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Stokebailey and sometimes family: three weeks in London, Fife, Glasgow, and Avignon.

Stokebailey and sometimes family: three weeks in London, Fife, Glasgow, and Avignon.

Old Nov 12th, 2022, 10:31 AM
  #121  
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Ann, you are generous and kind.

Why haven't I made the fougass? Fear of failure? Bob has never developed a taste for olives, not likely at this point, so I'll make it for next game night. I like baking when the weather is chillier like now.
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Old Nov 12th, 2022, 12:13 PM
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Enjoyed your updates.

We were invited into a bakery in Milan and had the most unexpected ‘tour’ and ‘chat’ (we had our noses in the window and it was really early)
I’ll never forget that moment of strangers connecting without a common language, especially in a frenetic, impersonal city environment.

But I do really like that feeling of being somewhere long enough that you’re ‘recognised’ in ‘your’ local cafe. One of the joys of slow travel.
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Old Nov 13th, 2022, 01:10 AM
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<<Why haven't I made the fougass? Fear of failure? Bob has never developed a taste for olives, not likely at this point, so I'll make it for next game night. I like baking when the weather is chillier like now.>>

Let us know how you get on Stoke - it's not something that I've attempted yet either. And yes, baking seems like a cold weather occupation, doesn't it?
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 08:11 AM
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A DAY IN NÎMES



Bob, H and I walked to the train station one morning, hoping to leave midmorning for Nîmes. The next train was full, so we dawdled in the nearest sidewalk brasserie, soaked up the sun, waited. Bob dashed across the street and bought pain chocolat, Sylvain being unexpectedly closed. When another couple saw ours and ordered pastry, the waiter made a similar dash. It hadn’t yet gotten windy as predicted, and Nîmes’ weather promised calm and warm; something about the two rivers’ meeting in Avignon must make it blustery at times.



It's a short, pleasant 30-minute ride southwest to Nîmes. We passed blackened hillsides the late summer’s forest fires had charred, and it seemed dry; otherwise, the land holds fertile farmlands. Arriving at Nîmes you feel a gracious expansiveness, where a broad boulevard welcomes you from the station into centre ville. A contrast to enclosed Avignon.



This was after the week of Feria des Vendanges, and Nîmes was quiet, recovering from the festivity, taking down temporary facades. It was hot by then, so we headed first for fodors.com recommended restaurant and my long-awaited real French meal. We walked a couple of blocks past the Arenes. One fun thing about traveling with Bob is that he does no research, so coming upon something like a beautifully-preserved 70CE Roman arena brings delighted surprise.



L'Imprev’, 10 rue Littré, https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaura...Occitanie.html

has a peaceful tree-lined patio overlooked by balconies. A few other parties, dignity, murmur of conversation. A couple of probable regulars lunching solo. Our waiter did not attempt English, didn’t smile until the end of the meal when he asked how it was, and I said SO good! The maître d’ also stuck to French, until I checked the bill, told him we had not paid enough for Bob’s plat du jour, and he said, charmingly, “Too late.” I love that place.



We split up afterwards so Bob could tour the Arenes. H and I shopped a little. I remember years ago being able to buy acetaminophen with codeine over the counter, thought I’d try again to have a stash just in case. No dice this time per the pharmacist. We stopped in the L’Occitane de Provence shop, since we’d been unable to tour the factory as hoped, bought some hand cream. H went off to explore on her own and I sat in a café next to the Arenes to sketch. I asked the server for “limonade,” expecting something along the lines of lemonade, but she plopped an unopened can of Sprite in front of me. I said, “Actually…” hoping to start a dialog for something I would drink, but she acted as if she knew what I meant, came back with the can now opened and a glass of ice. Oh, well. She knows those American quirks. I haven’t drunk Sprite on purpose in a long time, so I figured it as the price of the table’s prime real estate.



The Arenes is still used for bullfights. That Feria Saturday, you could have seen young matadors vs young bulls early, then the mature version in the evening. I’d really only love the see the kind where ribbons are snatched from horns, but still kind of want this experience. They ran the bulls down a main street for a much bigger show than our village abrivado. We were happy to be there during the quiet cleaning up phase, with posters still up in shop windows.



We rendezvoused, and H told us about coming upon an ancient temple. Of course, the Maison Carrée, inspiration for Thomas Jefferson and countless US buildings. It sits alone in a sunbaked square, radiating perfection.



SUMMING UP OUR AVIGNON



Oh, yes, Ann. We did see the Pont d’Avignon, but me only from a moving taxi. Funny, because I’d partly chosen that town based on childhood song. MC ran past it during her training run around the wall, and then she and Bob walked over one evening. None of us paid to walk out on the Bridge. The idea of it seemed enough for me.



I’d say Avignon is a Must-stay-in town without any real Must-sees, just the way I like it. The streets are full of artistic and historic interest, there are plenty of good places to eat and linger outdoors, music to hear and people to observe. I imagine there are fine museums, and Provence’s only Van Gogh, but I had just come from London’s galleries and would be going back.



H is, unlike me, an Uber fan, wanted to use it to get to TGV station rather than lengthier public transportation options. We forget that such things move more leisurely in the south of France. H had booked an Uber the night before, was dismayed when it disappeared at the appointed hour. Time was getting shorter as she tried to secure another driver. Cabs seemed at that point unreliable, but Bob went outside the Porte hoping to flag down a taxi while I emailed our host “Au secours!” Just then, a driver responded, real minutes away, got us to the TGV with a little time to spare. Phew.



Beautiful French countryside. As we pulled into Gare de Lyon, I told Bob he would get to spend two more nights in his favorite city. He replied, “Nope! Paris is just another town for me now.” Luckily, he and H had a couple of nights there, heard more jazz manouche, and he recovered the love. I caught a taxi to Gare du Nord, enjoyed familiar passing sights, listened to a young man play spiritual jazz on the station piano, checked in for Eurostar, found myself whisked out of France.
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 08:36 AM
  #125  
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L'Imprev patio

Nîmes mascot.

Bob took this one.

Café view.

South of Spain vibe.

Maison Carrée.

So long, Spirit of Liberty.
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 08:38 AM
  #126  
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Yes, Adelaidean! Stay put long enough to figure out your favorite bakery.
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 10:07 AM
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Limonade = British lemonade = lemon/lime soda.
American lemonade is citronnade, of which there are a couple of commercial brands, but it is generally just a citron pressé, the do-it-yourself version of a freshly squeezed lemon with water and sugar provided for you to mix to your taste.
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 09:15 AM
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Originally Posted by kerouac View Post
Limonade = British lemonade = lemon/lime soda.
American lemonade is citronnade, of which there are a couple of commercial brands, but it is generally just a citron pressé, the do-it-yourself version of a freshly squeezed lemon with water and sugar provided for you to mix to your taste.

Thank you, k. Next time for sure!
If she'd given me a second to marshal my thoughts, instead of reading my stereotypical American mind, I'd maybe had better luck. When I tracked her down to pay, she was lounging against the counter watching TV, not exactly rushed. I sympathize with anyone who deals with the annoying public for a living.
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 09:28 PM
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My first attempt fougasse aux olives. Not nearly as artistic as Sylvain's, but tastes just fine.
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Old Nov 20th, 2022, 12:49 AM
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What a great result!
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Old Nov 21st, 2022, 01:14 PM
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Looks terrific Stoke. Congratulations.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 02:37 AM
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try foccacia hard or soft as well
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 08:17 AM
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WRAPPING UP: ONE MORE DAY IN POST-FUNERAL LONDON



Do I believe in ancestral memories that tie us to our ancient homelands? I kind of do. London has a draw for me that no other city has. I was happy to spend another couple of nights there on my own.

Arrived St. Pancras late afternoon, rolled suitcase past the small budget hotels on Argyle St. near Euston Rd towards the Celtic. King of Falafel was on my path, so I stopped for supper. Still as good as in former days, inexpensive, and a pleasant place to sit outside, watch people hurry by. I told the cook that it was as good as my last visit 10 years before. “Did I make it for you then?” she asked. My memory is not that good.

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restau...n_England.html

I think it was Celtic room 15 this time, using the credit from Bob’s early departure. It’s ensuite, comfortable, but overlooks the room where the overnight man hangs out, cares for latecomers. If your window and his are open, you hear the doorbell. Earplugs the next night.

I had time for an evening visit to Trafalgar Square, 91 bus. Less aggressively fenced off now on 20 September, two evenings after Queen Elizabeth’s funeral. As I walked up from the Strand I could faintly hear a high mysterious song. The soprano stood facing the National Gallery, a beautiful young woman, dark, abstracted face. I sat on the low wall, transported. As the few passersby dropped money, and she bowed from the waist, kept singing with unfocused eyes. I gave her a couple of pounds, realizing it wasn’t nearly enough, walked back through Covent Garden.

Westminster Abbey was open the next morning for a few hours, free admittance, for “prayer and reflection” after the Queen’s funeral. I got there just as it opened at 0930, bus 24 from Tottenham Ct. Rd. Minimal queue, bags checked for who knows what mischief, then into the echoing stillness. A rectangle of flowers on the floor surrounded black marble. I have a few ancestral bones there, but let the dead bury the dead. I reflected awhile, lit a candle for my sainted living mother, left.

Next, the Tate, always on my Must-Do list, a longish walk broken up by Pret a Manger, MC’s coffee subscription and wifi. There’s always something to love there. This time, most strikingly, Hew Locke’s installation “The Procession.” Wow. Photos don’t start to communicate the impact: colorful figures parade up the central hall, rooms full of them, a dreamlike Mardi Gras or angry fairy’s funeral. Effective, powerful, joyous-scary. I was wowed, wanted to discuss it with someone. I found a young African door guard who shared my enthusiasm, said she’d worked there for five months and saw something new in it every day.

Back on a bus, trying to save roaming data, I found myself on Regent St headed north. I got off, intending to cut through to Covent Garden. Paused on a bench in Leicester Square, eavesdropped on some young maybe beginning med students. (Eavesdropping being one of solo travel’s joys.) An older man in suit and tie walked hesitatingly up to a trash bin and rested his head on it for a couple of minutes. Unusual. I asked if he was all right, so he came and sat next to me, told me he’d had two heart attacks and was having chest pain. I asked the young man at my other side to call emergency services. He patiently relayed questions and answers for 10 minutes, said we could expect an ambulance within a half hour. Nice kid.

They left, and I stayed with Mr. L. He had perked up by this point enough to ask whether I’d watched the Queen’s funeral. He was a character, a Londoner, on his way home after lunch. He’d met Boris once! Had called out to the then-Mayor through his open car window, and they’d had an exchange of pleasantries. We agreed the former PM has charm. Told me he’d been on the stage as a young man, sang me his signature song, something to do with love. I mentioned Sinatra, and he launched into My Way. Not your typical heart attack victim. He was still having symptoms, a half hour had come and gone, and I was running out of small talk with no sign of EMTs. I approached a pair of young policemen posing for selfies with tourists, told my story. They took it seriously, got on their phones, started assessing him. I wished him well, strolled off.

Too late for the Globe performance, I decided on evensong at St. Paul, caught a bus on the Strand. So beautiful, restful. The choir’s procession, song growing louder, echoing as it reaches the dome. My favorite: boys’ and men’s acapella. I resisted the urge to sneak a video of them. This was Feast of St. Matthew, an hour long rather than the usual 45 min. The sermon was touching, sincere.

Next morning, as mentioned above, some confusion about when to catch the Tube to LHR. Google and tfl apps both wanting me to walk to Tottenham Ct. Rd then Elizabeth Line to Paddington then Heathrow Express. I opted for easy walk instead to Russell Sq Tube, Piccadilly line. I allowed 3 hrs at the airport, breezed through, finished taking advantage of our month’s cappuccino subscription at Pret, read Metro papers left lying on the train.

British Airways flight home, so much more pleasant than the AA one over.

Sorry to leave, glad to be home.



I




Last edited by stokebailey; Nov 23rd, 2022 at 08:56 AM.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 08:30 AM
  #134  
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Beauty and mystery in Trafalgar Square.

The Abbey after the Funeral.


Kind of gives you inadequate idea.

Emerging from St. Paul's after evensong.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 08:37 AM
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The young Met in action. I think he took his helmet off to be less threatening. Bless them.

It got more crowded later in the morning.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 11:52 AM
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You certainly know how to use your time in London! I am often at a loss and wonder why I am there (since it attracts me at least once a year -- although not since covid).
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 12:05 PM
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WRAPPING UP: ONE MORE DAY IN POST-FUNERAL LONDON

“Do I believe in ancestral memories that tie us to our ancient homelands? I kind of do. London has a draw for me that no other city has. I was happy to spend another couple of nights there on my own.”

I love this thought.
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Old Nov 24th, 2022, 09:42 AM
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That was a lovely description of your last day in London and how well you manage to convey all that is so wonderful about it. Art, music, politeness and caring, a real community. You reminded me of why I used to love working there so thank you. Sorry that your trip is over.
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 09:38 AM
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