Saturday 18th June contd.
…………………. After an uneventful drive we arrived and as usual we were greeted like long-lost-relatives; covid again got in the way, as we usually have their two boys over for a Spanish treat in their school holidays.
This afternoon and evening was all about catching up though this evening they introduced us to “their” rules for “Phase-Ten”! We started soon after dinner and only got about 25% through the game before it was their bed time; part two tomorrow.
Sunday 19th June
This morning we headed off to have lunch and then visit the beautiful and elegant “château de Sully sur Loire” sitting on its man made island surrounded by a rather green moat. But first, “Restaurant des Artes” for an early lunch, well early by our standards, but normal here in France.
Today followed the earlier days, very hot weather and after lunch at excellent French restaurant, we headed to the château to begin the tour. The main party strolled on ahead of Tobin and I, my knee was giving me real gip today but to our horror there were stairs everywhere and no consideration for less fit folk and the clerks did not “commend” this for us, my knee and Christine’s hip joint; I rather think the two boys were silently pleased this was a no go!!!! So another stroll back to the cars in the heat.
Back at base and after a snack this evening, round two of “Phase-Ten” began. The competitiveness between “certain players” was palpable, still just as things were getting “tasty”, and with school tomorrow it was bedtime for the boys. Part three tomorrow!!!
There then followed a few hands of crib between the four of us before it was our time. The “Riley” household rises rather too early for our taste, what with the early start for Mike and followed still at some ghastly hour, the two boys leave, still they were very quiet.
Monday 20th June
Today being a normal workday we decided to make ourselves scarce and head into Orleans, on the tram and be ”grockles” for the day.
Our trip into Orleans was “interesting” to say the least. Mike had given us directions on Sunday for the tram stop. This morning Catriona gave us instructions to the same tram stop, however, the crucial junction was described differently by both so when we arrived at the junction we debated. Christine said left whilst I said straight on, and that’s where we headed. Eventually, after what seemed an eternity I looked on Google maps and clocked two icons depicting a stop on each side of the road up ahead, so off we went but on arrival noticed there were no tram rails and two bus stops. By this time it was a grovel to Catriona and after describing and sending a short video of where we were, the words she uttered “blimey, you’re right up there!!, completely the wrong place”. “OK I’ll send Zander to collect and take you to the tram stop”, next minute we see Zander running up the road. He was off school as he had been poorly in the night, his loss, our gain!!!!
Arriving at the tram stop and with Zander’s help we bought a couple of day passes and jumped on the first tram. On advice we decided to get off on the opposite side of the Loire and walk back over the bridge and head up into the main square etc. The bridge (Pont Jacques-Gabriel) spans the River Loire and there has been a medieval one here since the 11th century but in 1716 it collapsed. The current replacement one was built at the beginning of the 18th century and is 283m long, it is made up of 11 arches, and is the last arch bridge on the river that is pointed. It was listed as a historical monument In 1937.
We strolled up the Rue Royal where all the shops are in the arcades, each side of the street and on into the square that is dominated by a giant statue of Joan of Arc sitting astride a large horse. We have been here before but it rained, fortunately today it is dry though a little cloudy. It was on this square we eventually found somewhere to eat, not a full blown French lunch, just a light snack.
After lunch we continued our “grockling” by jumping on the tourist train that circulates through the old and new parts of Orleans. We were asked by the driver for our country of origin and was “placed” in Carriage number 2: once we started we realised why the question; each carriage’s commentary has a different language, ours was English. This city has a great history dating back to before Roman times and it has been of importance ever since, fascinating history; Joan of Arc and the English siege was only one very small part of it.
After our train ride, and to continue the theme, we sat in the square and enjoyed some delicious ice cream. Next we headed to the magnificent Cathedral, built originally between 1278 to 1329, but was partially destroyed in 1568 during the French religious wars: It was rebuilt between 1601 and 1829 in the gothic architectural style. During the English siege the cathedral was visited frequently by Joan of Arc and this is depicted in the cathedral’s stained glass windows.
Our walk back to catch the tram we passed the Hotel Groslot Mansion, it was built in the mid 16th Century as a private house. Later it became a royal palace where King Francois II of France died, the husband of the fated “Mary Queen of Scots”. In 1758 the building was sold to the town and later became the town hall until they moved out in 1981. Today it is a museum and a wedding venue.
We wandered back and caught the tram, but to ensure no mistakes on our return got everything up on Google maps. The return walk back the “Google” way was so easy, why did they send us the difficult way???
Over dinner we all had a good laugh before settling down for another couple of rounds of Phase-Ten: hopefully we will be able to announce a winner tomorrow!!!!
Tuesday 21st June
A free day today to sort out a number of administrative things that we had been putting off for sometime; quite boring really but they had to be done, not least sorting monies to pay my income tax that the Spanish authorities “just take” on the 30th June!!!!!
After our final meal we settled down to Phase-Ten for the last time and the needling was “rife”, no quarter given by anyone especially to Mike who had been ahead all the way through, but tonight everything changed; Christine came “up-on-the-rails” out of nowhere, totally unexpected, she left us all scrabbling around and just won this marathon game played over four nights. Through gritted teeth, well played Christine. As Mike and the boys we’ll be away at the crack of dawn we said our goodbyes tonight.
Wednesday 22nd June
This morning we were up much earlier to pack and get away after breakfast. Thank you Mike, Catriona, Tobyn and Zander for making us welcome, we had a fabulous few days. See you in Spain late July. We are now heading to Beaune, a superb wine region, can’t wait……………..