Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Charterhouse of Champmol and the Well Of Moses

Well of Moses, covered to preserve the statues, and they are.

Tuesday and some plans got shelved, museums are closed and the botanical garden we wanted to see was also. We flipped our plans, as we do, and went to The Charterhouse of Champmol (means swampy field) & Well of Moses on the outskirts of Dijon. Now it is a hospital for psychiatric patients, in the 14th century it was the final resting place for the Dukes of Burgundy and was a Carthusian monastery. In penance Philip the Bold hired the best craftsmen from over the world to install special artworks and sculpture. Much of the works and tombs have been moved to the main Museum of Fine Arts arts in the centre of Dijon. This description is a snippet of what is really there, do go to the link to find out more, here are some pictures. The grounds of the site are magnificent in themselves with old growth trees and pathways.

Inside the structure

Inside the chapel, unusual ceiling

Grand entryway

Lunchtime and we went to Place Emile Zola at L’Emile Brochettes who required either a negative test or proof of vaccination to eat there, as do all restaurants, museums and any non-essential businesses. This ruling is the norm here and I was refused entry to the library because I had been fully vaccinated less than a week “tres desolate” the guard kept saying, but hey, I understand. There is palatable fear from some restaurant staff that if they don’t follow the rules they will be closed down by police. I don’t know how valid or possible it is but the fear is there, after all they are opening after months of closure and want to remain that way, who can blame them?

Walked around town to the Notre Dame Cathedral which is very grand, gargoyles line the roof but I read they are all fakes because a real one fell and killed a man standing underneath. I will do another post about churches here, it will be mostly pictures.

Around the corner, I'll be inserting local pictures here. This one is Place Wilson, when in the car we know we are close, around the corner from it is this lovely wall statue enhanced by the roses.

Cheers, Bev and Lexi Cat


Tuesday, August 31, 2021

A Very different view of the Basilica, Vezelay

Weather was supposed to be raining so I came prepared this time and of course didn’t need to. We drove to Avallon the town that uses frogs as indicators to explore the city same way Dijon does with owls. 

Old church there that needs maintenance, named Notre Dame-Saint Lazare. It is a pretty town with flower boxes lining the roadway and largely pedestrian downtown. 

Lunch was grilled tasty lamb at L’Horloge.

On to Vezelay to the Basilica of the Madeleine which is now very beautifully sympathetically restored.

It is situated on top of the hill, town spreads out below it, most walk up the hill but there is parking on the hill, behind the Basilica.

What was missing wasn’t replaced, just cleaned up. 

So much better than the visit in 2019 with no boring tour guide that didn’t guide through the church. . I am not a religious person, as you know, so I wondered the difference between a basilica and a cathedral, here is your answer on a rather messy website in my opinion.

Christoph was looking for a particular book and the store there told him to go to another church, actually working monastery so we drove over country roads for about half an hour to get there using his phone GPS otherwise we would have been easily lost. 

Getting there expecting a large old church with nothing else we encountered the monastery with quite a few others wandering around and it’s relatively modern, likely the chapel was built in the 70’s surprise to us on both accounts. 

The full name is Abbaye Sainte Marie De La Pierre Qui Vire, no wonder they shortened the web name. 

Left at 10 am back at 6 pm made for a long day of driving for him and me trying my map skills because we couldn’t get cell signal on the back roads. But, it didn’t rain! 

Countryside is green due to the rain they have had, small herds of charolaise cattle, larger ones of sheep dot the fields and large fields of sunflowers. Landscape is rolling hills with woods between fields.

Road tolls that day were 8.30 Euros total

More touring to come...

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Hello Dijon, my old friend

Christoph picked me up at the flat, we stopped to get him an antigen test and we both filled in paperwork to get into France to make sure we were “legit” if we got stopped. Didn’t happen, we did go through some toll roads and stopped for a brief break and lunch. Traffic was light and we made it in about three hours. 

This greeted me in the courtyard of the flat.

Brigitte let me in with warmth, we had become friends when I was here in 2019. I settled us in and I think Lexi recognized the place because she settled in rapidly. 

August 7 - we went to the large food Les Halles market, (above picture) a favourite of mine and I shopped for basic foods like tomato, bread, cheese (herbed goats) cucumber, coffee. Lunch was superb at Le 314 where I had salmon tartare and Christoph had beef bourguignon, service was attentive and great. It rained lightly but then came down hard causing us both to purchase umbrellas, we would have been soaked through without. We stopped by Christoph’s flat which is ideally located, tiny but also very clean. They had had a water leak yesterday and were fixing it today. Christoph was delighted to meet the couples involved in fixing it and had lengthy conversations with them. Mid-afternoon we headed to the north of Dijon to a gigantic mall which held a Carrefour, French supermarket. Shopping went smoothly but it was crowded in stores and parking lot pretty much full. Saturday afternoon after all and I really dislike those situations, so many people, adults and kids, Covid-19 makes me even more so want to avoid that. I did get heavy items stocked up which is a bonus and the reason for the visit. 

August 8, Sunday. Now for the real touring.

Travelled south heading for Castle La Roche Pot here is the website The "Castle" note that they say they are open and the website shows beautifully. This what we and others found, a completely derelict site looking nothing like the website and many, many years away from doing so. Very disappointing for us and the others that had stopped by.

Before that we had left Dijon about 11:00 am so had to lunch first, it was at O’Bar@20 in Nuits St Georges the hub for the Grands des Crus Route Grands des Crus Lunch at the restaurant, a locals place with lotto outlet and several televisions on the walls was excellent. Local fish with a cooked ratatouille vegetable and rice, decorated with borage flowers, drizzles of pesto and balsamic vinegar. Portions were not overly large but sated our appetites and good bread came with.

We took the above mentioned route from Dijon along through beautiful farmland with hectares and kilometres of wine fields, many bordered by low stone walls.

We stopped in Nolay where there was an artisan market and entertainment going on. 

Glass of wine and beer were had to discuss the day and plan tomorrow around the corner at La Comedie a local’s place. 

Weather has been great the last two days, not too hot,  with the exception of heavy downpour for about half an hour when anyone in it gets soaked to the skin. If you can shelter that, great, if not, you’d best be changing clothes soonest.

Aside: Fantastic lighting show in Positano.

Positano Italy

More touring to come.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Hello August!

I found out that Chada Thai is now open for Sunday lunch when it hadn’t been before so Christoph and I went and sat outside under the trees there for our usual choices. Sweet and sour veg and chicken dish for him and Pad Thai for me, these never get old and are always to the same high standards. Our servers recognized us with smiles under their masks. Just like everyone, everywhere, this occasion was something we took for granted being able to do 18 months ago and now is considered a treat. We walked the Botanical gardens after for a bit where they showcase plants from different areas of the world. Nice sunny but not too warm day out after last weeks rain as a result of the torrential rains in western Germany. 

Christoph wanted to visit the Landerer winery which we have visited for years now. I thought he had made an appointment but didn’t so he called her from working in the fields and she sold us a couple of cases. She was ashamed of her dirty fingers and I assured her that was not to be ashamed of, she’d been working. She said she had finished the work in the office and went to the fields which she loves. Honestly what I found unusual to me was she was wearing ballet type shoes with bows, they were dusty so assuming they were worn in the field, she also arrived by bicycle. Anyway as always a good but short visit, she had to cook lunch for the field hands who come from Poland and have been working with them for years. 

The next post will come to you from Dijon, my flat partners are coming here for a couple of months which is long overdue for them due to the pandemic. 

Unusual things seen from my windows: a stray balloon in the sky, the storks chasing the haying equipment, a fox in the field, two horses and horse and cart going down the pathway to the Mundenhof, lots and lots of birds visiting the balconies, they love the rain.

Lavender, now finished to be cut this week

Grasshopper, it was the time, rescued three in a few days.

Stray balloon, just floating.

On the balcony

Yes, another sunset, I have dozens of pictures of them.

Watching Canadian news and seeing the wildfire dangers makes me wish I could send some of Germany’s rain to Canada! July has been quite cool and wet. 

Cheers, Bev and the soon to be travelling Lexi Cat


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Road trip to France and Early Happy Father's Day


We went to Colmar for lunch! The drive was again through farmland with the multitude of poppies and a purple flower in fields that I don’t recognize, corn is up, as said before, major area for it, “you pick” flower farms are a buzz and peonies are the major at the moment.

Picture is of Breisach where Christoph bought the lovely fruit covered cake, this is the newly paved town square with water park feature. 

The restaurant is one we'd both been to before, he with tour groups, me on my own. The food was excellent! It’s patio is adjacent to a large bachle type area where kids play in the shallow water. Mandatory masks in the city centre here but many not wearing them, I did. Lunch was great and we felt as if on holiday since it’s probably been a year of not dining outside at a restaurant.

Our real destination was to friends of Christoph’s farm for me to meet two sisters that live there. I wanted to take pictures but felt it might be intrusive especially for a first time meeting. Uta, the youngest at 78 lived many years in Pennsylvania and has moved back to live with Aries her elder sister at 91. The farm is beautiful but somewhat dilapidated and they know it and want to improve. To get it fully functioning again it needs a full time handy person. Aries has a horse and donkey, she still frequently rides the horse who greeted me with a gentle nudge. The donkey, I’d been warned about wanted to bite my open hand so I didn’t spend much time with him but he was handsome. There is a large pool on the property but hasn’t been cleaned for sometime, vegetation is rampant with cleared circular areas of plantings. The buildings are old, a bit dusty but comfortable. Uta lives in one cottage, small, but comfortable. Aries house is large and open with a lot of light featuring her sculptures done in clay (large) and bronze, I could really appreciate her talent and the flowing cylindrical pieces. More on the brief glance I had of it, old artifacts of farming equipment, bits of memorabilia, eg. Tiny Chain purse you would take to a swanky party, armoire complete with spider web, a piano, so many beautiful and obviously meaningful items to her outlining different phases of her life. She said that in her sculpting days she would present and attend the parties full of “fake” but rich people who would buy her work, make a lot of money but she quit that for other pursuits that pleased her more. 

Talented ladies in the arts and very interesting to talk to. Oh, the dog which I didn’t get the name of but think of a shaggy long haired very friendly beast and you’ve got it. The colours in it’s hair were brown and black and he had a fringe over his eyes. I kept filling up his water bowl so he appreciated that and put his wet snout on my knee. A couple were there also, Isabela, spoke German, rapidly and often overtook conversations and Pierre, quieter, probably couldn’t get a word in, who spoke more French. Christoph bought cake in Breisach at his friend’s bakery and we secured it in a box in the trunk, thankfully because there were many roundabouts between points. To explain, 3:00 pm in Germany and France it is time to take a break and have kaffe and kuchen, coffee and cake, Dawna is well versed with this and I think her favourite time of day. I was ready to leave but mentioned the stove which provides heat and hot water to the property Christoph had fixed for them a couple of weeks ago and Aries said it was on the fritz again. So Christoph and Pierre attempted to fix it again delaying leaving by another hour or so. To set the scene, we sat, on a patio with mostly camp chairs underneath gigantic filbert or hazelnut trees at Uta’s place. Tea and coffee were served with the cakes in a variety of cups and plates, mine was a Beatrix Potter delicate cup, honoured! I’ve lately seen videos of her life in the lake district of England and her substantial contribution to preserving the farming way of life there with admiration. Then, of course, there are her books writings and illustrations by her published in a time when there were few woman authors.

We both felt like we’d been on a mini vacation with the added bonus for me of meeting two new inspiring women! I will be staying in touch!

Ute, and a friend who has trouble with stairs, and Christoph, the ever reliable driver, are going to Dijon end of June. Right now he is teaching full time so I offered to look for accommodation for the three. Email sent today with options which are quite a few really with parameters given. 

Out my window, I saw a couple of people playing badminton and it’s really quite breezy out, seems like a useless attempt to me but who am I to say. 

Watched the 30th anniversary of M.A.S.H always an enjoyable bit of funny and this is too, see it here

The lavender on the balconies are in full bloom and tonight I am enjoying the scent wafting through. I gave a bunch to Frank when he come for lunch yesterday, I will not bring it in the house since it is toxic to cats.

They are haying in the fields recently and that means the storks are following behind to pick up the bugs uncovered, lots and lots of storks.

Happy Father's Day this Sunday the 20th!

Lack of pictures means you get a couple of sunsets! Oh joy! I could make a coffee table book with the many I have.

Cheers, Bev and the no lavender Lexi Cat

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Mini Road Trip and Hello June!

Christoph drove me to a friend’s property he helps clear off to make it easier to move around in. It is a copse or woodland in a vineyard, treed with fabulous views over the countryside. To get in we climbed down a ladder and then over rough terrain to get to the fire pit. 

Christoph cut some brush and made a fire with the idea of BBQing what I had brought. There was only a rather wobbly bench there, lovely long piece of wood to sit on. The fire grew due to Christoph’s fire making skills and we were able to start cooking. The menu: bratwurst sausage, (it was yummy from the local butcher I would get again) baguette, appleschorle (apple juice mixed with sparkling water), cooked green asparagus, mini tomatoes, mustard and mayo and cutlery. He brought faba beans mixed with spice and almond stuffed olives fresh from the Breisach market.
  First sausage didn’t work at all, too thin and long, fell into the pit, we cut the next ones in half and that worked better. Skewers were made of wood sticks and balanced over the fire to cook. I am trying to remember when I’ve been close to an open fire pit before and it’s been a very long time, naturally we both smelled of wood smoke after. 

Driving there was through small German villages in the Markgräflerland part of this area, different to the Kaiserstuhl, each has their charm. There were poppies dotted all over the fields, really pretty. Ones in the pictures are in my neighbourhood spotted on the drive, really large ones!

We stopped at the Löffler winery to sample Gutedel wine, the major grape grown in the area. While it has never been my favourite grape type I discovered one I liked and paid 10 Euros for two, one litre bottles, I was shocked!

All in all a very pleasant day away! Something we, or I, took for granted prior to this pandemic. We were certainly social distancing up in the copse with the wine rows arrayed below us. I got sun, I got wood smoke and a beautiful view, greatly appreciated!

Bruce, Whit as I called him would have been 71 today, June 1, 2021, RIP my love.

Again, sorry about the appearance of the post. 

Cheers, Bev and the sleeping Lexi Cat

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Happy Mother's Day!


Happy Mother's Day with fond memories of mine and my Grandmother, two wonderful and inspirational women in different ways!

I walked the neighbourhood in the morning but unfortunately the sun was not optimal for picture taking, here you go anyway, just a few blooms.

Surprise! one abandoned shoe.

Positano, Italy business This link is to a video I watched along my armchair travels which highlights a small company getting creative with a business idea. I bought from them, and received the following.

Apron came in the bag on the left and the card was made by her two small girls. The idea came when the kids didn't have aprons and everyone was cooking under lockdown. So they teamed with Luisa Positano who is a dress maker hence having the machinery and made aprons both adult and children's sizes and table runners. Great idea!

Christoph took me to Zoo Burkart for Lexi food and the bunnies were hanging about.

Another sunset, sorry, can't resist.

Have a safe and happy Mother's Day!

Cheers, Bev and the sleeping Lexi Cat