…with long walks around the Common, taking delight in its unusual fauna.We ended our trip in a 16th Century farmhouse where we looked after 3 dogs, 3 cats, 2 ponies and lots of hens.We looked after this beautiful retired police dog, Scout, who was an expert at sniffing for explosives. A real hero who sadly now has dementia.Dotty by name, dotty by nature, was a ball of fun.And Stinko was a sweetheart with us and with the cats we looked after – called Black Cat and Ginger Cat!Our trip to France was spent with family, here visiting the charming Chateau of Azay-le-Rideau in the Loire Valley.In Tours, we also saw the fascinating Musée du Compagnonnage celebrating France’s master artisans (craft people), including two who made this chess set and globe entirely from sugar.We spent a week in Paris to see familyand old friends from uni days……and school days.
We caught up with even older friends in San Francisco!We love San Francisco. Our last visit in 2008 was very touristy. This time, we stuck to the Mission area which was fascinating. Its food, buildings and community felt like we were in Central America.Our local park overlooking the city was mobbed with groups of friends picnicking. It felt a bit odd to see local traders openly selling weed and mushrooms. Another reason to love SF: Five Rhthyms dance sessions seem to exist in only the coolest places.We moved from San Francisco to Sebastopol in Sonoma County for 3 weeks. Sonoma is known for its wine valleys, as featured in the film Sideways, and famously has more soil types than the whole of France!In Sebastopol, we cared for this magnificent and gentle English Shepherd called Finn. We loved taking Finn for walks on the beach and in forests Look what the cat Sawyer dragged in – he loved lizards. But was thankfully ever so gentle with us!A little Silkie somehow managed to escape her pen before we recovered her, and a lone daffy duck called Daisy thought she was a chicken.Wild turkeys visited our garden most days just to say Gobble GobbleAnd our goats did their fair share of gobbling too…leftover food and even (organic) banana skins.We were truly inspired by the county’s local hero, Jack London, one of our favourite authors. He and his wife, Charmian, were both adventurous and free-spirited and way ahead of their time in using innovative and caring farming methods to save the planet. Awe struck by the 1,400 year old redwoods in Armstrong ReserveOne of our best days was spent walking along the cliffs of Bodega Bay, which was a real feast for the senses: the sight of whales and seals in the ocean, the smell of yellow lupine bushes in bloom in the scrubland…We couldn’t leave Bodega Bay without visiting the famous film set for The Birds and doing a Tippi Hedren impression.Moving South, we met beautiful cousins for the first time……all based in the Silicon ValleyNext up was our road trip down the Big Sur highway, taking in magnificent coastal views……and adorable otters in Morro Bay.We ended our trip in LA to attend the wedding of a dear cousin’s beautiful daughter and her lovely partner.The magnificent wedding took place in LA’s hills.It was so wonderful to see all our American cousins again. We also had a great reunion with old friends from uni days.
Arriving in Spain, we took a short road trip in Andalucia to explore its beaches, sample its fine cuisine and discover some of its beautiful towns.The town of Vejer de la Frontera was our favourite. The cobbled streets of its old Jewish quarter was a sight to behold, and its restaurant Patria quickly became one of our all time favourites.The wedding we came for was beautiful!We were so happy to share such a precious moment with our family.We adore the young happy couple.Set in the hills of Jerez……the wedding continued until 6am!Having our boys with us was wonderful!We couldn’t leave Jerez without seeing flamenco – this one was an end of year show by young and old dance graduates in a 16th century courtyard. Magnífico!
Back to the UK for a couple of weeks, then Helsinki in August and Munich in September.