Saturday, February 11, 2017

Back at Last

Well, we owe everyone an apology, we have not been keeping you up to date with our life, so we thought now that we have recovered from the Festive Season we would put Finger to Keyboard and fill in some gaps.

When we were in Belgium last July, Peter had a medical problem that was diagnosed as an infection of the membrane surrounding his heart. This was successfully treated with antibiotics, but during the investigation the doctors found indicators of a more serious problem. We came back to France and tests showed that he had a cancer in his upper left lung with secondaries in lymph nodes and bones. After two months of Chemotherapy and some tests, his doctors changed him onto Immunotherapy which is still on going. We returned to Australia for Christmas but now are back in France and he will have new tests soon. We will then know how it is all going and how the future lies. All very new treatment which was continued in Perth.

Personally, he feels a bit of a fraud as he is not showing any real symptoms, only thing would be a bit of tiredness that we are told is more of a result of the treatment. Peter admits to losing a fair bit of fitness and will run out of breath when pushed but maybe 77 years of age has something to do with that too!

Before Christmas we were visited by Jacquie and Andy, friends from Marg’s golf club who were on an extended European holiday. They were with us for a week and we went for a nice cruise through Liverdun, Toul and via the Nancy Embranchment back to Nancy

In Toul, we visited St Etienne Cathedral.This cathedral was the first in the Holy Roman Germanic empire and the building started in 1221 and finally completed some 260 years later. German bombing and a subsequent fire in 1940 badly damaged the building and restoration was finally completed in 1980.

While moored in Toul we were surprised to be passed by a freighter. It was Kiev who we have seen all over the French canal system. Jacquie and Andy were amazed to see how these boats just fit the locks, a metre to spare in length and centimetres in width.

Of course, a wander around the Nancy markets on our return was a necessity.

Andy and Jacquie left us to continue their European travels, they were off to Lyon where they hired a car for the rest of their stay.

Early December we planned to return to Australia to spend Christmas with family and friends. Before we left though, a quick run into Paris was planned. We never seem to get enough of this amazing city. We stayed in a small hotel in rue d’Argenson in the 8th arrondissement, close to Gare St Lazare.

The Christmas sales were in full swing but we resisted the urge and just window shopped.

This one in La Fayette was obviously sponsored by Jimmy Choo!

We visited the Petit Palace, a museum we have missed in the past. The Champs Elysees was full of Christmas markets which were just being set up.

 Marg met an old friend!

This beautiful sculpture of a lady with a monkey was only one of many sculptures, some old and some new that are on exhibition here.

The Petit Palace, on ave Winston Churchill between the Champs Elysees and la Seine was built as a Musee des Beaux-Arts for the Universal Exposition of 1900. It is classic design of the late 17th to early 18th century with touches of “modern” Art Nouveau. It is one of the 14 museums under the control of the City of Paris.

Back to Nancy in the high speed train and we get ready for our Australian Holiday but first, Nancy puts on its Christmas pageant and there was a lot of fun in town.

 Not sure where this group of intrepid travellers were going! But, we were off to Perth.

Summer was in full swing and the weather was being exemplary. The Jacaranda, Poinciana and Ilawarra Flame trees around Perth are always a beautiful display but this year they were special.

We had lots of time with friends and family and thoroughly enjoyed our outings with Emma and Daniel, our grandchildren.

We wandered through Perth and found this new group of arrivals.

All too soon, it was time to pack and return to Matilda. Currently, we are in a complete state of flux. We have Matilda up for sale, and we have our house in Perth on the market as well. Hopefully we will soon be settled back in Perth in an “easy to leave” apartment, leading a more sedentary life - maybe.

Until then though, we will remain doing what we do in Europe – so we will keep in touch.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Nancy in Summer

During our stay in Mons, Peter had further health issues and we returned quickly to Nancy with Matilda being returned by a friendly ex bargee we had previously met. Helen came with us and we showed her some of Nancy’s highlights. We stayed at a new apartment-hotel in this architecturally dramatic building. It is rapidly becoming known as the Cheese Grater, a nickname given it by our son Rohan.

Quite a dramatic shape but the likeness is obvious.

Our return to Nancy was in the height of summer and it was interesting as we had never seen Nancy at this time before. We found this bee in the Parc de la Pepiniere not far from where we moor.

We visited the Musee des Beaux Arts and among the collections we were  impressed by the display of wonderful artisan glass. There were pieces by Emile Galle, Rene Lalique, and the Daum brothers, amongst others.

Attractive glass is still produced by the Daum works here in Nancy. Their styles have changed over the years. These in heavy clear crystal started a trend in the ‘60s.

Helen was with us until late July and of course, a visit to the popular Marche aux Puces (Flea market) in the old town was essential.

A month after Helen left, Peter M and his friend John joined us. John, from London, was only with us for a few days but we managed a short cruise to Liverdun. Liverdun is a small village on the crest of a hill overlooking a loop in the Moselle River. We rode our bikes and climbed to the top of the town to take in the views.

Back to Nancy and one evening we visited Place Stanislas and watched the Son et Luminere  show called Rendez-vous that was projected on the buildings around the square.

We headed out again with Peter on to the Moselle, this time downstream and visited Pont- a- Mousson – an industrial town that is known throughout France for the production of cast steel manhole covers and the like. Every French street will have metal box covers with the familiar PAM logo. It appears to be quite an affluent town.

This grand chapel was the centre for a wedding and outdoor reception, attended by a large number of guests.

We saw this 30’s Peugeot 601 in town, probably part of the entourage.

This Deco memorial to the 1st war is pockmarked with bullet holes from the second.

We continued on to Metz and visited the Saint Etienne Cathedral, famous for its stained glass windows by the famous artists Villon, Bissiere and Chagall. We wandered the streets, admiring the many small waterways crisscrossing the town.

These waterways were important for commercial access in the days gone by but now they add to the city’s claim to be a Garden City.

The Metz railway station was built between 1905 and 1908 and is now  registered as an Historic Monument. It was built on the instructions of Kaiser Wilhelm II at a time when the Germans occupied this part of France. Designed for military use it also had “royal apartments” for the Kaiser’s use and is known as the Station Palace. The heavy architectural style was deliberate as he wanted to “germanify” the area.

The building is interesting as it was built on swampy ground and was the first building in Europe to be built on reinforced concrete piles – some 3000 of them up to 17 metres long. A system just invented by a French engineer of the time.

As Matilda was too big to fit comfortably in the Metz Port de Plaisance we moored against an old commercial quay and ships like these were passing us all the time. Of the two above the loaded one (closest to Matilda) has just passed under a low bridge. The empty one on the far side is just about to go under it and has lowered his coach house so he will fit – and he just did!

We were soon back in Nancy and Peter M returned to Australia. Before he left we revisited the Rendez-vous  Son et Lumiere in Place Stanislas and he produced a brilliant rendition which he has posted on youtube. You will find it at:

We will soon have more visitors arriving and other things to do so we will keep in touch.