Arkansas adventures

AR breakfast

Our last trip to Arkansas yielded some very nice firsts!  We had the chance to break in this nifty Lodge grill for instance.  It was love at first breakfast, the charcoal starter thing-y had us up and scrambling eggs before I could finish slicing bagels – THAT’S FAST!  Normally my problem with charcoal grills is all the waiting but this thing makes it a breeze!

This was the first time we were able to sleep in the house (on the floor), eat in the house, go to the bathroom in the house (figured out the toilet has a crack though), wash out dishes in the house, clean ourselves at the house (sort of) – in short we were able to be at Addie’s without leaving for anything!

That left more time for exploring!

AR kids creek

As we were walking the land behind Addie’s we came upon this creek.  When we visit Addie’s we usually have a LONG list of stuff we’d like to get done and most of the time the kids are working right along with us.  So when the opportunity to take a muddy break presented itself I couldn’t say no.  Watching my kids negotiate this very wild, non-manicured, non-saftey checked creek was the best part although I’m sure my kids would disagree.  Armed with a stick to check for snakes (water moccasins would be common) and check water depth they very carefully explored.  It took 5 minutes just to get used to the squish of the creek bottom and non-stop bugs swarming them and the cool temperature of the water.  They became pretty bold after that though, testing that tiny vine as a swing (above), exploring deeper waters, so much braver than their mom!  We still had to walk back to the house after this creek adventure which brings me to a product review.

Bean boots AR

The kids received these LL Bean boots as a Christmas present.  They are expensive and not many boots can do what the Bean boot does….or is supposed to do – good for walking, perfect for wet ground, really, really good looking.  The only thing I can stand by is the way they look, they are a very handsome boot.  But getting them on and off is a pain and walking in them is a nightmare – two things that put them in the NOT buy again category.  What I’ll try in the future are another pair of Blundstones (you totally saw that coming I’m sure) worked over with a little magical product called Obenauf’s.  Although not marketed for waterproofing, with trial and error we’ve found it to be a good protector of the already water resistant Blundstone boot.  Perhaps we’ll need rain boots for the crazy wet days but for day to day needs, we’re back to Blundstone.

The work at Addie’s still overwhelms me, there’s so much to do, so much for me to learn.  But one day, I’m hoping to sit down at a table like the one below, with friends and family and tell stories of our early misadventures with this land and this whole process and marvel at how far we’ve come.  Sounds good right?!

photo via the old white house tumblr

photo via the old white house tumblr

 

 


Adventures in France-Land, Walking (and trains) VII

We wake up on market day in Puy L'eveque and have time for just a bit of shopping.

We wake up on market day in Puy L’eveque and have time for just a bit of shopping.

The taxi arrives just when the rain gets heavy and off we go to Cahors to jump on a train.

The taxi arrives just when the rain gets heavy and off we go to Cahors to jump on a train.

Just something we passed along the way, gotta love France.

Just something we passed along the way, gotta love France.

Cahors is a big busy town and this is there lovely train station were the high speed train will take us to Paris.

Cahors is a big busy town and this is the lovely train station were the high speed train will take us to Paris.

One of our favorite waiting games, the "stand on one foot", other favorites include "I'm thinking of a number" and "all the words you can think of that start with 'a'".

One of our favorite waiting games, the “stand on one foot”, other favorites include “I’m thinking of a number” and “all the words you can think of that start with ‘a'”.

A little slice of home that totally earned it's place in the backpack even though it was only used half the time.

A little slice of home that totally earned it’s place in the backpack even though it was only used half the time.

One of the many advantages of being 5 and 7.

One of the many advantages of being 5 and 7.

Back in Paris we navigate to our second air b'n'b apartment.  I really felt the loss of our red and white GR trail symbols as we wove through cars and people instead of trees and mud.

Back in Paris we navigate to our second air b’n’b apartment. I really felt the loss of our red and white GR trail symbols as we wove through cars and people instead of trees and mud.

Welcome to my new home in Paris! I hope this place stays on air b'n'b forever, I love, love, loved it!

Welcome to my new home in Paris! I hope this place stays on air b’n’b forever, I love, love, loved it!

We treated ourselves to a very non-French lovely Italian meal mere steps from the apartment.

We treated ourselves to a very non-French lovely Italian meal mere steps from the apartment.

And topped it off with gelato that the guy somehow made look like a flower, pffffff as if gelato needs to be even more appealing.

And topped it off with gelato that the guy somehow made look like a flower, pffffff as if gelato needs to be even more appealing.


Adventures in France-Land, Walking VI

Good Morning Monpazier.

Good Morning Monpazier.

We left our Barbie Castle hotel (aka Edward 1er) in search of more.....

We left our Barbie Castle hotel (aka Edward 1er) in search of more…..

 

Castles!  Our friendly postman/taxi driver, who rescued us in my last post, drove us to Chateaux de Biron.

Castles! Our friendly postman/taxi driver, who rescued us in my last post, drove us to Chateaux de Biron.

The details blew my mind.

The details blew my mind.

DSC02300

Aha!  A possible clue about our previous day's misadventure.  Occasionally you cross paths with other "GR" trails, like you see here.

Aha! A possible clue about our previous day’s misadventure. Occasionally you cross paths with other “GR” trails, like you see here.

Welcome to Lacapelle-Biron, home to fanatical rugby fans.  Most of the town was gathered in their red and white colors.  I could write an entire book on the difference between American sports fans and French sports fans but this is a blog, not a book so I will spare you.

Welcome to Lacapelle-Biron, home to fanatical rugby fans. Most of the town was gathered in their red and white colors. I could write an entire book on the difference between American sports fans and French sports fans based on my 10 minute observation of this event but this is a blog, not a book so I will spare you.

Go team!  We start our walking for the day leaving Lacapelle-Biron and their sports traditions behind.

Go team! We start our walking for the day leaving Lacapelle-Biron and their sports traditions behind.

It is immediately apparent we are all in a bit of a silly mood.

It is immediately apparent we are all in a bit of a silly mood.

I think the previous day's challenges brought us closer as well.

I think the previous day’s challenges brought us closer as well.

Note to self, call the GR trail people about the marks in this town, they sort of completely disappeared.

Note to self, call the GR trail people about the marks in this town, they sort of completely disappeared.

Thanks to some friendly locals we found our way and saw beautiful things like this country home.

Thanks to some friendly locals we found our way and saw beautiful things like this country home.

We were in no rush, we truly took our time which yielded more gifts like this shot.

We were in no rush, we truly took our time which yielded more gifts like this shot.

Sometimes, more is better.

Sometimes, more is better.

Le Seguinet, our intended destination for the night in Saint-Front-sur-Lemance.

Le Seguinet, our intended destination for the night in Saint-Front-sur-Lemance.

Le Seguinet sits on 18 acres with 4 separate buildings on the property. It was magical.

Le Seguinet sits on 18 acres with 4 separate buildings on the property. It was magical.

France provided a wonderland of contraband park equipment that our kids are very unlikely to see in the States like see saws and unruly swings.

France provided a wonderland of contraband park equipment that our kids are very unlikely to see in the States – like see saws and unruly swings.

The actual town of Saint-Front-sur-Lemance is......meh.

The actual town of Saint-Front-sur-Lemance is……so-so.

So we spent the rest of the daylight enjoying the grounds at our hotel.

So we spent the rest of the daylight enjoying the grounds at our hotel.

The kids found tadpoles to "study" around the fairy like pond.

The kids found tadpoles to “study” around the fairy like pond.

When you've gone without any toys for a couple of weeks, a broken hula hoop can provide an hour of entertainment.

When you’ve gone without any toys for a couple of weeks, a broken hula hoop can provide an hour of entertainment.

Interior of Le Seguinet.  I lost count of the amazing tile patterns used throughout the 18 room "house".

Interior of Le Seguinet. I lost count of the amazing tile patterns used throughout the 18 room “house”.

Blundstone family pic.

Blundstone family pic.

The beginnings of our sun downer from our lovely Indian/Canadian/English cum French host Mme. Finnegan (funny coincidence)

The beginnings of our sun downer from our lovely Indian/Canadian/English cum French host Mme. Finnegan (funny coincidence).  Good night Saint-Front.

 

 


Adventures in France-Land, Walking (and trains) I

After an early morning train from Gisor we are back in Paris.  TGV here we come

After an early morning train from Gisor we are back in Paris. TGV here we come

I'd just explained we were taking 4 different trains that day, for a grand total of 8 hours of travel!

I’d just explained we were taking 4 different trains that day, for a grand total of 8 hours of travel!

I honestly didn't see that coming.

I honestly didn’t see that coming.

All is well once again and we explore the train station and people watch.

All is well once again and we explore the train station and people watch.

Family pic, so far so good with the Blundstones, they handled Paris and Normandie like a dream but the real test is about to begin.

Family pic, so far so good with the Blundstones, they handled Paris and Normandie like a dream but the real test is about to begin.

 

The TGV (super fast train) is nice, and I mean real nice.

The TGV (super fast train) is nice, and I mean real nice.

And the view is even better.

And the view is even better. Paris to Bordeaux in a few hours while sitting comfortably, not bad my friends, not bad.


Show me what you’re walkin’ with

There’s been a little interest in what my family is packing.bringing and wearing on our upcoming trip to France.  We are trying to keep all new purchases to a minimum however there were two things that were needed.  1. Shoes, we actually all needed some shoes for this outing.  We had a tall order: needed to be sturdy, comfy, could get wet (not soaked hopefully but wet), had to be comfy walking, not just on a flat trail but up hills, down hills, around hills and because I like to make things impossible, I wanted SOME element of style.  Well folks, I found it ALL in a Blundstone.

photo via the internet

photo via the internet

My husband has been swearing by this “Austrailian cowboy boot” for years, when we go to the gym and walk on the treadmill, he has Blundstone’s on his feet – not Nike, not New Balance, no Adidas…..Blundstone’s.  He had already insisted on these for the kids.  “No muddy laces”, he said.  The kids boots arrived at Christmas so they had time to break in and I realized two things, 1.  the boots didn’t really require breaking in and 2.  When your kids are 7 and 5, they grow fast, especially in the foot area.  So now my kids are both in their second pair of boots – fingers crossed no one grows in the next 6 weeks.

I was a harder sell, I was confident my old trustworthy Camper boots could handle one more trip, but after a few of our “practice walks” I realized I was feeling every pebble and the water was finding ways in to my socks.  I have troubled feet and I knew I could trust my Campers so I ordered a new pair.  My brand new Camper boots arrived and they were NOTHING like my old ones.  Thin leather, narrow foot bed, thinner sole……they didn’t even look as cute as my old ones.

Photo via Camper

Photo via Camper

Sigh.

“Alright, alright, I’ll try the Blunnies”, I told my husband.  Long story short, they have rarely left my feet since they arrived.  I’ve probably logged over 30 miles in them so far.  They are completely comfy, super light, I love the “moto” styling, they remind me of my beloved Doc Martins from the 90’s however my feet do NOT look huge in them (that was always my complaint with Docs).  They arrived with a solution to apply to the boot to help with water resistance, seems to work really well.  I am very happy, very confident these shoes will keep us all walking happily wether in France or down the street.

Next time, our second purchase, my SMALL backpack.