Tuesday, October 23, 2007

England and Bordeaux, October 2007

19 - Friday.

We're scheduled to leave for Oxford this afternoon, but we had an electrical brown-out Wednesday night, and Don's main computer, the one in his office at home, burned out. Mine is OK, and Don threw the circuit breaker on the refrigerator, so that's OK, too. (We once lost a refrigerator during a brown-out, along with about two-thirds of the people on our block.) So Don spent most of yesterday, backing up files on his computer at school, writing down all the things he has been thinking about during the period he was not supposed to do much reading, and preparing for the lectures and meetings he'll have on the trip. Yoichi came over last night after work and stayed until nearly midnight, diagnosing the problem with the computer and saving all the files Don had not backed up. They went to Fry's and bought several pieces of equipment, including a battery-operated reserve power supply. Don had been thinking of getting a new computer for his office. So he came home with a laptop and a new keyboard. Those have not yet been taken out of the box; that's to do when we're home again.

In the meantime, I was reinstalling software and files on my small VAIO, the one that runs Windows Vista operating system, the one the PC guy had unsucesfully tried to convert to the older Windows XP. That turned out to be impossible (or at least not economically reasonable --- it was theoretically possible, but the time it would take would cost more than a new computer.) I burned DVDs for the first time --- five of them to backup 15 gigabytes of data and image files. Now all those files are also on the old computer, the new one and in an iPod. I'm well backed-up. Now it's a matter of maintaining the backups as I create new files.

At San Francisco International Airport:

Mr. Singh, an Indian man with a big blue turban, drove us to the airport in his van. He charges a little more than the van service we've been using, but he seems more reliable. A couple of times, we've wondered if we'd get to the airport in time with the other van service. The airport was not very busy. We checked in and went through security --- short lines both times. Then we had a leisurely lunch with plenty of time to spare. I found a place near our gate to plug in and edited photo files for an hour. That's my down-time task during this trip. I estimate I've scanned about 1000 old family photos; not all of them are edited and labeled, and I'd like to complete that job so I know what I have and can find what I want.

We're flying on Virgin Atlantic this trip, my first time with that carrier. Don had flow them once before, and liked the service.

20 - Saturday

Well, Virgin Atlantic was not at all what we'd hoped for. We were crowded into our seats and had to keep them upright during the meal service. There wasn't enough room to use my laptop. Don didn't get much sleep since he couldn't move enough to get comfortable. I slept fitfully. The meals were reasonable and the attendants were nice. Each seat had a video screen, and promised to deliver (free) movies, TV, games, music and news. I don't like to listen through headphones, but I thought I'd play some of the games. The video controls were combined with a phone, clipped into the side of the armrest. In the first place, the device was hard to get at since we were wedged into our seats. Once in hand, the controls were hard to understand, and some of them did not work. I turned my screen off, and put the control back into its niche in the side of the armrest, but every time I moved, my hip pressed some of the buttons and the screen came to life in a random way. I finally let the control dangle to the floor.

Since there was supposedly so much video to watch, there were no magazines to read or crossword puzzles to do. I was able to do some sewing, and I also watched the lady in the seat next to me. She was from England and had been to Monterey, California, to visit her daughter who'd just had a new baby. The English woman had a seemingly inexhaustible supply of movie star gossip magazines. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught up on all the news about who's in love, who's breaking up, who's expecting a baby, how everyone dresses and does their hair and how they compare with each other. Most of the magazines seemed to carry the same tit-bits. I wondered why this woman, who was about my age, was so interested in what pop-starlets are doing. Maybe since these were American magazines, they were about different people than she could read about in England. But who cares?

We landed on time at Heathrow Terminal Three and I think we were the only plane disembarking at that time. The non-EU, non-UK passport control line had very few people; even the UK-EU line was a lot shorter than we've seen at other times. We waited ten minutes or so for our baggage; it all arrived safely. The longest part of the airport process was walking the long tunnels from Terminal Three to the Central Bus Station. That area has all been redone, with a tent-like roof over part that used to be in the open air, and a more orderly boarding area. We waited another ten minutes for the Oxford bus, and arrived at Queen's Lane about 1:00 pm. While I waited on the sidewalk with the suitcases, Don zipped down to the Magadalen porters' lodge to pick up some keys.

We vowed not to go to sleep, but to try to keep going until 6:00 pm, then sleep the night through. It was all I could do to get up the four flights of stairs to North Light with a backpack and a small but heavy box of Halloween candy Kelly had asked me to bring. Don made the extra trip downstairs to get my suitcase. Paula and Lloyd had left the flat wonderfully clean and the newly made bed was almost too much to resist. But after a quick inventory of the food, we left for Sainsbury's to buy groceries. Down the stairs, up the hill, then home with bags of food and up the stairs again. We spent an hour unpacking and regrouping. Then it was down the stairs once more and up the hill to Tom Tavern where we had a nice supper of fish and chips and half-pints of bitter. Once more home, up the stairs and quickly to bed. It wasn't quite 6:00 pm, but we were too tired to hold out any longer. It's oh, so wonderful to stretch out horizontally after a night on the plane. My legs throbbed from all the stair-climbing.

21 - Sunday

We slept most of the night, getting up briefly now and then; I needed to eat a little at one point. But mostly we slept until 7:30 am. It wasn't too hard to get up. I finished unpacking and reorganizing. Don worked on the lectures he'll deliver in the next two weeks. We walked across Christ Church meadow at 10:30 am, on our way to Magadalen for the 11:00 am church service. Yesterday and today have been cool but sunny. There seem to be many tourists; at least there are lots of people taking pictures. We got to Magdalen with time to spare and walked around the quad. All the perennials in the formal gardens have been cut back almost to the ground for winter. There were two or three dozen deer in the deer park.

The hymns this morning were by Charles Wesley, and we later learned that this is the 300th anniversary of his birth. Diana and I had a preview of this in May when the churches were commemorating the anniversary of John Wesley's conversion experience at Aldersgate church in London. Father Michael (who is from Buffalo) presided at the Magdalen service. The men's choir of 12 voices reverberated with the liturgy. The sermon was given by a biologist who gave a scholarly review of the second letter to Timothy: it's authorship and date. He pointed out that the letter was written from and to people who knew each other well and had shared the same experiences. They trusted each other. In the same way that we trust our good friends, we can also trust the witness of the people in the books of the New Testament.

After church, we joined students and others in the "New Room" for lunch. I'd attended this same lunch a few years ago: bread with cheese and paté, wine, beer and soft drinks. They ask a donation of two pounds each. We sat across from a fellow from Magdalen who had been my table partner at a Magdalen dinner about a year ago. He's a philosopher and we had an interesting conversation then. But I don't think he remembered us today; in addition, he's very shy. Don is scheduled to attend the "Restoration Dinner" at Magdalen later this week. So we asked what it commemorates. The fellow was glad to have something to talk about, and related that under King James II, (who was deposed in 1688), Roman Catholic scholar/priests were appointed to take the place of the non-Catholic scholars at Magdalen. The Magdalen scholars resisted, of course, and later, James relented, and the original scholars were "restored". This happened only at Magdalen, so they celebrate the anniversary of this restoration. The fellow with whom we were talking also remarked that on the 300th anniversary of the restoration (1988) some historians wrote about the event and concluded that the Roman Catholic scholar/priests actually did better scholarly work than other Magdalen scholars have done before or since.

Back at North Light, I took a nap while Don worked, then he slept while I worked. Unfortunately, the unsecured wireless network we could access from the flat in May is no longer available. But I may be able to share the wireless connection of the people next door. Otherwise, my computer is working fine.

We walked out at supper time to the castle precinct which has been redeveloped. A few of the fancy restuarants were open, but not too much was going on, and it was too dark to see much. I'll revisit the area tomorrow and take the tour of the old castle and jail. We picked up some not very good fast food near the bus station, then came on home.

Some things have changed. We can now buy milk in four and six pint containers where a few years ago it was impossible to find anything bigger than one pint. The multi-story car park behind Westgate Shopping Center is apparently going to be made into retail space and replacement parking will be built behind and beside the present parking garage where there is now a simple parking lot. The Wharf Tavern, the scary pub nearest North Light, where I was always afraid to go by myself, is now closed.

But some things stay the same. After church this noon at the Magdalen lunch, we saw the same old man who joined the Beating of the Bounds last May, and got in on the free lunch then. This noon, wearing the same red plaid muffler, he seemed to be making cheese sandwiches with a loaf of bread he had brought along. I asked him if he enjoyed the cheese and he replied with a long discourse on reality. He's charming and obviously well-educated. The students this noon were saying that he's a musical genius and can spontaneously analyze the harmonics of the music he hears. Diana and I thought he was a decayed scholar, probably an alcoholic, who has become a sort of dignified and gentlemanly beggar. Another Oxford eccentric.

22 - Monday

I found the unsecured network after all. It comes in the window obliquely, perhaps from the telephone building behind and to the west of North Light. I can receive it from the windowsill and from the sofa, but not from the table.

We were up reasonably early this morning and Don headed for the Com Lab. I started out toward the Botley Road to look at floor covering options for the bathroom. The flooring store on Oxpens has mostly wood laminate --- not suitable for a bathroom, but they also had a small selection sheet vinyl, and one sample with a black and white tile pattern would look nice. The young man in the store was quite helpful, but I had a hard time understanding his British accent.
I walked along Botley Road, through Osney. There didn't seem to be many signs of the floods from mid-summer. My destination was the Wykes do-it-yourself store where I was disappointed to learn that they only carry ceramic tiles --- very little vinyl. Ceramic tiles would be very nice on the bathroom floor, and they cost about the same per square meter as sheet vinyl. But the installation costs would be considerably more since the toilet would need to be removed and reinstalled.

Taking the bus back into town, I got off at the Castle, and took the tour "Castle Unlocked." It was interesting, but focussed mostly on ghostly and gruesome stories rather than history. However there were displays that told more about the history and reproduced old maps, which I find fascinating. We climbed the narrow circular staircase of St. George's Tower, the old, square tower in the complex. It was originally the tower for St. George's church where, before the university existed, there were scholar/monks in residence. The earliest structures on the site date from Norman times, the late 1000s. As the years passed, the buildings changed, walls were built, then crumbled. The mound, which I had thought was the buried ruble of a castle, was actually built as an earthen mound on top of which there was a castle.

Sometime, maybe in the 1600s, the complex became a prison, and functioned as such until the 1990s. The main prison buildings were built in the 1800s, and much of that building has now been made into a luxury hotel called Malmaison, or "Bad House". Our tour included the crypt of the old St. George church and one hallway of cells, each furnished in the style of a particular period, including the 20th century.

Prison conditions, especially in earlier times, were very bad and a description of the place in the late 1600s is related in the historical novel, "An Instance of the Fingerpost." There were hangings and beheadings. John and Charles Wesley and their friends, while students at Oxford, visited the prison regularly and advocated for prison reform as did many others.

Our tour group included some school children --- about 4th grade, I'd guess --- who are on half-term holiday. The guide, a soft-spoken young man, told some of the more grisly stories in discreet language which the kids didn't always understand. So there were questions about "cess pits" and the like.

My back has been bothering me. It was good while I was in California, but I guess a combination of the long airplane ride, carrying heaving suitcases and backpacks, and walking long distances has taken a toll. After the castle tour, I headed for Boots for ibuprofin. That and a nap made me feel a lot better.

Don gave a lecture at the Com Lab late in the afternoon and I met him at 7:00 pm at the Magdalen President's Lodge for a dinner party in his honor. We'd met the president and his wife, David and Heather Clary, when we stayed overnight at their house in June 2006, after Norway, while John and Julie were at North Light. David and Heather apparently have dinner parties like this frequently. All the other guests were computer science undergraduates. There was one other young wife. About 16 of us were seated at the long dining room table. The walls of the dining room were papered with a late 19th century design --- Arts and Crafts style --- made especially for Magdalen. David told me a designer had been commissioned to redesign the entire President's Lodge, but his plans were never carried out. However, the blocks for printing the wallpaper had been made and were later rediscovered and used. The original plan was for the dining hall in the college to also be papered with this design, but at present, it only exists in the dining room of the President's Lodge.

We had salad with mint and chile peppers, crusted salmon served over a mound of scalloped potatoes, green beans and a stem of cherry tomatoes, broiled. Desert was a kind of caramel cake. All was served by a butler, and there was obviously a cook in the kitchen --- what a life!

23 - Tuesday

I'd thought of going into London today --- haven't been there to do anything for three or four years. But then I thought I'd better rest my back. As it turned out, my back is fine again; heavy doses of ibuprofen for a day or two usually do the trick.

I went out at mid-day to do some shopping. Chose some vinyl for the bathroom floor (black and white squares) and got the name of an installer. Bought bread at Nash's in the Covered Market and ate lunch there at Brown's: a dish of hot apple pie with custard. Bought two new pillows at Boswells and a package of square cloth patches from India at the Fair Trade Shop under St. Michael at the North Gate.

Then I started feeling like I was coming down with a cold, and headed home to start Echinacae and decongestants and to sleep.

Don gave his second lecture then went to Evening Prayer at Christ Church. We ate in, primarily the bread from Nash's.

24 - Wednesday

I was up and down most of the night, with nasal congestion. Couldn't breathe.

Left home at 10:30 am to visit a church embroidery workshop at Christ Church. The ladies, all volunteers, meet there one day a week to do fine liturgical needlework in the traditional style. A lot of the work involves gold thread which is actually a very narrow, thin gold ribbon wound around a thread core. It can't be threaded through a needle and sewn though the fabric in the usual way. Instead, it's laid on the surface of the fabric and fastened down with small stitches of fine silk thread.

I knew about the technique called couching, in which the gold thread can follow curves and contours. Depending on the way the threads run, they catch the light in different ways. Think of a halo around the head of a saint. One approach would be to make concentric circles, stitching each pair of gold threads down with nearly invisible thread. A different approach would be to lay the gold threads in a radiating pattern. The final effect would be a bit different. Red thread is usually used for the holding stitches, but other colors give subtly different effects.

The second technique, new to me, is called "or nué" which I think means "nude gold". In this technique, the gold threads are laid in straight, parallel rows, touching each other. They are fastened down with fine thread as in couching. Then heavier colored thread is stitched over the gold in a grid pattern. Each of the heavier stitches hides the gold in that spot and forms a part of the patten, similar to a cross-stitch pattern, except that the stitches are straight and at right angles to the gold thread. The gold forms the background and sparkles through the heavier stitches.

The ladies showed me working drawings and a photo of the robe they recently completed for the vice-rector of Oxford University. The back of the black gown was decorated with a cascade of gold leaves and featured the University crest between the shoulders. The front of the gown also had a cascade of gold leaves down each side, accented with tiny crests, one for each of the 40 colleges and halls of the university. Each crest was about one inch by one and a quarter inches, and the emblems on each crest were worked in the "or nué" technique. Imagine a complex crest with lions, for example, reduced to a regular grid, where each tiny stitch represents a paw or an ear. I suppose there were about 20 or 30 stitches and rows to the inch and 1600 stitches in each crest (including the foundation couching.)

In addition to new work, the ladies also do restoration. They were working on an altar frontal from the late 1800s. The silk couching threads had rotten away, and the gold threads were just hanging loose. The design was of gold grape leaves and several clusters of grapes. The grapes were three-dimensional, like half spheres, stuffed and covered with gold couching. I found it interesting to learn that decorative elements in a piece are often carefully cut away and reapplied to a new background which is reinforced and lined. One woman had some of the bunches of grapes detached from the original piece to rework the couching. They estimate this piece will take two years of work.

A couple other women were working on needlepoint wedding kneelers, also on a very fine grid. I think there are only a few people in the U.S. who do this kind of traditional, fine needlework. It makes my machine-sewn banners look quite crude by comparison.

After the visit to the embroidery group, I met Kelly for lunch. She's the American woman who looks after North Light for me. She was a friend and neighbor of Jen and Greg when they lived here. It's half-term holiday for the school kids and her two boys (Ian and Willem, fourth and second graders) are home for the week. Her husband (a biologist from the Netherlands) took them for the day to give Kelly a day off. She had her hair done, then we met at the Vault, a natural-foods restaurant in the crypt of St. Mary the Virgin church. I enjoyed the visit with her over lunch. She stayed downtown to start her Christmas shopping and get the most out of her free day. She stopped in a North Light on her way home to pick up the box of Halloween goodies she'd asked me to bring from the U.S.

25 - Thursday

A bad night with fever and aching. I gave up the idea of visiting another church embroidery workshop, this one in an Anglican convent in East Oxford. I'd been looking forward to seeing the convent and having a silent lunch with the sisters. The sewing group meets there only on Thursdays, so I'll have to arrange a visit during another trip to Oxford.

I took it easy all day. Felt well enough to go out for lunch to the Loco Cafe where I had mushrooms on toast. I then browsed a bit in some of the stores downtown and on Broad Street.

Have been resting, reading and editing old photos the rest of the day. Don, dressed in a tux, is attending the "Restoration Dinner" at Magdalen. Even if I felt perfectly well, I wouldn't be allowed to attend --- it's for Fellows only. This was the kind of thing Virginia Woolfe wrote about in "A Room of One's Own".

26 - Friday

Walter and Heidi Gander from Zürich arrived last night and are staying with their daughter, Marie-Louise, who lives in Botley. This is the day Heidi and I had planned to spend together, so she came into Oxford and up to North Light. We had some tea and talked awhile, then went out to lunch. Walter and Heidi had a sabbatical in Oxford in 2000 and were there when Jen and Greg first arrived. But I'm not sure how much Heidi explored the city at that time. She doesn't seem to know her way around very well.

I asked what kind of lunch she would like, and she described Jacket Potatoes (baked potatoes) which are served in England with many different kinds of filling: cheese, cheese and bacon, baked beans, tuna mayonnaise, shrimp mayonnaise (the latter two we would call tuna salad or shrimp salad.) So we went to the Turf Tavern, entering the picturesque way through Bath Place. This old tavern, composed of several rooms on different levels, jerry-built together, is located in the center of a cluster of other buildings. The entrance through Bath Place is down a narrow cobbled lane, past the old Bath Hotel and through a passageway. The Turf Tavern is a favorite hangout of Oxford students and staff. Heidi chose a jacket potato with tuna mayonnaise while my jacket potato was filled with bacon and cheese. We each had a half-pint of bitter.

After lunch, we left the Turf Tavern by way of St. Helen's Passage, another narrow alleyway between buildings that ends at the Bridge of Signs across Queen's Lane (also an alleyway between buildings, but not as narrow.) The geocache Diana and I found in May on Queen's Lane, under the dolphin, is still there. Heidi and I walked around Oxford until I got tired. Then we returned to North Light for more tea with cakes we'd picked up at the Cafe Loco take-away.

We met Walter and Don at 6:00 pm at Magdalen Chapel for Evening Prayer. The music tonight was special --- composed by the present music director. We all liked it very much. I'm not sure Heidi and Walter had attended an Evening Prayer service before. In the dark chapel, illuminated only by subdued reading lights at each place and candles by the choir, the atmosphere is quiet and mystical.

We had three-quarters of an hour to kill before dinner in hall at Magdalen. Don had the key to the "Smoking Room" where Fellows gather for sherry before dinner and coffee after. There was a gas fire in the fireplace and plenty of big, leather couches and chairs. It was pleasant to relax, sip sherry and talk.

In contrast to this elegant atmosphere, the walk to the dining hall is on a chickenwire-covered catwalk over a lead-covered roof. We entered the hall through a tiny, almost secret door. The students all stand when the Fellows enter to take their seats at High Table (elevated a few inches above the main part of the hall by a shallow dais.) Since this was my second meal in Magadalen Hall, I knew that the silver pots at each place were for drinking water. With a ring-shaped handle sticking out on each side, I still think they look like sugar bowls. These water pots are unique to Magdalen; I suppose some former student donated them long ago, and they've become a tradition.

I can't say a lot for the food at Magdalen. I think the cook is trying too hard to produce haute cuisine and should stick to a simpler style of cooking. It's as if he knows the vocabulary, but can't put the words together into smooth sentences. The artichoke salad with olives was too oily; the breaded pork cutlets were underdone (almost impossible to cut) and the sauce for the accompanying spaghetti was too sweet. The cooked red cabbage was underdone and the zuchini was over-done. The dessert of mocha mousse was OK, except that it didn't really go with the poached, diced pears in the middle. There were three spots of some kind of sauce on the dessert place, an imitation of haute presentation, but there was too little to taste, so it didn't add any flavor.

I sat next to the fellow we'd talked with during Sunday lunch. His name is Prof. Walker, and he carried on an adequate conversation. He was the acting head of the table, so said the beginning and ending grace (in Latin.) The students may choose to dine in hall on Wednesdays and Fridays in what is considered a formal dinner. Many of the female students were dressed up. The rest of the time (or all of the time, if they choose) they may eat in the student cafeteria.

After all of us at the head table were done eating, we arose, the students arose, and we filed out though the tiny door in the corner where we had entered. Back over the roof and into the "Smoking Room" where we had coffee. I think Walter and Heidi enjoyed the experience of eating in hall at high table (as I do), but the food was not the primary attraction.

27 - Saturday

Although my cold is improving a bit, I wasn't sure I had the energy to carry luggage downstairs then trek up St. Aldate's Street to the bus stop at Queen's Lane. I made it, but slowly. The bus trip to Gatwick airport and our short flight to Bordeaux were uneventful. However, after deplaning and filing into the terminal at Bordeaux, we were held in a waiting room for about an hour. The pilot of the British Airways plane explained in English, that there was a security alert, something about an unidentified bag. We later learned from our host, Robert Cori, who had come to meet us, that the whole terminal was locked-down and the roads leading to it were closed. He had to park some distance away, outside the airport. I had noticed, during our time in the waiting room, that another plane had parked next to ours and the passengers from that plane were bussed somewhere else --- as it turned out, probably to a different terminal. I think we were held because our luggage had already been offloaded into the locked-down terminal.

After an hour, we quickly filed though passport control. Those passengers with EU passports only had to show the cover of their passport. Don and my passports were opened and stamped. Our luggage was waiting and so was Robert. He drove us to our hotel, The Normandie, in the center of the city. There was no good parking place, so Robert quickly made sure our room was waiting for us, then left us.

One of the windows in our room looks out to the Esplanade des Quinconces, which is ordinarily a large park. But it is presently the site of a huge fair, or carnival. It was impossible to resist walking though the brightly lighted, gaudy, noisy aisles. I haven't been to such a carnival for a long time, and I was interested to see that many of the attractions are the same as they've been since I was a little girl: bumper cars, shooting galleries, cotton candy, fun houses, horror houses, fishing for plastic ducks for very young children, a roller coaster and the biggest Ferris Wheel I've even seen. But the Ferris Wheel was tame compared to the rides that twirled, tipped and spun, all at the same time. They not only looked frightening, they looked dangerous to me, and Robert later told us two or three people had been killed on a similar ride earlier in the summer. I couldn't imagine how long it must take to set up all this equipment, then at the end of the fair, dismantle it and transport it to the next site. We later learned that the fair was at this location for a month, and it took two weeks before that to set up.

We decided not to eat at the fair, but headed in the opposite direction, toward a posh shopping area. Don has started to come down with a cold, and wanted soup. We checked the menus of several restaurants, but they were too fancy and had no potage. We finally settled for a small place on a side street where it looked like we could order a small, relatively inexpensive meal. As we walked in, an older American couple (the only other patrons) were expressing dismay because the waitress spoke no English. I plunged in and offered to help. The waitress was patient and experienced with tourists, and we eventually worked it all out with a combination of my poor French, writing, and drawing pictures.

Don had tapis, and I ordered bruschetta, which turned out to be huge. We had our first sample of Bordeaux wine. We sat on the opposite side of the restaurant from the other American couple, not encouraging them to start a conversation, but we eventually heard their story. They were from Fresno and had been part of a tour. They'd added an extension of a few days to their tour in order to visit Bordeaux. They were staying at a Best Western Hotel across the street from the restaurant and since they were on their own, had been eating the same thing at the same restaurant every day because the owner spoke English. When we encountered them, the owner had taken the day off, leaving the place to the non-English-speaking waitress. They didn't know what to do. They were tired and discouraged, wishing that they had not taken the extension to their tour. They were 80-ish, and the wife had recently recovered from a broken leg and was not walking well. We were amazed to watch them drink an entire bottle of wine before beginning their meal, then order an additional carafe of wine to go with their food. By the time they walked over to our table to thank us for helping, the wife, in particular, was not thinking clearly. They'd been up since 3:00 am when they'd left for the airport, only to learn that Air France had just gone on strike and would not be flying for several more days. I felt sorry for them and could understand why they were acting like ugly Americans, but we didn't want to get more involved.

28 - Sunday

Our hotel room is comfortable, even charming, but strangely shaped and decorated. It's located on a corner of the building which is not a right angle, and which is curved. We have two windows on one side of the room, but they look out in slightly different directions. A shallow closet has been partitioned off between the windows and that's where the toilet had been installed. One side of the room has also been partitioned off to form a narrow bathroom with a handsome, one-piece, cast-glass sink and a shower. The other end of this space is the closet with an empty alcove above it, reaching up to the high ceiling. All of these architectural elements --- windows, alcoves, niches --- have been outlined with dark wooden molding. With all the curves and odd angles, some craftsman had quite a job piecing and fitting the decorative strips of wood. I lay in bed and try to figure out how or why it was all done. The windows are very tall and hung with double frames of glass that open like doors. The iron latches are very substantial and when both sets of windows are closed, we can only faintly hear the sounds of the carnival and the bells of the trams that stop outside.

I still don't have my normal energy. But after a substantial breakfast at the buffet in the hotel, we started walking to look for a church. The old city of Bordeaux is situated on the west bank of the Garonne River which flows northward into a deeply cut estuary that empties into the Atlantic ocean on the south-west coast of France. The city underwent an architectural renaissance in the 18th century, and with it's broad boulevards and spacious plazas, became the model for the later transformation of Paris. The Place de Tourny anchors the northern edge of the city center, and the Place de La Victoire marks the southern boundary. In the northern part of this area --- the neighborhood of our hotel --- the buildings are grand in the 18th century style with large open spaces surrounding them. The Grand Théâtre (Opera House), the Bourse (Stock Exchange), the Cathedral of St. André and the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall) are connected with streets of high-end shops. Even though traffic is very congested and parking is very scarce, the city officials have wisely resisted making the open plazas into parking lots, thus retaining the elegant atmosphere.

To the south, by contrast, off the main boulevards, the medieval street pattern is still apparent in narrow, twisting lanes, with barely room for one car. These are lower-income neighborhoods inhabited by various immigrant groups.

We located the church of St. Pierre, but it didn't seem to be open. Going further, we found ourselves in a neighborhood inhabited by Turkish people. The small markets were open and the displays of fresh fruits and vegetables were appealing. We eventually encountered a large, gothic church with a huge, ornate stone steeple or bell tower constructed as a separate element in front of the church. All around the church and the tower, people had laid things for sale out on the pavement. It was a bazaar. We didn't linger for a long look, but I saw old clothes, furniture, books, hardware, dishes and other housewares and many curiosities.

This was Eglise St. Michel and we learned that the steeple is called Fleche St. Michel or the Arrow of St. Michel. It is reputedly the tallest stone steeple in Europe. There was a mass going on inside the church, and since we were only about 15 minutes late, we entered and sat down in the back. It wasn't hard to follow the liturgy since it's very similar to what we're used to in the Lutheran church. The priest was a Frenchman, assisted by several Africans in white robes or native costumes. We've always found that a church service is a good place to try to understand an unfamiliar language. At first it just sounds like gibberish. Then it becomes possible to distinguish (but not understand) individual words. Then comprehension begins with the understanding of individual words, then short phrases, and then occasionally entire sentences. I suppose by the end of the service I was understanding about 20% of what was said, enough to get the gist at times. It helps that the priest is using correct French in complete and connected sentences, and that we have a general familiarity with the context. That's quite a lot easier than understanding random fragments in an unknown context.

After the service, we wandered around the church, looking at the side chapels and the ornate stained glass windows. Some restoration of the building was going on, but it was apparent that much more is needed --- I think the restoration never ends. Nevertheless, the priest in charge was cheerfully doing his best. A large group of people from India came in and he greeted them in a friendly way. It turned out that they had brought a baby for baptism. The women were dressed in brightly colored saris with glittering trim. The young girls, in red saris, had sparkely ornaments in their hair, and the big brother of the baby, about five or six years old, was dressed in a white suit and shoes. The baby itself (I couldn't tell if it was a boy or girl) was dressed like a bride in a fancy white dress, crown and veil. I wondered how they kept the crown and veil on. The baby was at least a few months old, old enough to pull the veil off. The priest welcomed the family group and lead them to the font in one of the side chapels. He explained the symbolism of the pictures on the walls: the baptism of Christ and the Samaritan Woman at the Well.

By this time, I was feeling very tired, so while Don explored more of the city, I took the tram back to the hotel for a nap. There seemed to be large groups of tourists hanging around, stranded, I suppose, by the Air France strike.

Late in the afternoon, Robert and his wife, Nicole, picked us up and we drove to Eglise Sainte Croix, in the southern part of the city near the train station. One of the younger faculty in the computer science department of the University of Bordeaux, was the nephew of the man in charge of all the organs in this part of France. Apparently his was a government position, charged with the oversight of cultural treasures. He told us the history of the organ, and gave us a short concert.

The church building itself dates from about 1100, but it's origins go back at least 500 years earlier to a Benedictine Abby. The organ was built by the monk, Dom Bedos, and completed in 1750, using funds from the monastery vineyard. The instrument had undergone several rebuildings and changes over the years. Parts were taken away; some stored, some installed in the cathedral. But in 1995, the migrant pieces were returned and the organ was restored according to the book written by Dom Bedos about organ building. Now it exists as a magnificent example of an 18th century organ and it's the largest tracker organ I've ever seen, rising two or three stories above a balcony in the back of the church. The facade is painted apple green with bright gold trim.

Don was allowed to play while the rest of us explored the chamber behind the console. Air is supplied by seven huge bellows; they're now powered by electrical blowers, but the old pump handles are still available so that seven sturdy men could manually pull in the air for the organ to breathe. The connection from each key to each pipe is provided by a complex system of mechanical linkages. When the organist presses a key, it pulls a thin wooden rod which pulls another rod, which pulls another rod and so forth through several links until it opens the valve to let air into the pipe and allow it to sound. All of these linkages must function easily and freely so that the organist can play successive notes quickly and without fatigue. These mechanical links make a clacking sound inside the chamber or near the console, but are not noticeable from the floor of the church.

After our visit to the church, Robert took us to Gare St. Jean and helped me buy a train ticket for my trip tomorrow to visit Ann Curl Joubert. Then Don and I returned by tram to the neighborhood of the hotel and had supper at Noialles. I had duck; it was a mistake to specify it well done --- it was dry. Don had three-cheese ravioli. It was a white tablecloth restaurant, not inexpensive (at least to us who are still thinking in dollars) and I was surprised to see several families with young children. The French couple at the table next to us had two little boys. The parents had their work cut out to keep the boys in check, but they were vigilant about it. In a few years the boys will be charming little gentlemen. I hope their parents had a chance to enjoy their meal.

29 - Monday

Don left for the university to meet people there and to give a talk. I left by tram to meet Ann Curl Joubert at an outlying station where Ann would be able to park. The tram system is relatively new. There are three lines: two of them meet outside our hotel; one goes north along the river and the other goes south along the river to the train station. A third line, (the one I took today) runs east and west and goes across the river on the historic stone bridge and into the suburbs to the east of central Bordeaux. Robert had given us a ten-ride ticket which we punched in a time clock when entering the tram. Each time stamp was good for one hour of travel on any tram and/or bus --- such a sensible system, used in many European cities, and one that we wish would be duplicated here in the U.S.

Ann Curl was a teenager whom we knew when we lived in Sierra Madre. We were members of the same church, and Ann baby-sat for John shortly after he was born. Ann went on to study French at UC Berkely. While studying in Bordeaux, she met Jacques Joubert. A short time later, they married, and Ann has lived in France ever since. She teaches English at the high school level and been involved in setting up computer systems in the schools. She and Jacques have raised two daughters and now have grandchildren. I hadn't see Ann for 40 years and I'd never met Jacques. They live in a very small village near the town of Jonzac. I'd kept in touch with Ann's mother over the years and had Ann's address. When I knew we'd be in France, I did a map search for her village, and learned it was about an hour north of Bordeaux. Several emails later, there I was, sitting at the tram stop waiting for a friend I was not sure I'd recognize. Fortunately we'd exchanged information about the clothing we'd be wearing.

After a drive through the countryside, I spent a delightful day with Ann and Jacques. Their comfortable house is located in a semi-rural area, surrounded by oak trees. In fact Ann said the trees flourish at such a rate that they shut out too much light and Jacques cuts down a few every now and then. We visited and caught up with 40 years, including pictures of our respective grandchildren. Jacques (who knows about as much English and I know French) has just retired, and he prepared a wonderful lunch of roasted duck, perfectly arranged in pink, oval slices and centered with a mound of cèpes Bordeaux, a kind of mushroom which happens to grow in their yard. [I later learned that these mushrooms cannot be grown commercially and are rare and command big prices in the market. When I mentioned to other French friends that I'd eaten cèpes, they all looked envious. The lunch prepared by Jacques turned out to be the best meal I ate in France.]

In the afternoon, we toured the town of Jonzac: the church, a romanesque structure which looked like it had been restored in the 19th century; the market; the shops; and the chateau, now the City Hall. We ducked into an unobtrusive alleyway which turned out to be a medieval street. Ann remarked that the old houses along this street are considered very desirable because they are old. Some of them, as charming as they looked, seemed like they'd be inconvenient or even uncomfortable. We drove past the high school where Ann has taught for many years, and made a brief visit to the new recreation center on the edge of town which includes indoor swimming pools configured to look like a tropical paradise. Apparently it's the place to be, especially for families with children.

I returned to Bordeaux on the train. From Gare St. Jean, another tram ride to the hotel, then back on a different tram line to the university where there was to be a banquet. Robert had given me good instructions for locating the right place on campus. Even in the dark, it was not hard to find the old manor house behind iron gates near the tram stop, surrounded by modern university buildings. The gathering marked the end of the first day of a three-day symposium in honor of Don and the honorary degree he'll receive tomorrow. I met some mathematicians I'd known in the past, and met several new to me. We enjoyed wine and appetizers, then a buffet supper: I had chicken in a tomato sauce, a local specialty. Since it looked like Don was going to be talking for a long time to the other mathematicians, I was glad to be able to take the tram back to the hotel and go to bed.

30 - Tuesday

I'm still tired. Since the honorary degree ceremony didn't begin until 10:00 am, I could take my time getting up and eating breakfast. Don had gone ahead, but had given me detailed directions for finding the Agora, the building on campus where the ceremony would be held. Robert had also drawn a map for me last night; the key clue was that the building looked like a church and I saw the tower before I got to the point where the way was not clear.

The conference attendees were having a break when I got there. I scouted the auditorium, looking for a good place to take pictures. Unfortunately, the view of the stage from the side balcony looked straight into up-turned light fixtures. Since there would be professional photographers covering the event, I decided not to try to take many photos.

Jacques Desarmenian and his wife were present, and we talked awhile. I met them for the first time many years ago at Stanford when they came to a backyard brunch at our house, held for new grad students and visitors. I remember particularly their two little girls, both dressed very fashionably in little French frocks with long white stockings. They sat primly on the grass in the back yard, with plates of food. Freckles, our dog, sat expectantly beside them. The little girls politely shared their food with the dog, alternately taking a bite, then giving him a bite. Desarmenians spent Thanksgiving with us that year, and later, when the girls were teenagers, Don received an honorary degree from Jacques's university outside Paris. Now all the Desarmenian children are married, and Jacques and his wife have become new grandparents twice in the past three months. The younger grandchild is only two or three weeks old and lives in Montreal, but they've already had a vidio conference with both babies.

The president of the university began the honorary degree ceremony in French. Another man on the stage (chair of the department ?) spoke in English, and Robert introduced Don starting in French and ending in English. He'd confided to me before the ceremony that he was unsure of his English but had tried to compose a few jokes. It all went well.

Don received a dark red stole, trimmed with white fur, a diploma, a medallion, and a wooden box containing a bottle of Bordeaux wine and several wine-serving tools, some of which I did not understand. This was a simple ceremony, not an academic convocation or commencement. I received a bouquet of flowers near the end. It was an interesting assortment of dark red lilies, orange daisys, several other kinds of flowers and some exotic foliage. (Startlingly mixed bouquets are the fashion now.) It was all firmly packaged together with what felt like a bag of water --- very nice since I didn't have a vase. I took a few pictures of the platform individuals after the ceremony, thanked everyone, then headed back for the tram and the hotel, carrying my flowers. It's so nice to be able to get places independently rather than waiting until someone else is ready to go (which might be hours.)

After an espresso and pastry at the snack shop by the tram stop, and a nap, I wandered south to St. Catherine Street, supposedly the best shopping street. But it seemed like a tourist trap with shops selling flashy, high-fashion clothing. (Knee-high leather boots are a must for winter.) I heard the sound of a hurdy-gurdy through the crowd, and wondered if I'd see an organ grinder with a monkey. Sure enough, there was an organ grinder, but he didn't have a monkey. He had a young white cat, instead. The cat was probably lively and playful at times, but not nearly as interesting as a monkey in a little red jacket and cap would have been.

I wandered toward the cathedral of St. André. Here again, the steeple is a tower built separately from the church. The church itself has been partially cleaned on the outside, and there's a dramatic difference between the pale yellow clean stone, and the dark grey, soot-stained stone. Inside the gothic structure, the ceiling soars heavenward, and the intricate stained glass windows gleam like showers of colored gems. I wandered around inside the church for awhile, then continued on to the Musée d'Aquitaine, the museum of the history of the region. There was a reproduction of the cave paintings from near-by Lascoux. There was a huge collection of stone tools (I thought of John Darwent) and an exhibit of different stone-tool making techniques with examples made from different kinds of stone. There were many inscribed monuments and grave markers from Roman times. I always enjoy the glass, pottery and metal work, particularly jewelry. I often feel when I see these ancient works of art, that no one since has done any better.

Late in the afternoon I joined the rest of the conference at a reception in the Hôtel de Ville, the City Hall. It's a grand and ornate building, (possibly an old estate manor). We were welcomed by a woman held some position in the city government --- perhaps a something to do with education and culture. Her father had been involved somehow in the University. We stood in a grand room with mirrors and huge crystal chandeliers. I was surprised and pleased to see very modern art work on the walls. There was wine and finger food.

It was dark outside when Don and I walked back to the hotel. I was still hungry, not having had much lunch, but at this hour it's hard to find fast-food places open. At last we spotted Pizza Prêt-a-Porte, a pizza carry-out. It was just a hole in the wall and we wondered if they were closing. But they indicated that we could order and propped open the hatch at the front of the shop. We watched while they spun the dough, spread the tomato sauce and garnished the pizza with several items. Then it went into a brick oven. While we waited, I watched a young woman who stood there visiting with the workers in the shop. She had black hair and was dressed in a very short black skirt with bright green tites, a very wide green belt over a leopard-printed jacket, all topped with a pale green fur shrug. She wore big earrings and many finger rings and bracelets. It looked like she loved to buy clothing and jewelry at second hand stores and wear as much of it at one time as she could. While it was way over-done, she still had a certain attraction.

The pizza was good and surprisingly cheap.

31 - Wednesday

This is the first morning I've actually felt like getting up. My cold is definitely waning.

Don returned to the University for the last day of lectures while I took the tram to the neighborhood of Eglise Sainte Croix where Don had played the organ on Sunday. I'd learned that the Ecole des Beaux Arts is located right next to the church, and I wondered if there would be small galleries and art supply stores in the same neighborhood. As it turned out, there were not, but I enjoyed wandering through a residential neighborhood, lined with old, stone apartment houses three and four stories tall. The medieval streets patterns, narrow and curving, are obviously not made for cars, and to prevent parking and give pedestrians a chance, a narrow walk-way is blocked off on each side with metal posts, concrete barriers, large potted trees or metal railings. The streets are of necessity, one-way for cars, and it appears there is occasionally an intersection where several one-way streets come together and there's no way out. This is not actually true, of course; it just seems that way.

The buildings are constructed right to the edge of the street with no yard at all, and the facades are flat to use every bit of space. There may be architectural embellishments applied around the windows and doors and along the cornices, but even the entrances are scarcely recessed and the balconies are quite shallow. The windows of French houses all have shutters; traditional wooden ones on the older houses and pull-down metal ones on newer houses. I suppose since the front windows are right on the street, the shutters are needed for privacy and security. But since they are often closed, even the daytime, I think they make the houses look blank or blind. There's no sense of living beings and activity inside. However, I was walking though a lower income neighborhood, and there was laundry hanging from the balconies and plenty of activity on the street to make the place seem alive.

From Eglise Sainte Croix, I arrived at Eglise Saint Michel where we had gone to church on Sunday. The bazaar was still there, though reduced in size. The Turkish men, some wearing little embroidered caps, gather here to talk. I sat on a bench in the sun for awhile and wrote.

Proceeding on toward the hotel, I came to Eglise Saint Pierre where Don and I had failed to find a church service on Sunday. This time the church was open and I walked around and sat for awhile. The church is a smaller version of the cathedral: grey stone gothic construction with complex stained glass windows. I found the strong turquoise color in the stained glass particularly appealing.

Avoiding the streets with fancy shops, I approached the hotel by way of the small streets, passing a shop that sold all kinds of fishing nets and another that sold powdered pigments for use by house painters.

I had left-over pizza in the room for lunch, then headed for the university where I was to join the conference participants for a tour of a chateau/winery. But to my dismay, the tram was running only part of the way; the section by the university had no power. I got on anyway, and went as far as I could. I knew I could walk the rest of the way, but it would take a half hour or more, and the group would probably have left by then. I had the mobile phone number of Robert, but the only phone booth I could find took phone cards, not money. So I continued walking toward the university, looking for a place to buy a phone card. Just as I spotted a likely looking shop, I heard the tram coming behind me. I sprinted for the next stop and hopped on. Power had been restored, and I arrived at the University only about ten minutes late. The people at the conference had known the tram was not running, and Robert had vowed to wait at the meeting place until I arrived or phoned. So it all worked out.

The Château Pape Clément, though once in the country, is now on the outskirts of the city. It was owned long ago by the man who in 1306 became Pope Clément V. The vineyard remained the property of the church until the French Revolution when it was secularized. In the mid-19th century, the present chateau house was built --- a pistache of romantic styles. The vineyard now produces high quality wine of the Grave appelation.

The region around Bordeaux is sub-divided into regions called appellations, depending on soil type and climate. The wine of Château Pape Clément carries the appellation "Graves" which to a wine expert implies a certain character. We toured the winery and learned that the grapes are hand-sorted then, instead of being crushed, are put into big vats with dry ice which apparently agitates the fruit enough to release the juice. Aging goes on in small oak barrels which are used only once --- I don't know what they do with them after the wine is bottled. At the end of tour, we tasted some of the wines in the shop which had originally been an apothecary and had lots of interesting old shelves.

We had been invited for supper at the home of our host, Robert. It was only about 4:00 pm, but he drove us to his house. His wife, Nicole, took our early arrival in stride and we enjoyed a relaxing couple of hours before the other guests arrived. Nicole had fixed cheese biscuits cut into star and crescent moon shapes, cherry tomatoes with mozarella, and had baked caneles for us to nibble on along with sauterne, a sweet white wine. The caneles are a Bordeaux specialty: an egg-rich, sweet, thin batter is baked for a short time in molds in a very hot oven, then for a longer time in reduced heat. The result is a little fluted cylinder, with a nearly black, crisp, burnt-sugar flavored exterior and soft, pale, custard-like inside. I could eat a lot of them. Nicole uses a silicon mold but the traditional molds, which come in various sizes, are made of copper.

It was Halloween and the neighborhood children started ringing the doorbell in their costumes. Apparently this is a relatively new tradition in France, and Nicole ran out to buy candy to give to the trick-or-treaters. Two additional guests also arrived: Philippe Flagolet and Brigitte Vallée. Philippe is quite a food lover (as you can see when you meet him) and he even enjoyed the left-over Halloween candy.

Nicole showed us her pride and joy: her wine cellar. It's a small, underground room where the walls are lined with racks of wine bottles, resting on their sides, and hung with paper labels. There were also stacks of wine in wooden boxes, twelve bottles to a box. She said she had a few hundred bottles. I estimated at least 500 and Don thought there were at least 1000 bottles in the cellar. Nicole loves to entertain groups of friends and relatives and brings out several different kinds of wine on such occasions. I asked Robert if they drank wine every night. He said no, just when they had guests or on special occasions. He questioned if they'd ever use all the wine Nicole has collected.

But she certainly enjoys collecting the wine, talking about it to people and serving it to company. She showed me that the corks of a couple bottles she opened for us were drying out; the wine should soon be used. One wine we sampled was called "Chasse Spleen" which means "chase spleen" or "melancholy". Drinking it should make you happy. She also wanted me to see what she was doing in the kitchen. She'd prepared a boned leg of lamp with the bone laid back inside the rolled meat for baking. (The bone radiates heat.) With the meat, she'd made roasted potato halves and a mixed vegetable casserole. But the first course was the most interesting: warm goose liver in a sauce with green grapes. The dessert was also memorable: a kind of crême fraiche with fresh red raspberries. Needless to say, by the end of the evening, we were very full of good food and wine.

1 - Thursday

Tousainte or All Saints' Day. It's a holiday here in France, and we weren't sure if very many businesses would be open. Don was scheduled to meet Xavier Viennot at the hotel at 11:00 for a day in the county (I'd opted out). After our big meal last night we decided not to eat the buffet breakfast in the hotel (which is an extra charge.) So we started walking. Many cafes were closed, but we found one open near the cathedral where I had a continental breakfast: tea, orange juice and a croissant.

Our destination was the Cimetiére de la Chartreuse. (I think Chartreuse refers to an order of nuns from the Chartreuse district of France. The liquor also comes from this district and its distinctive color is what we now think of when we hear the word.) Most people visit the cemetery on All Saints' Day to place flowers on the graves, most commonly potted chrysanthemums. Since this particular cemetery, the one nearest our hotel, is marked on the map as a very large green area, we were surprised to see that there were few trees and no grass. Each family plot is surmounted by a large rectangular stone, maybe the size of a single, bed, surrounded by flat paving stones. Many of the family stones had several plaques laid on top, each with the name and dates of one member of the family. I wondered if these were laid out temporarily for this observance and taken home again after a week or so. They looked neither substantial nor weathered. Some of the graves were almost completely covered with potted and cut flowers, while older graves had no decorations at all. There were a few plastic flower arrangements, but more often a ceramic piece molded and glazed to look like a flower arrangement. The most touching and dramatically decorated was the grave of two children who died on the same day in 1999, probably in an accident. The grave was arrayed with dozens of angel statues and figurines as well as plaques and flowers. One plaque seemed to be from their great-grandmother.

I was curious about the small stone buildings that covered some of the graves. At first I thought that the coffins might be immured inside. But several were open --- some under reconstruction --- and they seemed to be tiny chapels furnished with an altar, a kneeler, religious images and flowers. The burials must be underneath.

Don left to return to the hotel, while I wandered a bit longer in the cemetery. As I was leaving, a small contingent of military veterans came marching down the street, carrying flags. As they turned into the cemetery, I could see that most of them looked like World War II vets (still spry) and each wore all his medals, sometimes dozens of them, enough to almost cover the chest.

I slipped into the church of St. Bruno across the street where a mass was going on. The decor was all black and white baroque --- quite a change from the grey stone and stained glass of the gothic style churches.

Wandering back toward the hotel, I encountered Centre Mériadeck, an indoor shopping mall where lots of people were going in and out. I entered to find a very large supermarket and several smaller shops and cafes. (Also a pubic restroom which I was glad to find.) It was interesting to see what kinds of things ordinary people ordinarily buy. Much was similar to what we'd find at Safeway or Target. The most fascinating store sold all kinds of confections and condiments in beautiful packages. The pastry displays in the bakeries are also very appealing. I stopped for a raisin pastry and a cup of espresso, served in a tiny cup and accompanied by a piece of bitter chocolate and a very small glass of water.

My plan had been to visit the Musée des Beaux Arts, the Musée des Arts Décoratif and the Musée d'Art Contemporain. Alas! They are all closed for the holiday. I sat for a short time in a wire-backed chair by a fountain in the garden of the Musée des Beaux Arts, which is behind the Hôtel de Ville --- the City Hall where we'd attended the reception on Tuesday night. I was pleased to discover several reasonably priced, quaint old hotels in the neighborhood of the Musée des Arts Décoratif. Bordeaux is not as expensive as I'd expected, in spite of the plunging dollar. Pizza, books and flowers cost no more than in the U.S. The tram tickets were ten for ten Euros or about $1.50 per ride.

Back to the hotel to nap. Out to the snack shop across the street for a salad and a Sudoku book, and back to the hotel. I'm feeling much more energetic, but I still appreciate the chance for some down-time and relaxation. It's back to Oxford in the morning.

2 - Friday

Don told me about his day in the country with Xavier Viennot. He's about our age and is a computer scientist from the University of Bordeaux. He and his recent wife, Marsha, have bought a large villa in a very small village south of Bordeaux, and are involved with extensive remodeling. Marsha's son, who is a carpenter, lives in one of the houses in the complex and is doing a lot of the work. Xavier also took Don to lunch at a nice restaurant, and accompanied him on a tour of a chateau. We're a bit confused about chateaux. According to Robert, our main host, they're always connected with a vineyards. I think most of those in Bordeaux are, but clearly some are not. The one I saw with Ann Joubert was the city hall. The one Don visited has recently be acquired by a group of people who want to restore it. It had at one time been a vineyard, and new vines are now being planted. I think historically, chateaux were small, fortified manor houses belonging to local nobleman in feudal times. Since Bordeaux is such good wine-growing country, most probably kept vineyards as an income-producing activity.

We were up early and waiting for the airport bus by 7:30 am. Since today is part of a long holiday weekend, there was no traffic to speak of and we got to the airport more quickly than usual. After checking in, we had breakfast: orange juice, café au lait for me, hot chocolate for Don and a croissant and a hard roll each. It was one of the best meals we've had in France. Our plane arrived at Gatwick ten or fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, and there was no line at passport control. But we waited nearly an hour for our bags to appear and another 40 minutes for the bus to Oxford. Then we made up time again since the ride from to Oxford took only an hour and a half instead of two or two and a half.

The countryside is beautiful just now with autumn colors --- more than when we left England a week ago. The colors are soft and muted; browny-yellows shade into browny-oranges or dull greens. There are few of the bright reds and yellows we see in Ohio in the fall.

North Light was a familiar and welcome home. We ate most of the remaining food for lunch and I cleaned the flat. At supper time, we walked to the castle district and had supper at Ha-Ha, a medium priced restaurant with an interesting menu. It was busy and noisy however, an attractive place for younger adults.

3 - Saturday

Up very early, finish the food in the frig, trek to the bus stop, endure long lines at Heathrow, and a crowded plane. This time I had Sudoku and a book to take my mind off the long ride. The trip was uneventful, Mr. Singh found us at the airport in San Francisco after a phone call, and everything at home was just as we had left it.


Blogger Cousins said...

I enjoyed reading about your trip - hope your cold got better. Paula

9:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Real Key To master the Louis Vittoun-market Is Quite Clear-cut! [url=http://cheaplvhandbagsonline.webs.com/]Cheap Louis Vuitton Handbags[/url] The basics of Louis Vittoun that anyone can profit by starting up today. [url=http://cheaplouisvuittonpurses.tripod.com/]Cheap Louis Vuitton Purses[/url] Getting Traffic Approach That Is Actually Aiding Louis Vittoun-masters To Improve [url=http://louisvuitton-neverfull.weebly.com/]Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM[/url] Why noone is speaking about Louis Vittoun and as an outcome what you should take care of straight away. [url=http://lvbagforsale1.blogspot.com/]Louis Vuitton Neverfull PM[/url] Those things that all the others is doing relating to Louis Vittoun and moreover the things that that you might want to perform completely different. [url=http://louisvuitton-monograms.blogspot.com/]Discount Louis Vuitton[/url] The Tips To Develop Louis Vittoun And The Way You Can Enroll with The Louis Vittoun Elite [url=http://buycheapbag.webs.com/]Louis Vuitton Outlet[/url] Those things that Absolutely everyone Should Know Around Louis Vittoun [url=http://needshopping.tripod.com/]Louis Vuitton Outlet[/url] Business Report : Louis Vittoun Thought as Absolutely Essential In recent times [url=http://bagshipping.tripod.com/]Louis Vuitton Free Shipping[/url] Efficacious tips on Louis Vittoun which can be used commencing as we speak. [url=http://lvbagsfreeshipping.webs.com/]Louis Vittoun Bags Outlet[/url] Precisely how to master every aspect there is to know regarding Louis Vittoun in nine effortless steps.

5:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[url=http://www.win7license.com]free windows 7 ultimate product key[/url] This increase would have added approximately another $5 billion of value to your shareholders, compared to the current value of our initial offer. [url=http://www.win8activationkey.com]windows 7 product key[/url] Wwbcykeud [url=http://www.windows7pro.co.uk]show windows 7 product key[/url]
sairmn 211883 [url=http://www.robesenligne.com/]robe bal de promo[/url] 157343 [url=http://www.vestido4baile.com/]http://www.vestido4baile.com/[/url]

1:47 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home