Enjoying The Warmth

30 Sep

We have had a fairly busy week enjoying the warm weather while it lasts and spending lots of time catching up with people.  We managed to tick off two places that have been on our list since we first arrived – Cassis and Juan les Pins.  The boat trip around the coastal ‘callanques’ at Cassis was excellent.  And it always helps when the weather is extra nice on the day of course.

The weather was perfect on our visit to Cassis and the water was also flat for our boat trip to see five of the key sights over an hour.

The weather was perfect on our visit to Cassis and the water was also flat for our boat trip to see five of the key sights over an hour.

There were just so many beautiful scenes to photograph - I ended up with 280 photos just from the boat trip.

There were just so many beautiful scenes to photograph – I ended up with 280 photos just from the boat trip.

I would have liked to get more of the reflection in the water but the boat was too close to the cliffs for that!

I would have liked to get more of the reflection in the water but the boat was too close to the cliffs for that!

Back in the port at Cassis and there was still no rest for my shutter finger!  Everywhere I looked there were photos to be taken.

Back in the port at Cassis and there was still no rest for my shutter finger! Everywhere I looked there were photos to be taken.

I grabbed this shot through the locked front gate.  I think it was part of a winery, can't be sure though.

I grabbed this shot through the locked front gate. I think it was part of a winery, can’t be sure though.

By the time we got finished with our walk with Jeremy and Robin on Tuesday it was about 28˚C and we had covered 13km.  By the time we got home and had a quick shower we were 15 minutes late getting to Sabine & Jean-Marc’s place for ‘tea’ at 14h00.  We needn’t have worried because Jeremy & Jo and Robin all arrived after we did.  Only Lew & Jean were on time!  We were treated to tiramisu and chocolate cake.  And so much for tea, out came the pink sparkling wine!  In a flash it was already 18h30!

One especially interesting thing for me was to observe the greeting and departing procedure and especially with the children.  First Sabine & Jean-Marc’s two sons arrived home from school.  They are about eight and twelve I think.  Anyway, they went around the table to greet every person with a light kiss on the cheek.  Then a friend and neighbour of the boys arrived.  She was also twelve or so and she also greeted each of us.  Bear in mind that these children had never ever met Leanne & I before.  Then when the young girl left an hour later she repeated the entire process, no shyness, just very composed.  It was such a nice thing to see and experience.  Of course it is standard procedure with adults but I was surprised at how young the children adopt the protocol and how graciously they perform it.  It possibly also explains why French gatherings last so long – nobody wants to leave first/early because there are so many other people to kiss and shake hands with!

Tuesday's walk with Jeremy and Robin was near Le Muy in an area called 'Les Menhirs Des Terriers'.  Near the top there were a small collection of menhirs thought to be 5~6,000 years old.  They were only discovered in 1991 even though they are located just 5m off the well used track.

Tuesday’s walk with Jeremy and Robin was near Le Muy in an area called ‘Les Menhirs Des Terriers’. Near the top there were a small collection of menhirs thought to be 5~6,000 years old. They were only discovered in 1991 even though they are located just 5m off the well used track.

Here are the menhirs.  The grass had only just been trimmed so the site was very obvious.  I can only imagine that it must have been very heavily shrouded with bushes for it to be concealed until 1991.  It is lucky that the bulldozer that formed the fire track that runs past here didn't demolish them by accident.

Here are the menhirs. The grass had only just been trimmed so the site was very obvious. I can only imagine that it must have been very heavily shrouded with bushes for it to be concealed until 1991. It is lucky that the bulldozer that formed the fire track that runs past here didn’t demolish them by accident.

Not a lot of flowers on the walk but there were a few patches of this small heather.

Not a lot of flowers on the walk but there were a few patches of this small heather.

Yum, chocolate cake.  It has no calories because the pieces of chocolate on the top are all broken!

Yum, chocolate cake. It has no calories because the pieces of chocolate on the top are all broken!

Sabine's lovely tiramisu.  It did not survive the afternoon, with a little help from the boys when they got home from school we finished it all.

Sabine’s lovely tiramisu. It did not survive the afternoon, with a little help from the boys when they got home from school we finished it all.

On Thursday we headed back to Antibes for lunch at Le Vauban.  I probably raved about it last time so I’ll spare you that again.  If you want to know more about lunch, click here.  You were warned!  On the way we visited Juan les Pins…

Juan Les Pins had been on our list for a visit since we first arrived in Provence.  Apparently it was the place to be seen in the sixties. We got free parking on the street right near the promenade. That was the highlight of the place really. It is mainly private beaches and tired looking. BTW, this photo is very flattering!

Juan Les Pins had been on our list for a visit since we first arrived in Provence. Apparently it was the place to be seen in the sixties. We got free parking on the street right near the promenade. That was the highlight of the place really. It is mainly private beaches and tired looking. BTW, this photo is very flattering!

Still in Juan Les Pins, this was the only other photo I took.

Still in Juan Les Pins, this was the only other photo I took.

The RN7 (part of the national highway network) passes through Le Cannet and Le Luc.  We use this section frequently and while I had noticed the derelict garage I had never stopped.  Then we learned last week that this garage was one of the original ones dating back to the formation of the RN7.  It is referenced in the history of the route so it seemed duly respectful to stop and record it myself.

The RN7 (part of the national highway network) passes through Le Cannet and Le Luc. We use this section frequently and while I had noticed the derelict garage I had never stopped. Then we learned last week that this garage was one of the original ones dating back to the formation of the RN7. It is referenced in the history of the route so it seemed duly respectful to stop and record it myself.

I guess this is a WWII relic.  It doesn't look like it has moved for a while.

I guess this is a WWII relic. It doesn’t look like it has moved for a while.

The tall ships festival in Toulon started on Friday and since I was leaving for the Charente on Saturday we had to go on the first day.  It was probably just as well, there were plenty of people there and I imagine the weekend would have been manic.  The weather was hot and a bit humid and although generally fine there were clouds obscuring the mountain tops immediately behind Toulon.  Anyway, we had a very nice time.

Some of the tall ships gathered at Toulon for the 4 day festival.  The 'Alexander von Humboldt II' on the left and 'Belem' on the right.

Some of the tall ships gathered at Toulon for the 4 day festival. The ‘Alexander von Humboldt II’ on the left and ‘Belem’ on the right.

The harbour was getting rather busy at times with various classic boats plus spectator craft.

The harbour was getting rather busy at times with various classic boats plus spectator craft.

The name on this one was in Russian and I have no idea what it was now.

The name on this one was in Russian and I have no idea what it was now.

As well as tall ships there were more people totting DSLRs that I have ever seen in one place.

As well as tall ships there were more people totting DSLRs that I have ever seen in one place.

There were three tall ships lined up along this pier.  It was pretty impressive.  Various ships had visiting times posted but the queues made it a non-starter for us.

There were three tall ships lined up along this pier. It was pretty impressive. Various ships had visiting times posted but the queues made it a non-starter for us.

Looking back up the row of three.  I don't know the name of this one either - it had 'MИP' on its side.

Looking back up the row of three. I don’t know the name of this one either – it had ‘MИP’ on its side.

This ship was at least 200m away (thank goodness for zoom lenses).  I am not doing very well on names again but in my defence there is no name visible on this one anyway.

This ship was at least 200m away (thank goodness for zoom lenses). I am not doing very well on names again but in my defence there is no name visible on this one anyway.

A proposal for the next Americas Cup.  That'll keep the budget in check!

A proposal for the next Americas Cup. That’ll keep the budget in check!

Smaller vessels were lined up right outside the port-side cafés.

Smaller vessels were lined up right outside the port-side cafés.

This church was only 50m from the waterfront and caught our attention in the late afternoon light.

This church was only 50m from the waterfront and caught our attention in the late afternoon light.

Inside the church there no service in progress but this chap was busy with some ritual act at the front.  My only observation was that clergy should probably stick to preaching and leave hairdressing to those who are properly trained.

Inside the church there no service in progress but this chap was busy with some ritual act at the front. My only observation was that clergy should probably stick to preaching and leave hairdressing to those who are properly trained.

On Saturday the weather was quite overcast and again humid – not bad conditions for driving.  We made a brief visit to the puce (flea market) in Le Cannet before coming home for a cooked breakfast.  Then I fired all our stuff into the car which seemed to fit far too easily leaving me wondering what I had forgotten.  Leanne is going to survive the next week or so with just a small backpack of clothes and stuff so she doesn’t have too much to carry when she catches the train to join up with me on Tuesday the 8th of October.  This ‘trial separation’ has come about because housesitting for Sue overlapped with our next job in the Charente (long story…).

I even had time to give the car a long overdue wash before leaving and it had a full tank of diesel yesterday afternoon.  So come 13h30 I was on the road for Toulouse where I was going to spend the night.  471km in 4h20m.  Not bad motoring. I was in my hotel room relaxing by 18h00.  The tolls are heavy though!  It cost a total of €38.80 in tolls and this was only halfway!  My tank of diesel was stretching out well, the gauge only having dropped 3 bars out of 9 plus ‘reserve’.

I set off again at 08h30 the next morning, oblivious to what day of the week it was.  I had decided to try and make it all the way to Fomperron on the one tank.  Driving at 125~130kph with aircon significantly increases the full consumption but it looked OK at the halfway mark so off I went.  I was only 120km from my destination when I noticed that the fuel gauge had dropped suddenly to just one bar left plus ‘reserve’.  This could be close. It dropped to the last or ‘reserve’ bar about 5km short of Fomperron so that was OK.  That was a 463km drive in 4h15m and another €36.10 in tolls. On arriving,  John thought I was pretty brave running so low on fuel but I reckoned I would duck into Saint-Maixent to the supermarket and fill up later in the day, it was only 15km away.  That was when I found out it was SUNDAY!  Everything is closed.  Crap, that was lucky/foolhardy.  I wouldn’t have pushed my luck like that if I had realised that it was Sunday.

I did make it into Saint-Maixent on Monday morning and the 50 litre fuel tank took 48.52 litres!  That’s 1.48 litres left, enough to do only ~30km.

So the summary for the trip was tolls €74.90, fuel €61.04, cheap hotel with breakfast €41, distance 934km, drive time 8h35m, average speed 108.8kph, fuel consumption 4.96 litres/100km (the numbers here don’t yield this figure because I had already done 30km before leaving and 15km after arriving, just in case you decide to check my calculations!) The fuel use is about 10% higher than ‘normal’ driving at 90~110kph.

Just the direct costs were nearly €180 and except for the fact that we needed to get the car up to the Charente for 7 weeks, it makes the trains look like a really good deal (assuming you get the cheaper tickets).  Of course, with two people or more travelling the cost of driving versus using the train improves.

Enough analysis!  The rest of the day was spent just getting acquainted and re-acquainted with things since we did spent a night here with Gaye & John back in July.  In the evening their English neighbours, John & April, invited us for dinner.  They put on a superb spread and we had a very nice evening together.

I will start exploring the area in the next week and there are some jobs that need doing in the garden in light of the autumn weed growth.  If I get forced indoors by the weather John & Gaye have a nice entertainment system and the biggest collection of DVDs and BluRay disks I have ever seen.  I have a copy of the meticulously prepared catalogue so I should be able to find anything that takes my fancy.

Until next time…

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2 Responses to “Enjoying The Warmth”

  1. Sarah Campbell October 1, 2013 at 18:27 #

    We took a boat ride around the calanques from Marseille a few years back – just stunning! We also love Antibes, but Juan Les Pins is the one place we didn’t get to (we were walking,around the Cap, starting from the train station, and we just ran out of puff in the heat). Looks like we saw the best bits and missed the built up areas, great!

  2. Craig September 30, 2013 at 19:56 #

    Things are obviously tough when you don’t know / care what day it is. It’s Tuesday here. It’s cold. I’m at work and currently between inspirations.

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