Bits and Bobs….

It has been such a whirlwind on this trip that my few quiet moments have been devoted to recharging not writing. I’m now in the south of France at my friend Wendy’s lovely home, the sun is shining – which makes it only the fourth day to do so on this sojourn! Perhaps I should rethink Europe in the winter….?

We are out to lunch shortly with the local priest, who I’m assured is a delightful, interesting man, tho’ I’m unsure why he wouldn’t be at the pulpit on a Sunday??? Anyway, I have some time to myself at the moment and want to catch you up a bit.

Oxford was perfect as usual; I stayed with Felicity and Ian in my garret on the top floor and was thoroughly spoiled. We laughed, ate, drank, talked and laughed some more! Oxford itself is such a fascinating town – I could easily see spending an extended time there; rent a flat for a few months, take courses at one of the colleges, emerse myself in “things English”.

Felicity and Ian once again generously hosted a luncheon for all my Oxford friends – much hilarity with an international cast – Brits of course, Australians, Swedes, French and me the lone Canadian. We even managed to navigate the post-Brexit conversation with parties on both sides – no long knives!

A new wine! A grape I’ve never seen before – Picpoul de Pinet.

Felicity hunting (unsucessfully I think) for ingredients in the pantry.

We did do all sorts of interesting things – into London for lunch at the National Portrait Gallery (need to go back to spend at least a day there) with a fine view of Nelson’s backside up on his column, tea at Ian’s club which was very posh indeed and a series of lectures hosted by a well known law firm, on “Interfaith Dialogue” by members of the Wolfe Institute of which Ian is the chair. I know – it does sound a tad dry but wasn’t at all. I find people who are passionate about what they do (as opposed to obsessed or fanatical) very appealing!

The Athenaeum

Canada House – YAY!

I had a really nice dinner with Duncan at the local one star Michelin restaurant – it has become a bit of a tradition with us and we caught up. He’s a grandfather now and quite pleased about it! Julia had us over for pheasant which was very kind of her as she is grieving the recent loss of her husband Oliver. I found a perfect photo of the two of them in Iran and framed it; it brought tears – to all of us but joy as well I think (thank goodness – as I really second guessed myself on that one). Life ever moves on, new life arrives and old ones fade away. Carpe diem I suppose….

An unusually neat event – we attended a play of Bleak House done at the local bookstore. Five actors only on a raised central stage – highly abbreviated if I remember the story correctly (I think I read it in high school, maybe) but they certainly captured the essence. Amazingly I managed to spend three hours in a bookstore without buying a single book – which was entirely spoiled as Felicity surprised me with three to take home!

Lastly, the day before I left we made marmalade – really! The entire house was permeated with the heady scent of oranges and lemons, and I have a couple of jars tucked away in my suitcase for home.

On to Hamburg to help Gudrun sort and organize in her new home. The basement is done! We made three trips to the recycle depot – amazing place – clean, well organized and a bin for everything. Ontario could learn a thing or two! I didn’t take any photos as Gudrun didn’t want to show the “in progress” process but it will be a really lovely spot when she has it all organized. She has great plans for the garden – I intend to return in warmer weather to sit under the pergola, sip wine and admire her nascent plantings!

More later….