Saturday, April 24, 2010


Hi y'all!

Just thought I'd let you know that I never promised to write about every day. The Dales needed that, but youse are just going to have to put up with ramblings on an ad hoc basis (that's Latin for 'just get over it').

Paris has been sunny and, as usual, quite lovely. We have been scorching around on our Velibs. These are the bikes that are found at stations all around the city and where you pop your code in and ride for 30 minutes for free. Wonderful. After 30 minutes (more like 25) we rack our bikes and walk around for a bit, then hop onto anothery. Steph arrived Friday night for a weekend with us and I have just got a day pass for her today. She has had work in London and has found a lovely house within spitting distance of the Thames in Hammersmith. She is set up and enjoying it very much.

Jude has found some great spots in Paris. Most notably are the gardens I spoke of last time, but also an overhead garden that is the result of conversion of an old railway line. It runs for about 2.5 km and houses the most gorgeous walking/running track lined with trees, shrubs and flowers. People sit in amongst this greenery with faces turned towards the sun, as only people who see so little of it do! A kind of smile spreads across their faces as they turn 'solar-wards' and they hold that attitude for as long as it takes us to walk by - maybe even longer, as they are still holding it if we turn back to look. Quite a find, this 'jardin'!

Here are some observations regarding Parisians:

1. They seem to be very comfortable being where they are - that is, Paris. In other cities it seems that people are dying to be anywhere other than where they are. Parisians seem to love being right here ...

2. They smoke. Not inside any more, but anywhere else. And they smoke as if they are really enjoying it. And they smoke as if there ain't no tomorrow health-wise. We all know differently, but there would be no convincing these smoking Parisians.

3. There aren't any fat ones. Well, if you look closely you will find them, but they - in my estimation - are probably tourists, so my theory holds.

The other day I nearly got booked by a police officer. I was riding my velib the wrong way down a one-way street that was a little busier than it should have been. A police car came other way and signalled to me in simple and eloquent French that I should pull over. In simple and eloquent English I yelled "Sorry" many times and assumed an attitude of contriteness and sorrow AND THEN PEDALLED ON. The young-ish officer would have thought he had me on toast as a booking to boost his haul for the day, but he was facing the wrong way (remember) down the one-way street. I (and the skulking Jude on the other side of the road) took off for our lives not - happily - to the sound of police siren wailing. Whheeew!

Stephanie goes tomorrow (Sunday). We go to pick up our car on Monday and Collingwood is about to tear the hide off Essendon tomorrow. I don't suppose that it will be televised on BBC World or any other station in Paris. Got to feel sorry for the poor old Bombers, don't you.

That's it for now from me, but where are the contributions from YOUSE?

Join up and make some comments, or I'll 'rip your blood arms off' (remember that?).

We are headed off to show Steph the 'jardins' Jude found and that I told you about (see above and previous).

Always Your Best Pals,


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

London to Paris

So here we are in Paris for the next week. Our apartment is a very comfortable garret, right at the top of a building in Rue Mouffetard. This is a little street on the Left Bank that is full of restaurants and little food shops. Gorgeous.

First day was spent walking idly around the area around R. Moffetard, but ending up at the Jardin des Plants, the botanical garden that is more like an education facility than just a park. Tulips in full bloom here, with the daffodils and jonnies just slightly on the wane. A 'uge spreading pink-flower-laden apple tree. You should see the photo I took of Gorgeous Jude standing casually below, with blossoms almost climbing into her nostrils! [I really must learn how to upload photos onto this blog. Greg Bourke, George Swinson, where are you?].

Yesterday spent on bicycles. You know the famous Parisian ones? Well, there were the Ramblers scorching around Paris likle there was no tomorrow. Hurtling in and out of traffic in half-hour lots to avoid the toll (more than 30 minutes costs 5 euros, while any less costs zilch). We went to a bike shop up the Arc de Wassername and drooled at some bikes there. Still undecided as to whether to buy, buy and sell back, or just to hire as we go. Tres difficile!

Got to go now as Dear Jude has just returned with some baguettes, milk, tissues and toilet rolls. I just had a call from her from downstairs: "OK, let's go!". Impossible not to respond in a positive way to that call.

That's all for now. Bummer about the hold-ups for our friends the Cunninghams who are stuck in Melbourne because of the ash cloud. As Friend Ken says, however, lucky they are at home and not abandoned in some remote land like some poor peeps. Hurry along to us Ken and Nada!

YBPs Jude and Graeme

Dales Way - Day 6

Another perfect day weather-wise. When will our luck run out? Last evening was spent at the Jolly Angler in the company of Robert and Paul, our fellow wayfarers, Assumpter (our name for the very energetic young Scotswoman who ran the pub) and Harry the mole-catcher and executor. Some great yukk-yukk-yoing all around!

We needed to set a goodly pace, as we had 17 km to walk, but still make it in time for the 3:00 train from Windermere. Didn't want to have to sprint for the train with bags flying and blisters singing at us! [PS we made it on time.] Day 5 had been our toughest day, though it was difficult to tell exactly why. Lots of undulations, I suspect, which told heavily on calves and blisters (I, sadly, must confess to the latter, as I had not taped up before setting out - what a goose!). Quite different country here, with more open fields and stately houses - whitewashed, not stone. Rock walls mixed with hawthorn/gorse hedges, rather than just rock. More very cute lambs, including a set of twins born just prior to our arrival at the birthing site.

No Robert and Paul and we wanted to convey to them that you really do not know the Dales Way unless you had done the Bernside to Bowness bit (a little on the mean side, but we don't have any way of communicating this bit of nastiness, so it doesn't matter really ...). Coming in to Bowness was entering a maelstrom of frenetic tourism and rushing commerce. Down by the edge of Lake Windermere hords of holidaying tourists jostled for lake voyages on crammed sight-seeing boats. The town buzzed with holidaying activity. It was Sunday and not much time before all needed to hop back into their cars and resume work the following day in whatever part of the UK they earned their respective crusts. Imagine what it would be like in the holiday period!

We decided to walk the 1 mile to Windermere rather than catching the bus. This was a good call, as no bus hurtled along the track in the direction we were walking. No bus hurtled the other way as well. About half-way along we walked past Ye Olde Bathhouse where our friends Tim and Jenny Dickinson lived during one chapter of their lives. Absolutely cute as! We felt strangely 'at one' with those Dickinsons for a nanosecond or two before resuming blister-stomping on the way to the station at Windermere. On the way we stopped to grab some fish and chips from a tiny, but very efficient little shop run by tiny but efficient husband and wife. My little joke was not received very well ("... anywhere round here you can get fish and chips?"). The reason we chose this little shop was because it did not have a sign out the front advertising 'quality' fish and chips. They were very tasty, I can tell you. Very similar to the f&C purchased on the wharf at Port Fairy at the end of the Murray-to-Moyne ... Mind you, they couldn't possibly been as tasty as the 'chips and gravy' bought by the gentleman and little boy who were the customers served after I placed my order! What a meal that would have been, especially combined with the sausage added as an afterthought by the father.

The train departed on time, with us having shared our haddock and chips and cod and chips. I think that the best bits were the salt and the fat.
Hurtling past some of the country we had walked through, we were soon on the train to London, zooming at some incredible break-neck speed through the landscape of central and southern England where we arrived at Kings Cross station and caught up with Dear Stephanie. What an adventure it all was!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Dales Way - Day 5

Daybroke fine and dandy - AGAIN! So much good weather and so little appreciation from us, really, as we will never undersand how rough it can be up here in the Dales. It turns out that the name of our new friend is Robert, and not Richard. Apparently I heard incorrectly on the day we met. He heard me eferring to him as Richard today and gently corrected me. Apparently Robert is a legal eagle whoepresents folk in the entertainment industry on matters of copyright and similar matters. I daren't ask him the names of clients, as this would be far too offensive for someone of the legal fraternity! So 'Robert' it is.

At the bar in the hotel we stayed, the publican lady (whom we named 'Assumpta') introduced us to Harry, who was a mole catcher and one who found, killed and strung up moles, in order to earn a quid or two on top of his well-earned pension from years making coloured paper. He loved the critters themselves, but explained that this work topped up his income to bearable levels. Robert and Paul again provided great company and we were sad to say goodbye the next day. No promises of future contact - best left to savour the good, but brief times spent together ...

But I get ahead of myself. Day 5 comprised walking along a great variety of rivers, both up and down-stream. They included the Dee River, the Dent, the Kent (I think) and another river. There was a good deal of up and down today, but it was through country quite different to that the other side of the watershed. Less of the cute little cottages, and more of the manor-type construction. I am not at all sure that the walk would be better started at Windemere, given the contact with modern transport (car and train) as well as the less dense countryside (it is much more open on this side). This suggestion of mine was howled down by my travelling companions Jude, Paul and Robert (not 'Richard'). Jude and I even saw a doe ("a deer, a female deer") on the way to our final resting place at Bernside. It was sooooo cute and not spotted by any of our walking companions ...

Walking the last couple of km into Bernside took a great deal of effort, as we were about at our beam's end by this time. A couple of hoons wound down their windows and shouted that we were a couple of "walking wankers", which only added to my conviction that the walk would be better begun fromn the more 'modern' and 'commercial' Windermere end. Again, no trouble getting to sleep as we were all very 'tired, but happy' after another 25-km walk day. Wowsers, only one half-day to go ... It's all but over.