Graeme Hall


Graeme Hall

This is to be a yarn, in pictures and text, about our 2012 trip to the UK, France, Spain, France again, and Austria.

Europe » Austria » Vienna » Vienna October 3rd 2012

Well here we are at the last stop on this trip. As I wrote this we were in a lounge at the spanking new Vienna airport, waiting for our flight to London to connect with our flight to Sydney via Tokyo and then on to Melbourne. Whew. It's was 2pm in Vienna and we arrived in Melbourne around 10am on Friday! We had a nice apartment for our 4 days here - again good to be able to spread out and make ourselves at home for a few days. Like most European cities, Vienna has an excellent public transport system and we had no trouble getting about and seeing and doing what we wanted to. Of course the main reason for coming to Vienna was to see and spend some time with Annie, sister of our ... read more
Wien Oper
Classic elegance
The spread - Oberlaa

Europe » France » Languedoc-Roussillon » Sete October 2nd 2012

After the long and quick drive from Cadiz, it was nice to unpack everything, have a chance to self-cater when we wanted to, and catch up with friends in this familiar part of southern France. We stayed in the fantastically situated and well set up and restored ancient fishing house on the hillside overlooking the port, which we've rented a few times now from our friends Jean-Jacques and Brigitte. (They live in Geneva. If anyone is interested in more details about the holiday house I can send you a link to its website once I am home.) Our friend Luce from Marseille, with whom we have stayed twice now, came to visit and stayed with us for 2 days. This included a day driving in the hinterland, with lunch in the historic centre of Pezènas, and ... read more
The Corniche - Sète
At the Fleury museum, Lodève
Hôtel de Conti

Europe » Spain October 1st 2012

Catch-up time again!! Too busy (lazy? Holidays after all) to keep this up to date hehe. After the stay in Cadiz, our next stop was about a week in one of our favourite places - Sète in the south of France. We got away from Cadiz on Friday afternoon, and were due in Sète on Sunday afternoon. As a result, it was just fast driving on the motorways (autopista) to make good time. Speed limits in Spain are a bit slower than France (120km/h as opposed to 130). Unlike many of the vehicles, we did stick to it! When we got the car from the underground car park in Cadiz where it had spent 4 days, we had our only disappointment with it. Someone had made a very solid scrape on the rear left mudguard/bumper. Thank ... read more
Roadside hotel - Manzanares

Europe » Spain » Andalusia » Cádiz September 23rd 2012

Each year for the past few, I've managed to get to the European Conference for Educational Research. EERA, whose annual conference this is, exemplifies efforts in Europe for cooperation in development between countries, as well as Europe's endeavor to learn from as well as influence other parts of the world. This year we all gathered in Europe's oldest existing city - Cádiz, the capital of Andalućia. Cathy had more opportunities than I did to explore the Old City where our hotel and the university were situated. However my daily walk to and from the conference took me through main plazas. The university is right next to one of the most popular beaches, Playa de la Caleta. Very tempting, given the 30s temperatures each day - but I resisted. Of course, the local food and wine are ... read more
Streets of Cadiz
ECER Conference
La Playa de la Caleta

Europe » Spain September 21st 2012

I'll list this as being in Spain, as that's where most of the driving was. Our drive from the French city of Bordeaux to Europe's oldest city was about 1340km. We took about two and a half days. It could have been much quicker, but we decided to set our trusty TomTom to avoid all toll roads. Previous experience has been that if you have the time, this slower option takes you through much more interesting countryside, towns and villages than the super-highways that skirt everything interesting for the sake of expediency (a bit like life???) We stopped for a picnic lunch on the beachside in the (French) Basque town of St Jean de Luz. Then it was in to Spain - unknown language and little known food etc (to us). We were quickly into the ... read more
Basque Country
A farm near Sevilla
El Toro

Europe » France » Aquitaine » Bordeaux September 21st 2012

So - on from the Loire to Bordeaux. I suppose we tend to associate Bordeaux with being a wine region. That's accurate in its own way, but there's much more to it than that. First, Bordeaux is a medium-sized city. The city and the region have a long and colourful history, with significance for many other countries and areas. For example, during a large part of the Hundred Years War (France vs England of course!), Bordeaux and its region were part of England. Check out Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry II etc. And these days the entire central part of the city has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. And as for the wine - well, a reputation totally well deserved of course. But it's not just one region but quite a few. We ... read more
Central Bordeaux
The vignoble of St Émilion
The local drop

Europe » France » Centre » Blois September 15th 2012

After all that, a calm (!!!) taxi ride to the Parisien suburbs to take delivery of our brand new Peugeot 208. And then on a rainy morning, to get out of Paris and into thelovely Val de Loire. Which is renowned for .....? Well yes of course - Loire wines, beautiful monuments, and château after château! For us, the highlight was probably the boat trip along the river Cher to the Château de Chenonceax - a visual delight, especially as it is built across the river. We stayed in Blois, a wonderfully restored and maintained homage to the kings of France who used this area as their playground. Enjoy the photos.... read more
The little Peugeot
Amboise - the Royal Palace

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris September 15th 2012

And so, inevitably, for a couple of days in Paris. We arrived on Saturday evening, and stayed until Tuesday morning. Quite an eventful arrival actually. Our usual hotel on the edge of the Marais district, the Sévigné, has undergone a major refurbishment which included a change of name - now the Hotel Émile. We've stayed there a few times before, and as usual made an on-line booking for 3 nights, way back in April. On our arrival . . . rien!! No sign of a reservation, and house full. The management looked after us though - found us a room in a more expensive hotel across the street, put us up for the final two nights, and deducted the additional cost of the first night from our final account. I guess one of the highlights of ... read more
Lunch - Jardin des Tuiléries
Le Palais du Louvre
Opéra Bastille

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Greater Manchester September 12th 2012

Playing a bit of catch-up with the blog here. We've already had our brief visit to Paris and are now at Blois in the Loire Valley. But more of all that later - first a little bit about Manchester and the conference I attended there last week. The British Educational Research Association (BERA) held its annual conference this year at the University of Manchester. It was my first visit to Manchester. I travelled there and back from Northumberland by train, via York and then across the beautiful Pennines. While I didn't get a lot of time to visit around Manchester, it is clearly a well looked-after Victorian era city with many modern developments - not unlike Melbourne in that regard. As to the conference itself - a few observations and highlights: . A day shorter than ... read more
Art Gallery - Manchester
The Law Courts - Manchester
Canal - inner Manchester

Europe » United Kingdom » England » Northumberland September 8th 2012

Another very enjoyable visit to this beautiful county on the border between England and Scotland, with the best of both to enjoy. Our friends' house is in the country, just outside the historic and picturesque towns of Rothbury, Alnwick and Morpeth. And the crew of friends - Ian and Glenis and their family, Richard and Janey, and Willy and Kate - make us feel at home and not just as visitors. Here are just a few pictures that give a sense of the place.... read more
The Heather on the Hill
Church at Edlingham

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