30. 08. 07. I went into Montpellier today to take Carole and Daisy to the airport and also to drop the car off. It was even easier this time with the drop-off – the Renault lady was waiting for us in the parking lot. Took the Navette from the airport to downtown Montpellier €4.7. It takes about 20 minutes and drops you off at the Place d’Europe at a Tramway stop from which you can go to the station or bus station. Very impressed with the Tramway which is clean, efficient and easy to use. One ride is €1.3, all day €3.5 and a family €5. Dedicated lanes and you buy the tickets at the stops from a machine that makes change and even takes Visa! They also have Velomagg which is a bike rental service. You can pick up a bike at several central stations and rent them for as little as 1€ for 4 hours. Aluminium bikes which are chainless apparently. I will try one the next time I’m in Montpellier. I walked from the Place d’Europe to the Musée Fabre where I saw a show of Impressionist paintings mainly from collections in the US. A good show with a number of pieces that I had not seen before. I also hadn’t realized that the bulk of Impressionist paintings were in US collections because the nouveau riche, turn of the century, American industrialists bought whilst the French were still deciding whether this was art or not. After a morning coffee I then took the tramway to the Gare St Roche where I caught the bus back to Clermont – very civilized and gave me a chance to look at the paysage. All inspired with the show, I decided to begin painting the room that will become my studio. After finishing that, a quick piperade omelet and then to bed in a very quiet house.
Archive for August, 2007
25. 08. 07. Daisy has just completed her week at the Trois Fontaines stable. For the first few summers here she went each week to the stable at Villeneuvette where we led her on a pony through the woods for an hour. She enjoyed this, although after a while we all knew all the trails through the woods by heart! A couple of years ago the stable moved north to the Larzac plateau so we have been looking for an alternative ever since. This year we discovered les Trois Fontaines at Canet which is about 10 minutes from here on the scooter and enrolled her for a week. She was in a class of 4 with one French Canadian girl and an English girl in the afternoons. The class is from 9-12 in the morning and then from 3-6 in the afternoon. Her progress has been spectacular. She started on Monday riding on her own for the first time and ended up Saturday having learnt to canter, and do small jumps. En route she has also learnt to stand up on a moving horse, kneel on a moving horse, ride backwards and hack through bush and a river. We are very proud of her! The horse in the pictures is her beloved Frou Frou.
14. 08. 07. Each summer Daisy has a choice of a special place to go for the day. This year, like last year, she chose a day at Aqualand at Cap d’Agde. We arrived just before 10 along with the rest of the world and queued for our tickets. As a senior you are either a Mammy or Pappi and get in free if accompanied by a paying child or adult, so not a bad deal. It was the perfect day for it, hot and sunny and no wind. Daisy of course went on many rides but I kept to the more conservative ones this year. I went on the Crazy Race last year and I think cracked my ribs so I confined myself to the Rapides, the Congo River and the pool with waves. I did not go on the new ride The Wave but for thrills I did go on the Colorado with Daisy and Julia. This entails sitting in a three person rubber raft, hurtling down a tube in absolute darkness only to be flung out on to a very steep flume high in the air and then down into a shallow trough which amazingly actually stops you! Exhillerating! And frightening. After all this excitement Chris took us all out to a wonderful dinner at Le Tournesol.
10. 08. 07 Last night was the big firework display here at Lac du Salagou, which is about 10 minutes from the house. It has no sponsors nor does it celebrate any special event – it is just a celebration of summer. We left at about 8.30 and joined the steady stream of cars to the lake. Once parked we walked down to the beach and waited. The sky darkened, the stars came out, bats swirled around and then at 10.15 it started. Three barges had been moored out in the lake and these served as launching pads for 15 minutes of spectacular pyrotechnics. Fantastic.
Up early this morning with Daisy to pick up Julia and Chris from Montpellier airport on the red eye from Stansted. Heard from France Telecom that I will have a ligne fixe installed on Monday so may have internet at home sometime next week!
01.08. 07 I have been looking at motorcycles and scooters here all week and had finally found a second-hand Peugeot Satellis in Beziers for 2700€ which seemed to be in good nick and was the right price so decided to go back today to buy it. En route I remembered a dealership in Pezenas so dropped by to see what they had to offer. Super Bikes was the name of the store and the young men who were lining up all these big, blue (don’t know why but all the bikes seemed to be blue) macho bikes in front of the store didn’t raise my hopes of finding a wimpy scooter! Surprise, surprise, they had a Yamaha Majesty for 1000€ less than the dealer in Clermont and they had a Syn GS125 brand new with a 2 year warranty for 2999€ and they threw in a helmet and lock! Went home, had lunch and then went back, bought it and picked it up this afternoon.
Drove it home without mishap and have even been out with Daisy on the back this evening. She loves it. It is only 125cc but what a difference to the 125cc Vespa I drove in the late 50s! It is a four stroke, liquid cooled with fuel injection. No gears or clutch – nippy and dead easy to drive. All finished in sexy, glossy black. You ride it like a Harley – rather than laying on top of it like a café racer – very comfortable.
24. 07 .07 Took a taxi to Stansted from Windsor at 2.45 am in order to catch the 6 am flight to Montpellier. The flight was 1p but the cab was £75! However not a lot of alternatives at that time in the morning. Usual chaos with Ryanair but eventually arrived in Montpellier at 9 on a warm sunny morning. Picked up the new Clio and drove west to Clermont-L’Hérault. Arrived around 10 to find the street blocked by a front end loader with the Pierre and his mate installing the shutters to the house. I knew that that was all he had to do but didn’t expect him to be doing it on the day of our arrival! However, the new roof was on, the new guttering installed, the new façade was complete so it was just the shutters. Of course there was dust everywhere but the work was finished that day. The best thing though was that the bill was exactly as the estimate. What with reputation of French and other builders this came as a great relief. Carole immediately took charge and after a visit to the Hyper U for solvents etc and a vacuum cleaner the house was slowly reclaimed. Wednesday, I went to my bank’s ATM only to discover that the “code secret” no longer worked and after an animated conversation with the lady in the bank who with much shrugging and useful comments like “mais ce n’est pas Paris” etc informed me that the new secret code would have been sent to my address in Canada and there was nothing she could do about it. She did allow me to withdraw some cash though! This problem has since been resolved by changing my address on my account to here rather than Toronto thus allowing the bank here to send me my new “code secret” which should arrive early next week.
Thursday, we decided that we deserved a break so went to our favourite beach between Marseillan Plage and Sête. Perfect day, hot, sunny, clear blue sky, warm water – now I know why I am here!
Friday, to Ikea in Montpellier to pick up some furniture, lights etc. Same experience as TO even down to subsidized food in their restaurant – they do some terrific beignets – 3 for 1€! And the cheapest bottled water anywhere! Spent Saturday assembling various pieces of furniture – discovered that Daisy has a real aptitude for this and is much more logical and patient about it than her grandfather!