1179-1183: Completing Calvi

1179 – Corniche Road to Porto

Wednesday 29th May 2019

Another day driving roads that were indicated as difficult with the MH.  Actually, except for a narrow bit at the end, we would have been fine in Jez … but very limited parking and unwelcoming No Motorhome signs at our destination Porto.  So a much more relaxing drive in the car.  And what a drive.  Reckon this is the best scenery we’ve seen.  Going south from Porto, the coast is a lot more extreme and rugged, bashed by the wilder west sea.  We took a picnic and a coffee flask and managed great view stops for both.  Porto was really pretty and definitely worth a drive to, unlike Ile Rousse, which on a take it or leave it basis, we would have left it!

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Coffee Stop at a viewpoint.

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Our shade seeker.

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Wooded walk up to further view point.

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And our mountain dog admiring the view.  The rocks looked much redder.

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Porto beach with a few die hard sun worshipers.

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Porto beach’s magnificent back drop.

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Crashing waves, watched an idiot wade out paddling and get knocked over twice.  I’d already decided there was no way I attempt any life saving – suicide.

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Boats from Porto to inaccessible by road beaches.

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Would that have been an ice cream???

1180 – Best Walk in Ages

Thursday 30th May 2019

One of the guide books mentioned a walking area, Le Foret de Bonifatu, with views and rock pools, so we headed there.  We had no idea how stunning the scenery and views were going to be.  We actually felt that we got right into the mountains.  Part of this walk is on the GR20 – a number of people follow this crossing from one end of Corsica to the other.   We were both buzzing from what a great walk it had been.

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Lunch in the car park so we didn’t have to carry it.  More sensible than we realised as it was a long nonstop way up.

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Must I cross this?!

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The path up, so many wild flowers.

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And more wild lavender.

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Above the tree line.

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I can be a mountain dog too!

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Rather than balance on this to cross the raging river (note – not a stream!), we had to do this ….

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Corrie, of course bounced back and forwards to show how easy it was, Oscar had to be pulled!

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Not just one steam, but two! Think Corrie is asking what is keeping us!  Are you making a dog’s dinner of that?

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At the Auberge by the car park … I have been a brave boy!

1181 – Wedding Anniversary

Friday 31st May

We’d decided to take it easy, so we played tennis!  For the first time in about 3 years.  We both really enjoyed it, but I was slaughtered.  J may be 72, carrying an additional stone and half from the hormone treatment, but he won 6:1!

We wandered into Calvi and out the other side to a restaurant that figured highly in reviews … so many restaurants all offer the same menu in the town.

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My first Kir of this trip.

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Being a foodie, I love it when I am presented with something new to me.  A goats cheese mousse on a bed of beetroot spaghetti … reckon I could replicate this.

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The chocolate mousse looked more like a boudin noir and lacked flavour, but nice presentation.

1182 – Down Day

Saturday 1st June

Now an odd thing happened.  James fancied a beach day!  This is the man who now seeks to sit in the sun, wanting to get sand where it has no place to be!  Is this an undiscovered side affect of the hormone treatment?  So we had another game of tennis … still slaughtered, but I managed to take two games off him!  Lunch and a doze on the beach.  No swimming, although I did paddle and Oscar did his usual swim out and round me, as if to herd me back to shore.  Off tomorrow to pastures new, so the car was loaded … very solidly!

1183 – The Long Road Out of Calvi

Sunday 2nd June

Unbelievably, we have been a staggering 11 nights in the chalet, 2 nights in the van on this campsite and another 2 nights at another campsite in Calvi.  I think we can safely say that we’ve done Calvi!    As check in was after 5 at our next campsite chalet, we took the slow mountain road.

Muro was dead as a Dodo.  Not even a cafe.  Feliceto gave us a choice of cafe … we opted for the epicerie (old fashioned) with all the locals.  Super large creamy coffee and only EUR5.  Speluncato, which I dubbed Spunkato … you’ll see why in a moment, was also definelty worth a stop.  Had we not a picnic, a lunch in the square would have been appealing.  Lots of winding narrow streets and 360 views.

We skirted the Desert des Agriate, but the coast is not accessible unless you are in a 4 wheel drive.  Scenery was different, lower scrub.  We had intended to stop for a coffee (or ice cream) in St Florent, but absolute nowhere to park the car.  It was heaving and looked like a bustling holiday resort … sure we’d have had a choice of coffees (ice creams!).  Then through Patrimonio, with all the vineyards offering tastings … not for us on a driving day!  Across the bottom of the finger that sticks up NE of Corsica, and half way up the eastern side to Pietra Corbara Marina to our next campsite chalet!

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Speluncato – the campanile had the extra bit added in the C19 and the guide book described it as a phallic addition.  So not my dirty mind!

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Motorhome Repair Update

No news really.  Having been for a week trying the get a quote emailed to us, we were told by phone it would be Tuesday before we would receive it.  But then right at the end of the Friday, the email arrived.  Too late for us to ring the garage … that’ll have to be Monday.

1174-1178: Ruins and Routes

1174 – Deserted Occi and Algajola

Friday 24th May 2019

So with no news of the MH, we are making the most of the hire car and heading up to the hills and along the coast for the next few days.  

Steep ‘walk’ up to the village of Occi – not a ruined ice cream shop in sight!  But another amazing belvedere…..

Aregno beach was our sit down al fresco lunch – healthy soup and crisps…. 

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Worth the climb up for the views of the Gulf of Calvi and valley.

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Wonderful wild flowers everywhere.

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Thirsty work.  Oscar always muscles in first and Corrie waits patiently.

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She is a mountain dog after all!  We’ve just about stopped worrying about her and cliff edges.

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Occi was last inhabited in 1914, but had been a settlement since C15.

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Crumblng, but still owned by individuals.

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Picnic lunch on the beach.  We had taken the table and chairs out of Jez … no sandy bottoms for us!  And OK, it was a huge bag of crisps, but a healthy soup!

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Algajola with the citadel that is now used for admin.  A wander around and a ruinous-to-thighs ice cream!   Nelson assailed the town in 1790.

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Sunset towards Calvi. 

1175 – Mountain Drive

Saturday 25th May 

A day I remember mad cap Nicky Moss, who would have been 54 today.

I’d taken down a list of pretty hill towns from the guide books and fashioned a route.  The towns were very pretty, perched on the top of hills and joined together by bendy roads.  They have mostly started to blur in memory into narrow crooked lanes with great views.

We stumbled on a village market and had a wine tasting and had to buy some, followed by a cheese tasting and had to buy some of that … cheese later consumed at lunch.

Pigna stood out, as the Mayor had encouraged artists and crafts people to move in.  There was also a music school and auditorium with a busy schedule of events.  It was very busy compared to the other hill towns.  I was treated to a group of men practising their Polyphonic (male Corscian style a cappella) as I left one shop.

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We pulled over the the old wine press (closed) and had to reverse or carry on with a donkey on our bonnet! 

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Coffee stop … just ‘cos we needed to use the facilities!

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P1170001Eglise de la Trinite et San Giovanni – C12, just outside Aregno in the cemetery.

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White, green and ochre stone with primitive figure over the door.

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Well preserved frescos (or well touched up) of the 4 Doctors of the church, all holding a bible 1458.

P1170012Pigna … quite a few pix…. fairly typical of most of the hill towns, but more so…

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1176 – Argentella – Silver Mine

Sunday 26th May 

A coastal drive south today,  Beach with mussel-type blue flotsam – Corrie fancied noshing some but we discouraged her.  Discounted chocolate biscuits (x2) had mysteriously attached themselves to K’s shopping basket (a regular occurrence)… but perfect with our flask of coffee.  Great stop as we were the only people on the whole long beach.  We then walked the beach to the campsite at the end.  We had to walk through it to get back to the road and it seemed strange that it was not open.  On exiting, I read the notice in the office window.  The ocarina’s council had shut it down due to risk of flooding for the dam in 2017.  A massive blow I’m sure to the owners.

Over the other side of the road, we wandered up a track towards another ruin … an abandoned silver mine.  Of course, we are silver mine experts now having been to one in the Harz Mountains only weeks back.  Only this one was not a museum site, just abandoned derelict building and a reservoir / dam that we could wander over.  On the way in, we struck up conversation with a chap who seemed to live in the former manager’s house … the British had worked here until the outbreak of WW1, the French continued until 1918, when the silver was exhausted.  He explained he used to work in the very good campsite, but the authorities … bah!  There is no fear of the dam bursing and flooding the campsite!

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Coffee stop – So far the beaches have been super fine sand … amazing coloured stones.

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And these shaped like mussels, but wafer thin and stuck together in clumps.  Corrie attempted to consume some.

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Coffee stop with the beach to ourselves.

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A sneaky discounted packet of biscuits leapt into my trolley … but what have the marbles on the packaging to do with anything?

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Playtime!

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Argentella: part of the abandoned factory unit.
 

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Looks solid enough to us, but what do we know!

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Signs in the campsite …. run one way for fire and another in case of flooding! 

1177 – Lunch Voucher

Monday 27th May 

Still no news on the MH … calls so far with UK, France and Italy … at least twice daily!!  

A drizzly, cold day.  Nothing for it but to go to lunch, using the Lunch Voucher my Aged P’s had deposited in our bank account to cheer us up over the Jez problems.  And it certainly did.  Feeling much loved.  We went for the set menu, which had a good choice … and 1 litre of red to wash it down.  After the meal, the sun made an appearance and we (or I!!) dragged ourselves up the steps to the top of the citadel and then back down again … just because!

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Climbed up the outside of the citadel, just because it seemed like a good idea at the time!

1178 – Train to Ile Rousse

Tuesday 28th May 

An early start and walk into Calvi to catch the train that hugs the coast, where there is no road to Ile Rousse.  We’d seen people standing on the train the other day, so our theory was that if we got on at the start of the line, we stood a better chance of bagging a seat.  Picked up To Go coffee and onto the train … heading for the furthest carriage with fewer people boarding.  Mistake … the reason all the people were climbing into carriage 1, was because this one had seats.  So we were standing after all.  But we were the only ones with coffee 🙂

When I’d checked, on a previous day, about dogs on the train, i’d been told, no charge, but they must wear a muzzle.  Fortunately, we’d purchased some earlier this trip, but not wanted to upset the dogs by making them wear them, so it was a new one and a confusing one to CO2 to have to wear them.  When I bought the tickets, I was again reminded about muzzles and the conductor also said I had to keep them on, so we did.  A group of French men (arrived on a friend’s yacht) next to us on the train were suitably sorry of CO2 and made a big fuss of them.  As we alighted, we noticed other dogs … but no muzzle.  So on the return leg, we left the muzzles off … the conductor came along, petted CO2 and said diddly squat about muzzles.  We remind ourselves … this is France … rules are there to be broken!

Ile Rousse is described as the St Tropez of Corsica … NOT, we think.  A bit dull and nothing like as pretty or large as Calvi.  I climbed up to the lighthouse and Genovese tower, we lunched by the covered market to get out of the sun (good excuse, but CO2 were flagging) and then the wind got up.  We walked and dozed on the beach until the return train.  We won’t be back.  The train ride was worth the EUR12 for the pretty coves and beaches we passed.

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Calvi with glorious sunshine. 

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Views from the train…

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Amazing varied plants along the coast.

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Ile Rousse Llghthouse.

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These little trains get everywhere … but it crawled up and down to the lighthouse.


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1168-1173: Corsica Initial Impressions and FIAT

1168 – Bastia

Saturday 18th May 2019

Having showered on board, it was a relief to get off the boat, and an hour early at 7.00 a.m..  Corrie had refused to poop on the poop deck, so must’ve been desperate.  Nice boat though, relatively new.

A 5 min drive to a back street where we parked up for most of the day.  A poop opportunity for CO2 (finally) and then we all retired for a few hours sleep.  Downhill into Bastia, a citadel, old town and old port.  All slightly decaying concrete but pleasant.

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J’s first Frenc Pain au Chocolat, with Corrie ever hopeful.

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Bastia Old Port

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Whilst at a cafe, I had a online chat with Fiat … there is a Fiat Professional garage near Calvi … so we drove over to the other side of the island … a tenderly nursed engine, with cars piling up behind especially on hills.  The first campsite we went to was shut, a reverse down a sandy track and up a steep slope.  The second was full with a rally of Dutch … they are everywhere in Corsica from what we’ve seen.  The third had spaces, but EUR29 per night!!!! One dog was free, but the second incurred a fee of EUR5 per night.  Which dog shall we dispose of?!?

Being tired, we ate in the campsite restaurant.  Reasonably priced, pizza for J and chicken skewer for me washed down with a pichet of red.  Actually we asked for a litre pichet and she brought two half litres … old soaks!  Funny how you can instantly dislike some folk.  There was an English couple where the wife asked the staff if the burger had been goat … no beef, they answered with a puzzled expression.  had she thought it was really rat / cat??  She was having a loud one sided conversation with a German gent … apparently she has published a book about her life on Amazon so her children can read all about her life!  175 pages of it … no mention of how large the print.

 

1169 – Calvi

Sunday 19th May

A slow start day, especially for me!  J feels guilty about CO2 poop opportunity and dogs’ breakfast about 9.00, so nobly sorts them out.  A little bit of a wiggle on, when we realised that the TIC shut at 12.30.  But a lovely walk along the beach to get to the town.   The prices here are staggering compared to what we’re used to, but J read that it is a rich yachty destination.  Two coffees £5.30 and ice creams £7.95 (we have been paying £3-5).  So we weren’t tempted to have lunch out … although the menus did look good.  Hopefully it is just this touristy town which is over priced.  

We bumped into the same English couple, from last night’s restaurant, in the Citadel … she didn’t improve with conversation for me either.  J is far more tolerant than I.  Not seen them since :).

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View of Calvi and Citadel from our beach walk into town.

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Christopher Columbus was born here.  Apparently Lord Nelson blew up the house and lost an eye in the process.  There is a plaque but we didnt’ bother looking for it.  

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Views from the Citadel – craggy mountain hinterland.

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1170 – 1173:  Fiat Fun and Frolics!

 

Monday 20th – Thursday May

Fiat … Fix It Again Tomorrow!  Thanks Dan for reminding us, we should have got a Merc or Iveco engine! We coaxed Jez the 5 km to Fiat Calvi… and waited for the expert mechanic. Monsieur after having a look opined that he didn’t know what the problem was – and anyway they couldn’t look in detail for 2 weeks!  Sitting on the Fiat forecourt and on the ‘dog and bone’ to Fiat/RAC Euro rescue…..this started a chain of events…we quickly realised that there was not one person to deal with – UK had to talk to folks in France who didn’t answer phones or emails – and one lady was on hols with no replacement for a day!  We were promised a low loader – decamped to a parking near Calvi airport…..waiting and waiting….cleaned the van – and waited….  finally a low loader arrived, after 6 hours – rather a short loader – far too short.  Mechanic said it was safe to drive and we should take it Bastia tomorrow.  Limped back to cheaper campsite (and nicer).  Morning, we started the engine – into gear – and no movement whatsoever! More Euro phrolic calls – no suitable low loader available – they hope to rent one tomorrow!  Euro 1500 required for the job! We should start our own low loader business…..Not so much a “Comedy of Errors” as “Love’s labour Found – at Euro 1500”   Insurance provided a hire car and chalet accommodation on site – bijou…. K transferee our essentials by car to the chalet.  The Fiat Assistance would have arranged a hotel – B&B per night at EUR100 pp …sounds like 5* to us.  But with the dogs and eating out prices, we’ve opted to pay and claim back on a chalet on the campsite so we can cook ourselves and have a little more room (and deck) for CO2.

Next a.m., as no progress, we drove out for a tourist day….15 mins later – phone call – low loader en route!  U-turn and back to camp.  This was a regular loader…. we pushed Jez out and into position with help from happy campers… tow pin screwed in at the front and tow started as exit from site too low for the combined load. Then – snap, crackle and pop! (who remembers that breakfast cereal?) – tow bolt in Jez sheared off…..and damaged grill and fairing. Fortunately, we have photographic evidence. Now a veritable army of campers arrived and pushed Jez 500 metres (some uphill) out past the site entrance! amazing people, all – mercy beaucoup!  We followed M’sieu Le Tow 2.5 hours to Basti HGV garage – unloaded – and he asked K to sign his paper that all was well. Correctly, K refused unless the grill damage was noted! M’sieu Le Tug threw his toys out of the pram- and exited stage left in a Corsican huff!  Next – the garage cannot do anything until paperwork arrives from Fiat Italy – by pigeon post?  Meanwhile, we googled – and it’s likely the clutch is not covered by the warranty – verified by phone call – it seems the clutch is the problem – verified by ‘paperless’ garage.  Who remembers the concept of the ‘paperless office? In my office, we took multiple photocopies of emails and created more paper…ultimately recycled to provide – more paper…

Left the garage and found a riverside walk so C02 could uncross their legs – they’re so patient, our children pooches.  Back to Camping La Pinede – and site restaurant supper……zzzzzs. 

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Gotta love helpful campers, even if some of the summer shorts a tad tight!

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Damage.  The facia is one long piece, which will, no doubt, cost a fortune and take a year to arrive.

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Combined height.  I was convinced that we would loose the roof on a low bridge, or at least the awning on the other side.

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Being released off the low loader at the commercial vehicle garage.



1157-1162: Festive Frolics

1157 – Being Social Again

Tuesday 7th May 2019

We drove to Riedlingen on the Danube, as Margaret and Angus who host the Brin motorhome gatherings near Inverness were following the Danube on their way to meet friends N of Munich.  After a wander around the small village and the regulation ice cream, I cooked supper.  M&A brought wine and cheese.  Lovely to catch up with them … and no alcohol was consumed at all … yeah right!  

 

1158-1160 – Shopping and Kerstin’s

Wednesday 8th – Friday 10th May 

Margaret provided breakfast and I walked the dogs in peeing rain, then we set off on our way.  In fact it pretty much peed down all day … we headed to Metzingen, which is a whole town converted into an outlet centre.  A lot of top name brands for which we have no use, but J came away with some shorts and trousers, and I invaded the biggest Gerry Weber store I’ve ever seen.  Last time I purchased 3 pairs of trousers and numerous tops.  No sale on this time, so just one outfit purchased.  

Not far from here onto Kerstin’s in Reutlingen.  Where we parked up last time has now been built over for asylum seeker’s flats, so we went into a neighbour’s driveway.  Not only were Petra and Stephan giving us driveway space, they had lopped some trees so we could get in, and offered us hookup!  We even came away with home grown radishes and Petra’s Pesto (so yummy and garlicky, that I am even eating it on Ryvita as I type!).  Such kind and generous people.

Several lovely dog walks around here with views of the  funny little pointed hills that are the Schabische Alpes.  J visited the doctor to have his hormone injection implanted and a blood test to check his PSA levels – it only cost £18 … He paid over EUR100 in France. We got the result on Monday and it was brilliant news … down to 0.03.  Everything going as it should. 

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James or Mum normal dye my hair – reluctantly.  As a special treat, I let Kerstin have a go! A new experience for K as she has never dyed her own, let alone anyone else! Erika, Kerstin’s Mama, on being shown this pic, asked if Kerstin was looking for nits!!!!  As if?

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Our little Greek puss feeling the cold … hoping the fire would be lit!

Most (pronounced Mosht) is fermented apple, pear or quince juice.  Often a mixture of fruit, but usually with apple juice.  The alcohol content is normal around 4-5%.  It is made by small local growers.  Kerstin’s village had their first ever Most tasting competition; in previous years they had entered their Most at another village’s competition.  The top two were going onto the local heats and then the regional final.  So it was serious stuff.  They were sadly short of tasters, so Kerstin arranged for us to nobly assist!  We went along with our Irish, British and a borrowed German flag to respresent the international delegation.  Most of the Most was pretty foul, but a couple were palatable.  So was the copious nibbles of cheeses and sausages.  Good fun and a bit different.

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Two of the tasting criteria were colour and clarity … quite a variation.

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Not one I liked, obviously!

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J didn’t chuck many, and his tummy suffered a bit the next day!

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We must’ve liked this one!

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From left, 3rd (son and first time he’d entered), 2nd and 1st (father) and Organiser, who kindly spoke excellent English to explain about Most and the competition.

 

1161 – Kerstin’s 50th

Saturday 11th May 

Kerstin had hijacked the barn belonging to some of her neighbour’s allotment / country gardens for her party.  

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The morning was spent decorating the barn.

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From 4:00 people were arriving loaded with food and a lot of cakes.  I forced myself to try 4 varieties of cake … a BBQ followed later and then more cake!

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Kerstin’s Goddaughter, Yasmin … she was really good with CO2 and wanted them to go home with her.  On realising that we would miss them, she offered J and I living accommodation too.  When I said, we would be bored as we like our scenery to change, her Mother Judith quickly said we could change bedroom every week!

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Anton, another neighbour, attempting to record sparkling wine.

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Not Most, but locally made Schnapps from different fruits. I did try a few 🙂 only to be polite!

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My jumper was much admired by the ladies.  Thanks Mum.

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Kerstin speechifying.


1162 – Left overs

Sunday 12th May 

After the final tidying up and clean at the barn, it was left overs, a BBQ and more cake at Kerstin’s.  And an early night!!!

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Guess who has charge of Corrie.  We had to threaten to check the car when they left in case of stow aways.

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