Week Five – Frantic Then Relief

4 Mar

Monday was already time to start thinking seriously about what to pack.  We had brought home a few things that we had accumulated and/or no longer needed to have in Europe so the bags were very light, except for the heavy winter clothing that we had needed in Paris on our way home.  We needed a few items from home but we had to be very careful not to bring too much because within the month everything we owned in Europe has to fit into our little car.  And we need to live out of the car (renamed ‘our large suitcase’) for the next four months.  By the time we added a few small Kiwiana gifts to take back the two bags totalled 26kg – not bad when one of the bags was 4.5kg empty and the other was 2.5kg (a smallish soft roller type).

Before we left France Leanne and I had talked about what food we had missed since we left home.  We both came up with Indian or Thai and I added a good steak pie.  I had managed to breathe in a couple of pies already but the spicy food was pending.  So Monday evening we met Darryn after he finished work at Thai Eden, one of our favourite Thai restaurants and close to home.  Steven had gone to Wellington for a few days and he is not so fond of spicy food anyway.

Thai Chicken Red Curry - yum!

Thai Chicken Red Curry – yum!

Getting my computer and more specifically all my photos backed up and moved on to external drives, updating software and basically trying to get everything bulletproof for another spell away was still taking blocks of my time.  I also had some things to sort out on Dad’s system, mainly updates so he could access my shared PhotoStream on his iMac.

On Tuesday evening we had a bunch of friends around…

This time it was not a BBQ.  Instead everyone brought along a plate of finger food and we shared the various dishes over a few beverages.

This time it was not a BBQ. Instead everyone brought along a plate of finger food and we shared the various dishes over a few beverages.

The next two days were a bit of a blur with last catch-ups with family and friends plus all the other things that always present at the last minute.  Our departure was at 6:50pm on Thursday and Steven drove us to the airport in plenty of time.  The online checkin got us into a shorter queue but I don’t think it saved any time – the longer queue was moving quickly and people at the front of our one were repacking bags at the counter and buggering about.  We got there in the end.  At last it was too late for any more last minute things, all we could do and wanted to do now was relax.

The  A380-800 is a very nice aircraft.  In economy class the legroom was better than AirNZ and Air France that we have been on recently.  Power outlets on every other seat is really good for keeping various devices working for the long sectors these aircraft fly.

On his trip to Wellington Steven bought himself a Blues shirt (the Blues are one of the Super 14 Rugby franchises).

On his trip to Wellington Steven bought himself a Blues shirt (the Blues are one of the Super 14 Rugby franchises).

The A380-800 is a huge airliner.  More like a flying village than an aeroplane.  And so quiet.

The A380-800 is a huge airliner. More like a flying village than an aeroplane. And so quiet.

We had a short stop in Melbourne before the main leg to Dubai.  Why they have to do the full security screening again beats me.  FFS we were screened before boarding and we have just deplaned and our movements are restricted so all we can do is go to the boarding area.  Why screen again?  The same thing happened in Dubai.  The whole air security thing is out of control; nobody has thought the process through.  Instead they just keep throwing in more bureaucracy until the whole system is going to choke.  And don’t get me started on where they recruit their staff from.  Time to change subject.

Once we got back in the air I managed to get 6-7 hours sleep and watch a couple of movies.

In transit in Dubai at some unnatural time of the day and I spotted this beauty.  A bargain at less than US$35k.

In transit in Dubai at some unnatural time of the day and I spotted this beauty. A bargain at less than US$35k.

My apologies for the awful photo but there was no other way.  Anyhow, the contents of this window must have had a retail value around US$300~400k.

My apologies for the awful photo but there was no other way. Anyhow, the contents of this window must have had a retail value around US$300~400k.

It was about 5am in Dubai so we found a café and ordered two coffees.  US$12!  Wow.  These guys must have been trying to save up to buy some Macallan!  The sector from Dubai to Nice was on a B777, a big step down from the A380.

The landing into Nice was exciting.  I was watching the nose mounted camera.  The wind was blowing hard directly off the sea and across the runway; there were white caps everywhere so I guess it was at least 30 knots.  Anyway, the aircraft approached the runway yawed probably 45˚ into this wind.  I never saw the runway on the nose camera because it was pointing across the airfield and out to sea!  When the wheels touched down there was a lurch as it straightened then a bit of fish-tailing as the pilot must have been earning his wages on the rudder/steering pedals.  It was exciting and as soon as things were settled applause broke out from the back of the cabin.  Thinking about it, we were over the wing so down the back must have felt many times worse.  As they say, every flight that you walk away from is a good one!

This is extremely cool!  Right there in the baggage claim area at Nice Airport.  Someone has been thinking.

This is extremely cool! Right there in the baggage claim area at Nice Airport. Someone has been thinking.

From the airport we took the shuttle to the train station and then caught the train to Les Arcs where Jeremy and Jo kindly met us and took us back to their place.  We had a cuppa and a chat then with fingers crossed I went out to our car to see if it would start.  I needn’t have worried, it started immediately and ran like a clock.  By the time we got back to Carcès it was about 5pm.  The weather was beautiful, clear and sunny with no sign of last week’s snow that had marooned Jeremy and Jo at their house for a couple of days.  With the sun down it was cold so we got the fire started to take the chill off the place.  Bedtime was early and with thermals on!

Saturday was also a sunny, clear day and we needed to buy some food.  After going to Le Luc we headed back through Le Thoronet only to find both Sue and Lew & Jean out so we took the long route home via Entrecasteaux. It was too nice a day not to do some sightseeing even if we had been there before.

Le Vieux Cannet on the hill and vines ready for Spring in the foreground.

Le Vieux Cannet on the hill and vines ready for Spring in the foreground.

We had been told about the Entrecasteaux Cricket Club but only found it on Saturday.  The large building on the far side is the back of the château.

We had been told about the Entrecasteaux Cricket Club but only found it on Saturday. The large building on the far side is the back of the château.

The Château in Entrecasteaux.

The Château in Entrecasteaux.

Still in Entrecasteaux, this is the bottom end of the one-way section.  I love the interesting ways these places have evolved to use all the available space.

Still in Entrecasteaux, this is the bottom end of the one-way section. I love the interesting ways these places have evolved to use all the available space.

Call me crazy but I just had to take a photo including this rock wall.  The background is not too shabby either!  Note the blossom on the left.

Call me crazy but I just had to take a photo including this rock wall. The background is not too shabby either! Note the blossom on the left.

Sunday was another nice day but there was a bit of fog/haze making the distance look a bit murky.  This was the day we decided to go in search of the snow that the locals had been trying to convince us had drawn the Var to a halt last week.  The was no sign of it around here so we went for a drive to the Gorges du Verdon via the secondary route, the D13, via Carcès, Cotignac, Fox Amphoux, Quinson and ending up in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie for lunch.

Since we were passing through and the light was good for a photo of the cliffs at Cotignac, why not?

Since we were passing through and the light was good for a photo of the cliffs at Cotignac, why not?

Snow in the Gorge du Verdon area as seen from Fox-Amphoux.

Snow in the Gorge du Verdon area as seen from Fox-Amphoux.

One of my loyal readers (yes, Steve) commented on how long it had been since I had posted a photo of lavender.  So here is one with some snow for extra effect.  Enjoy!

One of my loyal readers (yes, Steve) commented on how long it had been since I had posted a photo of lavender. So here is one with some snow for extra effect. Enjoy!

We had not approached Moustiers-Sainte-Marie form this route before and the sun angle was almost perfect (an hour later would have lit the chapel up in the gorge as well).  But you take what you can get when you are an amateur.

We had not approached Moustiers-Sainte-Marie form this route before and the sun angle was almost perfect (an hour later would have lit the chapel up in the gorge as well). But you take what you can get when you are an amateur.

La Chapelle Notre Dame de Beauvoir in the gorge above the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie.  We didn't climb the steps up to it this time, I used a 300mm zoom lens instead.

La Chapelle Notre Dame de Beauvoir in the gorge above the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. We didn’t climb the steps up to it this time, I used a 300mm zoom lens instead.

The route home was via Aiguines then on to the main route to Aups, Entrecasteaux, Carcès and home.

The remains of last week's snow around the château up at Aiguines above Lac de Sainte-Croix.

The remains of last week’s snow around the château up at Aiguines above Lac de Sainte-Croix.

What wonderful weather to welcome us back to France!  Next week I will tell you how long it lasted.  Stay tuned!

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2 Responses to “Week Five – Frantic Then Relief”

  1. james beetham March 14, 2013 at 08:02 #

    Brian havent caught up with your blog for awhile so good to do so also Moustiers must be one of the most attractive towns I have ever been to . and yes no lavendar for awhile . back up to sandy bay this wekend may go for a” sign off ” soon , hopefully not too complicated , ps Yahoo still having lots of problems ,never certain weither \i will get access or not
    regards to you and leanne james b

  2. Jim & Kathie March 8, 2013 at 03:05 #

    Great to catch up with you when you were home.Bernies Birthday was was a real family time. Keep the interesting blog going, Love to you both kathie& Jim

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