Thursday, August 23, 2012



Our European trip in 2009 was such a wonderful collection of adventures (througheightlands) that we were not home long from that trip before we started contemplating the next one. We really don’t enjoy all the hassles of airports and flying great distances, so we do longer stays away, putting as much time as we can between boarding planes. While we have nothing against travel agents or all-inclusive holidays, we are just not the packaged vacation kind of tourists ... and I don’t function all that well with too much structure.

The 2012 tour is made possible by home exchanges, collaboration with many friends, car and accommodation sharing, and of course, the support of relatives in all kinds of ways.

We have titled this blog, In France with Friends

Salon de Thé dans Passage du Viuex Palais, Montauban, FR

Joanne, life partner and the woman who keeps me fed and in focus, came up with the title. This trip is really so much about great friendships - ours, and the special people with whom we are traveling. Our other friends in France are the food and the wine, naturrelement!

THE ITINERARY and known places of domicile:
  • July 30 -- departure to Wales
  • August 3 -- Paris with a side trip to Belgium
  • August 15 -- Segonzac, Charente
  • August 17 -- Moissac, Tarn et Garonne
  • October 1 -- Vaison-La-Romain, Provence
  • October 21-- Collioure, Languedoc
  • November 3 -- Barcelona
  • November 6 --- Palma de Mallorca, Malaga, Las Palmas, Antigua, St Maarten, Miami
  • November 22 -- home

MAPS:  I will endeavour to add maps to each of my postings to help the reader see where we are. We plan to be doping lots of wandering so I hope the maps will be helpful. 


Our four months in Europe begins with some wonderful people in Wales - Porthcawl, actually - the home of Hugh and Jennifer. 


Hugh rescued us from Heathrow Airport: to wit, the London 2012 Olympics crowds, and brought us to their home for a few nights at Newton Nottage, Midglamorgan

Below the South Wales Valley coal pits lies the centuries old port of Porthcawl, a seaside resort town between Cardiff and Swansea. 

Wales, just like Canada where we’re from, is officially bilingual. Both countries are dominantly, speakers of English. The bilingual similarities stop there, however.

The speakers of Welsh call their home CymruCanada is Canada for both our French and our English population back home, and all of us can understand several words in each others’ tongues. Not so much in Wales. The two languages there bear little or no relationship to each other. For the Welsh-illiterate Anglo, the Welsh Celtic word construction seems entirely random. One gets the impression that letters are simply thrown up on the wall and whatever sticks, works. Of course, the not-so-cunning-linguist is entirely ignorant on this matter and the Welsh nationalist would be the first to sing that song.

Avalon entertained her 2 sets of grandparents every moment on our excursions

A brief comment on the Welsh version of English must not be passed over. Half tidy, for examplewould describe a rather nice shirt; humps are speed bumps; and haych is how the first letter of Hugh’s name is pronounced.

               it was a pretty good haircut and 
               it only cost 7 pounds

The 10-day heat wave in Wales abated just before our arrival, and it turned out for the best that our brief stay was favoured by a more typical Welsh summer: warm bordering on cool, and decidedly wet. (while we were here, GB brought the gold home for women’s cycling in the pouring rain). 

caught in a torrential downpour, visiting the Roman ruins at Caerlon, but the 5,000 Roman soldiers who occupied these barracks in the 1st Century did have roofs over their heads

We are grateful to H for being a terrific tour guide. Without him we would never have seen the amazing sites of Caerphilly Castle, the Roman ruins of Caerlon, St Fagans National History Museum, or had the best fish and chips and lamb liver stew in Wales.

might the BON MARCHE in Paris have copied this original store in Porthcawl?

Jennifer's famous Welsh breakfast with Hugh's black pudding. Wow!

very spooky sign at an old home at St Fagans National History Museum

Thank you again Hugh and Jennifer for your hospitality!

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