August 2011 -

Just a place for my old thoughts

The road, train and bus to Sarlat
Wednesday, 31 August 2011 9:41 pm

Bordeaux was a place I could have spent more time. As it turns out we got a bit more than a day in total. On the upside Deb did some shopping, we saw some beautiful architecture and we got to eat some really outstanding pastries. Bordeaux is, of course, famous for its wine regions. Unfortunately with such little time it really was a case of zip in, zip out.

We arrived just before lunch on the TGV fast train from Tours. The hotel was just across the road from the train station which makes getting around pretty easy. We took a tram up to the old area of the city and then grabbed a baguette for lunch. From there Deb and I sort of wandered around randomly just checking out the city. It is an interesting mix of classic architecture and new development along the river. Both seem to sit together very well though. We were both wearing new shoes so had to stop eventually and put on bandaids. Eventually we ran into a few of the others on the tour and stopped for a drink. From there we headed back to the hotel for a snooze and a shower ahead of dinner and drinks at a cafe just outside the hotel.

After dinner we went back into the city to see the mirror pool and grab a drink at a bar by the river. The next morning we went on a 'wine tour' which was more of a history lesson of Bordeaux than wine related. Still, it was educational and helped to make up for our leaders lack of knowledge of the french trip.

We then grabbed some lunch at a cafe and then did a little shopping on the way back to the hotel. From there we have boarded a train to Sarlat. It's a big old slow noisy hot train that reminds me more of asia than europe. I definitely could have spent more time in Bordeaux and getting out to the real wineries in the region.

There is also definitely a food paradox in France where restaurant food is pretty expensive and of mixed quality but the fresh food and produce is excellent. Yet you rarely see anyone eating in the streets. At lunch the French must either hide or join everyone else for over priced food. Go figure. It is definitely making me long for Spain and the chance to do some cooking at the villa.

Anyway the big noisy train rolls on and Sarlat gets closer. The trip so far has been so good I haven't even thought about home or work, so that is definitely a good thing.

We reached a station and the train shut down. We soon discovered that there was track work further ahead sone had to take a bus for the next two hours tonget to Sarlat. at first this sucked but we quickly found that the bus wove through each town giving us a fantastic view of local life.

By the time we arrived we were all pretty tired and hot. We had 20 minutes to change before being downstairs for dinner. Deb and I managed to shower and change into new clothes and still be downstairs before the last people.

We then hurried out to a restaurant for dinner. I have to say it was one of the best meals I have had all trip. Everyone was buzzing as each course came out. Yum!

After dinner we started a short walk but were distracted by a spray paint artist who was doing beautiful work.

All up my first introduction to Sarlat has been very pleasant indeed.

The Adventures of Ducky
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 4:40 pm

One of my colleagues is known for trying to 'keep her ducks in a row', which led to the appearance of five yellow plastic ducks on her desk early in the project. One of these stowed away in my bag, and I have promised occasional Ducky updates during my trip. Update one can be found on the Shadowcat page on this site.

Bordeaux weather is beautifuf
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 4:02 pm

We spent the day looking around the city and taking photos of the stunning buildings. Bordeaux has a very modern tram system and riverside water features thst just seem to blend into the old city very nicely.

Deb bought a scarf and has promised to spend more time tomorrow shopping. I might deposit myself in a cafe and just watch the world go past.

This is a picture of our tour group taken last night in Tours. It was tsken by our leader Christina who had everyones cameras and iPhone going taking the same shot over and over.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011 10:26 am

We took the TGV fast train down to Bordeaux and only just arrived in our hotel, which as you will see from the pic below is JUST over the road from the train station. Luckily they have double glazed windows so it shouldn't be too loud.

The weather is glorious so we're going out sight seeing this after noon around the old part of town. Definitely time to find some wine bars!

On the road and my butt hurts
Tuesday, 30 August 2011 6:41 am

Well we left Paris and made our way to Tours which is in the Loire Valley, very pretty. Yesterday we went on a 40+ km bike ride to one of the best Chateu gardens.

I have to say the ride was absolutely awesome fun although my butt is now killing me. The ride was pretty flat and the group set a cracking pace so we flew along beside a beautiful river stopping occationally when we came across the perfect photo opportunity.

After the ride back we all headed out for a beer and then Deb and I went back to our room for a well earned bath. We then headed out for dinner with the group. By 10pm I was exhausted so we packed off to bed ahead of an 8:45am start for the fast train to Bordeaux.

Unfortunately all the pictures I have are on my camera so here's another shot of the Cathedral.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011 10:35 am

Awesome photo and sorry to hear about your bum. ;)

Bye bye Paris
Sunday, 28 August 2011 12:24 pm

Well we spent a few hours up at Montmartre which has a fantastic view of Paris. The gypsies have figured out a scam which involves them tricking people into signing a fake petition and requesting money. Sadly I fell for this and handed over 2euro yesterday so I was very firm with my No! today.

We had a fantastic lunch and then have headed back to the hotel to meet up with the group and a train onwards to Tours.

What to do in Paris?
Sunday, 28 August 2011 7:34 am

Day two of the official trip. We met the others on the tour and they all seem pretty nice. Some of us headed out for dinner last night and had a late meal over in St. Michael which is near Notre-dame. Today is a free day in Paris before we head off this afternoon for Tours.

So, what to do with a day in Paris?

Paris Day 2
Saturday, 27 August 2011 4:42 pm

Today was pretty cool with us just exploring Paris again. We didn't want to see any galleries so just spent the day riding the metro and visiting various paces. It was fun having the weakest reasons to go somewhere but just heading off anyway. The funniest part was that I wanted to visit quite a famous cheese shop that I had seen on TV so we headed off in the morning only to find that it was right near where we had stayed last time. So I had already been there and never realised it.

Lunch was steak and chips again with a wonderful wine and then cheese after. We had spent so much time looking at various markets that I absolutely had to try some. Unfortunately they had muffed Debs order and she got salmon instead of duck. It was good, just not what she wanted. Oh well, it was made up with the apple tart for desert.

We then headed over to the Eiffel Tower which is still an amazing thing to see. Deb keeps telling me that it feels really familiar being in Paris again but just seeing the tower still blows me away.

We've come back to the hotel for our trip briefing only to find that the briefing has moved back two hours until 8pm. i hope we're still awake by then.

Sunday, 28 August 2011 10:58 am

Great picture! :) xo

Good morning Paris
Saturday, 27 August 2011 5:23 am

Oh, do I feel so much better after 12 hours sleep. We spent some time yesterday just walking around the area near our hotel. We're a bit outside of central Paris but not so far we couldn't walk it. But coming off the back of the International flight we really couldn't be bothered.

We ended up heading out for a big lunch. I had steak & Deb had duck. bother were simply grilled and server with salad and chips, although Deb's had ratatouille. This was washed down with a nice carafe of local wine and then finished with creme brule.

This took us up to about 4pm local time, still to early to head to bed even though we were stuffed. In the end we finally caved and went back to the room to relax. I think we both took turns until 7pm falling asleep and waking each other up. Anyway, it is now 7am local time so we've slept for about 12 hours. Time to grab a shower and head down for breakfast and the out for a days exploring.

Here's a snap of the room we are staying in after our arrival yesterday. It is so small that all the doors and windows hit the bed when you open them. But the shower is hot and the bed is pretty warm.

Note the straw hat on the bed. They were handing them out at the airport and now Deb has said she'll wear hers for the trip. Lets see how long this lasts.

Safely in Paris
Friday, 26 August 2011 10:37 am

We have arrived safe and sound, if a little smelly in Paris. Our bags seemed to take forever to come through at claim but from there the trip to the hotel via train and metro was pretty painless.

My credit card did fail to work at the station to buy tickets which is a bit of a pain. Luckily Deb's did work so she might be paying for the rest of the trip.

We couldn't check in yet so we've walked out to a cafe for coffee and croissants which is pretty magical...except for the fact that I must look and smell like a dirty backpacker.

On that actually I have to say Singapore Airlines where wonderful. The service was first rate, the food plentiful and the seat were not as spine destroying as I had feared. And there weren't that many screaming kids either...with special thanks to noise canceling headphones.

So, after 7 hour flight to Singapore, a 4 hour stop over then a 12.5hr flight to Paris we are safe and sound, if a little smelly. We're definitely looking forward to a shower!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011 1:25 am

Well, today is the last working day before our holiday. We're basically all packed and getting very very excited about heading off to Europe.

Uncharacteristically Deb is actually excited about going as well. This is strange because we have identified in the past that as my enthusiasm for the holiday grows Deb's falls away. This time though we are both equally buzzed about finishing up and getting on the plane.

In honour of my impending Birthday Month and my holiday the guys here brought in cake for morning tea which was a really nice gesture. I now have a couple of hours of report writing, lunch with JT and Deb and then I am FINISHED.

I can't wait!

Friday, 26 August 2011 12:44 am

Happy holiday to both of you. I hope you are going to keep us up to date as the holiday progresses. If not enjoy anyway.
Love Mum

Getting excited
Sunday, 21 August 2011 11:57 pm

Ok, you know you haven't been posting often enough when your own Mother tells you that she hasn't seen an update for a while.

Let see, since the last time I posted work has continued to be pretty full on. We both have big projects happening and it is keep the working day pretty insane.

Last week we all got Wednesday off for the Exxa day holiday. Friends, Helen and Dave were up from Melbourne at Noosa for the week so Deb and I headed up the coast to see them. On the way we dropped into Serena's for lunch and ended up falling asleep on the back deck. A nice way to spend the day. We then headed up to Noosa to see Helen & Dave. Dinner was at the surf club which I have to say is a not so well hidden secret. Until we went there with them last year I really had never been there in all my time up the coast. The drinks and food and well priced and the view is outstanding.

We then headed back to Brisbane at about 6:30pm because I had to fly to Sydney Thursday and Friday for work. It did unfortunately take the shine off the public holiday knowing that I had to get up extra early the next day.

Thursday I was up at 5am, showered, dressed and off to the airport for my 6:30am flight. It was happily uneventful although I am sure the seats are getting closer and closer together. It is hard work spending 1.5 hours with your knees crushed up in front of you. Sydney itself was fine although the weather was awful. I got lots done, ate some room service and was back in Brisbane by 9pm Friday.

Saturday morning Deb took her Mum for various appointments and shopping and I took Raffi to the vet because someone/thing had bopped her in the eye and it all looked red, sore and pussy. We then spent the afternoon pottering around getting our packing started.

In the spirit of the French holiday I tried to make a cassoulet, which is a provincial french dish of beans, duck and pork. Seeing as Marjorie doesn't like duck I substituted in chicken. It is meant to cook very low and very low. Unfortunately I may have over-done it. When I served up all the various meats had basically fallen apart and the whole thing turned into a dish of mystery meat. Very tasty mystery meat, but mystery meat none the less. And I had used too many bacon bones which had made it pretty rich.

On the upside I used the left overs the next day, mixed with diced potato, carrot and onions to make sausage rolls with. They were pretty good.

The rest of Sunday we just kept up the packing process. This involves gathering every item you own, say t-shirts, and then trying to figure out which 7 you will take. You then stuff all this into a suitcase and wonder if you'll ever get the top shut.

As it turns out we did finally get to a point where we both feel that we are 99% packed. It's just chargers, cords and toiletries that need to be finished off.

So there you have it, our weekend. We're very excited about the trip so I cannot wish the next couple of days to whiz past as quickly and uneventfully as possible.

I should also mention that both Furrg and Raffi have grown an affection for sleeping on a folded towel. This came from Furrg who had a tendency to sleep on whatever cloth he could find. Folded washing, blankets, table cloths. You name it. The solution was to put down old towels and try to direct his attention away from the folded washing.

We ended up with flattened, cat fur covered towels dotted around the house. So recently purchased a couple of dog beds which were initially shunned but have been getting more attention with the cold weather. I think Furrg has claimed both of them now so Raffi is left to make her own way.

Time keeps getting away
Sunday, 7 August 2011 7:28 am

I didn't manage to post anything this week...again. Monday I stayed home for the delivery of our new Elliptical Trainer. The last one took on a nasty squeak and eventually snapped an internal band. Given that it was paid for with credit card points its hard to find the desire to spend real money on repairing it. Hence the new one.

I have to say though that in terms of 'some assembly required' this one topped the lot. The instructions were rough but the diagrams were apparently taken by a spy plane flying over the factory and managing to crack a look through a dirty skylight. It took me three days to assemble the final result which fortunately looks like an Elliptical Trainer. Go Me!

Both Deb and I are absolutely looking forward to the holiday which cannot come up soon enough. We are even looking forward to the 24 hours in economy flight seating which goes some way to showing how tragically we are looking forward to the trip.

Oh, and something to cross off my bucket list. We had a our end of year event at work on Friday. It was a surprise but we ended up at the XXXX brewery for a tour. I have to say it was the most wonderfully tragic thing I have seen in years. I did get to try XXXX 'off the wood' which was interesting.

This weekend was pretty simple. A little cleaning yesterday and then Deb made dinner last night (lamb in filo parcels) which were perfect. Today I satisfied a craving for seafood with a wonderful spread of prawns, crabs and oysters. I just have to figure out if I have room for the baby squid tonight.

Yes...I like food. Thanks for asking.