|Rooftops at Rennes Le Chateau|
|Sunflowers near Salle sur L'Hers|
The first week was spent on my first real holiday in ages in the south west of France. I was lucky enough to get a real bargain of a flight from those wonderful Irish carriers, Ryan Air. Just to put it in perspective, my return flight from the Netherlands to Carcassonne (around 1500 kms distance) cost less than the return train fare from Carcassonne to Agen (less than 200 kms distance). It would be so great if train travel were the more cost effective, wouldn't it? I much prefer it for many reasons, not just the sense of real travel. Anyhow, I was also very lucky to have friends and family down there to stay with and I had a wonderful week. The sun was hot, the sunflowers pure gold and I literally wallowed in the warmth. Just what I needed, in fact. Carcassonne itself is a beautiful, historic city steeped in legends and drama, and for anyone who is interested in things to do with Cathars, Knights Templar and Holy Grail stories, this is surely the place to revel in them. I came home with a book on the subject that I am finding hard to resist, but know I will have to if I want to get other things done at all. It's called The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Harry Lincoln. It is quite a tome, but from what I have read so far, absolutely fascinating.
|An enduring image of Carcassonne for me - sun, steely blue skies,|
colour and above all, historic battlements
|The only part of the ramparts that are still in the original|
style with wooden walkways and palisades
|The streets of 'new' Carcassonne - still lovely|
When I came back on the 31st, I stopped overnight in Rotterdam to sort a few things out and give a final lesson, but then I sped on down to Zeeuws Vlaanderen to join Koos and Sindy at our usual haven of peace and tranquillity. We spent a few days pottering, painting and doing the garden but achieved a golden triumph when we got our little barge, the Hennie Ha, running on its new cooling system. What a moment that was! What a relief too, as it's taken forever to get it fixed. I also started doing the summer painting that's always necessary on boats so hopefully, this weekend, we will take a short test run in our ongoing project. I can't wait to be on the water again...
|The Hennie Ha after its smooshing last weekend|
Then on Monday, it was back to Rotterdam again to work on Koos's Luxor. It was in need of some serious TLC, so we've just spent the last few days cleaning, scrubbing and clearing the detritus of ages out of the old barge. We hefted an unwanted fridge, various other electrical appliances and heaps of old wood up to the tip, and then attacked everything with soap, scrubbing brushes and a high pressure hose, not to mention a good dose of strong will. It was hard, dirty work, but worth it. The Luxor now looks almost respectable again - just in time, as it seems someone is interested in taking it on, which will be another relief, especially for Koos.
We are now back in Zeeuws Vlaanderen once more and it is well into August, but the time has been well spent. We are hoping to have a few days of rest and relaxation, plus another foray into France, but more importantly, I need to finish some assignments for my studies and prepare things for next year....yes, already....sigh....
Life then is never dull, and while I hope I can get down to some writing as well, I know that will be the luxury I might not have time to afford. I do hope so, though. It's what makes life worth living in the long run. Well, it is for me, anyway, and this, our getaway retreat, is the best place for inspiring me.