Celebrations in the States

Its not often that I am a day late in writing & publishing this blog but I hope you will all forgive me, as yesterday I was in no fit state to do anything, having flown home overnight from Boston MA & having had little or no sleep during the journey. Of course, September`s blog post will be mainly about our fantastic trip to the States where we celebrated our Ruby Wedding Anniversary in great style. But first some more mundane things which happened before we left home on the 14th September.

**We were busy right up to the date we left. We had some lovely people in the gite – a couple who had stayed with us earlier in the year in the B&B - Claudine & Maurice & Claudine`s sister. They were the perfect guests, getting up early every morning &; going out for very long days sight-seeing. They loved every minute of their stay here, revelling in the countryside, enjoying playing with the dog & just relaxing in the evenings. They were very lucky with the weather too as we have had a real Indian summer with some fantastic warm sunny days. It was a real pleasure having them stay here …we love guests like them. They left the gite squeaky clean too which all helped immensely as our house sitters arrived that day &they wanted to stay in the gite. We also had a few B&B guests too including the first guests ever who on discovering that I had no room keys, locked their valuables in the bathroom & took the key with them each day! Such trust!

Our daughter Hazel & her husband Phil came to stay for a week too at the beginning of September. We had a great time with them & I even persuaded Geoff to cancel his lessons on the Monday of their stay, so that we could go away with them to the south coast for a night. We wanted to show them La Grand Motte as they had not been to that part of the coast before & we had a very good night there. We managed a swim in the Med too…well Phil chickened out of that, but the rest of us enjoyed the dip. We took them to Aigues Morte & Sete too, where we ate in the food market, something we had tried to do when we were there earlier this year but had failed to get a table. The food was great & Hazel & Phil, being big foodies, really enjoyed the experience very much. Back home, we had another good day out at La Chaise Dieu where, once again we ate delicious Thai food. I introduced them to Geocaching…which if you remember we had been doing very half heartedly for a while. They loved it…& were very good at finding the caches too…much better than us I hasten to add! I even discovered that there is a cache here in Chabanol which I had not known about! Of course, now I will have to up my performance as we have a little competition going…but I suspect they will win easily! It is good fun though It was lovely having them to stay & we all had a good week together.

Geoff & I managed to fit in a quick visit to big Foire dAuvergne as we always do, just before we left for our holiday. We went on Seniors day & got in free We enjoyed it as usual, but this year we were not looking to replace anything (last year we looked at wood burners as we were about to buy a new one) so we didnt stay too long. We do like this Foire & this year the main exhibit was a “Focus on London” which was very well done we thought.

**And so, we come to the big event of the month (or the last 40 years maybe) as it were…our holiday. Our house sitters arrived on the 13th & Lauren drove us to Clermont Ferrand airport the next day. We had decided to stay overnight near C de G airport in Paris as our flight to the US on the 15th had a very early check in time. As regular readers of this blog know, I am not a serene traveller, but all went well & we arrived in San Francisco, collected the hire car & drove to our first luxurious hotel without any bother at all…well apart from the 1 &1/2 hour wait to go through US entry procedures. Our children had arranged a lovely Anniversary welcome gift for us which was waiting in our room…a bag (which we used for our picnics all holiday) full of SF goodies – chocolate, pretzels, popcorn etc etc. A great start to our celebrations. Our hotel was very close to the centre of the city, so we had a little visit to try & get our bearings & to see where to get the city bus for our proposed tour tomorrow, before we ate & then went off to bed. The next day was our actual anniversary & we had a great day mostly on this tour, the highlight being driving over the Golden Gate bridge …what a way to celebrate 40 happy years eh? In the evening we ate in style, in one of the oldest restaurants on Fisherman`s Wharf, Aliatos, & watched the sun set over the wharf & the Bridge. It was magical & once again it was thanks to our kids who paid for this wonderful meal. We were quite emotional

**Our week in California was fantastic. We had great weather…one of my all-time memories will be that beautiful, endless blue sky there. We saw some wonderful scenery. I loved Yosemite…I dont think Ive ever seen such beautiful scenery as I did there. Every time you turned a corner there was a view to die for…it was mind blowing. Geoff realised his life long dream of seeing the Giant Redwoods for real instead of looking at pictures in the many tree books he has & the meeting with General Sherman was also a massive emotional moment for us both. We also loved driving along the Pacific Highway…OMG the views there too were amazing. The colour of the sea was so blue & the cliffs & rocks…just wonderful. We wandered down Ocean Ave in Carmel (didnt buy anything mind you…we are not that rich!) saw acre & acre of Californias fruit & nut trees, looked at & hugged so many Seqouia trees (well only one of us did that!), saw sea lions, seals, pelicans & even a chipmunk. We didnt meet any bears but I did get a photo taken with a real live Park Ranger (complete with hat) which had us singing our sons cub camp fire song “I know someone you don`t know, Yogi, yogi bear” for quite a long time! Oh yes…we loved California very much

We flew to the east coast on the 22nd & started a new adventure in Boston. Once again, we did the city bit courtesy of a “hop on hop off” bus tour & enjoyed seeing all the sights. We “hopped off” to have a photo taken at the “Cheers” bar & to wander around the Beacon Hill area which we liked a lot. We went to Harvard…Geoff wanted to do that. No comparison to the real uni at Cambridge he reckoned though! However as, with the California part of the trip we decided we are more comfortable in the countryside than in these big cities really. Once again, we experienced some wonderful drives, firstly up the coastline into Maine – beautiful coastal scenery once again, but much more grey here (the sea & the sky) than in the West. Then we headed inland driving through miles & miles of trees which unfortunately were not as colourful as we had hoped. We had arrived about 2 weeks too early to experience the waves of colour that we had seen in all the books, which was disappointing. Everyone we talked to told us that last year, the trees were in full fall foliage by late September but this year fall was going to be late. Typical :frowning: However, the scenery was pretty…but the weather was not! We had three days of cold rainy weather which was a real shame as there were places we wanted to visit but we got soaked every time we left the car. Once again, we stayed in some lovely hotels & managed to swim most days in indoor pools which made up for the rain a bit. We managed to visit a Shaker Heritage site which we enjoyed a lot & went to see some of Norman Rockwells great paintings in his museum & gallery, again which was a good place to visit. Our first days trip to Cape Cod – another of the places I wanted to see was a wash out due to mist & rain - & we decided not to go over to Marthas Vineyard as the ferry was expensive & it was so foggy by then, we wouldnt have been able to see much. We did visit Newport, Rhode Island though which was very nice & we enjoyed walking round the “old” part of the town looking at all the lovely houses there & then took a drive around the mansion part of town. Wow…they were huge. Lots of money there! On our final day we drove back up to Boston in sunshine again, so we did get to see some of the Cape Cod peninsula at last & we visited Plymouth & saw the famous Plymouth Rock…where the US all really began. We spent a while searching for the Mayflower replica, only to discover it was in Connecticut for refurbishment! That just about summed up this Eastern coast visit really!

**So all in all…a wonderful holiday. We have had some great experiences & have seen some lovely things & places. We have visited 9 or 10 States we think. I have taken lots of photos…some of which I will share on Facebook when I get round to sorting through them if you want to see them. We have eaten extremely well. Eating out is expensive in the states but we have eaten something different every day, including lobster in Maine, tacos in CA, clam chowder in Cape Cod & pancakes with maple syrup everywhere! The portions are huge though, so we soon learnt to either order appetisers, or one meal to share. We have stayed in the most luxurious hotels (& we were at the budget end of this tour!), all with pools & hot tubs & beds so big that really could have done with a ladder to climb into them! I failed to spot a bear or a moose although there were signs everywhere that they would be crossing the road so watch out for them! I witnessed my first slick drug deal in downtown San Francisco - the kids think I lead a sheltered life! We have driven miles on very good roads & have been impressed with American drivers. They even have cross roads where everyone stops & waits for others to take turns in going forward. Can you imagine that working in France??? We have also been impressed with the friendliness of everyone, from the random well-dressed lady in San Francisco who put down her shopping to tell us what to go & see in the area, to the business man eating breakfast next to us, who told us where the best shopping malls & streets were in that area …Geoff was not so impressed with him mind you! The holiday has been a great experience for us both & we have loved every minute…even the rain! It was a truly wonderful way to celebrate our 40 years of marriage

So now its back to reality with a bump! We have almost recovered from our jet lag are getting used once again to sleeping in a normal sized bed! Xena was pleased to see us yesterday – although she has been well looked after by Lauren & Dave. Maisie cat has not left my side all day -she does not like a house full of doggies & so only comes in to eat when we are away. The holiday washing is done, Geoff starts teaching again tomorrow & I have B&B guests arriving at the weekend. Time to start planning the next getaway then…when we have some money again…which might be some time away!

A bientot mes amis

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