Art, Creativity, Photography, Travel, Writing

Arrival in Europe

Well, I finally arrived at Carol’s on the morning of 28 February after a very long transatlantic crossing. I was beginning to think the gps system Enchanteur had installed in my broom wasn’t working properly and I nearly got tangled up in some skeins of geese flying north to their breeding grounds.

Suffice to say it may take me a few days to recover from jet lag. I thought I was going to be able to take it easy for a while but Carol informed me that we would be leaving for England on Sunday morning and that we were giving a dinner party on Saturday. It turns out that her husband is a very good cook and I can tell you that the smells wafting out of the kitchen were divine. We started off with corn on the cob and garlic mushrooms, then raw and cooked ham with asparagus, then Swedish meatballs with a side salad to which had been added pan-fried baby asparagus spears. The last course was bacon and grilled cheese on ciabbatinis. A Luxembourgish Riesling and a 1990 Givry (red Burgundy) wines were served to accompany these courses. And did I mention that we started with a British sparkling wine (Champagne style) brought by a guest? Coffee and chocolates and a digestif followed before we all retired for bed. I can see that if they continue to fee me like this I’ll need a new set of clothes before I fly home.

We got up early on Sunday or rather we were awakened early, for the second day running, by tremendous gales and Carol phoned the ferry company before we left to ensure that the boats were sailing.

In no time at all we had crossed the border from Luxembourg into Belgium and then into France. We sailed from Boulogne in Flanders (flat countryside enlvivened by small clumps of wild daffodils and clouds of white-flowered blackthorn in the hedges). We were warned that the sea would be a bit choppy and that we should stay in our seats. In fact it wasn’t too bad and the crossing only took 50 minutes. Carol had hoped to get a photo of me with the white cliffs of Dover in the background but there was too much spray and she didn’t want me to get covered in salt so I stayed in my travelling bag. She did, however, get a couple of photos of the port of Dover.

Now I must tell you about my travelling bag. That Carol is such a clever girl. She hangs the bag from the headrest of the passenger seat so I can sit in my bag and look out of the window while we are driving along. I’m a bit confused at the moment because we started out driving on the right side of the road and now, in the UK, we’re driving on the left.

That evening I was introduced to the great British tradition of Fish and Chips – lovely!

On Monday we went shopping and got caught in a flurry of snow. I thought I’d left the snow behind in the U.S. but apparently more is forecast here. Carol introduced me to British tradition number two: charity shops. These are shops run by volunteers to raise money for various charities. People donate their unwanted clothes, jewellery, books, bric-a-brac, etc to these shops. Milly’s (MIL-mother-in-law) home help works as a volunteer in one of these shops to raise money for a children’s hospice and Carol has promised to sort out some things to sell in it There is no such thing in Lux so Carol insists on getting her fix every time she visits the UK. She has found many bargains in these shops she explained and can never resist going into one and having a browse. She’s also addicted to second-hand bookshops.

Tuesday we all had to get up at 6am as we had to make an early start to drive back to Lux. We made it to Dover in plenty of time and we had a good drive with sun and blue sky. Already the buds are beginning to show green on the trees. Carol said she was surpised to see the magnolieas in flower this early and even more surprised to see a mimosa tree in full bloom. She said she had never seen one of these in the UK but only in the south of France. We also saw a couple of camellia bushes with masses of pink and red flowers.

As you can see the weather was much better for our return crossing so I did manage to get a photo of me with the White Cliffs of Dover in the background after all.

We finally got back to Lux early on Sunday evening after encountering snow in the Ardennes (the hilly area of central Belgium which featured heavily in world war II). There was a gorgeous sunset of golden flight flooding through layers of pale lavender cloud followed by blushing pink cotton wool clouds.

Since our return I have been resting while Carol has been catching up on domestic chores. If the weather is OK on Friday we are off to visit an Easter market in Germany.

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