Well, here's a quick update of the last couple of weeks:
Went to Dorking and had lunch with an uncle of Lesley's at a lovely winery; had a walk around the town, then drove up Box Hill, with a good view from the top of the South Downs. Last weekend Graham and Graham (Lesley's brother-in-law) visited Duxford Air Museum to drool over old aeroplanes, marvel at engines, and watch some of the planes flying. The 2 ladies, however, managed to forego that excitement and instead checked out one of the local shopping centres. Well, someone had to do it!
During the week we took another train trip to London and enjoyed wandering round one of the local markets at Camden Lock - very interesting assortment of stalls and people, and a large variety of food options. Then went on to the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was interesting but not enthralling. Walked around the History of Britain sections! and the fashion exhibition, but all seemed to concentrate very much on upper class living! with hardly anything of the everyday folk; that, at least, was our impression.
Mid-week all 4 of us headed off on the Eurostar to Paris, whizzing through the countryside at approx 180 miles per hour (about 290 kms per hour). Seemed we'd only just left London and we were at the coast heading into the tunnel. It's a magnificent way to travel and you get to see the countryside as it flies by. Arrived at Paris in just over 2 hours - same length of time it took us to drive round the M25 from Chesham to Maidstone, Kent, a few weeks ago!
Stayed in a hotel near the Gard du Nord, and spent a couple of hours after we arrived wandering round Bassin de la Villete - very interesting area, with lots happening on the banks of the canal - sand pits for children, pétanque games, table tennis, flying fox, and even a dance 'floor' with couples dancing (and very good they were too). Next day we boarded the hop on/hop off bus for a quick overview of the city, getting off at various points of interest such as Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe (and enjoyed a coffee and eclair in a Champs Élysées cafe), Le Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower. The latter obviously a great feat of its time, and a Paris landmark, but didn't really do much for us otherwise. Didn't have time to go to the top - queues were huge! Day 3 we had the morning to explore, so caught the Metro and visited Montmartre and Sacre-coeur Basilica. Enjoyed seeing a different perspective of Paris, with the cobbled streets, a few hawkers (though not as many as we'd been led to expect), and artists sitting around the square selling their wares and painting. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great that morning - grey and drizzly - but cleared up later in the day for our walk back to the station and return trip on the train. So, whistle stop trip, and saw lots of things briefly rather than a few in depth.
This weekend has been spent visiting various of Lesley's relations - 2 shorter visits to aunts, and meals on 2 occasions with some cousins, so great family times. Temperatures somewhat cooler now, due to tail end of Hurricane Bertha from the Caribbean, but hopefully picking up again next week.
Counting down now - 1 week left in UK, which we thought would be winding down and fairly quiet, but it's not looking that way!