A Trip To Bath 

On Sunday I made one of my flying visits to see Verity who I have not seen for several weeks, since we were in France. I was meant to meet her at Lidle as she wanted to do a big shop but I was somewhat late as I got stuck behind two really slow drivers once I left the motorway. There was nothing I could do for many miles except admire the autumn scenery and hope Verity would not have bought up the entire shop!

Monday was her day off work, we had lots of jobs to do at different points of the town so we had to work out the most logical route, giving ourselves time to visit all the shops in turn, including buying a Christmas Tree.

I left fairly promptly this morning and was home by 11.30am. In my absence Hyw had put some hooks on my latest picture and hung it over his desk. I am quite taken with it and am thinking of doing a series.

This evening was a WI trip to Olivers bakery, much fun was had decorating gingerbread biscuits and making some prepared dough into ‘crowns’. We were also treated to mince pies and coffee. A good evening.
The Weir at Bath in the morning sun

In Hunt of Sloes

Alas, this year I was either too late, which is quite possible, given the number of holidays we seem to have had, or it was a bad year. It doesn’t matter too much because I have some in the freezer, enough for a small bottle, and I made a quantity last year, but somehow it doesn’t feel quite like autumn without some sloes soaking in gin!

However, all was not wasted on my walk as I was able to take some photos, quite moody, of the countryside on a dull yet mild day. I don’t know which season I prefer, each has its own delights but I do know that I prefer going for walks on a day like today, or a cold, crisp winter’s day, I just get too hot in the summer!

The weather is so mild that I have daffodils and snowdrops putting in an appearance by my back door, I really don’t know what to think. The tabloids, which I hasten to add I only scan at the supermarket checkout, are predicting a ‘big freeze’. I wonder if they will be right?

A Good Excuse

A friend of mine is soon to return to China so we are having them to supper tonight. Having friends round is always a good excuse for clearing surfaces and putting away all those bits that have mounted up over the weeks, otherwise known as clutter! 

It’s also an excuse to dig out some old recipe books and compose a menu. As we have been to Italy a couple of times this year we are having two deserts from Italy. The first one is a Scicillian Orange and Almond Cake with orange cream and the second is a favourite of mine, bread and butter pudding with apples and oranges. We have so many apples at the moment it’s good to find a different recipe that makes use of them. The Bread and Butter pud has yet to be baked so it’s not looking particularly alluring at the moment.

I’m also doing a venison pie with roast spuds and Brussels sprouts cooked in butter with chestnuts and lardons. The chestnuts are from the garden, it’s so lovely to pop outside and gather what you need!

Let’s just hope that I don’t burn anything!

Nantes 17-20 October 2016

Almost the end of the season for city breaks (though we do have a couple more planned!), nothing could compare with our trip to Venice but this was a good antidote to it and a surprisingly lively and youthful city. We are getting very good at airports now and finding the best way into the city centre. This was very straightforward with a shuttle bus just outside the arrivals gate and a short bus ride of 20 minutes into the city centre at Commerce, where all the trams stop. The transport system in Nantes is brilliant with one ticket usable on trains, trams and buses, without travel zones, you just buy a ticket for an hour, a carnet, 24 hours etc etc. We soon got the hang of it and bought a couple of tickets and rode the tram to the end of the line and saw all sorts of aspects of French daily life as well as having a trip to the Ikea which was on one of the tram lines!

We stayed in an Hotel Ibis for economy’s sake but it was also very centrally placed being in the pedestrian zone and equal distance between two grandes places! The Passages Pommerai were just a short distance from the hotel so we were able to make several visits for photographs as well as shopping!

One excellent thing about the drivers in Nantes was they were all so polite to pedestrians! Usually in French towns you don’t venture onto a crossing unless you are very sure the drivers will stop, which they mostly don’t! In Nantes they have sections where there are no road markings, people just cross hither and thither and the traffic has to make the best of it, in consequence they go really slowly, giving way to those on foot and of course everyone gives way to the trams! There are 3 tram routes in Nantes, you can just make out one in the background of the picture below, sadly I didn’t seem to take anymore of them!

The weather was mostly fine although we had a light shower of rain one afternoon as the picture shows. We knew the the Beaux Arts museum was closed for renovations but we found a good Natural History museum and also a Jardin Des Plantes.

The Beaux Arts museum will have to wait for another visit, they are certainly sparing no expense on it!

Eating out was as usual a joy in France, we tried Vietnamese one lunch time as well as excellent seafood and a good meal at La Cigale Restaurant where we were lucky enough to get a table. We had frequent stops for beer, wine and coffee as well as a variety of salads and deserts. A major diet is now called for.

Nantes is a very user friendly type of city with people offering to guide you, even when you didn’t need it! By our last day though we were somewhat tired out, having done about 5 miles walking around a day, so we decided to go to the cinema and saw Mal de Pierres with Marion Cotillard. It was a film without too much dialogue, beautifully shot, so we had no difficulty following it.

Here are a few more shots of the city, in no especial order, all in all a good trip.

A Short Trip to Venice

October 3-7. 2016.

We booked a number of city breaks earlier in the year and the only thing we checked was that the dates didn’t clash, however, as it turned out, we were only back a couple of weeks from France and we were packing our bags again. A quick trip to Bristol airport on Monday and the next thing we knew we were in Venice. A lovely city, not like a city at all and much cleaned up since I was last there. Our travel arrangements worked like a dream and we were soon out and about seeing the sights and soaking up the sun. I don’t think I’ve ever taken so many shots in such a short space of time. 

It wasn’t at all crowded off the beaten track,  but you could mingle with the tourists when you so wished. We didn’t queue up to go in any buildings, rather we admired them from the outside and watched ordinary people going about their business. We took a train ride to Trieste on Wednesday, it was as the websights all suggested, past its sell by date, but the weather was a bit overcaste in Venice and Hyw wanted to go, at least the sun was out when we got there! I had some black sandwiches for my lunch!

We had some good meals out and we tended to go to our local cafe, near the hotel at the end of the day. We became quite expert with the vaporetto and really felt at home in the city. On the Thursday we did make an exception to not seeing any art by going to the Accademia to see the Boche paintings which were advertised outside. We hadn’t made it to the museum outside Amsterdam so now was a chance to make up for it. The paintings didn’t disappoint although the Accademia itself could have done with an imaginative curator. 

We must return to Venice, sooner rather than later!