Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Beach, a Boat and a Birthday!

We are winding down our time in Quiberon. We head back to Paris on Monday for two days and then we let go of the unending support of our family and head out to Amsterdam and beyond. It has been so wonderful to ease into this adventure with so much help in getting settled and this long stretch of time at the Seaside.

The Birthday Boy

Meanwhile, Mr. Campbell celebrated his 68th birthday last Saturday with a lovely day out of town. Gregoire, Mary, Michael, Coco and I loaded up the car and drove to Vannes where we met family friends that keep a small sail boat nearby on the Ile D'Arz in the Morbihan Sea. We boarded a passenger only ferry and took the 30 minute ride to the island. This picturesque island is not dissimilar to San Juan Island except for the fact it was pillaged by the Romans, farmed for salt in the Middle ages (the salt flats are still there), and a few other ancient remnants strewn about the fields.

Once we walked (and walked and walked) along the coast road to a home of more friends to drop off a few things, we walked (and walked and walked) to the center of the small town for lunch. It was a leisurely lunch since one of two burners at the restaurant malfunctioned so service was slow. Even for a small island in France. But we were in good company and the wine flowed - so no one was too disappointed.

Typical home on the island

From there we walked (and walked and walked crawled along the rocky beach) to get to the boat. The boat itself was anchored off shore a bit and they don't own a dinghy, so someone needed to swim to the boat to weigh anchor. Gregoire and Jean Francais did the honors. Since the boat was no more than 18 feet and there were 6 adults and a child, I made the wise decision to stay behind on the beach to read my book and guard the gear!

Coming ashore to collect the crew

All aboard had a lovely sail amongst the many small islands just off shore.

(And, if you've ever spent time in England and have a love of 'English' phrases, I recommend a funny, breezy beach read by Catherine Alliott called 'A Crowded Marriage'. As fun and fluffy as a Trifle).

This day was a perfect example of what this journey is all about. We would have never known about this bucolic part of the world and taken the time to explore it for an entire day, AND get in a 8K walk if we didn't have just that - the luxury of time.

Beach Buddies

Friday, August 16, 2013

Rotary Paris Style

I should have mentioned in my previous post that Michael and I attended Rotary Club in Paris at a lovely event facility just a quite Metro ride away in a park. It was called Pavillon Dauphine.

 I am sure the program was excellent - if you speak French, but that aside it was a very different cultural experience on several other levels. Starting with lunch at $90. each. That probably explains the 4 bottles of wine per table (more if needed) and  the lovely four course meal with Cognac and coffee after dessert. Not your salmon or fruit plate for this crowd!

We didn't realize it would be such a leisurely affair and assumed the first course was lunch. Mr. Campbell was sad that it was Smoked Salmon with Blini and Caviar (for his $90) but he was consoled by the wine. But wait! Then came perfect duck breasts with a delightful prune sauce, a lovely potato gratin dauphinois, and a perfect little pile of Haricot Vert with lemon and butter sauce followed by Peach Melba.

Michael and I were introduced as visitors and were duly acknowledged. For at least the first twenty minutes I was the only woman in the room of 100 members other than those serving or administrating, and at 57, I was close to being the youngest!  Then a lady member arrived and joined our table who spoke English. Thank God. 

We sat with some members who seemed to have been in the club since it's inception in 1927. It is the oldest and largest club in France.

Michael sat next to a lovely gentlemen named Cecil Kpenou, a retired diplomat from Benin (West Africa.) He semi translated the program regarding arbitration vs the court system. Could have been boring either way -better to focus on the duck!

We will continue to attend Rotary meetings in our travels and keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The First Month

Hello everyone! It has been a month since we left Seattle and it is finally time to start telling the tale of the Senior Nomads. We've had quite a range of experiences so far - including three visits to the OFII (Office of French Immigration and Integration) to get the final stamps, stickers and medical checks (including the obligatory chest x-rays!) needed to complete our French Visas. We can now officially move through Europe for one year without any challenges. We could not have done it without Mary's help in navigating the system.


We also have a European bank account and for at least this month, French phone numbers. Those will change as we move to other countries. It's best to contact us through e-mail and we should have access to the Internet more regularly now. In case you don't have our addresses, here you go:  /

 We've had some great luck in finding free accommodations so far. We could call this blog Senior Mooches! It all started with a couple of weeks in the Murray Robinson guest house on Mercer Island. We had leased our house for a year, and needed a good home - and we got one!

We have a great little apartment to come and go from in Paris that is just a short walk from Mary's house. We spent the first week there and then moved into Mary's 350 sq. ft flat to look after Marcel (1) and Coco (3) for ten days while Mary and Greg did some traveling for work and a little well deserved relaxation.

I could fill a separate blog about those ten days! In the middle of the which Michael came down with Strep throat and was quite ill. We had a doctor make a house call and the meds seem to help.
Did I mention it was over 90 degrees most of the those ten days? Luckily, the kids were able to attend summer creche (daycare) during the week - that saved some of our sanity. They are a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too.  Coco's English improved a bit and my three year old 'French Speak' is better, too!

Also during that time, daughter-law-law Jenny Campbell swooped into Paris after a great Nike work retreat in Stockholm. It was great to see her and sort of surreal to have her with us. It felt like we were just sitting around home! We had some great food and wine and she and Mary had an excellent night out.

Michael was able to get close enough to enjoy the final laps of the Tour de France finish by going around the Arc de Triomphe. The finish was at night as part of the celebration of the tour's 100th the mood was festive and colorful. I think it was a big highlight for him so far.

So back to Senior Mooches. We were able to see our long time friends Jenny and Graham Fairbanks - they have lived in Paris for at least 25 years. Jenny worked for Michael years ago at the London ProServ office. They have the most delightful upper crust British accents, and their French is impeccable. But most importantly they have a lovely rose covered cottage in Normandy, that was sadly going unused for most of August. After the ten day tour of duty, it was the least we could do to take it off their hands. A lovely, week long respite complete with sun, a hail storm throwing down stones the size of cherries, thunder, lightening, more sun and lots of great walks and cozy book time.

Now we are at the beach in Quiberon. A lovely seaside town in Brittany where Gregoire's parents live. So there are two sets of grandparents - yeah! We are staying in Greg's mother's guesthouse. It's really a separate wing of her home - but large and quiet with a great kitchen. It does, however, feel like a 60's time warp. Every wall is papered in a different pattern and the tile colors are classic.

We are settled here until the 27th of August. It will be nice to have lots of beach time and family gatherings. We've already been to a traveling circus that would never pass the PETA test in America. You can walk right up to pet the camels, long horned cattle (don't know why), a zebra, ponies, etc. and the 'advertising' truck that runs through town blasting music over the loud speaker  had a live lion and a tiger in cages on board. Crazy!

 After a couple of days back in Paris we are heading to Amsterdam for two weeks, and then on to Copenhagen and Stockholm. Not sure after that. Guess that's the Nomad part! We'll stay in touch.