Saturday, 29 July 2017

We've had a busy couple of months, a trip to UK and the ongoing saga of the roadworks outside our house, now hopefully all done.

To show that I do keep busy I took a number of shots of our bird feeder, mainly to try and catch the woodpecker that was getting a free lunch. Don't be under the impression that I sat there for hours in a hide – I set my camera to take a shot every few seconds and left it on a tripod to it's own devices. Looking through 800 shots for anything interesting is really quite boring, but we did get a few good pictures. The one of the edible dormouse (seriously that's it's name) was take though the window.

On to the roadworks. Madame la Maire had promised that it would look very nice when it was finished – and it does. We were a bit worried at first as our garage was left inaccessible, but they came back and sorted it out. It's very nice to be able to park by our house again.

I have carried on with my photography and produced a couple more of my “Then and Now” YouTube creations. It is amazing how much more of places I see doing this. Search for cliftondj on YouTube. 

A few weeks ago the Circus came to town – at least to Vigeois, the village where I play bowls. They camped in the car park of the hall we use, and I have to say that Billy Smart really doesn't have to worry. The tent appears to have room for about 30 customers, and the animal contingent comprised a couple of goats tied up to graze around the hall, and a llama left to wander around which wanted to join us inside.

We had a very enjoyable two week trip to UK, seeing family and friends without actually driving all over England.

We started off by getting into the mood for the cuisine to come and had lunch at the KFC at Chartres. Yum. Then to the Ibis in Sangatte, a room with the dog, and a very short drive to the Tunnel in the morning and an almost empty train.

Straight to Leigh on Sea, where we saw Nick and family, and picked up Rachel who was over from New York.

We had stayed in the cottage on Orford last year, and it was as nice as we remembered it – Rae stayed for four days and seemed to enjoy it too. Icare certainly enjoyed all the walks he had by the sea. We had visits from Judy's sister Carol and her partner Terry, Jim and Angela Wiggle (sorry about the spare bedroom Ange) and our friend Posy.

We also visited a couple of old friends from our days in Norfolk – lovely to see Jenny and Florence and to visit the Chequers again!

We tried not to drive too far, but had a couple of trips to Southwold, to Lavenham and to Clare, where my father and grandparents lived. We also visited Sutton Hoo, the ancient ship burial site.

A very strange place was Shingle Street – a real end of the world settlement just up the coast from Orford.

In a part of the country that had numerous airfields in it during the Second World War it seemed natural to visit a couple of aircraft related museums. The first was the Cold War Museum at RAF
Bentwaters, which was a USAF A10 base. Some good exhibitions and a long chat from a retired US airman in the operations room – I tried to tell him that I was doing much the same just up the road, but he wasn't really listening. I was able to point out that a picture of an AEW Shackleton was wrongly labelled – Judy pretended she wasn't with me. Strange to see that they have a presentation to explain what the cold war was – seemed so recent to me.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum at Flixton was quite different – buildings full of aviation memorabilia of all sorts – some interesting and some not so. I turned a corner to find the very sad looking cockpit of Victor K2 XL 160, an aircraft I flew in many times. Sad.

Icare had so many walks that he was quite filthy, so we took him to be groomed. He looked lovely, but next day had an upset stomach. Pharmacies in France stock a number of products for animals, Boots in Woodbridge seemed rather puzzled at being asked for something for canine constipation....

One slight problem with the cottage was that the house next door was being renovated, so there was quite a bit of noise and dust. When they actually drilled through the common wall I mentioned it to the agents, and to their credit we got a 20% refund.

On our way back we had a reunion with some of the lads who used to work for me when I was an operations officer at RAF Honington - really great to see them all again. They tried to recreate a photo from my leaving do from all those years ago.....

Via Nick's again, nice barbecue and a sleepover! A gentle drive through Kent taking in a bit of tourism in Canterbury and Rye and quite a lot of shopping and through the tunnel again. Strange how the drive from Calais to home seems to get longer and more tiring each time!

When we got back the roadworks had almost finished, but a day of tarmac laying prompted a spontaneous day out in the Dordogne, with a very pleasant lunch out and an afternoon in, then to Bergerac, where they were preparing for the Tour de France. This is a statue of Cyrano de Bergerac, who actually has nothing to do with the town at all....

A couple of weeks after we visited him Nick and Kev came to see us – well mainly to watch a day of the Tour de France between Perigueux and Bergerac. They seemed to have had a pretty good time.

Judy had a check up at the ophthalmologist and he says she has a cataract in her other eye, it will be operated on at the end of August. Having had one done already she is really quite comfortable with this, and is looking forward to having really good vision. She already helps me out when I don't have my glasses!

We will have a new addition to the household in about 7 weeks. Finn is an Irish Wolfhound puppy, and when we saw him he was just a week old and his eyes were still shut. Oh the fun to come!

One day he'll look like his dad...

We recently had a Quiz and Fish and Chips night at Ch√Ęteau Bellefond – seemed to go very well with nearly 50 people attending. My quiz was generally thought to be rather on the difficult side – much better than too easy!

Voutezac had it's Peach Festival last weekend. As always the evening repas was very entertaining – first course served just after 9 and the dessert at 1130.

The next morning we drove to a RAFA Hog Roast near St Jean D'Angely in the Charente. A very enjoyable evening. We stayed in a really nice B & B in the town, dog friendly and lots of walks.

In fact Icare has recently stayed in several hotel and B & B rooms with us and behaved very well, but this doesn't excuse his opening our bedroom door several times last night and coming in to give my ear a friendly lick! Little does he he know of the friend soon to be joining him.....