Welcome to our little home on the net. We are Steve & Rosemary and live in Buckinghamshire, UK. This is a blog of our life, sometimes interesting, but mainly boring. It is very picture orientated as Steve loves to take pictures, especially of wildlife. Sometimes he has his arm twisted by Rosemary and takes the odd snap of a weed.
18th November 2023
Rosemary and I attended the Gonville and Caius Commemoration of Benefactors Chapel Service and Dinner. The event is held annually to commemorate the benefactors of the college, naming the major benefactors since the foundation of the college on the 28th January 1384 by Edmund Gonville. (John Caius, the third founder, appeared in 1557.) The Commemoration of Benefactors service took place in the college chapel at 6.00pm. The service was followed by a feast in the hall, which was arranged in accordance with the memorandum of the second founder, William Bateman, dated 6 November 1352.
The celebrations began with tea in the Fellows Combination Room, where we met up with friends Richard & Andrea.
We then heard a lecture by Ms Merryn Somerset Webb, a Bloomberg Columnist. Apparently, she is an award-winning commentator on economics, financial markets, and personal finance, as well as a popular speaker and broadcaster. Her new book, Share Power, looks at how ordinary people can use the power they already have to make capitalism work for everyone. Ms Somerset Webb studied Economics at Caius in 1989, but later changed her degree course to History, as she wanted a first-class honours degree and was not going to achieve that in Economics (her thoughts not mine). Her lecture was very contentious, and in some cases, especially about renewable electricity, extremely contentious and to my mind plain wrong. She was baiting the audience and expected some comment on her renewable stance. She then launched into monetary policy, declining birthrates, immigration, and ownership of business. Some of this I did agree with, though her contentious thoughts on renewable energy will only have us fry.
After the lecture, we attended the Chapel Service. After the service, we made our way to the Senior Combination Room for drinks, and then to the hall for supper. The feast is a several-course meal with grace, matching wines and an address from the Master. Towards the end, the Caius Choir entertained us with various songs including ‘Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da’.
Following the meal, we retired to the Fellows Combination Room where we drank AnCnoc, a highland malt, cognac, and mingled with other guests, fellows, and choir members. It was interesting talking to the choir members, undergraduates, who seemed so earnest in their studies, a far cry from my days.
Well after midnight, we enjoyed a stroll across Jesus Green, disturbing a fox who was scavenging for food. He darted away in front of us and through a fence into a garden. We made it back to the hotel after 1.00am.
Port poached chicory & goats cheese mousse: Quince purée, Romano pepper, avocado & lime emulsion.
Bodegas Rafael Palacios ‘As Sortes Val do Bibei’ Godello, 2016
Leek & Halibut torchon: Suffolk chicken crumble, preserved lemon, tarragon split oil sauce, and shiso.
Leek & Aubergine “cannelloni”: Delica pumpkin ketchup, samphire bhaji, spiced radish, and pepper XO. (V)
Agnes et Dider Dauvissat Chablis Premier Cru Beauroy, 2020
Loin of Norfolk Venison: Orange poached carrots, broccoli & watercress purée, fondant potato, and blackberry.
Jerusalem artichoke & wild mushroom pithivier: Orange-poached carrots, cauliflower pomme purée, and broccoli & onion jus. (V)
Nuits-Saint-Georges Premier Cru, Les Vaucrains, Domaine Jean Chauvenet, 2014
Dark chocolate ganache: Cornish clotted cream diplomat, orange compote, whiskey crispy oats, and milk sorbet.
Ridge Vinyards, Lytton Springs, 2013
Dessert, Coffee and chocolates
Ch. Leoville Barton, Saint Julien, 2eme Cru Classe, 2005
Ch. Doisy Daene, Barsac, 2009
AnCnoc 12yrs Highland Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Maxime Trijol Grande Champagne VSOP Cognac
30th October 2023
With its rufous body, angled wings and forked tail, this majestic raptor is easy to identify. I was lucky enough to spot this Red Kite in our field, doing something unusual. It was splashing in a puddle, bathing itself. It stayed there long enough for me to grab my camera and capture its image and a short video.
26th September 2023
We headed on home, stopping at Reimes, just off the toll road at an Leclerc. Here we bought some Ricard. It was a huge shop, but strangely not that well stocked, and difficult to find items. Wine appeared to be in three different places. One drink we never saw on the shelves during the whole holiday was Campari. Don’t the French drink Negronis?
Topped up the diesel, didn’t think I would make it home, it was 1.92 a litre. The days of cheaper fuel in France are gone.
Back on the road again, and to the chunnel. Check in was quick, ran to the duty free, purchased some Cointreau and Jack Daniels, making use of Boris Johnsons world beating duty free allowances.
Then French Customs, 3 minutes wait in queue. The French officers spent more time chatting amongst themselves and showing each other social media shots on their phones, than stamping the passports.
Then it was the English passports, a five-minute wait, we seemed to have hit a shift change.
Then a little wait to load and we were off. So convenient and quick. There is no other way I will travel across the channel. I must take the Polestar to France one day. There are so many chargers on the autoroutes.
Back in England, even the dreaded Blackwall tunnel crossing failed to delay us for long, yes, we had to stop but it was a pretty good trip home. The rest of the nNorthern M25 failed to delay us. 70 all the way around, except for a small section where a car had been stranded on the verge.
All in all a pretty perfect trip today.
25th September 2023
Another sunny day, just wish the nights were a little warmer. The site is well shaded by trees, so ideal for a hot sunny day. The trouble is at this time of year you need as much sun as possible. We didn’t get the sun until quite late, so breakfast was a little chilly. The afternoon was better, we were in the sun for this. As evening came around the sun also started to be hidden by hedges.
In the morning we walked up the canal in the opposite direction to the lock. They were working on it. Was this the reason the water was low in the canal?
We checked out of the campsite and took down the awning (shed). I pumped the air out of the struts, and with a lovely dry canvas was able to get the awning into its bag and was even able to do up the compression straps, and tighten them by several inches. A real success.
24 September 2023
Another lovely day.
We wished our daughter a very happy birthday
The English couple left today, the German woman on her own was going South, she was interested in Flamingos, so we suggested Saint Maries. She wondered if the poor tabby cat had had his tail trimmed in the French poodle style. R not amused.
a red VW campervan turned up with a v clever registration> One of the owners said it was an easy one to remember.
We walked along the canal in the morning, much more traffic today, quite a few out on their Sunday constitutionals. Though why have music blaring as you cycle along the path? We walked to the grain silo, and then back by the road to home. On the road back we passed a new poplar tree plantation, maize and sorghum.
In the afternoon I went for a walk to the campsite lake, spent a little time snoozing in the sun, and then played with the camera. I experimented with photo stacking for different focus points. Eventually that worked out so I was able to take some reasonable flower shots which were in focus.
Walked back up to the campsite, passing the football site.
Lovely evening with blue sky and vapour trains. The sparrows were in full volume, and some bats came out to play.
Some Germans arrived in their van after dark at 20.38, directed in by R.
Tonight’s dinner was green beans, sausages, tomato and onion, and a bottle of fizzy pink.
23 September 2023
Rather chilly during the night, Winter is definitely on its way. Today looks to be a gorgeous day. The weather managed a very short shower before we left the campsite. Various other campers, including an English couple, were walking or cycling to the nearest large village for the market. We ambled over to the lakes. Much more formal now, signs prohibiting non campers’ entry to them. The lake division had been completed, and there were fences not allowing further access to the next lake.
We wandered around the grassy areas. Plenty of wildflowers and weeds, the little grass there was short. Not many birds around other than a couple of swans arguing and flying between the ponds. Plenty of insect life which we photographed.
Back to the tent for lunch, then I took a walk to the nearby village to visit a supermarket. Lovely walk along the canal side, saw a few bikes going either way. Excellent cycling path, so smooth. The canal was very low in water. Seeing the grain silo on the bank side, it does seem the canal is still used for commercial traffic.
I found the supermarket and purchased the next three days of provisions. Hopefully, the ample supply of not-French-baguette type sliced bread will last longer.
Walked back by the road instead of the canal which was slightly shorter. On my 30-minute walk, I was passed by only three cars.
Campsite was a bit fuller today, Rosemary narrated about the German couple who came, used the toilets and one had a shower and then they left after lecturing her about the cold shower water. She showed them how to turn it to hot.
Thankfully the Dutch couple who pitched nearby were much nicer. Turned out they had worked in Kenya in the 70s. They had a BMW car towing a very cute old caravan. It was more than 60 years old, had a popup roof with bright orange canvas. They said it was so hard to find replacement canvas of the same color. R had a tour of it, while the chap tried out his Swahili on me.
After supper we took a short walk around the village. Some nice areas, but also derelict buildings around by the church. Looks like a proper renovation will be happening there some time.
22 September 2023
Today was forecast to be dry during the morning, so we spent it wandering around the Pont-de-Vaux. Quite a few shops, plenty of hairdressers, no charity shops, some unusual shop fronts. One business must have been someone who produced posters/advertising. There he was working in the premises; the shop window was full of old type set cabinets. R was entranced by one where the drawers had purposely been built on a slope. There were also some old iMacs and a Philips computer. We stopped for a coffee, and also visited the small Intermarche for lunch provisions. We found & bought Kitale coffee! The walk back took us past more odd shops, more hairdressers, and another odd shop with clothing, the owner pounced out at us, so a hasty retreat.
Back to the van and we headed north to our next stop. Mainly on toll roads. The weather produced some horrendous rain with very poor visibility, which slowed us down. We stopped for a picnic lunch in the grounds at a service station. We watched a couple of EVs draw up to charge. France has so invested in EV charging on the motorways.
We got taken off the toll road earlier than I thought and proceeded up some National Road or other. Unusually I got a little tired and had to stop for a 10-minute power snooze.
We arrived at our campsite in Luxémont-et-Villotte, Camping Nature, small, we have been here before. Very rural, no chalets, just 27 odd pitches for tents and vans. Downside, 6-amp electricity, so induction hob not on full blast, but there was plenty of heat to cook duck breast.
R recalled the cats which lived there (she would). The Norwegian Forest cat appeared to have had an accident with his tail, but was still friendly. The owner said the black one was “sauvage” but R managed a series of strokes.
As the sunset, the local shooters were out in force. Lots of shooting and shouting in the woods, ponds, and fields below us. The weather improved, and the evening was almost cloudless, though a bit on the chilly side.
Bottle of beer with duck breast for supper.
21st September 2023
Packing up day, it was actually quite dry with some sun shine. The forecast suggested no rain for the day at the coast. The awning was mainly dry, the puddles inside by the corner had diminished, but there was mud everywhere. Managed to collapse the canopy onto its ground sheet and made a reasonable job of packing it away clean. I gave up with the compression straps on the bag, packed it away as best as possible. No big issue, no shortage of space. where the canopy is placed in the van.
One last goodbye to the black cat who was sitting at the doorway of the owner’s mobile. He had survived the frenzied attack by the unruly dog. R and owner happy.
We headed out aiming for a campsite at Pont-de-Vaux, Camping Le Champ d’été. We had once visited this site on the route back to England. Our intention was to visit the small town/village and walk around the boat basin on the small canal which joins the river Saone et Loire. I had penciled in a couple of nights. We arrived in the pouring rain, the reception was closed. There were a couple of other vans waiting, one French and the other American. How can American tourists always sound so obnoxious? Anyway, the receptionist did arrive, and we booked one night.
The forecast looked bad for tomorrow, with a possible small break in the morning. The days after looked good. We decided we would spend the night here, do a little exploring in the morning and then head up north during the rain to the next camp site, Camping Nature at Luxemont-de Villotte, where the weather should be fine.
We spent the evening sitting in the van listening to the rain.
20th September 2023
Today the forecast was for crap weather. In the end, it actually stayed mainly dry for the morning and early afternoon. We headed into town for lunch. We had decided to eat at the Ambiance Tapas restaurant we had eaten at the year before. Town was eerily quiet, with a few restaurants and hotels closed for the season. It must be the recession, I am sure it was far busier last year. Last year, there were two boats doing the cruise up the Little Rhone whereas this year there was just the one. One bar/hotel we had drunk in last year after the cruise was closed this year. We stocked up on a couple of provisions including some fresh milk. We had a coffee in a small bar where we had once taken shelter from a rainstorm a few years back. We had our Zoom call with the SadGits by the church (I see a theme developing here), which we cut short from our end because of hunger pains and threatening weather.
We made it to the Tapas bar and sat inside, just in case it rained. We ordered the same mixed Tapas as last year. R chose the mixed, and me the sea food prominent one. We both had a Ricard as a pre-prandial. R wanted the glasses, not like our tall ones, but more tumbler shaped. The glasses had marks for the level of Ricard, and the water, before the ice was added.
After the meal, another walk around before heading home. We were nearly back, when the heavens opened, and the rain came in from the sea. Thankfully we had prepacked out waterproof ponchos which kept most of the rain off us.
Back at camp we dried off in the van, having shed our wet outer layers in the awning. Later, during the evening the rain came in hard, leaving puddles which needed navigating in the dark. Unfortunately, the awning was in one such puddle so one end of the canopy and the kitchen unit were flooded.
We were expecting more rain, during the night, but there wasn’t much. We had expected to pack up in the rain.
19th September 2023
Today we were up at the crack of dawn or as early as the side gate to the campsite allows, 8.00 am. It also closes at 20.00. It used to close later, and you could take a walk on the beach after sunset. No more, why? We have our pass to unlock the gate during the day time.
We headed of to see the flamingos, who were miles out in the ever-diminishing salt flat. We did see egrets and herons (rather like home) plus small birds, dragonflies and a stoat?
Back at the campsite, lunch and a swim in the sea for Steve. Later, R became very upset when a large dog, not on a lead (which is against campsite rules) went for the cat. There was a lot of shouting, and crying. Cat survived. Unfortunately for him, he was on a lead, so maneuvering tricky.
Supper was pork with fried vegetables, including potato.