Saturday, 5 January 2013

You can't win them all...

Wednesday 2 January

Wednesday is a quiet day.  Not that we need to recover from New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, we just need a bit of quiet now and then.  We wait for the baker and do some general chores around the house. I also spend a lot of time again updating my blog.  Not that it takes up so much of my time, but it is so easy to get side tracked, because every time I think of something I google it and I wander from site to site.  Before you know it half a day has gone.  I also finish the book I was reading.  What a shame, now I need to find another good one...

Lots of email messages were waiting for me too and that has become a real chore, especially this time of the year when just about everyone remembers you. ;-)  While I am tapping away on my keyboard Frank needs to stretch his legs and goes out for a walk about the grounds.  We don't know how big this farm exactly is, but it takes him quite some time to return.  It's mostly pasture and a few walnut and apple trees, and according to René's own description oak and chestnut trees.  Frank's taken some pictures while he was up above:

The house with two 'driveways' joining at the road at the bottom part of the grounds

Montfalcon on the right and the 'forest' of oak and chestnut trees

René's house and that of the neighbours (on the left)

Panoramic view

an abandoned birds nest
It's two days ago now since I started this update and I have already forgotten what else we did.  Can't have been important, so I'll go on to the next update. :-)

Thursday 3 January

For today I am going to reveal why I used the title "You can't win them all"...  I am talking about geocaches.

As I have prepared yet another list, and Frank's prepared the cut lunch and coffee for morning, and possibly afternoon tea we set out again to get a few caches under our belts.

I've only got five on the list, so not too strenuous.  The first one brings us to La Trappe de Chambarand.  (I think this would translate into 'The Abbey of the Trapists')  It's a most pleasant search.  We have to take a path along the side and the back of the abbey grounds, which are quite extensive.  It's a very cold and crisp morning, the cold air at times bringing tears to my eyes.  The paths are muddy and here and there are puddles covered with ice.

Damping manure in the cold morning air
I wish I could send you the smell as well :-)

At the back of the abbey, 0.8 km away

Somewhere amongst these trees we have to find the cache

The abbey in the morning sun

Ready for a stroll???
When we arrive back at the front, (yes we've found the cache, and collected some figures for the next one!) we walk around and take some pictures:

The facade of the abbey


the complete plan

Frank and the church in the background

the church

inside the walls looking towards the front

the greenhouse

a corner inside the walls
As we now have collected the x and y values of the coordinates for the next cache, which is classed as a puzzle cache, we head to L'Étang de Dionay. (Étang meaning pond).  It's an easy drive so it doesn't take us long to get there, although the GPS takes us along an odd road full of potholes, which we could have done without!  It being near the water we expect a very muddy area, but it could have been worse.  What plays havoc with our search though is the fact that we now have the coordinates, but...... the compass keeps freezing up. Initially I am trying to go for the same trick as we did at the Château de Bressieux, which is looking at the coordinates and trying to get them right, because we can't type them in.  When finally the compass comes back to life again we forget that the coordinates were those for the parking spot and not for the cache, so we keep coming back to the parking area, which has us stumped.  We give up an hope to be able to come back some other time. Of course we have forgotten to take pictures but I can pinch one from the internet:

L'Étang de Dionay
The next one on the list is Le gué du rival.  For this one the drive leads us northwards again, past Le Château de Bressieux.  It was on our list earlier on, but we never got to it at the end of the day.  Can't say much about this one.  It's an easy drive and an easy find after a short walk of about 100m.

Frank's retrieved the cache

Crossing the little bridge back to the car

Hiding the cache again

And also back to the car again
Aterwards we have lunch in the car before we set off to the next one, which again is a castle: Le château Lous XI.  Again an easy find:

...and I am not saying a thing...
Since the cache is not actually hidden at the castle we park closer by and walk around to take some more pictures.  The castle now doubles as a conservatory of music.

The last one of the day, which is also in the same village: La côte St André, proves to be of some difficulty and we are unable to finish our task.  Exactly where we need to search (at Les halles de la Côte St André) there is a group of youngsters hanging around, smoking and drinking, so most likely not going away in a hurry.  We have a bit of a look around and Frank takes some pictures, but that's all we are able to do without giving the game away.

So, that's why I said that you can't win them all.  At the end of the day we have only collected 3 out of 5.  It's still early in the afternoon, but there's nothing for it then to go home.  When we pass through St Siméon de Bressieux we realise that we have never had a good look around, so we stop and go for a walk in the centre of the little village while taking the inevitable pictures of course:

Lyon and surroundings were once famous for the silk industry
This building is a remnant of the time and
alongside was even a boarding house for the women


The details of those old buildings sometimes are quite fantastic, like e.g. the brickwork of this tall chimney.

We drive back home, but close to Roybon I realise something about an earlier search for a cache.  When my compass worked again after it had been freezing up at L'Étang de Dionay we had been looking at the wrong coordinates, and that was when we kept returning to the parking area.  Of course, they were those of the parking area!  So, with an hour or so to spare we go back to the pond and try again.  Now we are getting somewhere, right out of the area on the other side of the road!  However, we are still not lucky.  We have zoomed in to ground zero, but no matter how hard and thoroughly we search, we cannot find this cache.  What a shame.  Well, it's getting cold again, so we're better off going home and this time we are going to have a good look at the spoiler (a picture that gives a bit more away about the hiding place) and see if it will be our worth while to once more visit this place to have a look.

For the time being, we've had enough and want to sit down for a quiet dinner.  No sooner are we home and have dinner on the table, then there is a knock on the door.  It's Mireille.  She's come to show us her new car, a red Renault Clio.  She's so happy and I can quite understand.  We talk a bit and she accepts the offer of a cup of coffee.  That's what I like so much about the people here, they have no problem sitting down at the table for a chat even when they see the host has dinner served.  We both know that the microwave oven is at hand and we can heat up the dishes later.  Although, she doesn't stay long, because she has to be in Roybon by 6.30pm.  Last Sunday we have been talking about a local dish, Ravioles de Romans (although I didn't know it by name back then), and she and Bernard tried to explain to me what it was, because I had asked about it.  We had received 2 small ravioles from the baker last week and I could not understand what it actually was, but now we know, it's a dish made with famous local ravioli.  So, she's come to invite us for dinner on Saturday night and she's going to make this ravioli dish for us.  How lovely!

A word about the local ravioli: it is quite different from the Italian ravioli that we know in Australia (and perhaps in The Netherlands as well).  These are sheets of ravioli, like you have lasagne sheets. They are not cut into individual pieces, but the sheet is cut to size and used on top of the dish.  It may top off a layer of salmon and zucchini e.g. and on top sits a layer of grated cheese, which of course melts under the grill.

Friday 4 January

Today is a 'day of rest' again.  We get up late, stay home and take it easy.  I work on the blog, but also spend a good deal of the day searching for our 'next home exchange'!  There are plenty of places to choose from, but it is not easy to get a good match.  We have also received a request this week to go back to the States, to North Carolina to be precise.  In first instance we have declined, because it was a request for 3 months, but the lady came back to us to see if we wanted a 'shared' exchange and stay for 6 weeks.  So far we have agreed to look into it, but it's not our first choice to go back to America so quickly, so we keep an open mind and write to a few people that we would like to exchange with.

Well, that's it so far.  We're quickly nearing the end of our stay.  The car is booked into the parking lot at the airport and we are slowly winding down and preparing for our departure.  Ten days to go...

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