I see that I have been very remiss in that I never posted my blog for last Christmas (2016) – so, somewhat belatedly, here it is!
In line with Lisa, Freddie & Liam’s unanimous request we spent Christmas on board Piedaleau at Port aux Cerises, south of Paris. A bit of a logistical challenge, to say the least, to get everyone and everything there, and back, but we did it! And we all had a brilliant Christmas!
Adrian and Liam went from Hemel Hempstead as the advance party – to get the boat warm, fill water tank, get the shopping and visit the neighbours! Lisa, Freddie and I arrived a couple of days later from Lincoln. I did it in 2 hops – down to Folkestone (where we stayed in an horrendous cheapie hotel!) and then over to France the next day. Made it easier both for me and for Freddie. So we were all on board on the 23rd and boat decoration started in earnest.
On the 24th we had a really enjoyable day in Paris. We went to the Sacré Coeur Cathedral and then onto Montmartre. In the square Freddie chose a lady artist to do his portrait and sat as good as gold while she worked. We all chatted whilst this was happening and Lisa proudly showed her Freddie’s artwork on her phone. I really believe that she, & a neighbouring artist were impressed with his pictures. Both said they expect to wellcome him in the Place de Montmartre in years to come….
Then we needed crèpes as sustenance before visiting the Musée de Montmartre. Adrian and I had done so in November and really liked it as a small, local museum. Everyone enjoyed it – Freddie partiicularly liked the silhouette paintings and the video of the ladies of the Moulin Rouge doing the Can-Can! And then a real highlight ….. an exhibition of Bernard Buffet which Freddie loved – literally running from room to room to show everyone his favourite pictures. There was hardly anyone there so this was fine, and it was so nice to see him excited & interested. He has received numerous art presents this Christmas so hopefully his interest will continue for some time to come. And to round off the day everyone got to choose something special from the chocolate / biscuit shop at the bottom of the hill. Back at the boat we had our now traditional Christmas Eve raclette dinner.
I now have 3 Freddie masterpieces at home – the latest (my Christmas present) is ‘The Sun & Moon’ which is very reminiscent of a pottery piece my mum did not long before she passed away. Thought of it immediately I saw Freddie’s picture! Lisa even produced coasters from Freddie’s pictures for everyone for Christmas
My Christmas pressie from Adrian is a 1930’s lithograph by Bernard Buffet that we found in a real ‘oldie worldie’ print shop on the banks of the Seine in November. It was one of those crowded shops where you really cannot imagine how the owner knows where anything is – you have to move into spaces in order for him to reach things. The picture has pride of place in my new dining room.
Back to Christmas Eve – Lisa and Freddie sprinkled reindeer food along the pontoon so that Père Noel would know where to find us on board!
Christmas Day itself was lazy and great fun – the cooking a little of a challenge but everyone seemed pleased with the outcome. For those who don’t realise it, we don’t have a traditional oven on board, just a halogen oven thingy. Its fine but not too easy to keep things separate when juggling both vegetarian and meat eaters!
Boxing Day was a hoot! Andy and Voissey (Bella Fortuna) & Graham and Jill (Francoise) came round for drinks! Andy came dressed as an elf, as you would! and we played rather silly games – ‘reindeer antler hoopla’ is hilarious, particularly after a few glasses.
A festive scary trip to the Catacombes under Paris was our family treat on the 27th. So pleased we’d got the tickets online beforehand as the queue seemed to be least 4 hours! Thank goodness we didn’t have to do that! The Catacombes were interesting but can’t say I’d feel the need to go again – been there, done that!
We were all due to leave on 29th and come back on the tunnel at the same time. Unfortunately a little problem with the electricity supply from the pontoon meant we couldn’t trust the boat to underfloor heaters but needed to winterize her properly. So Liam came with me in my car and we came home via Hemel! The tunnel was even more chaotic than coming over and the UK border control were wary of us – 2 adults and 2 youngsters all with different surnames….. We had some explaining to do and both Freddie & Liam were asked separately as to who was who. Just shows that they are taking security more seriously, thank goodness.
Adrian stayed on the boat to do the winterizing. He didn’t leave until nearly 3pm on the 30th so was shattered when he got home at 10pm! But we did it and we all agreed that it was great fun and a real one-off Christmas!
Sorry again that this is so late but I am sure Jill Budd will be amazed that I finally got around to it!