We’re in Singapore now!

This is a quick update and later I will post about our most recent adventures, celebrating Simon’s 21st birthday in Bangkok and then on the Orient Express – how lucky are we! In the meantime …..

Our time in Nendaz went all too quickly, our final day starting at Tracouet as I wrote last time. The weather improved and we went for a beautiful walk around the front oimagef the mountain, working up an appetite for the racketeering we cooked for our last supper. Such a simple combination of melted cheese and special racketeering potatoes, but oh so delicious! Accompanied by much wine!
We detoured to Geneva via the Cailler chocolate factory, tucked away in a small valley, surrounded by a typically Swiss landscape of rolling hills, green fields and a lovely lake. the factory tour took us through dioramas illustrating the history of chocolate, the development of chocolate production in Switzerland, the building of the Cailler factory in the last 1800s, the merger with Nestle which allowed them to survive the depression of the 1930s, onto how the products are sourced, how they are tested (daily!), finally we tasted a range of products, enough to make us all feel a little queasy but that didn’t stop us buying chocolates to take home with us!
After our flight home Sunday night was quite a subdued night, enjoying a summers night in London in the courtyard garden at the local pub up the road.
Monday was spent in the company of old friends for morning tea and lunch, Fischers in Marylebone High Street was a very quirky restaurant with the Weiner Schnitzels living up to their recommendation.
Back to Vicky and Richard’s for a party for Simon, another celebration! Vicky had organised a magician as a surprise, we all watched in wonder as he performed his magic! Magic it was, making lemons and limes appear under small cups, and mind reading the cards we had picked from the pack! We tried hard in such an intimate space to see how the tricks were done, but the magic is that we couldn’t work it out! He then taught Simon an amazing card trick which Simon performed with great flourish, three times! A new trick for next year’s talent show at Arrowsmith! We had such a fun night, a special night I think everyone would agree. Many thanks to Vicky for starting the festivities for Simon!
Another re-packing of our numerous suitcases and we headed for the airport, onto the next stop of our adventure – Bangkok!
And here we are in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, a very lovely hotel, overlooking the River of the Kings. A quick swim and we headed out for lunch and have already been to the tailors to get shirts and trousers made for Michael and Simon! A busy day yesterday, a boat trip on the river through the canals, onto the Chinese market, an authentic market where Emma went ballistic, according to Michael! Dinner at the Flying Chicken restaurant, a very funny experience where our chickens were caught by a waiter on a unicycle wearing a helmet with a pike! And when the unicycles weren’t in action some of the staff were singing karaoke! The highlight though was standing on the 64th floor in the Sky Bar overlooking Bangkok at midnight, as suggested by Simon, to welcome in Simon’s 21st birthday! Fabulous!
And now we are setting off for the next part of our adventure but there is no wifi so see you when we get to Singapore!

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Switzerland, so lovely!

Swiss days, filled with sunshine, picnics in flower filled meadows, long walks on the mountains to the sound of cow bells, wandering through the cobbled streets of the old town of Sion, dinners on the balcony seeing the mountains changing colour as the sun sets. Some culture for us too as we went to the four museums in Sion, an art museum where the old building was as interesting as the art, a nature museum which was more a taxidermy museum filled with stuffed animals native to the area, the prison museum which must have been a very grim place in its day, and finally the history museum showing the history of the Valais from prehistoric times to the present time, housed in part of Chateau Valere, the fortified church which dominates the skyline in Sion together with Chateau Tourbolline. Onto the lake for a much needed swim after all those museums! image
Yesterday we left Michael to work whilst we went to the largest underground lake in Europe, discovered in the hills just beyond Sion, in 1939. Even as we walked down the steps to the entrance the temperature plummeted, within the cave it is only 15C. We sat in a long rowing boat, gliding in through the still clear water. It was other worldly, especially when the guide asked us to listen to the silence and it was absolutely silent, so unusual in our usually hectic noisy world. Onto Crans Montana, a very pretty drive and potentially scary if we had gone up all the tiny steep roads that Google wanted to take us up! Crans Montana was rather more elegant than Nendaz, fancy shops, fancy restaurants and some lovely lakes. A quick wine tasting.

Dinner with friends, more long walks and lots of fun! Looking forward to racketeering tonight, our last night. It has gone all too quickly! This morning we are sitting at the restaurant in Tracouet, so strange to see the lake, the place where the ski school meets, the ski lifts still and only us here, drinking hot chocolate as the sun has gone away, the wind is fierce and it is chilly!

Switzerland

image Today we tried to use Siri to do the blog as a collaborative effort! It didn’t turn out too well!

Monday morning go to sleep at trackway to  we have fish with Rosie…,, the  we have had fish server day. We had apple pie with cream and ice cream. We had peanuts covered in honey. We had Rosie. We had bundle. We had a champagne. We had punishing. We had beer bread and butter and apricots jam. We had customers. Cooler.

I have taken the decision today to stop by blog from now on thank you for everyone who is tolerated do you see

La Ciotat and beyond.

Having found our way to La Ciotat, we were welcomed by Caren, Mike, Max and Jaffa! Max and Jaffa loved Simon just as much he loved them! Lots of cuddles and chasing them around the beautiful garden that Mike has created over the past four years, an almost barren landscape has been turned into a lavender filled paradise, along with the newly made above ground pool. Perfect for an afternoon dip, a midnight dip or any time of the day!
Mike took Simon and me for a walk to their nearest beach at Figuerolles, an easy 5 minute stroll from the house, he made us walk to the bottom of the stairs not allowing us to look to the left as we walked. Once we had stopped we turned to see the most magnificent sight, cliffs running down into the sea which went from aqua to turquoise to deep blue, all so clear. Especially breathtaking was the cliff top which looked just like an imperious eagle, ignoring the beings on the beach and looking out to sea. The rocky beach was reminiscent of Recommone and Conca del Sogno though the water was much colder here. This beautiful beach and the surrounding bays were used by the Germans during the Second World War to house their submarines, natural harbours with such deep water.
Onto dinner in the old port. “Make like a water droplet and follow the roads downwards” said Caren and so we did, the only problem is that whatever goes down, apart from water droplets, has to come up! We ended up at the old port where during the summer months there is a night market, along with muscly young men who beat loud drums and entertain the restaurant crowds with their banter and acrobatics! We ate overlooking the port in a restaurant Caren and Mike were trying for the first time, most likely the last! Mixed orders, grumpy waitress, incorrect bill, the food was good, however. A slow walk thorough the night market where Simon added to his extensive key ring collection, there was little else worth buying but the lively atmosphere was fun.
Simon started his day by taking Max and Jaffa on a walk to the bakery, more delicious croissants and bread for breakfast! We had a quick visit to the other beach which is a long sandy beach with a section for dogs, another for naturists and the rest for the rest of us! It was packed with families of all generations, enjoying the clear crisp sea and beach fun. Lunch followed at a restaurant which had recently received a Michelin star, La Table de Nans, on the coast road between La Ciotat and Saint Cyr, and recently been discovered by Caren and Mike. On the terrace, shaded from the heat of the day, overlooking the sea, eating the most exquisite, beautifully presented food, accompanied by a delicious Meursault, was heaven indeed! The Meursault being to celebrate our 29th wedding anniversary and Carne and Mikes 19th!
We drove home via a spectacular cliff top drive, Route des Cretes, overlooking the next town of Cassis, having first seen the fourteenth century church and the rock formation which looked exactly like Oscar, Caren and Mike’s much loved previous dog, an unexpected consolation when Caren was out walking mourning his loss. This drive features in a Michael Caine film, the French Connection? The Marseille Contract, as Michael found out later, none of us could remember but it was, as the Michelin guide says, “Vaux Le voyage”, it is also worth watching the YouTube clip of the car chase!
A walk through the botanical gardens was followed by another visit to the night market for me and Simon – more key rings!
Mike made a scrumptious spaghetti with tomato sauce for dinner to showcase his homegrown zucchinis, delicious even though they were found in the oven the next morning!
A beautiful breakfast on the terrace once again, too soon to go as we had seen only a little of what La Ciotat has to offer, it reminds Caren and Mike of Balmain with the mix of an industrial working port and natural beauty though the high cliffs, calanques as they are called here are unique to La Ciotat. Next stop the hills behind St Tropez where we had lunch and dinner with Robert and Nathalie, bobbing, floating and swimming the afternoon away in their infinity pool, admiring the wonderful view over the wooded hillsides, the vineyards with the sea sparkling in the distance.
We set off the next morning to Switzerland via lunch in Villefranche, just to the side of Nice. Another terrace, another spectacular view, this time watching the bay fill up with boats, small boats to enormous superyachts. No time to climb down the 483 steps down, go under the railway line and onto the beach for a swim as we had a long drive to Haute Nendaz before us, but so lovely to have lunch with old friends and reminisce about heady days!
Eight hours later, a couple of traffic jams, only one wrong turn, and a long windy drive through the Grand St Bernard tunnel and we were here in Haute Nendaz. We stopped to choose ourselves an almost midnight snack, as it would be, by the time we arrived, Googlemaps being rather optimistic at six and a half hours driving. Simon chose a Greek salad, Bircher muesli for me and Michael, cheese and bread for making himself cheese on toast. No guesses for who is the most healthy of us!image

La Ciotat continued!

Whilst trying to think how I can write briefly about our holiday (phew, thinks Richard!) it seems impossible! A feast for the eyes and stomach every day, from the Sunday market at St Laurent to oysters at Giraude Leucate (Simon had a beignet and I had a beautiful little quiche from the bakery by the market as we aren’t too keen on oysters, despite our Charlottetown experience!), a delicious dinner at the Toit Vert in Fitou, a trip to Aqualand with Simon and Michael where we went down some very scary water slides, being far braver than I knew I could be, going down a sheer drop in a double ring with Michael and having a huge bruise now somewhere unmentionable to show for it! Aperitifs at the Castle at Fitou, overlooking the valley in which the village nestles, were followed by a barbecue back at the house. On Tuesday we went for a walk on the long Boardwalk in Rivesaltes, a pretty French village overlooking an inlet where salt was produced until very recently. A long coffee was followed by an even longer lunch at a restaurant on the Canal du Midi at Peyriac de Mer, yimageet another gorgeous village, where Pat wanted to show us an amazing bookshop, packed with ancient and secondhand books, on every possible subject, old copies of Paris Match and Elle, a history of France in books, with room after room to loose oneself in. We roasted in the heat and decided not to take a boat out on the canal, the humidity overwhelming us! Instead we were in the pool playing a game invented by Simon, a cross between basketball, netball and water polo!

Wednesday saw us driving jet ski boats at Torreiles, such fun! Lunch on the beach after some excitement on the road when the bike on the caravan we were following fell off and bounced towards us at some speed! It shot off over into the ditch at the side of the road just in front of us and they drove on oblivious, with us chasing them, flashing and hooting all the way, they eventually stopped after spotting this mad car behind them, Michael leaping out to explain why we were behaving so oddly!  We headed back to the beach restaurant we fancied for lunch, braving the wind and flying, exfoliating sand! Zarzuela for me and Michael, a Catalan fish stew, which was more delicious than that description and a sensible but yummy mozzarella salad for Simon! A lazy afternoon at the house with afternoon tea to celebrate Simons birthday, further celebrations at the restaurant Vidal, a Fitou institution, with an enormous buffet of every imaginable salad, pate, marinated vegetable, cheeses, meats, fish, and an equally amazing buffet of desserts. Michael couldn’t go past the 30 escargot but I am grateful that he didn’t order the 150 he could have! The highlight of the evening was M Vidal, the senior who is about 90 according to Stanton, playing Happy Birthday on his saxophone to Simon! Simon was bashful but secretly pleased, it was the first Happy Birthday but won’t be the last of these celebrations!

And now we are in La Ciotat, pronounced See-oh-tar, with Caren and Mike and Max and Jaffa! Guess who Simon was most pleased to see!

La Ciotat, another beautiful place in France!

Yesterday we bid adieu to Pat and Stanton, we had had such a good time with them we were sad to be moving on but at the same time looking forward to seeing Caren and Mike’s house and garden and for them to show us their part of France.

But before we leave Fitou let me tell you what we did there. Michael and I did have a wonderful dinner in Collioures, a degustation menu with a choice of each course from the menu and matching wines. It was especially good value since the sommelier left the beautiful red which accompaimagenied the meat and cheese courses on the table and since he was pre occupied with the beautiful young woman on the table behind us, we drank it!

In the morning I walked up to the moulin, as painted by Matisse, and wandered through the town.  This is the early morning light and the typical fishing boats of the area. We later walked to the Art Gallery which was disappointing since there it was one artist and their interpretation of Matisse, sketches and pieces of wood with wire!

More to follow!