Wednesday, August 22, 2012

From windswept moors to stifling Tours

When I stepped off the plane in Tours on Saturday afternoon, dressed in the same basic dress-leggings-cardigan combo I'd been rocking solidly throughout Norway and the UK, I confusedly thought that the jet engines of the plane were pumping out a lot of heat. While I'm sure they were moving the air around, it soon transpired that it was just that hot. Saturday was (I assume) the hottest day of the year, with temperatures reaching 38.1°C in Tours and more than 40° elsewhere in France.

Temperature map at 5.48 pm Saturday. Tours is in Indre-et-Loire, the département with a 37 in it (also, coincidentally, the number of the département) which is sort of divided into two between the black and dark purple, north-west of the one right in the middle that says 40

You can imagine what it was like coming back to my little apartment under the eaves... I was super glad to be back for Bob though. I've never seen a cat panting before. I didn't even know a cat could pant! I wrapped him up in a damp towel and we had some cuddles by the fan. He still insisted on welcome-back cuddles on my lap despite the heat and the wet towel. Silly Bob!

I tried to get one with the towel over his head so I could call him Little Virgin Bobby, but he kept moving. Goddammit, Bob!

You can wrap me up like a mummy, but you'll never take my tail's FREEDOM!
Anyway, let's go back in time and recap the rest of my holiday in the UK. As promised, I made my famous wine jelly for M&D. The wine (South African) was horrible, but thankfully I managed to simmer/sugar the horrible out of it and the jelly was well-received! We couldn't get it into the fridge at first, but I was assured that it would set overnight on the bench. I knew that wouldn't work - how many jelly recipes have you seen saying "leave it to set overnight on a bench"? - and sure enough, it was still liquid in the morning, at which point Mum managed to manhandle a shelf out of my granddad's tiny fridge.

Mum, Dad, and my disembodied arm
I'm not sure whether Mum wanted to eat the camera or she was just too eager to start on the jelly
Going back even further in time, I think it rained every day we were there, starting off punctually when we landed in Liverpool on Wednesday.

Driving in Norway

Driving on the M6. Spot the difference.
However, it did brighten up on Thursday afternoon for a trip to Haworth, the famous home of the Brontë sisters. We visited Haworth en famille in early 2007, but the parsonage where the Brontës lived was closed in winter (in fact, this is my first time visiting Lancashire in summer since I was a kid. And I know Haworth is Yorkshire, but we are a Lancs family. Screw you, Yorkshire). This time, everything was open and the morning rain seemed to scare off some of the tourist trade, since it wasn't toooo busy. The museum itself is quite small and photos are not allowed, so I don't have any. It was really interesting though. I knew quite a lot about the Brontës and their works, but I did learn new things, such as that Jane Eyre was first published as an autobiography "edited" by Currer Bell (Charlotte Brontë's pseudonym), and Charlotte even pretended to be acting "on behalf of" Currer Bell with her own publishers (I had assumed they would be in on the secret, at least after the first books were published). It was also fascinating seeing the "little books" that the children wrote. They really are tiny, and the words are hard to read even with a magnifying glass

An example which came up for auction recently (and sold for over AU$ 1 mil)
I also didn't know that the sisters were accomplished artists. I thought their sketches and paintings were far better than their brother Branwell's horrible oil paintings, but of course, being a boy, he was the one encouraged to pursue a career as a professional painter (although I suppose we should all be grateful that the girls weren't stopped from writing. Or not, depending on whether you had to suffer through them at school.)

His famous painting of his sisters. His other portraits were equally crude and unattractive, I don't know how he managed to get people to pay for them. Maybe because they didn't feature someone getting Raptured out of them.
The main street in Haworth

On th' moors. Either Lancashire or Yorkshire, on top of the Pennines

A green and pleasant land, and all that

Pretending to be the ghost of Cathy searching for Heathcliff. Or something equally foolish.

One thing about the moors is true - they certainly are windswept!

Oh, and by the way, without ever (in France) having turned a wheel in anger, as they would say in Formula One (i.e. "driven a car"), I now have waited out the three years of probation on my French licence. That means I can now rent a car, I have the full amount of points on my licence (points are taken off rather than added for infractions), I wouldn't have to carry an "A" (for "apprenti" - "apprentice") on my car window, and I wouldn't be charged a premium on my insurance. I have no plans to drive in the near future, but still, huzzah! Especially since (difficulties with driving on the right and in a manual car notwithstanding), I've actually been driving off and on since I was 19, so about bloody time!


  1. Eeeeeh Bob so cute!

    1. I know, he's such a good boy

  2. Eeeeeh Bob such brute!

  3. As you well know, I wus desperate for that wine jelly! M x

    1. I do know, you had to be restrained in order to take photos first! x

  4. At last some nice pics if th 'Lancashire countryside. Everthing begins wit "th" or "t"

    Glad yoU have been reunited wit your cat. Sometimes they can be quite huffy about these things ( being left I mean) , but yours seems to be very understanding.

    Sorry about t' rain. We get so used to it. I laugh when peope sat it is raining in Paris. To me it is just a shower. We have had some lovely sunshine these past few days though.

    I too o have been trying to get some pics of my cycle rides up Rivington and the moors but it keeps showering!

    Sorry about th' exclamation marks., I know you don't like them but I can't write without.

    Love Denise

    1. Yes, I think it rained every day, but not *all* day, so not too bad... And it was pretty out in the countryside.

      Bob is the world's biggest scaredy cat - my friend who was looking in on him said she didn't see him once the whole time - but he doesn't tend to get mad at me, he will just hide for a while and be timid until he's sure everything is back to normal, then he comes out for some hugs.

      And don't worry about exclamation marks, I use them all the time! <-- See! ;)


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