Less than three weeks

So I'm not really sure how this happened, there's 19 days left to our departure and last time I checked in there was over twice that! A lot's happened in the last twenty-odd days, accommodation has been confirmed, tickets were amended – our flights being bumped a bit later than originally booked, thankfully not causing any drama's with connecting trains – and bags were sorted and arranged for packing.

Oh, and I finally sorted out that camera issue: not getting a new DSLR just yet, have bought a new Nikon S9500 and that's all that will be travelling with me, for two reasons mainly. 1) for the bulk of the trip I won't have the time to really get into waiting for and setting up the more fancy shots I've been doing of late, not that it's impossible, it's just not the focal point of this trip, and the much smaller, lighter and compact camera will also be more convenient to carry. 2) I'm a firm believer in my Grandfather's wise words from my childhood: a master never blames his tools. The equipment I've chosen is of reputable quality, the skills are my own and must be able to use that equipment with certainty if good artwork is to be achieved. A great brush does not paint a great painting, just as a poor artist does not create poor art.

In the coming days I still have a few little things to take care of; renewing my IDP (International Driving Permit) for France, given that we've never had any problems when driving there, however I would rather be safe and carry it, than be standing on the side of the road trying to pidgeon-en fancaise my way out of a situation with the gendarmerie, as amusing as that sounds, I doubt it would be in reality! I also need to organise my mail collection back here, as it's getting considerably wetter these days and I'm usually the one who collects the mail (what I'm trying to put delicately is that without this it's all too likely that the post will be a sodden pile of papier-mache before anyone else gets it!)

Water Lillies, by Claude Monet

Speaking of art and painting, one of the newer items to our agenda is a trip to Claude Monet's home in Giverny, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm not a great artist, I'm hardly a visual artist at all, but I long to see the garden that captured one man's imagination for so many years. I'm looking forward to standing on the magical ground that so inspired him to create these masterpieces. That will be a very special day for me and MR.

The other experience I'm really looking forward to is the week in France, not just because 'hello, it's France!', but because I should finally be able to get some use out of all the French lessons I took in school – that have since been poorly used and abused over the years. I'm a little wary of trying to speak too much, mainly because I'm not fluent, not be a long-shot, my vocabulary is limited and my spelling atrocious. But with my hearing difficulties it makes it somewhat hard to have a conversation at the best of times, let alone in another language where I'll have to translate back-and-forth just to do so. It's rather daunting when I think about it, but for the most part I'm game, I'll give it a go because I think French is one of the most lovely languages, and one that has been so well absorbed into much of modern English without any real intent (well, between French, German, Italian being pinched and included much of our menus, and day-to-day phrases just wouldn't be the same).

Not sure when I'll post again, theoretically I'd like to do so from the airport when we're leaving, but we'll see if time and opportunity permit. Otherwise I'll try the night before, and definitely on our arrival – most likely once we're in Paris! So until then, be well, stay safe and happy travels!



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