Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Home again, again!

Returned at lunchtime today from my youngest daughter's university graduation in Sheffield, England. We left Germany on Tuesday afternoon, drove through Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, onto the Channel Tunnel where our car was put in a carriage with broken air conditioning - temperature down there was high 30s. At least they gave us free bottled water to help stay alive and, of course, the crossing only takes half an hour. Then drove to a hotel in Luton. Up early Wednesday morning to drive to Sheffield, collect Olivia, go to graduation, take photos, drink champagne, collect her suitcase and then drive back down to Channel tunnel and across to stay in Calais overnight. This morning, drove back through France, Belgium, Holland and Germany and home by lunchtime. You can't get more of a whistlestop tour than that. Don't know how my husband does it but he's proud of being a road warrior - me, I sit and read, embroider and sleep. I always sleep like a baby in the car.

Graduation was lovely. As both daughters went to an international school, we had big celebrations over their school graduations (this doesn't happen in England where finishing school is taken for granted and not a cause of celebration). As Eleanor has already had two university graduations and Olivia is doing her Masters next year, all in all when we are finished we will have attended six such events with all the attendant gown hire, photos etc, etc. Still, each one still makes us very proud.

Now to concentrate on the four weeks left of my summer vacation and get some serious sewing done. Not easy as the temperature, despite the odd storm, remains stubbornly in the low 30s - just a few degrees above comfortable for me.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Home again!

Stuart and I just spent a week in La Ciotat, next to Cassis, in Provence. Horrendously hot - when it gets to 36C I look like a squashed cabbage leaf and feel I am about to die. Luckily, the hotel had excellent air-con and the infinity pool was on the roof, five floors up, so there was always a breeze up there (even if it felt more like a hairdryer than a fan). Stuart unwound rapidly and completely in response to sun, swimming, good food, lots of wine and afternoon siestas. We had a good time but couldn't do any sightseeing at all apart from walking round the old town and the tropical gardens - luckily, there was an all-night market every night in La Ciotat and the whole harbour was full of bars and restaurants, so there was plenty to choose from and lots of people-watching to do and street entertainment. Also, of course, the World Cup was on, so we made sure that we had access to a big screen whenever there was a match we were interested in. Stuart had been working intensively for a couple of months and was stressed out and it was really good to see him relaxed again. Me, however... well, I was missing my beloved Normandy the whole time. It was great to have guaranteed good weather (the massive European heatwave which made it overwhelming was just bad luck) and I know Normandy can be rainy and cold. Oh, but I missed those early mornings, beachcombing for hours along those empty golden beaches. I missed being able to walk out miles along the damp sands to meet the tide. I missed the quietness and the feeling of being a child again which always comes over me when I am at the coast. In short, Provence was too damn hot for me and all of its beauties and charms were negated by the intense heat. The food was great and I put on 2 kilos over the week - Bad Barbara!

We came back home to Bonn where the temperatures were only a few degrees cooler and a couple of storms had not cleared the air. I'm walking the dog at 6.30am, getting chores done and then spending the rest of the day surrounded by cooling fans and trying to finish the graduation quilt for Olivia. Not a good idea, hand-quilting a double bed-sized quilt in 30+C but I have to get it finished!! Here's how I decided to quilt the big white bits in the end. When finished, each one will have an applique 'button' circle in the middle to connect it to the border and because, well, it needs something in the middle...