Friday, September 5, 2008

Two Hikes, Exciting News, and a Visit - Help!

en français sous le trait après le texte en anglais

Wow, quite a couple of weeks. Each time I thought I should sit down and write, something else came up. So, thank goodness I have my little reminder every two weeks from my Google Calendar that tells me I have to set some time aside and write a letter.
First of all, Claire and Geoff have set a date (well, a month) for their wedding: October, 2009! Too soon for the exact date. Toby and Jon, wouldn't you like to celebrate your anniversary in England or France?
I'm hiking again and will try to do it every week. Really, I should start thinking about creating a hiking expedition in and around Nogent. I'm still happy to rely on Daniel and Mary Lynne to come up with hikes. Last week, Daniel took us along the Marne, to the Château de Champs and then to the Menier Chocolate Factory in Noisiel. It was a long loop with a bit too much back-tracking for my taste, but still an interesting walk. We had a real break with the weather -- not too hot, not too cold. I was lucky because we don't live far from the starting point and Paul drove me there. The new backpack (it attaches around the waist and has a 3 liter water pouch) is great! It's a bit too big for day walks as all I need to carry is the water and lunch. And it has way too many straps that I haven't figured out the use of. But the main thing is that it is comfortable. And I tried the walking sticks. I couldn't quite get the rythym of it; my arm stride is not in cadence with my leg stride. No matter -- the objective being better posture, they are still useful.
This week, we went to the Château de Chantilly starting out from Orry-la-Ville. That took me back to the days when Judy and Paul lived in Coye-la-Forêt (next to Orry). They had a backyard gate into the forest. I missed the RER that would have gotten me to Paris in time to catch the RER to Orry and the next one was in half an hour! Daniel and Alain very kindly waited for me at the Orry-la-Ville station while the rest of the group headed out slowly. Since they started out slowly and we practically raced, we met up with them fairly soon. It drizzled a bit and was raining enough after lunch for us to get out umbrellas and rain jackets, but it was still a pleasant 13 km. About half the group stayed to visit the château. I remembered that there is this fantastic old library and the 15th century manuscript of the "Book of Hours" of the Duc de Berry. And a big art collection. But really, I didn't remember much. The art collection is something else -- like a mini-Louvre. If you are coming to visit, we'll just have to stick it on the schedule. The manuscript is no longer out on public view; they've put out a facsimile open to a page and if you want to see the rest, they've set up the CD-Rom right next to it. In the art collection, however, there is another collection of miniatures from another, less famous, book of hours. And you can see several panels of that.
In between the two hikes, we had a visit from Ken and Sandy and their friends, the Shappirs. We picked them up at the Gare de l'Est, where they arrived from their trip to Germany and Strasbourg. I had suggested we visit the Parc de Bagatelle in the Bois de Boulogne, so we had lunch just across the river in Puteaux. Luckily, we discovered La Terrasse and had a wonderful lunch. Then, we met the Touzés at the garden and walked around. There's a crystal exhibit. I wasn't as impressed as I was last year at the Chihuly exhibit at the Phipps Botonical Gardens in Pittsburgh. I felt that the crystal didn't quite fit in the settings -- looked too small and insignificant.
After a full afternoon of walking, we had dinner in the Touzé's garden. Then I drove the Shappirs to the airport for their flight. Sunday, the Pickars spent the day with the Touzés and Louis and Gwen showed up early (before noon is early for them) to start filling up any space left in the basement not already occupied by Claire's stuff. The basement is packed solid. Louis' apartment is empty and the sale was final as of yesterday! This coming Tuesday, they finalize the purchase of the new apartment.
Monday, we went to Provins. Paul and I had been there last July and thought it might be nice. We started out later than we should have, so by the time we had lunch, we were too late for the underground galleries visit. The rose garden is not in full bloom, but the Tithe Barn exhibit is still as excellent as ever.
There are some pictures in Picasa: http://picasaweb.google.fr/elebelle

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Oof, c'était long en anglais. Je vais essayer de faire plus court en français.
D'abord, Claire et Geoff se sont dit que se marier au mois d'octobre serait bien -- l'année prochaine! On a le temps de se préparer.
Nous avons eu la visite de mes cousins, Ken et Sandy et leurs amis, les Shappirs. Nous sommes allés à l'exposition de crystal au parc de Bagatelle dans le Bois de Boulogne, mais j'étais un peu déçu. Les pièces sont un peu petites, perdues dans les étangs.
Les Shappirs sont partis le soir même, après le diner chez les Touzés, mais nous avons gardé les Pickars quelques jours de plus. Nous sommes retournés à Provins avec eux, mais malheureusement un peu trop tard dans la journée.
Avant leur arrivée, j'avais fais une randonnée locale (Château de Champs et Chocolaterie Menier à Noisiel) and puis ce mercredi dernier, une autre dans la forêt de Chantilly. Il faudrait maintenir le rythme.
Je suis désolée de ne pas écrire autant en français, mais c'était vraiment très long, déjà, en anglais. C'est dur!
Il y a des photos: http://picasaweb.google.fr/elebelle

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