Showing posts from 2011

Holidays in California

We went out to  California to spend Christmas and the next few days with our sons. I took so few pictures, and none of us, so I apologize for these few shots. We played Frisbee golf in Santa Barbara one afternoon, drove up to Big Bear the day after Christmas and spent one day skiing at Snow Summit. The conditions were good, even though the temperature was in the 50's.  I've never skied in such warm weather.  I took off my hat in the first lift line and never put it on again.  I took my mittens off at the bottom of the hill and put them back on at the top, just in case I fell.  The snow was cold on my bare hands.  I stopped one time and took a few shots of Big Bear lake below us.I was bummed when I realized I had lost my goggles.  Those things are expensive, but make skiing much more enjoyable for me.  I took them off once when I was looking for Jim, because I was sweating, and somehow must have dropped them.  Jim checked the lost and found when we stopped for lunch, but they w…

Warm Holiday Wishes to all!

A photo of a park near my house.  We got some snow today for the first time this year.We are back home in Duluth, but just for one more day.  We have made a brief stop of 12 days here, will be spending the holidays in California with our sons, then be back here for New Years and then start out on our next big adventure.We are going around the world in 80 days!   I will try to blog from each of the locations we stop at.  We will be in Beijing and Kunming, China; Osaka, Japan; Delhi, India; Istanbul, Turkey; Rio and Recife, Brazil, and Normandy, France.In the mean time, I'd like to wish you all a very happy holiday season. Keep warm, enjoy your friends and family, eat well and stay healthy!


I spent a lovely 6 days in London in mid-November.  Jim was working most of the time, so I walked around by myself, rode the underground and buses, toured a palace and a couple museums, had lunch with a friend and met some knitters.  It was a pretty full week.The weather was not bad at all for London in November.  We had some sunny days and some overcast, but very little rain. We always enjoy seeing Big Ben, because the year that we lived in London the tower was covered in scaffolding and we never saw it at all. I walked around the area near the houses of parliament and Westminster one sunny morning.Here’s a bit of an old sign on a small street in Westminster. I love the white painted houses in some areas of London.I went out to Fulham to have lunch with a friend. After lunch I walked along the Thames walk to the Bishops palace in Fulham. This is a gate at the back of the palace. This sign was on the Thames walk. Anyone want to try to translate?There are more pictures of Westminster, …

A couple Châteaux

I have a wonderful detailed map of the area we are living. It shows almost every building, the names of the individual farms, etc.  I have discovered a few inaccuracies, but mostly the map is spot on.I noticed it indicated a château not far out of town. During the middle ages, this part of France, and most of Europe was agricultural land owned by the king and managed by barons, counts, knights, etc who provided goods and services to the nobility.  The kings had very large châteaux, the other nobles, smaller ones. Normandy is dotted with large and smaller estates, country houses, villas, châteaux, whatever they should be called. Though I've done some research I haven't found much information about these places. I don't know how old they are.  I will continue to try to find out what I can. I noticed a château indicated on my map just at the edge of town, so headed out one day to see if I could find it. It is in the middle of an apple orchard, where they were harvesting apple…

A Couple Bike Rides in Normandy

As promised last time I have now uploaded photos of the two bike rides we took when Ken and Marta were visiting.It's all explained on this page on my website.  I like to use this site, because I can control the size of the photos and you can see them all by scrolling up and down.  Here's a teaser photo. We are back in Duluth for a few weeks, but will return to London and Normandy in November.As always, I love hearing from you, so do leave a comment if you enjoy this site.

Making a house a home

We have been turning this new place into our own.  It’s been a lot of fun.  The house was furnished with the bare necessities when we took ownership, so fortunately we could move right in.  But we have been adding lots of comforts, conveniences, doing some repairs, etc. and adding a few decorative touches.Here is the living room today.  I should do some kind of “hover over the objects to learn more about them,” but I’m not going to.  The print over the mantel is one Jim and Marta, our sister-in-law bought in July in Utrecht. Marta managed to stash it there until last weekend, when we stopped to visit her and picked it up to bring it back here. We bought the Delft vase in an antique shop in Utrecht, possibly the same one where they bought the print in July. The Danish Christmas plate is one Marta brought when she came to visit in October. The lithograph on the left is one given us in Wrocław in September. It is of the old university building, one we’ve been in several times. The 3 wate…

Wrocław–a modern medieval city

We are now in Wrocław, Poland.  We’ve been coming here since 1991, so 20 years.  I mentioned that to the fellow in the tourist office and he said he doesn’t hear that much from tourists.  This city has changed so much since we first came here.  It was heavily bombed at the very end of WWII and since then they have been working on rebuilding, modernizing and sprucing up the city, till now it is one of the loveliest cities in Europe, in my opinion.  If you’ve never been here, try to fit it into your travel plans. Below is a photo of the eastern façade of the medieval town hall.We’ve been here for 5 days and will be staying 4 more.  We have an apartment, just a block off the main square, which is so convenient to almost everything.  Last week I visited the botanical garden, which I just love.  I think it is the best in the world,  well at least the nicest one I’ve been in. The labeling of the plants is excellent, with labels in Latin and Polish on almost every plant. It is very nicely la…

Settling in

We are settling in. We’ve been shopping almost every day since we got here last Tuesday. There were no problems with the closing. Then we set up a bank account. Then we came straight to the house.
We love it here, but have been working on making it more convenient and comfortable day by day. The weather has been lovely. We’ve been going for short walks around the town and the lake.
There are no screens here. The French don’t use window screens. It’s not much of a problem, but there are a few flies. We have been needing a fly-swatter. We forgot to put it on our list, so didn’t get one on our first trip to the store. Then we did get it on the list, but forgot it the next time. On our next trip we looked but didn’t find one. Finally today Jim saw them and put one in our cart. We bought a number of small non-food items like paper, which we forgot to buy when we bought the printer, but mostly we bought groceries. We checked out and brought the groceries home, had lunch and worked on other…

Watching the Tropicana

As I mentioned last time, we are shipping my car (a 2000 VW Jetta w/ 37,000 miles on it) to France, specifically Le Havre.  We plan to pick it up there in September. It is supposed to be shipped on the Hoegh Tropicana, a Norwegian ship that transports automobiles. We left the car in Baltimore a few weeks ago, because we were expecting company here and couldn't do it later. We have been watching the progress of the Tropicana through the ship tracking site watched it go into and out of Jacksonville, Fl. Then it went out of range for a day on its way up to Baltimore. Wednesday morning as we were having our breakfast it reappeared on the tracking site. It was just outside the Chesapeake Bay headed in to Baltimore.  We tracked it off and on all day. By supper time it was getting close.  Then Jim discovered a traffic web cam on the Francis Scott Key bridge in Baltimore. In the background we could see the bridge and make out ships going under it.  By the …

Preparation continues

We have been busy providing all the documents required for the formation of a company and purchasing this house. We hope to close on the house on September 6th.  We leave here on Saturday, arrive in Paris (Charles de Gaulle airport) on Sunday September 4th.  We spend one night near Paris and a second in Domfront. Then we hope to be in the house on Tuesday.We drove my car to Baltimore earlier this month. We left here August 5th, spent one night in Tomah, Wisconsin, the next night at my brother's in Oberlin, OH.  He was the only one home. His wife and daughter were coincidently both in Minnesota.  He and his wife are two of our partners in this adventure. We showed him more pictures of the house and left some Asterix books with him, that he is going to bring over to the house. So here is the location we drove to in Baltimore.That's it. Just a chain-link fence.  They wouldn't let two of us go in, so Jim drove the car following a TWIC escort, who took him to all the offices h…


In the U.S. we call it a yard, front yard or back yard, but in England they call it a garden.  We wanted a little outdoor space of our own, so all the properties we looked at had some form of garden.  Here are some photos of those outdoor spaces.

This was a lovely garden, which was slightly separated from the house. 

Another part of the same garden.

And this is the pathway down to the front door of the house. The barn or storage space in the foreground was not part of the property.

This one had a similar situation. A lovely garden space surrounded by trees and a hedge,

And this is the pathway down to the house.

This empty field also went with the house.  I believe it is the part on the right that has been mowed less often that went with the house we looked at. The other part went with the house next door.

This was a nice garden accessed from the house either by going through the garage or around the house next door and down the alley. the realtors suggested we might do some remodelin…

Hallways and attic rooms

(If you haven't read the previous post, you need to start there.) These are some of the hallways that we saw in the 8 houses we visited. We just don't see things like this in the U.S. We were told this house was remodeled in the 1930's and that these tiles date to that period.And in the same house the 3-story glass block window apparently also dates from the '30's.A more modern renovated hallway.The owner of this cute little house was an artist and his studio was in the upstairs hallway.Yes, that is a toilet in the hallway. There is no door. It obviously is never used and once the renovation is finished on the floor above would be removed. My favorite hallway again. It has the old French foyer feel. This looks older to me, but we were told the house is post-war. (WWII, that is.)This is the living room of the "gite" where we stayed. This house had a huge attic room. The bathroom is behind the short wall.This attic room had been painted red.Another vi…