And here I thought I would have time to blog every day, maybe every
other day. But...NO! The last days at Oxford were incredibly busy--finishing my major assignment for the week, meeting individually
with my tutor, and, of course, keeping up my new friendships--Julie from England, Gudrun from Norway, Charelle from Netherlands,
Nada from South Carolina, and a number of other writers and folks taking different courses. Then on a bus to Heathrow, a plane
to Orly, a rental car to the little town an hour and a half south. What fun that was finding a little out of the way village
at night. Asked several people for directions and finally arrived where Maggie and the granddaughters had visited with long
term friends for the week I was at Oxford. From then on it life went from fairly fast paced at Oxford to hectic in France.
The next day I drove to Strasbourg and the beginning of yet another
adventure. We stayed with the Mamie Antoinette in her beautiful 4 BR Strasbourg apartment along with Mwanday, 10, and Candace,
8. These are two little girls my daughter (with my help) tutors at home. We met the grandmother when she came to the States
to help with their care there for part of the year. What a gracious woman. Of Congolese descent. So we were immersed not only
in French culture but Alsatian and African. We attended a African mass with beautiful singing and a special Congolese priest
visiting from Rome. I also attended a magnificent organ concert at St. Thomas church. It was the annual commemorative concert
held at the exact hour of Bach's death and the superb world reknown organist played a dozen Bach pieces on the grand pipe
Rented a car while in Alsace and visited the beautiful, beyond
quaint villages on the Alsation Wine Route. Eguisheim being the most incredible. It was like being transported back to the
Middle Ages. The next day we visited the marvelously reconstructed Haut Koenigsburg chateau. What a marvel that it was brought
back to its full splendor by Kaiser Willhelm in 1908.
of Strasbourg were the music and light show on the magnificant Catherdral, which rivals any in Europe. A river boat trip.
Yummy Alsatian food with its German influence. And, of course, meeting many of Antoinette's friends, all warm, welcoming.
By the end of 10 days, I was beginning to understand at least half of what was spoken in French, but could only guess at what
was spoken in Lingala.
Then a TGV train ride to the south of France.
A real challenge to get 2 adults, 2 babies, 2 strollers, 2 car seats, 4 large bags, and 4 small bags on and off the trains
twice. They give you less than 5 minutes at the stations to accomplish this and gave us a lecture about having too much luggage.
Thank goodness a young man from New Hampshire helped plus a few other strangers. But we were greeted at Aix-en-Provence by
Marc, the owner of the home exchange we had arranged. He and his wife Christine and daughter and her fiance were wonderful
hosts for the evening before they took off for San Ramon today (Wed, July 31st) to stay in my daughter's home for a month.
The home is gorgeous, photos later, with a huge inground pool, and very Mediterranean look.
Tomorrow Aveline will start her French school with other 3 year olds. She will stay all day for
3 weeks. Maggie and I will take the baby and do some sightseeing during the day. Next week I will begin my journey home--a
two day affair--and Maggie will stay on to the end of August. She will be on her own with the children until husband Jason
arrives on the following Monday.
It has been a grand adventure to
say the least. Maggie is writing her own blog about what it's like to travel internationally with two little ones. The
first week they didn't understand the time change at all. But now are going to bed a their usual times.
I still would like to write more about the work I did at Oxford, but today wanted to
catch you up with what has transpired since my last post.