A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: irenevt

A Day in Cagnes-sur-Mer.

Enjoying France.

sunny

Doorway in the Old Town Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France.

Doorway in the Old Town Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France.

We have now been to Nice three times, so while there's still more to see, and even revisiting what we have seen would be lovely, we wanted to visit a place nearby. I had been ranting on for weeks about Antibes and that was where we planned to go. The 620 bus to Cannes via Antibes left from next to our hotel, but when I looked it up, there were so many bus stops in Antibes, I started worrying that it would be way too big for Peter to manage, so at the very last minute I said we should visit Cagnes-sur-Mer instead. As it turned out Cagnes-sur-Mer is also big and the sights were far apart, but it still turned out to be a lovely day nonetheless. Antibes will just have to wait until our next visit.

We could have got to Cagnes-sur-Mer on the 620 bus but decided to take the train instead as it is faster. We walked to Saint Augustin Station which was near our hotel and took the train from there. The station was unmanned and everyone was having problems buying a ticket from the machines. It took me ages, but I eventually got the machine to work. It only took nine minutes to get to Cagnes-sur-Mer, less time than it took to buy the tickets. The train was really crowded.

As we had only decided to go here last minute, I hadn't researched it very thoroughly. When we arrived, we exited the station in the direction we thought faced the sea. We were right it did face the sea, but it was also the wrong direction for the centre. At first I was getting a bit frustrated as we just seemed to be wandering aimlessly through a never-ending residential area, but thankfully we eventually hit a main road where we could head towards the coast. Just like in Nice, there's a promenade along the waterfront. This made Peter happy as it was flat and had seats, though not as many as on the Promenade des Anglais.

Flowers on the walk to the waterfront.

Flowers on the walk to the waterfront.

There were quite a few people sunbathing on the pebble beach at the waterfront. If we had gone towards the right from here, we would have been heading towards Villeneuve-Loubet, yet another beautiful resort area we have still to visit. To our left we would have been heading towards Cros-de-Cagnes, which is the main resort area of Cagnes-Sur-Mer. We went left, but not all the way to Cros-de-Cagnes.

At the beach, looking towards Cros-de-Cagnes.

At the beach, looking towards Cros-de-Cagnes.

At the beach, looking towards Villeneuve-Loubet.

At the beach, looking towards Villeneuve-Loubet.

Peter at the beach.

Peter at the beach.

Peter at the beach.

Peter at the beach.

There were some fish sculptures and a seahorse sculpture by the front. The fish sculpture on the ground reminded me of getting kids to try and create artworks copying the style of Andy Goldsworthy.

Fish sculptures.

Fish sculptures.

And another kind of fish sculpture.

And another kind of fish sculpture.

Elegant seahorse sculpture.

Elegant seahorse sculpture.

Peter with the seahorse.

Peter with the seahorse.

There was also a very small marina filled with swans. There was a place to hire bikes and a court for playing beach games. A group of kids from a primary school were having a bike, scooter and roller skate race along the waterfront

Peter by the small marina.

Peter by the small marina.

The small marina.

The small marina.

Swans in the marina.

Swans in the marina.

Peter by the small marina.

Peter by the small marina.

Bike hire on the waterfront.

Bike hire on the waterfront.

There were several lovely restaurants by the waterfront. It must be incredibly relaxing sitting there eating and drinking while listening to the waves crash onto the shore.

Restaurants by the waterfront.

Restaurants by the waterfront.

Restaurants by the waterfront.

Restaurants by the waterfront.

We walked for a while and sat down to enjoy the sea breeze and coastal views every now and again.

Peter on the waterfront.

Peter on the waterfront.

The waterfront.

The waterfront.

Waves breaking on the waterfront.

Waves breaking on the waterfront.

Waves breaking on the waterfront.

Waves breaking on the waterfront.

Then we crossed the main road next to the River Cagnes and headed to a restaurant for drinks and snacks. We chose a Lebanese restaurant called Lebanon by Allo Liban. Peter had beer, I had Schweppes lemon and we shared some rakakat, which are Lebanese cheese rolls, rather like Turkish börek. The waiter was very friendly and it was a pleasant place for a break.

The River Cagnes.

The River Cagnes.

In the Lebanese restaurant.

In the Lebanese restaurant.

Our rakakat.

Our rakakat.

We were joined by a little friend.

We were joined by a little friend.

Artwork in a nearby restaurant.

Artwork in a nearby restaurant.

I really wanted to see Haut-de-Cagnes which is the old town in Cagnes-sur-Mer. This involved walking from where we were for over twenty minutes. Our route passed lots of lovely restaurants, serving a wide variety of cuisines including Vietnamese, Chinese and Italian.

To explore Haut-de-Cagnes it's necessary to go up a steep hill, apparently there is a free number 44 shuttle bus up, too, but I didn't know this at the time. Peter isn't really able to walk up steep hills anymore, so I found him a park to sit in and I went off to have a look on my own. I couldn't really do my usual wander down every single alleyway, as I couldn't leave Peter too long. It was just a quick visit. Haut-de-Cagnes is extremely beautiful with lots of brightly coloured buildings and beautiful plants.

Colourful houses.

Colourful houses.

Colourful buildings.

Colourful buildings.

Colourful houses.

Colourful houses.

Colourful street..

Colourful street..

Colourful houses.

Colourful houses.

Colourful street.

Colourful street.

Impasse de Clapier.

Impasse de Clapier.

Pretty house.

Pretty house.

Street with flowers.

Street with flowers.

The settlement here dates back to the fourteenth century when Rainier Grimaldi, an ancestor of the current royalty family of Monaco, built a fortified castle at the top of the hill. Nowadays the castle is a museum. It has exhibitions on olive trees and portraits of French actress and singer Suzy Solidor, the world's most painted lady, who lived in Haut-de-Cagnes for twenty-five years. The outside of the castle was being renovated on my trip, so I'm not sure if it was open or not.

Haut-de-Cagnes Castle.

Haut-de-Cagnes Castle.

The Castle from a different angle.

The Castle from a different angle.

The square behind the castle.

The square behind the castle.

The square behind the castle.

The square behind the castle.

Near the castle there's a wide open square called Place du Chateau. On one side this was lined with several restaurants. There were quite a few people eating and drinking under the shade of sun umbrellas here.

Place du Chateau.

Place du Chateau.

Restaurants in Place du Chateau.

Restaurants in Place du Chateau.

Restaurant, Place du Chateau.

Restaurant, Place du Chateau.

There were a group of men playing boules here. It was hard to think of anything more typically French than this.

Boules.

Boules.

On the edge of the square there were several seats looking out over the surrounding hills and countryside The views from here were very beautiful.

View from the terrace.

View from the terrace.

View from the terrace.

View from the terrace.

View from the terrace.

View from the terrace.

View from the terrace.

View from the terrace.

I didn't realise it, but there was a free entry contemporary jewellery museum here, which was founded by Suzy Solidor. The lady in charge of it approached me and wanted me to go in. She kept on chatting to me in French and inviting me in to take a look, but I didn't really have time. The strange thing was that I told this woman repeatedly that I didn't understand French, but she just kept on talking to me in French anyway. To my surprise I actually could understand some of what she said, but not all. I did actually study French in school years ago, but have largely forgotten it. If I try to speak it noone can understand me as my accent is terrible. When I finally got across that I didn't want to visit the jewellery museum, the woman there suggested I take a picture of a tree that seemed to be growing out of the museum building.

Jewellery museum and talkative lady.

Jewellery museum and talkative lady.

Next to the jewellery museum.

Next to the jewellery museum.

Tree.

Tree.

There are still several fortifications in Haut-de-Cagnes including Le Pontis Long, a covered passageway leading to a square with the oldest house in Haut-de-Cagnes. There are also several fortified gateways.

Fortified gateway between Place du Chateau and the square with the oldest house.

Fortified gateway between Place du Chateau and the square with the oldest house.

Porte d'Antibes.

Porte d'Antibes.

More gateways.

More gateways.

Long passage.

Long passage.

Square at the end of the long passage.

Square at the end of the long passage.

I also visited The Church of St Pierre et St Paul. Rather strangely people enter the church from above. From here there's a good view over the interior of the church and its stained glass windows. This church was first built in the fourteenth century, but was enlarged in the sixteenth century and then again in the eighteenth century.

Entrance to the church, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France.

Entrance to the church, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

Inside the church.

Painting inside the church.

Painting inside the church.

Stained glass windows.

Stained glass windows.

Many artists have lived in or visited Haut-de-Cagnes, but the most famous is Pierre-Auguste Renoir who moved here in 1907 in the hope of improving his arthritis. He died in Haut-de-Cagnes in 1919. I didn't have time to visit Renoir's estate, Les Collettes, but it's one of the most famous sights here and has gardens filled with olive trees. In some places around the old town there are pictures of works of art that were painted in Haut-de-Cagnes. These are located at points that show the view in the picture or at least the view as it is now.

Another famous resident of Haut-de-Cagnes was Belgian writer, Georges Simenon who created the fictional detective Commissaire Jules Maigret.

I came across many scenic doorways and windows on my explorations.

Doorway.

Doorway.

Doorway with plants.

Doorway with plants.

Window.

Window.

Window.

Window.

I wandered along many of the village's narrow streets enjoying the beautiful surroundings. I discovered narrow alleyways, fountains, interesting street signs, beautiful buildings, flowering trees and much much more. I would happily have spent hours here, but I couldn't.

Building with ivy.

Building with ivy.

Flowering tree.

Flowering tree.

Covered entrancway.

Covered entrancway.

Archways.

Archways.

Building in the old town.

Building in the old town.

Fountain.

Fountain.

Fountain.

Fountain.

Narrow alleyway.

Narrow alleyway.

One way down.

One way down.

Unicorn sign.

Unicorn sign.

Rise of the town.

Rise of the town.

Street with sign.

Street with sign.

Church in the old town, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France.

Church in the old town, Cagnes-Sur-Mer, France.

Hotel de Ville.

Hotel de Ville.

Sculpture.

Sculpture.

As I wandered back down the hill to the park where I had left Peter, I caught several tantalising glimpses over the town and the Mediterranean Sea beyond it.

Seaview.

Seaview.

Seaview.

Seaview.

Seaview.

Seaview.

We had thought we might have dinner here, but it was a bit of a walk back to the area filled with restaurants and we were both tiring, so we decided to return to the station. Of course we were going a different way from the exit we had left it by and I struggled to find it, adding lots of unnecessary walking to the day. Eventually I asked a very pleasant French lady for directions. She explained it was hard to find due to renovations that were being carried out and took us to it. The funny thing was she didn't speak English, but understood a lot of what I said. I don't speak French, but understood a lot of what she said. Obviously French and English have similar roots. In Hong Kong if someone insisted in speaking to me in Chinese, I wouldn't understand a word. This lady told Peter he was very brave for exploring a new place when he had sight and mobility problems.

What this lady told us was accurate; the area all around the train station was being renovated and the station office itself was closed. Once again it was a struggle to get tickets, but I eventually got them. It was just as well I did as there were three tickets inspectors on the train. They were all trying to fine a French lady who didn't have a ticket and she was protesting that she had tried to buy one but couldn't. I was on her side trying to buy tickets for transport in France is hell on Earth. I'm sorry but Europe is so inefficient compared to Asia.

Back in Nice, we decided just to eat in the hotel again as we were tired and hungry. We actually ordered the exact same meal as the day before, except with more beer. It had been a lovely day, but after five weeks of travel we were reaching a state of exhaustion, or at least I was.

Peter with our reine pizza.

Peter with our reine pizza.

Our pizza.

Our pizza.

Taking advantage of the all day pain au chocolate.

Taking advantage of the all day pain au chocolate.

Next day we were flying back to Hong Kong. I asked for a free late checkout till twelve, as checkout time was eleven. The man on reception very kindly gave me one until four pm, as Peter has an Accor gold card. Unfortunately, we really did have to leave at twelve, but if we hadn't, it would largely have given us an extra day.

We took a tram to the airport, after yet another fight with ticket machines. At the airport we checked in. We were then sent off to wait for a wheelchair. I suddenly realised we didn't have Peter's rucksack anymore and rushed off to find it. It had fallen off my trolley and I hadn't noticed. Security had already found it and they gave me a row for leaving it unattended. I explained it had fallen off my trolley and then they were much nicer about it and said that was ok and that it wasn't my fault after all.

When we got through, we went to the airport lounge as we have silver status with Qatar. It was quite pleasant there. We had some snacks and a couple of drinks.

When we went to the plane, we noticed the weather had changed. The sky was black and the rain was pelting down. On the plane we heard an enormous clash of thunder, but fortunately we were still able to take off and the flight was only a little bit turbulent.

The plane was very crowded. Fortunately the flight was only around five and a half hours. I watched an Irish/New Zealand drama series called 'The Gone'. It was really good. It was in six parts. I managed to watch four on this flight and the rest on the next one.

In Doha we had a wait of eight hours in the silver lounge before our flight to Hong Kong. Fortunately, I managed to sleep for some of this or I'd have gone crazy.

Then, miracle of miracles, the flight to Hong Kong was almost empty. We managed to get three seats each and could actually lie down. I managed to get more sleep. I also watched the rest of 'The Gone' and ' Gone Fishing ' with Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse. I don't often watch programmes about fishing, but I like Bob Mortimer when he's on 'Would I Lie To You.' He's really funny.

Leaving Doha.

Leaving Doha.

Leaving Doha.

Leaving Doha.

Back in Hong Kong we got wheelchair assistance all the way to our bus and just made the second last one. It was pouring down. On the way to passport control I dropped Peter's i.d. card, but fortunately someone called out to me and I was able to retrieve it. I seemed to be dropping everything on this journey.

Back home, our building is still a building site and our flat was covered in mould. It was too late to do anything about it at that time of night. Next day I spent hours scrubbing it. We had hoped the scaffolding would be down by now, but it's not.

Overall it was a strange holiday. Peter did great on it. I enjoyed a lot of it, but could have done without getting the flu. Even when I got better, I was still very tired and run down. At one point I got masses of mouth ulcers, too. Fortunately, these have now disappeared. However, on the positive side, we managed to see family and friends and the last few days in Nice were a joy, so overall it was a success. I just need a bit of recovery time before our next long trip.

Posted by irenevt 18:17 Archived in France Comments (10)

Goodbye Britain, Hello France.

From Brum to Nice.

sunny

Peter and his new friends.

Peter and his new friends.

We left The Adagio, Birmingham on Sunday the 15th of April and travelled down to London Euston by train. We passed some fields filled with yellow rape seed on the way. These added a welcome splash of colour to the countryside.

Peter on the train.

Peter on the train.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

Fields of rape seed.

From London Euston we walked to Russell Square Station and then took The Piccadilly Line to Hounslow. This involved quite a lot of walking for Peter, but fortunately he managed it very well. We were staying for just one night in The Ibis Budget, Hounslow. It's a fairly basic hotel, but on the plus side it is right next to a Tesco Express and very close to a Wetherspoon's. There was no kettle in our room, but hot drinks were available downstairs in the lobby. Teas were free and coffees cost £2, except when breakfast was being served when these were free, too.

Our room in The Ibis Budget, Hounslow.

Our room in The Ibis Budget, Hounslow.

We had arranged to meet up with our friend, Michael. He came to our hotel, then we headed off to The Moon on Bright Water a nearby Wetherspoon's pub where Michael very kindly bought us a meal. I had a pepperoni pizza and Peter had his usual Wiltshire ham, egg and chips. We spent a very pleasant evening reminiscing and catching up on news.

The three of us.

The three of us.

Next day Peter and I headed off to Heathrow for our flight to Nice. It was a short flight of under two hours, but it still took a very, very long time. First it was delayed due to strong winds, then there had been a suspected bird strike on the incoming aircraft which turned out to be a false alarm. Then the truck that pushes back the plane failed.

Unusually enough for us we were travelling business class on this flight, so we were able to go to the lounge before boarding.When we finally got on the plane we were served afternoon tea, which was a selection of sandwiches and scones. I had mine with sauvignon blanc. Tea caused problems, as apparently all water related devices in business class were leaking and tea or coffee had to be made at the opposite end of the plane then carried the full length of the aisle.

In the airport lounge before boarding.

In the airport lounge before boarding.

Leaving Heathrow.

Leaving Heathrow.

Leaving Heathrow.

Leaving Heathrow.

When we landed in Nice, there was another delay while we waited for someone to be available to connect the steps for disembarking. Peter had wheelchair assistance all the way to the tram stop. We were going to take the tram, but couldn't add a single journey to our Cote d'Azure cards. It's a bit of a rip off at Nice Airport where you are forced to pay ten Euros for a return ticket at the airport stop unless you buy a multi day travel pass. We weren't happy about this, so we ended up taking a taxi for which we were overcharged. The joys of travelling from an airport. Our hotel was the Ibis Styles in Parc Phoenix. Peter chose a hotel near the airport, because we were arriving at night. The taxi got there very quickly and the driver was at least pleasant about ripping us off, though I am not sure that really helps. We just wrote it off as something to avoid next time.

We were really very tired by the time we got to the hotel. The short flight had taken all day. We just checked in and had our free drinks and headed to bed. When we asked for the free drinks, we were told we could only have one. I pointed out all other Ibises give one to each of us and called this hotel's policy mean, so the receptionist ended up giving us two free drinks just to shut me up. This partly made up for being ripped off by the taxi. In fact the hotel wasn't mean at all. They had free water, coffee, tea, croissants and pain au chocolate available all day. I thought this was pretty generous.

Our room.

Our room.

The hotel had a small rectangular outdoor swimming pool, but unfortunately it didn't open until May. It was possible to sit outside and eat breakfast next to it. We both said we would like to stay in this hotel again when the pool is open.

Peter next to the pool.

Peter next to the pool.

The pool.

The pool.

In the morning we decided to go to Parc Phoenix, a botanical and zoological garden, because it was right next to our hotel. It cost €5.50 each to go in. This is a beautiful park with hot houses, lots of different kinds of animals, a massive lawn, a lake and fountains. There's a museum right next to the park, too. It's called The Asian Arts Museum. I'm sure it would have been interesting, but we didn't visit it on this occasion.

Peter at the entrance to Park Phoenix.

Peter at the entrance to Park Phoenix.

Map of the park.

Map of the park.

In the park we saw lots of animals. We started with the flamingos. I liked the fact that their reflections made it look like there were many many more of them than there actually were.

A tangle of flamingos.

A tangle of flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Flamingos.

Later I found a very well hidden crocodile. I could only see about half of his nose and it took me ages to even spot that. Crocodiles are so sneaky. To be honest they give me the creeps.

Crocodile.

Crocodile.

There were some extremely active marmosets running along branches and climbing trees.

Marmosets.

Marmosets.

Marmosets.

Marmosets.

There were several lizards. I think one was a statue, but as these lizards didn't move much it was very hard to tell. I thought several others were statues till they blinked or raised a foot or moved their head.

This iguana looked like a statue till it moved.

This iguana looked like a statue till it moved.

I'm pretty sure this was a statue.

I'm pretty sure this was a statue.

There was a large python in a glass case. I was photographing it when a little boy turned up and stood next to me to see it too. He called his dad over to show him and somehow his dad initially couldn't work out what his son was looking at then suddenly gasped in horror when he finally noticed the huge snake. I'm not sure how he managed to miss it.

Python.

Python.

Outside there was a very large lawn and lots of people were picnicking there, including several school groups. There are quite a few things for kids here, such as playing areas and rope courses.

Angel Trumpet on the picnic lawn.

Angel Trumpet on the picnic lawn.

There were lots of animals outside, too, including: parrots, peacocks and grey crowned cranes. One of the grey crowned cranes was getting very agitated at having people near him and began leaping about making loud noises. I felt a bit sorry for him. I wonder if they had a nest they were protecting.

Grey crowned cranes.

Grey crowned cranes.

Grey crowned cranes.

Grey crowned cranes.

Peacock.

Peacock.

Of all the birds I saw here I especially loved the ostriches, even Peter managed to see them, though he pretended he couldn't just to wind me up. I got a photo of him with them.

Peter with the Ostriches.

Peter with the Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

Ostriches.

There was a farmyard area with geese, chickens, goats, sheep and pigs. Some of the kids on the school trip were really excited by them and kept waving at them. They were quite cute.

Goat.

Goat.

Goat.

Goat.

Geese and chickens.

Geese and chickens.

Goats and chickens.

Goats and chickens.

There were also some ring tailed lemurs rushing around their enclosure.

Lemurs.

Lemurs.

Lemurs.

Lemurs.

I also saw several wallabies. These were very popular but difficult to photograph as they loved to stay in the shade where they were fairly camouflaged.

Wallaby.

Wallaby.

Wallabies and chickens.

Wallabies and chickens.

There was a porcupine who wouldn't pose. He just looked like a big heap of prickles.

Porcupine.

Porcupine.

We had a look at the fountains and took a walk by the lake. There were other water features such as: waterfalls and streams.

By the lake.

By the lake.

By the lake.

By the lake.

The lake.

The lake.

By the lake.

By the lake.

Peter by the Fountain.

Peter by the Fountain.

Fountain.

Fountain.

Waterfall.

Waterfall.

Stream.

Stream.

Fountain.

Fountain.

This park was good for Peter as the paths were mainly flat and there were plenty of places to sit down and have a rest. As half of the park was indoors and half outdoors it really is a place for all weathers.

Peter in the garden.

Peter in the garden.

Peter in the park.

Peter in the park.

Peter in the park.

Peter in the park.

Peter in the garden.

Peter in the garden.

In the garden.

In the garden.

In the garden.

In the garden.

Hot house.

Hot house.

Inside the hothouse.

Inside the hothouse.

Peter by the hothouse.

Peter by the hothouse.

It was great to visit in spring time as many of the trees in the park were laden down with beautiful white, lilac or pink blossom. I found this really lovely.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Blossom.

I even found a cotton tree with huge red flowers. There are lots of these in Hong Kong, but I haven't come across them anywhere else. These trees are stunning when they are flowering. When they release their seeds later on in the year, it seems like it's snowing.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

Cotton trees.

I was delighted with all the beautiful, colourful flowers that were absolutely everywhere in this lovely park.

Arum lily.

Arum lily.

Arum lily.

Arum lily.

Crown of thorns.

Crown of thorns.

Blue flowers.

Blue flowers.

Flower.

Flower.

Flowers and archways.

Flowers and archways.

Colourful flowers.

Colourful flowers.

Flowers.

Flowers.

Bromelia.

Bromelia.

Later when we went back inside the hot houses, I found an area devoted to orchids and another to desert plants.

Orchids.

Orchids.

Orchids.

Orchids.

In the desert area.

In the desert area.

There were lots of hibiscus flowers in a range of bright colours, too. I always think these look very tropical.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

Hibiscus.

We left the park with the intention of walking straight to The Promenade des Anglais, which we did, but in this area it is behind the airport, not next to the sea, so it's not very scenic. It's quite a walk just to reach the sea and Peter was tiring, so we abandoned this walk and went back to the hotel for a free coffee and a rest.

Later we took a tram towards the centre of Nice, but got off as soon as we could see that we were very close to the sea.

We walked along The Promenade des Anglais for a while. Peter loves this because it is completely flat and there are many many seats. It was lovely. The sun was out, the lapping of the sea was making us drowsy and the sea and sky were both a wonderful bright shade of blue. Quite a few people were in the water swimming or paddling. The weather was gorgeous though a bit windy.

Peter on the Promenade des Anglais.

Peter on the Promenade des Anglais.

Peter near lots of flags.

Peter near lots of flags.

The beach.

The beach.

The beach.

The beach.

The beach.

The beach.

Peter on the Promenade des Anglais.

Peter on the Promenade des Anglais.

Us at the beach.

Us at the beach.

When we felt we had walked enough, we took a tram back to the hotel. I bought a couple of things from a shop and then we had ham and cheese pizza and beer in the hotel. It was really very good. There is one restaurant very near the hotel and others a bit of a walk away. We were tired so went for the easy option.

It had been a lovely day and it was wonderful to finally see the sun again.

Posted by irenevt 21:29 Archived in France Comments (12)

Around and about in Birmingham.

Mainly eating and drinking.

A Visit to a Garden Centre.

A Visit to a Garden Centre.

On Sunday 7th April we left the Ibis Hotel and moved to The Adagio. We were really pleased with The Ibis. We were supposed to check out at 12, but I asked if we could have a complimentary late check out because Peter is a gold card holder. I was wondering if it would be too cheeky to ask to stay till 2pm, but they immediately offered me till 5pm. This plus the fact they stored our luggage free for three days made us very happy with them.

The first thing I did when we got to The Adagio was wash all of our clothes which had been getting grubbier and grubbier. It costs £3 for a washer and £2 for a drier. Everything came out beautiful. It was great not to be a smelly mess anymore.

On Monday 8th April we met up with our friends Chris and Pat. They came to visit us in our hotel and then we headed off to The Old Crown for lunch. The Old Crown is a pub in Digbeth, a short walk from our hotel. Apparently it is Birmingham's oldest secular building and was originally built in 1368. Queen Elizabeth I is believed to have stayed here in 1575 while travelling from Kenilworth Castle.

The Old Crown does very nice food. Chris and I had chicken burgers, Peter had a posh fish finger sandwich and Pat had a veggie burger. It's been about a year since we all met up so we did a lot of catching up on news. It was a very pleasant day.

All of us.

All of us.

Peter and Chris.

Peter and Chris.

Chris and Pat.

Chris and Pat.

Peter and I.

Peter and I.

Next day I just did a bit of shopping. It wasn't very exciting. I cooked fish, boiled potatoes, cauliflower and beetroot for dinner. We watched a few TV shows in the evening.

We intended to head to Pelsall on the Wednesday to visit Peter's mum and dad's grave, but it just rained all day. It was absolutely miserable, plus we discovered the bus stop had been moved due to the building of the new tram line and was now much further away than it used to be. We decided we would just go out for a drink, so we went to The Dragon Inn in Chinatown, which is actually a Wetherspoon's. Peter was happy to get a cider and an ice-cream. I had a pint of shipyard and a refillable coffee. I took a few rainy day pictures of Peter in Chinatown.

Happy with his Stowford Press.

Happy with his Stowford Press.

Even happier with his ice-cream.

Even happier with his ice-cream.

Peter in Chinatown.

Peter in Chinatown.

Peter in Chinatown.

Peter in Chinatown.

Peter in Chinatown.

Peter in Chinatown.

Peter in Chinatown.

Peter in Chinatown.

On Thursday we met up with Pat again. Chris couldn't join us on this occasion. Pat suggested we take bus 2 or 3 from outside our hotel and get off at The Covered Wagon in Moseley. Pat lives not far from here so met us at the bus stop. Pat had written us out a detailed description of the bus route so we'd get off at the right stop, but there was a traffic accident and a diversion so the route was totally different. I asked the driver if we would still pass The Covered Wagon and he said we would and gave us a shout where to get off.

The Covered Wagon is a lovely pub owned by an Indian family and it does superb Indian food. I had chicken tikka masala and Peter had chicken balti, Pat had a veggie biryani. We also had poppadoms and pilau rice. The food was really good. I forgot to photograph it. I was too busy eating it

Pat and Peter in The Covered Wagon.

Pat and Peter in The Covered Wagon.

Peter and I in The Covered Wagon.

Peter and I in The Covered Wagon.

After the meal, Pat offered to take us for a drive. We went to Beckett's Farm. This has a cafe and some farm shops. We were too full to eat or drink anything in the cafe. We just had a wander around. The shop did wonderful fresh fruit and vegetables, pies, pastries, breads and all sorts of very nice food stuff. We are nearing the end of our stay so we didn't buy anything but it was a nice place to see.

Pat and Peter at Becket's Farm.

Pat and Peter at Becket's Farm.

Sauces.

Sauces.

Rather large pickled onions.

Rather large pickled onions.

Jars of chutney.

Jars of chutney.

Then we got back into the car and headed to a nearby garden centre. I don't know what it was called. It had hot tubs, beautiful plants, garden ornaments, a cafe. It even sold rather nice clothes. Again I just window shopped though Pat bought some cakes.

In the garden centre.

In the garden centre.

In the garden centre.

In the garden centre.

Blossom.

Blossom.

Magnolia.

Magnolia.

The elephant in the room.

The elephant in the room.

Statues.

Statues.

Peter at the garden centre.

Peter at the garden centre.

Star magnolia.

Star magnolia.

Camelias.

Camelias.

Geraniums.

Geraniums.

Orange lilies.

Orange lilies.

Statues.

Statues.

Statues and flowers.

Statues and flowers.

An interesting seat.

An interesting seat.

Carnations.

Carnations.

After the garden centre we went to Pat's flat for a nice cup of tea and some coffee and walnut cake. We caught the number 3 bus home and it let us off very close to our hotel. It had been a very pleasant and relaxing day.

Next day turned into chores day: washing, shopping, packing. We ate in The Old Crown again in the evening. I preferred it at lunch time. In the evening it was busier with loud music. Peter had a chicken shish and I had fish and chips. The food was tasty, but quite expensive.

Peter in The Old Crown.

Peter in The Old Crown.

Fish and chips.

Fish and chips.

Chicken shish.

Chicken shish.

On Saturday we were back at the football. We watched Walsall lose to Notts County. It was cold and windy and the match didn't exactly cheer us up.

At the match.

At the match.

At the match.

At the match.

At the match.

At the match.

At the match.

At the match.

After the match Richard, Peter's brother, drove us to their parents' grave and we put flowers on it. We drove passed their old house. The front garden is now a car park. It looked very different. Then we went for a drink in The Old House at Home. It would have been nice to eat there, but the journey home after it was quite far. Richard drove us to Walsall Station. I just grabbed some convenience food from Tesco Express and we went home to eat. It had been a very long and tiring day.

The Old House At Home.

The Old House At Home.

Posted by irenevt 18:27 Archived in England Comments (11)

Back in Brum.

A Look Around Birmingham.

sunny

Birmingham Cathedral.

Birmingham Cathedral.

Back in Birmingham, Peter wanted an easy day spent in and listening to the football. We needed breakfast so I went out to buy some. On route I had a quick look at China Town where we were living. There are a couple of typical Chinese sights here, but mainly there's a lot of street art..

Our new room.

Our new room.

China Town.

China Town.

China Town.

China Town.

Chinese pagoda.

Chinese pagoda.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Street art.

Later Peter wanted to listen to his football match. It was Walsall v Tranmere. I wasn't interested, so I went out for a walk. It was a day with blue skies but it was very windy.

I began at Saint Martin's Church next to the Bull Ring. The present church dates from Victorian times but there has been a church at this location since the thirteenth century.

Saint Martin's Church.

Saint Martin's Church.

Bull statue outside the Bull Ring.

Bull statue outside the Bull Ring.

Then I headed down New Street towards The City Council Buildings which were being renovated on our last visit.

Birmingham City Council Buildings.

Birmingham City Council Buildings.

Birmingham City Council Buildings.

Birmingham City Council Buildings.

Queen Victoria, Birmingham City Council Buildings.

Queen Victoria, Birmingham City Council Buildings.

Fountain, Birmingham City Council Buildings.

Fountain, Birmingham City Council Buildings.

I continued on to Chamberlain Square, which is named after Joseph Chamberlain, a famous former Birmingham mayor. There's a Chamberlain Memorial Fountain here. There's also a statue of reformer, Thomas Attwood, sitting on the steps here.

Chamberlain Square.

Chamberlain Square.

Chamberlain Memorial on Chamberlain Square.

Chamberlain Memorial on Chamberlain Square.

Chamberlain Memorial on Chamberlain Square.

Chamberlain Memorial on Chamberlain Square.

Chamberlain Memorial and Thomas Attwood Statue.

Chamberlain Memorial and Thomas Attwood Statue.

Thomas Attwood Statue.

Thomas Attwood Statue.

I kept walking and soon came to The Hall of Memory which was built to remember those who lost their lives fighting in the first and second world wars.

The Hall of Memory.

The Hall of Memory.

There's a library, theatre and several statues here too.

A real Birmingham family.

A real Birmingham family.

The Golden Boys: Matthew Boulton, James Watt, and William Murdoch.

The Golden Boys: Matthew Boulton, James Watt, and William Murdoch.

Blossom near the statues.

Blossom near the statues.

Blossom near the statues.

Blossom near the statues.

I continued on to Brindley Place. This was once an area of factories located on canals, then as industry declined it became a derelict eyesore, but fortunately it has been renovated and is now home to The National Sea Life Centre, Legoland and many restaurants and bars

Canalside Walk.

Canalside Walk.

Restaurants and bars.

Restaurants and bars.

Restaurants and bars.

Restaurants and bars.

Bridge.

Bridge.

Canal boat tours.

Canal boat tours.

Barges and houses.

Barges and houses.

Barges and houses.

Barges and houses.

National Sea Life Centre.

National Sea Life Centre.

Giraffe outside Legoland.

Giraffe outside Legoland.

Giraffe outside Legoland.

Giraffe outside Legoland.

Black Sabbath Bench.

Black Sabbath Bench.

Blossom by the canal.

Blossom by the canal.

Brumblebee.

Brumblebee.

I then retraced my steps making a detour to see Birmingham Cathedral. I passed some lovely buildings on route. One was The Birmingham School of Art which was built in 1843 as The Birmingham Government School of Design. Another was The Florence Building, originally built in 1895 as The Scottish Mutual Assurance Society Building. It now houses offices and a pub.

Birmingham School of Art.

Birmingham School of Art.

Birmingham School of Art.

Birmingham School of Art.

The Florence Building.

The Florence Building.

Birmingham Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Philip. It was consecrated in 1715. There's a statue of Charles Gore the cathedral's first bishop outside it.

Birmingham Cathedral.

Birmingham Cathedral.

Birmingham Cathedral.

Birmingham Cathedral.

Charles Gore.

Charles Gore.

I returned home after looking at the cathedral. Peter was in a good mood because Walsall had won three one against Tranmere. We celebrated with a Chinese takeaway from across the road. I had chicken curry and Peter had kung po chicken.

Posted by irenevt 20:39 Archived in England Comments (6)

Families and Football.

First Few Days in England.

rain

Peter in front of Ashridge House.

Peter in front of Ashridge House.

We were really tired by the time we checked into the Ibis Hotel. We are entitled to free drinks, so we decided to go for those and just eat in the hotel. I had pepperoni pizza and Peter had tuna fish sandwiches. We were so tired we ended up taking some of the food back to our room. After a good night's sleep we felt a lot better.

Statue in New Street Station.

Statue in New Street Station.

Our room in the Ibis.

Our room in the Ibis.

Next day we headed off to Bescot Stadium to watch Walsall v Salford. Peter is a diehard football fan. I am not really interested in football, and I never used to go with him, but nowadays he needs help in getting to and from his seat, so I need to come with him. At the stadium we met up with Peter's brother and his son.

Peter, his brother, Richard and his son, Jack.

Peter, his brother, Richard and his son, Jack.

Peter enjoying the game.

Peter enjoying the game.

Peter at the match.

Peter at the match.

Peter, Jack and I at the match.

Peter, Jack and I at the match.

Swifty, Walsall's mascot.

Swifty, Walsall's mascot.

Swifty, Walsall's mascot.

Swifty, Walsall's mascot.

To my surprise the game was actually reasonably enjoyable. I had thought I would be bored senseless, but that wasn't the case. The game started off well and Walsall took an early lead. Later Salford equalised and the play seemed to go off the boil for a while. It looked like it was going to be a draw then Walsall scored a second goal in the last minutes of injury time to win the match. Our side of the stadium erupted in joy. Peter was delighted to have seen his team win for a change.

The match.

The match.

The match.

The match.

The match.

The match.

Is that Ben on there?

Is that Ben on there?

We ate in the Wetherspoon's in New Street Station on our way home. I had a chicken burger and Peter had Wiltshire ham, egg and chips. It wasn't that great to be honest. We got chatting to a few people in the pub about how to know who's turn it is to be served next and about the state of the country. Back home we watched an episode of 'Vera' then called it a night.

Next day we were heading down to Peter's brother's house. He lives in a tiny hamlet in Buckinghamshire called Slapton. We had discovered there would be a rail strike on our return journey if we took our usual route down, so instead of travelling to Leighton Buzzard from New Street Station, we had to travel to Haddenham and Thame Parkway from Moor Street Station. It was quite a pleasant journey. The train went via some interesting places such as Banbury, Warwick and Leamington Spa. I noticed quite a bit of flooding in the fields on the journey down. Peter's brother picked us up from Haddenham and took us to his home. His wife had prepared us a wonderful birthday meal for Peter. She had even made him a coffee and walnut birthday cake.

Birthday boy with his cake.

Birthday boy with his cake.

For dinner we had pork in mushroom sauce with roast potatoes and vegetables. I discreetly took away Peter's mushrooms as he absolutely hates them, but Viv didn't know this. Anyway no harm done. The meal was delicious and Peter had his favourite vanilla ice-cream and meringues for dessert. After dinner it was movie time. We watched 'Hell or High Water,' a movie about two men who carry out a spate of bank robberies to save their family ranch.

Next day the weather was pretty rubbish, so we didn't go out until the evening. I had a quick wander around the garden, but it wasn't great weather for taking photos.

Garden flowers.

Garden flowers.

Garden flowers.

Garden flowers.

Garden ornament.

Garden ornament.

Lucky horse shoes.

Lucky horse shoes.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

We went to an Italian restaurant in Tring called Storia. It was quite pleasant. Peter had a pear, walnut, pistachio and gorgonzola pizza and I had marsala chicken. The food was very good and very filling. Peter ended up taking half of his pizza home with him. I attempted to pay for the meal, but was told it was all part of Peter's birthday treat.

Richard and Viv in the restaurant.

Richard and Viv in the restaurant.

Peter and I in the restaurant.

Peter and I in the restaurant.

My chicken masala.

My chicken masala.

Peter's pizza.

Peter's pizza.

After that we went to a pub called The Red Lion. I was finally allowed to pay for something. This was a very friendly and comfortable country pub. Behind where we were sitting there was a tank of brightly coloured tropical fish.

Peter in The Red Lion.

Peter in The Red Lion.

Next day Viv and I went for a country walk just around the area they live in. There are quite a lot of nice walks here, but having only one pair of shoes with me, I refused to do muddy ones. This was largely along roads. The hawthorn bushes were blossoming at the sides of the road. I could hear newborn lambs bleating, too, but couldn't see them. We passed the closed down village pub and saw the village church in the distance.

Village Church.

Village Church.

Former village Pub.

Former village Pub.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

Spring blossom.

Later Richard drove us to The Bake House for coffees. The Bake House is a cafe inside Ashridge House.

Ashridge House is a huge stately home that is over seven hundred years old. It was founded in 1283 by Edmund, Earl of Cornwall, as The College Bonhommes Monastery. With the dissolution of monasteries in 1539, Ashridge became the property of King Henry VIII. Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth I, was raised here. Princess Elizabeth continued to live here until she was arrested by her sister, Mary, in 1554. In 1604 Queen Elizabeth I's Lord Keeper, Sir Thomas Egerton, bought Ashridge House and it became home to the Dukes and Earls of Bridgewater for almost two hundred and fifty years. In 1808 the house was almost completely rebuilt by James Wyatt. In 1914, although still owned by the Bridgewater family, Ashridge House became a rehabilitation centre for the duration of the First World War. From 1929 Ashridge House was used as a training centre for Conservative Party workers. When World War II broke out, Ashridge House was again converted into a hospital. From 1949, Ashridge House became a ladies' finishing school. Then from 1959 Ashridge House became a business school called Ashridge Management. Nowadays as well as being home to a cafe and bar, Ashridge House hosts weddings and conferences. There was a wedding celebration taking place when we were there. We saw the horse drawn carriage and from a distance the bride.

White horses.

White horses.

Peter with his carriage.

Peter with his carriage.

Daffodils.

Daffodils.

Rhododendrons.

Rhododendrons.

Peter in front of Ashridge House.

Peter in front of Ashridge House.

Peter and I in front of Ashridge House.

Peter and I in front of Ashridge House.

Ashridge House.

Ashridge House.

Richard, Peter and Viv in front of Ashridge House.

Richard, Peter and Viv in front of Ashridge House.

Peter in front of Ashridge House.

Peter in front of Ashridge House.

Peter in front of Ashridge House.

Peter in front of Ashridge House.

Peter in the courtyard.

Peter in the courtyard.

Us in the courtyard.

Us in the courtyard.

Later that day we went for drinks in another pub, The White Swan, it was an attractive country pub with a large open fire place, not lit on our visit. The only problem for me was I ordered a sumo IPA. I've never tried it before. It was horrible, not sure if it just is horrible or if there was something wrong with it. I suspect the latter.

Peter in The White Swan.

Peter in The White Swan.

Peter in The White Swan.

Peter in The White Swan.

After drinks we returned home and Viv made us an excellent chicken schnitzel meal. We watched 'The Third Man's then retired to bed.

Next day we took the train back to Birmingham from Haddenham and Thame Parkway. The train was really busy due to the strike or the Easter holiday or both. Fortunately I managed to get a seat for Peter, but I had to stand for part of the way.

We checked into The Ibis on Ladywell Walk again. They had very kindly stored our luggage for us for free while we were away. We ate in their restaurant again that evening. We had our free drinks. Peter had his tuna sandwich again and I had a chicken burger.

Posted by irenevt 13:12 Archived in England Comments (8)

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