The Beast of Exmoor


One of my favourite places in the world is Exmoor. I love the wildness, the untamed views, the weather-deformed plants, the wildlife struggling to exist in an austere landscape. I love that people have had so little impact, and that wild ponies wander over areas of toughened grass and wiry heather. So, when we were in Devon, and Husband suggested a walk on the moors rather than another beach walk, I was very keen. 

I dressed in my new bobble hat and gloves and thick coat—because whatever the weather when you leave the house, the moors can catch you out with harsh winds that push through layers of clothes and freeze your bones. We drove to one of the roads that meanders through the moor, crossed the cattle grid, and looked for somewhere to park. There are several areas along the road where cars can pull off and stop.  There were various cars parked on areas of rock, and we were in a 4-wheel drive, so it was easy. I’m not sure how the Fiesta would manage. (But then, our Fiesta has moss growing on it, so I’m never sure it will even make it to the shops and back!)

The moor is covered with tracks, and we followed one towards a triangulation point (a small tower of concrete used in mapping). The earth was black, sodden from the rain, rivulets of water running between the granite stones. The wind snatched at our hats, tangling hair and tugging at our clothes, the heather whispered beside us as we walked up the hill. Kia had to be kept on the extending lead, because I didn’t trust her not to chase sheep or deer, but actually we didn’t see any animals at all, only their tracks.

We saw lots of footprints, and Exmoor is home to sheep, wild ponies, and deer–as well as possibly a panther.
We didn’t see any of them while we were walking.

The water was seeping through the peat soil, meeting a layer of granite and trickling down in a mini waterfall. Kia used it as a drinking fountain!

I was also looking out for signs of the Exmoor Beast—a probably mystical animal that has been sighted for decades on Exmoor. Apparently at one time, after a farmer had a flock of his sheep killed, the government based the Marine Commandoes on Exmoor, in hides, to try to confirm whether the animal existed. They didn’t see anything. Most people think that probably a panther was released there in the 1970’s, when the law changed so it was illegal to keep them as pets—but who knows? Unless it eats some people, it’s unlikely to be discovered.

We didn’t have a compass, and Husband worried that we might get lost if we wandered too far from the sight of the triangulation post. I thought we’d be fine, and marched off into the wilderness. It was surprisingly hard to find the same route back. If the mist had come down, I think you could wander for hours.

As we drove away from the moor, we saw a herd of deer, the males standing tall against the horizon—beautiful.

There is something about Exmoor that reminds us how small we are, how vulnerable we are when immersed in a wilderness, whether there are panthers or not, which is a good thing to be reminded of occasionally. A long walk in the wind also makes you feel a tea with scones and cream is completely justified—which is the part of Devon that should be enshrined in law.

There are triangulation posts scattered over Exmoor, which make helpful markers for not getting lost. Other places have standing stones: large slabs of granite standing up like soldiers.

I hope you have a wonderfully wild time this week. Take care.
Love, Anne x

Thank you for reading
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow my blog?

Snappy Lids Are Very Loud!


Snappy lids are very loud!

 

It’s that time of year when all the ‘vouchers’ my family gave me for Christmas are being used up, and I am having lots of nice treats (much nicer than another pair of socks!) Last week I used my ‘afternoon tea’ voucher.

To be honest, when I suggested a voucher for afternoon tea, I had been thinking about a trip to London, to one of the big posh hotels. I have already been fortunate enough to have been invited to a tea at The Ritz (which is sort of the ‘ultimate’ traditional English afternoon tea venue) but I have heard that Claridge’s does a very good tea too. (At £70 per person, it jolly well ought to be good! The Ritz is a bargain at only £60 per person—though don’t be tempted to pay another £50 for a birthday cake, as the cake which arrives is the size of a cupcake and looks rather dry, in my opinion. I have rather strong opinions when it comes to cake).

However, my gift was not for tea in London, it was for afternoon tea at the Watersmeet Hotel in Devon—where you might remember we had an exceptionally lovely tea last year. We were staying in Instow, Devon, for a few days (Husband tends to take me there every January so I can recover from Christmas—I tend to be not very nice and exceptionally explosive when I’m over-tired, so it’s probably a good idea). I packed some smart clothes (ie, clothes not covered in dog/cat hairs or mud) and we drove to the hotel on Sunday afternoon. The drive was a pretty one, through lanes bordered with high hedges, past tiny streams meandering through valleys, and through towns with old churches and stone cottages and lanes only just wide enough for a car.

 The Watersmeet Hotel has a dining room with big windows overlooking the cove. It looks very nice on their website, but last year when we arrived for our tea, we were seated in the lounge—still nice, but not quite as nice. Last year I had commented, and tried to show them my voucher, with photos of the dining room. Husband whispered that actually he had made the voucher himself, by stealing photos from their website, so perhaps my position wasn’t as strong as I thought it was! This year though, Husband had specifically asked if we could sit in the dining room when he booked the tea. We were shown to a seat, in the window, looking down on the cove. It was perfect.

The tea, when it arrived, was enough for at least four people. I had remembered this from the previous year, and had come prepared. Smuggled into my smart blue bag, were tiny plastic containers with snappy lids, all ready to store any leftover food.

We sat and drank tea (proper, strong, made with tea-leaves, tea). We admired the food, and ate the sandwiches and some of the cakes and one of the scones. I then, very stealthily, drew the first container from my bag. It was small—the perfect size for a fat scone. Husband laughed at me, and commented that his nan* would be proud of me. All was going well, no one else noticed, until I came to close the lid. Snappy lids are very loud. The sound echoed around the empty dining room, and the family sitting in the lounge looked up, surprised. Husband laughed. I looked at the remaining cakes, and glanced at the row of small containers sitting deceptively quietly in my bag. Dare I use them to store the leftover cakes and cause a whole series of loud pops?

 Yep, I dared. It was loud, and the waitress popped in to find out what was happening, but the cakes weren’t wasted.

Actually, we were offered boxes to take home the leftovers, but the cakes were delicate tarts and soft sponges and last year we arrived home to find a mangled mess of unidentifiable flavours, so snappy-lid containers are much better. If somewhat louder.

We enjoyed the view, which is so much more spectacular than any London hotel could offer.

When we arrived back at the cottage, the cakes were still perfect in their containers, and we enjoyed them over the next few days.

I hope you have some things to enjoy too. Thanks for reading. Take care.

Love, Anne

PS. Afternoon Tea at Watersmeet Hotel is £22 per person, and with an incomparable view—but remember to ask to be seated in the dining area when you book. And don’t forget to take some containers for the left-overs.

 

 

*When I first met Husband’s family, way back in the 80’s when we were teenagers, his family were still eating the sugar which his nan had stockpiled during the sugar shortage of the 70’s! I am never sure whether being compared to her is necessarily a compliment. . .

Thank you for reading.
Why not sign up to follow my blog?
anneethompson.com

Nashville Honky-Tonks. . . and other stuff


 I’m excited to tell you about Nashville, because it was so unexpected!

Before we visited, I read the guide books, and they described honky-tonks. They sounded like fun, so I hoped we’d manage to find one while we were there. I had no idea how significant they are.

Now, Nashville is the centre for country music—this I knew. Think Dolly Parton and Hank Williams. . . For any Country band that wants to find fame, Nashville is the place to be. What I hadn’t really grasped though, was that this means Nashville is the ‘go to’ place for anyone who really loves listening to country music, and that anyone who is a big fan hopes, at some point in their life, to visit Nashville. A sort of Mecca for committed fans. Which means the centre of Nashville is simply teeming with people (even older than me!) dressed in cowboy boots and hats, having the trip they have always dreamed of. It makes it a happy, exciting place, because most people are fulfilling their ambition, and the honky-tonks are full of them.

Now, everyone should visit a honky-tonk. There is a street—Broadway—which is lined with bars (as in, every building is a bar). They are 2-storey red-brick buildings with flashing billboards and flat roofs. Each bar has a band crammed into the windows, playing live music, which is blasted outside through speakers. People listen, sing, clap while drinking beers and eating the sort of fried food that sticks to your ribs and fills your stomach. This is a honky-tonk.

 The bands are extremely talented, so you get to hear the very best country music being played live, all day long. I guess that any country music singer or band that hopes to ‘make it big’ goes to Nashville, looking for a slot in a honky-tonk in the hope that they will be spotted and picked up by a record label. It means the music is excellent. Some of the acts are tribute bands, some play their own music.

We sat and listened to a Johnny Cash tribute band and drank beer, then wandered round the corner to a 7-storey diner for dinner. We ate fried shrimp and grits (big prawns and a sort of creamed sweetcorn mix with garlic and flour, which looks like mashed potato, for my English readers!) and hotpot with brussel sprouts that were fried, and delicious.

Some honky-tonks ask for ID before they will let you in (even from obviously-old people like us). I think it’s the law, so they are all meant to ask for ID, but some places are stricter than others, and it was bit of a shock when I didn’t have my passport with me to not be allowed into a bar because I didn’t have proof of age with me! Long, long time since that has happened. . .

Tuesday, we decided to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame. We walked there, which took most of the morning because the pedestrian crossings have lights, which take absolutely ages to change. Husband spends the whole time telling me we can ‘do a quick nip’ and invariably crosses while the lights are still red—and then waits for me on the other side, so I’m not sure what it achieves.

 Arrived at the Hall of Fame eventually and paid an extortionate $25.95 each to enter. I would say, unless you are a big country music fan, then use the money for dinner instead. We didn’t pay for audio guides, so wandered around the museum not knowing what anything was. Most of the displays were about people who I’d never heard of, and there is a limit to how interesting their clothes and shoes are (and that limit was below $25.95!) To be fair, other people were emitting gasps of excitement at photographs of music scores of famous songs (which I didn’t recognise) and they seemed ecstatic at the shoes and handbags of a girl with brown hair (who I didn’t recognise) so perhaps I’m the wrong person to offer an opinion. The only thing of mild interest to me was Elvis Presley’s gold Cadillac.

I learned that: people found the title of ‘hillbilly’ too derogatory, and preferred the image of cowboys, so started to wear the hats and boots and link the style to the music. There were a lot of female comediennes, and they were very famous back in the day. I also listened to a lot of guitar music.

We left the museum as soon as we could without feeling that we had entirely wasted $25.95 (though the feeling lingered) and went for a walk. I was keen to have a coffee in a china mug—this has become bit of a thing with me now, I really hate drinking from disposable cups. It took some time to find anywhere that used china mugs, and we ended up in the Fairlane Hotel, where we over-paid for a bagel, but did manage to have coffee in china mugs.

We walked up to Tennesee State Capitol. Husband asked me if I wanted to walk “up an ugly road or along a pretty river?” We walked along the road (I felt it was the only option, given the question. But it was rather ugly). The capitol was worth a look, and a photograph, but the weather was too hot for it to be good for long. We then returned to the hotel via the river, which was lined with homeless people and felt distinctly dodgy. America seems to have a lot of homeless people, but maybe I just notice them more than in England.

Dinner began with another beer in another honky-tonk. They are such fun! This one had a band singing, and people were swaying along with the music and generally having a nice time.

Walking back to the hotel after dinner, we saw a hot-tub full of girls, being towed around town on the back of a lorry. I’m guessing it was a hen party. The waiter wore a cowboy hat. Not everyone in Nashville is older than me.

We left Nashville via the Belle Mead Plantation. I wanted to learn something about the slave trade here. But that will have to be my next blog.

Thank you for reading. I hope you hear some good music today.
Take care.

Love, Anne x

We spent October on a road trip, driving through the Eastern States of America. We had a fabulous time!
Why not sign up to follow my blog, then you can share our adventures…
anneethompson.com

 

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy my travel blogs, you will love my travel book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. Available from an Amazon near you.

UK Link: Here

 

US Link: Here

 

The Blue Ridge Parkway


The Blue Ridge Parkway

We left Philadelphia and made our way to the Blue Ridge Parkway, starting at the Visitor Centre, where a helpful woman gave us a map and some suggestions, and I bought a fridge magnet. Then we set off.

The Parkway is basically a road that runs across the top of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Most of the time the road (hundreds of miles of it) is surrounded on both sides by trees. We were there just as they were beginning to turn for autumn—they would have been spectacular a week later! Then the trees part, and you glimpse valleys, on both sides, stretching away from you, full of miniature towns and farms and forests.

There are stopping places, and the map recommended short walks, where we passed disused railway lines, and lakes, and views across the valley. I couldn’t quite reconcile the National Park signs with the rifles that decorated them. But then I am British, hunting with rifles is not something we tend to do very often.

A webworm cocoon. They were huge!

In the trees, there were giant cobwebs—like something from a horror film, silken threads binding giant prey. I later learned that actually they are cocoons, made by webworms, and they neither kill massive prey nor damage the trees.

The road was relatively empty, we saw the occasional car or motorbike, but mostly it was just us and mile after mile of trees. It was very relaxing—easy for Husband to drive (no stop-lights) and a chance for me to shut my eyes and nap.

We ate bagels for lunch, and left the Parkway mid-afternoon for coffee and donuts. That is the wonderful thing about America: Husband says he fancies coffee and a donut, I do a quick search on Google Maps, 30 minutes later we’re in a Dunkin Donuts!

After a while, we drove through the plains on the ridge—flat areas of fields, with cows and the odd farm building, but still at the top of the mountain range.

 We spent the first night in a Fairfield Inn in Wytheville. The following morning when we ran, we could see the Smokey Mountains in the distance, covered with shifting clouds. We ran along a residential street, with painted wooden houses that had autumnal displays of pumpkins and flowers decorating their steps. The air was cool and crisp, and the streets were deserted.

After breakfast, as it was Sunday, I found a church online, and we visited Sunny Hills Church in Wytheville. It was a modern hall, set back from the road (everyone owns so much land in this country!) with a duck pond (good start). We were offered coffee and donuts when we arrived, and everyone was very friendly.

After church we bought more bagels, and wound our way back to the Parkway to continue our drive south. It was a foggy day, so there was less view, but it was so much more pleasant than a motorway.

Bagels are a staple food here. There is plenty of choice, and each can be filled with a variety of tasty fillings. Easy to be fat in America.

All along the Parkway are regular stopping areas, with bins and washrooms. Our lunch stop had signs warning about the bears, and bear-proof bins (which Husband also found to be bit of a challenge!) We didn’t actually see any bears, despite straining my eyes to see into the trees. In fact, the most interesting wild-life we saw was the road kill! We saw squashed armadillos, and racoons and chipmunks.

As we drew near to Asheville, the Parkway passed through some stone tunnels, which were rather spooky in the mist. There were still very few other cars.

We stayed in Asheville for our last night on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Dinner was at Cornerstone Diner, which was pretty perfect. We asked about bears, and were told that they hardly ever attack people (which was not quite what I was hoping to hear). The following morning when we left for our run, there were lots of ‘Beware of the Bears’ signs up on the doors of the hotel. We ran, nervously, along a residential road around a lake. It was very near to the hotel, and the motorways, but it felt like a country park. There were trees and houses and quiet roads. I have noticed this about America, they tend to have very concentrated areas of housing, or shops, or offices—but they are separate. In England a street might have a mix of houses and shops, with an office or two muddled in somewhere.

We did not get eaten by a bear, and continued our drive to Nashville. Nashville was amazing! I will tell you about it in my next blog. The Blue Ridge Parkway was a nice interlude during our long drive, and helped to remind us of the vastness that is America. Have a good day, and take care (especially if there are bears!)

Love, Anne x

We spent October on a road trip, driving through the Eastern States of America. We had a fabulous time!
Why not sign up to follow my blog, then you can share our adventures…
anneethompson.com

 

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy my travel blogs, you will love my travel book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. Available from an Amazon near you.

UK Link: Here

 

US Link: Here

 

Road Trip


Road Trip

October was amazing! Well, it was for us anyway, and I hope you had a good month too—though mine was particularly special as we ‘took a month out’ and went on a road trip. Husband is sort of between jobs (though they have overlapped a little) and we had two offspring briefly living at home (lucky them—they had the pleasure of house-sitting and caring for my menagerie!) so I arranged cover for my other responsibilities, and off we went.

We started in New Jersey. The plan was to fly to the US, hire a car, and drive down the east coast, booking hotels as we went. I was pretty sure that super-organised Husband would have every hotel/meal/rest-stop planned before we left, but he didn’t! (Actually, I think that he had planned to, but at the last minute, he needed to go abroad with his job, and so there was simply no time.)

I will share our trip with you over the next few months. As ever with my travel blogs, they are written in real time, while I am there, and posted on my blog later, when we’re home and I have more time to sort the photographs and delete the bits I decide are a bit dodgy. We flew to New York, then drove to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, to Nashville Tennessee, across to the Carolinas, down into Florida, and back to Atlanta Georgia. We covered about 3,500 miles, which is as far as if we had driven from London to New York! It was amazing!

If you don’t want to miss any, you can sign up to follow my bog at: anneethompson.com

If you ever plan to do a road trip, especially a long one, then here are my top tips:

  • *Go with someone you like! We spent many hours together, in a car, chatting and laughing and passing comment on what we saw. If I had been with someone less fun or interesting, it would have been dire.
  • *If you’re not great at lots of change, book hotels that are all part of the same chain. We stayed in Marriot Hotels (because Husband has a loyalty card due to copious work trips) and they are all basically the same. We tended to stay in Fairfield Inn, or Springhill Suites, or Residence Inn. We would check in, go to the room, and the layout was usually identical. So, I would put my suitcase in the corner by the air-conditioning unit, put my washbag next to the sink, hide my valuables in the big drawer under the telly, plug my phone into the recharging port on the clock-radio…and so on. Everything had a place, which meant packing and unpacking was very routine. It also meant that when I woke in the night and needed the washroom, I didn’t have that horrid disorientated feeling of not knowing where to head in the dark (nothing worse than peeing in the wardrobe by mistake).
  • *Plan some laundry stops. Some hotels have coin operated washing machines, and this makes a huge difference to a long trip. We needed to take a mix of clothes, as October in the States can have very hot and very cold days. To avoid taking 27 suitcases each, we needed to do some laundry.
  • *Have a smaller bag to hold a couple of day’s worth of clothes. We didn’t want to take all our cases into every hotel if we were only staying for a night, so I used my hand-luggage pull-along for my washbag, and enough clothes for the next couple of days.
  • *Force yourself to do some exercise. We realised that most of the time we would be sitting in a car, or wandering around cities, whilst eating lots of delicious (but unhealthy) food. We decided that every morning, we would go for a run. I use the word ‘run’ loosely, as I run slower than most people walk, but I do get very hot and red and breathless, so I assume it’s good aerobic activity. I find I feel better if my body is working properly. It also means you see snippets of real life happening in the area—people collecting their take-out coffee on the way to work, street cleaners, people opening their shops, other people jogging. (I particularly enjoyed seeing ‘real joggers’—they would lift a hand in greeting as we passed, and it made me feel like a proper runner, rather than a middle-aged woman pretending!)
  • *Take some vitamins and probiotics. You never know what you might be eating on the road, but in the US, lots of it is wonderfully delicious and super-processed. I bought some dried apricots, to keep everything moving! I also took vitamins every day, so it didn’t matter if there wasn’t too much in the way of fresh fruit and veg, and probiotics so my stomach could cope with all the new bacteria it would be facing.

I will start telling you about some of the things we saw tomorrow. I’ll start with Atlanta, which is actually at the end, because that is freshest in my mind and I wrote fewer notes at the time. I hope you enjoy reading about our road trip. It was such fun!

I hope you have a good week. Take care.

Love, Anne x

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy my travel blogs, you will love my travel book: The Sarcastic Mother’s Holiday Diary. Available from an Amazon near you.

UK Link:

 

US Link:

A Trip to Monk’s Island (near Cannes) and Cube-Throwing in Biot


Saturday August 24th

We all met for breakfast at 8.15. Some people are more awake than others, but buffets tend to get a little ‘picked over’ after a while, so although the AC Hotel does a good breakfast, I don’t like being late. I collected my freshly brewed coffee, some pancakes, banana and maple syrup, and tuned in to the conversations going on around me. Husband was discussing inherited advantage. Girlfriend stuck her finger into her eye—but I think the two were unconnected.

We decided to go to Monk’s Island: Ile Saint-Honorat. We could catch a train from Juans-les-Pins to Cannes, which avoids having to try and park, and then a ferry to the island. Emm had suggested that we hire kayaks and row there, but we were all ignoring that bit.

Catching the train was easy. Return tickets to Cannes were 5 euro. The train was air conditioned, double-decked, and quite full. Most of the journey we could see nothing but ugly concrete walls, with the occasional snatched view of sun shining on deep blue sea and boats.

We arrived in a very hot Cannes at 1.30pm. We walked through pretty streets, past restaurants smelling of steaks and garlic, and shops where cold air seeped onto the pathway, and hotels with sleepy guests on balconies. We followed signposts to the quay, and to the ticket office. We then sat, blasted by the sun, waiting for the boat. I wished I had carried my umbrella, so I could have created some shade.

The boat loaded, and we sailed out to sea. Cannes was laid out on the hills to our left, huge ships and pleasure boats were to our right. The wind swept across the deck, drying our sweaty tee-shirts while two men argued in French behind me. Actually, they were French, they might not have been arguing at all—to me, all French men sound as if they are either furious or trying to make love—there seems to be no middle ground.

Ile Saint-Honorat is a little island off the coast of Cannes, which is owned by a monastery. The monks allow people to visit, but ask that they dress appropriately and respect the silence of the island. I imagined a secluded island, rarely visited, practically cut-off from the rest of France. Instead, as we arrived at the quay, I saw about a million pleasure boats bobbing in the harbour—not so secluded then.

The monastery was lovely, with a very pretty church. We walked to it through vineyards, and attached to the monastery is a shop, where you can buy all things bee-related (beeswax candles, honey, soaps, alcohol) as well as wine made on the island, religious books, and saintly pendants (which always seem like lucky-charms to me). We saw a few monks, dressed in black and white robes (must have been incredibly hot to wear them all day) but most were hidden away in places not open to the public.

We caught the ferry back to the mainland. Cannes was still hot. We walked back to the station, staring at people we passed, trying to guess if they owned one of the multimillion-dollar boats in the harbour, or if they aspired to, of if they had no interest in the glitzy lifestyle at all. As we walked along one street, we were overtaken by soldiers, all in khaki, carrying machine guns. They fanned out, lining the road, looking in all directions. It was very unnerving. We kept walking, but I wondered if we were being stupid, and hiding under a table would have been better a response. Probably they were getting in place, ready for the motor cavalcade of someone important, but we’d have felt daft afterwards if we’d been shot. We weren’t.

Dinner at La Taille de Guepe (24, rue de Fersen, in the old part of Antibes). The food was delicious, and decorated with edible flowers. It was lovely.

After dinner we walked back via the main square, which was full of musicians and artists and people enjoying themselves. The sleepy old town wakes up at night.

 

Sunday August 25th

The last day of our holiday, so some people went to the beach, others to the pool.

After lunch we drove to Biot, a little village in the hills behind Cannes. There is a large town car park, which was surprisingly full. Then we learned that we had happened to visit on the afternoon of the boules carrees championship, and teams were playing it in every street, and square, and lane. The game appeared to be the same as boule—when you throw little balls towards a target, and the closest wins—but it is played with small coloured cubes (the kind you built towers with as a toddler). Teams were all ages, but the games were pretty intense, and there was a lot of pressure to not, by mistake, walk across the area where they were playing (which as they were playing everywhere was sometimes quite hard!)

Biot is a pretty town, and when not full of people throwing cubes around, it is famous for its blue glass. There were galleries and shops and art installations of blue glass. But mainly, there were people throwing cubes…

We ate an ice-cream, wandered (carefully) through some pretty squares, and sat for a while on a bench, enjoying the view. A sleepy end to our holiday.

Thank you for sharing the holiday with me. If you have enjoyed the blogs, look out for my travel book—I think you will enjoy it.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

Thank you for reading.
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow my blog?

 

Old Town Antibes, Are the French Rude? And David David (so good they named him twice…)


Thursday August 22nd

I walked with Husband to the old town of Antibes (it takes about 15 minutes to walk from the bustling beach of Juan-les-Pins to the ancient town of Antibes on the other side of the peninsula).

There is a public beach area, dotted with rugs and towels, where families had set up camp for the day. Most of the beach is reserved as ‘private’ by the hotels and restaurants, and are crammed full with loungers practically touching under parasols. I much prefer the public areas. The beach has sand, and has a long shallow strip into the sea, which makes a nice place to swim (if you like swimming, which I don’t).

We wandered along the quay area, looking at boats and sculptures, and the little fort on the hill, before walking through one of the old city gates and to the area full of narrow cobbled streets. There are lots of art shops and galleries and interesting things to look at. On Thursdays, there is a market, full of bright spices and smelly meats and fresh fruit, and French people doing their shopping.

We had an espresso next to a fountain, listening to an old man playing an accordion. This is what I love about France.

We ate warm baguettes and humus for lunch, then Husband and son set off to Nice airport to collect Girlfriend, and the rest of us went into Juans-les-Pins. We strolled along the front, then decided to stop for a drink. The place we chose basically ignored us, and even though we eventually managed to order drinks, they never actually arrived, so we left. I left a bad review on Google Reviews, and when they replied, they basically said it wasn’t worth their effort for “two lousy sodas”! I felt that summed up our experience rather well. The trouble is, when we are visiting a different country, the people who we meet tend to colour our view of the whole nation. People often tell me that “the French are very rude” and undoubtedly, some of them are (like the people in the over-priced cafe by the beach). But some of them are not, some French people are kind, and polite, and help us with our bad French speaking, and make our trip special. It’s important to remember the nice people.

 

Friday August 23rd

Today we went back to the old town of Antibes, as I wanted to show the family some of the sculptures. They are by an artist called David David. (I really hope that his mother was called Mrs David, and she decided to name her son David. It’s an easy name to remember!) There was an exhibition of his work, which I rather like. He makes fibreglass people in poses that make a statement about society, and they are rather like those people you find in tourist areas, who pretend to be a statue and then move when you’re not expecting it. These did not move. I’m not sure about his paintings, but the statues I loved. I took lots of photographs, some with people posing next to them (and then felt bad about commenting on Husband’s many photographs of fish).

We ate dinner at La Storia, Boulevard Dugommier. It was a lovely meal, and the first restaurant in Antibes where I felt they cared whether or not we enjoyed our meal (many restaurants are rather off-hand, even though quite expensive). The pasta was freshly cooked, the salads were arranged to look pretty (rather than simply plonked into a bowl) and the puddings were all delicious. We were given lemoncello shots when we paid. I wish we had found them earlier in the holiday, we would have eaten there again.

I hope you have some good food today.
Take care and thank you for reading.
Love, Anne x

Thank you for reading.
anneethompson.com
Why not sign up to follow my blog?