’ not to. I do however, really worry about the massive gap that exists between those that have ‘monetary’ wealth, and the poorest people in our society.

As mentioned in a previous post, success should not be measured in currency, but in the way we treat our fellow humans.

If we can create homes in the side of cliffs, build pyramids, send people into space etc, etc, surely we can create ways of making our precious world fairer and less polluted.

24th Jan – Peace & Quiet

We awoke this morning just outside of Luant, in the Brenne National park (France). The sun shone, and although there was a nip in the air, we had a great walk around one of the lakes with the 4 legged children.

I love being around people, but there are times that open space and relative solitude works wonders. It gives you time to think, reflect and count our blessings. This walk certainly ticked all the boxes, with the crisp, fresh air.

Jan 23rd – Good times

We stopped off last night with friends that are living their dream. Having sold their place in the UK, they now have a stunning place in rural France. It needs some work but they are excited by the prospect of their project and have great plans to put their own stamp on the place.

One of my ambitions is not to regret one thing of my life when it comes to the end. Live each day as though it’s your last; spread love and happiness to others; push boundaries and live life to the full.

We are incredibly fortunate to be able to now be in a position to enjoy the fruits of our long working lives, and we plan to enjoy every second whilst our health remains good enough to enable that.

I dearly hope that you are enjoying your life, and squirrelling a few few pennies away to enjoy in retirement.

Debbie and Ernie’s dream come true in Rural France

Jan 22nd – The first day of our little jaunt

We had an interesting night in a cabin with 3 dogs, and needed to be up at 5am (uk time) to get off the ferry. It was very cold but our spirits were high, looking forward to our trip.

As we headed off, deliberately avoiding motorways to enjoy villages enroute, the dash thermometer got down to -5C!

My mantra today was “You need to keep the curb on your-side! You need to keep the curb on your-side!” Because we were on major / minor roads. The speed limit was usually a max of 80km/hr (approx 50mph) which suited us just fine. On the this trip we are in no hurry.

It was a pleasure to amble through the French countryside, looking at the sleepy villages with historic buildings.

It’s such a shame we have to live our working lives at a break-neck speed. I’m sure if we slowed down, we would all enjoy life more and be more productive because of it.

Jan 21 – The start of our little tour…….

We’re off for a little jaunt around Europe, waiting for the ferry to board.

Thanks to lovely neighbours keeping an eye on things at home, especially Jules for looking after Turbo the Tortoise, hens and plants.

Having good neighbours is so important, and we hit the jackpot with ours.

Over the next few weeks/months I’ll hopefully being posting a few different photos from different places we visit. This isn’t to brag, but inspire.

Our four legged children are pretty excited also, and hopefully Alfie won’t decide to demonstrate how well he sings whilst in the ships cabin…..

Jan 20 – reflections….

Another lovely winters day, and managed to get a round of golf with Dave, Robbie and Andy.

The course was pretty empty, and frosty in some places. Today’s image was of a ball sitting on frozen water in a bunker (quite cool 🤣), and needed a smashing shot to get out, with no slip ups…… OK, OK, I’ll quit the humour.

It was great to be out in the fresh air with good friends, which I’ll miss for the next couple of months as we start our European tour tomorrow.

Whilst on the course, I got a txt saying Brittany ferries had cancelled our crossing due to industrial action by staff at Le-harve. Thankfully, I was quick of the mark to contact them and get another crossing to Caen.

Anyway, first world problems, and all is resolved so all is good.

A cool shot required 🤣