Friday, December 15, 2023

High maintenance hounds

My daughters on the farm in South Africa
with Cindy 1

Being with and around dogs has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. When I was about three, my mother adopted a golden retriever puppy. Roy, as he was called, lived to the ripe old age of sixteen and was a character with a capital C. He was a terrible thief (he once ate an entire sherry and cream trifle my mother had made), he was not above raiding rubbish bins and eating the contents thereof, and he adored wallowing in the muddiest of puddles. 

Despite being a much-loved family member, Roy tended to be a bit short-fused. He bit my brother quite badly once, because Nick tried to pet him while he was asleep; he also bit me one day when I tried to pull him back from the front door when a delivery was being made. When I look back, I realise Roy was very high maintenance, but oddly enough I never paid attention to how much time and effort he consumed, probably because  he wasn't my responsibility when I was small. 

For instance, I didn't have to wash him off when he appeared black with mud from head to toe after finding a stagnant pond; I didn't have to take him to the vet when he found a chicken carcass in someone's bin and had to have his stomach pumped out to remove the bones that had got stuck –twice (the vet threatened my parents with all sorts of retribution if it happened again); nor did I have to make embarrassed excuses to the guests at their dinner party when he'd scoffed the pudding. My father, or most probably my mother, had to deal with all his sins. For us children, he was our playmate, albeit a somewhat irascible one.

Credit: Arman Werth

The photo above is not mine, but it gives an idea of what Roy looked like after he'd been for a good full-immersion wallow. It wouldn't have been so bad if he'd been black, would it? I really have no idea how we managed to get him home and cleaned up after that particular adventure, but I remember he had an amazing ability to 'wear' himself clean. This, of course, meant that he wore the mud off on other things, like the carpets, the furniture, even us.

After Roy, my mother had another golden retriever, Roy 2, but by that time we'd all grown up and moved away, either to university or to jobs elsewhere, so I don't remember how demanding he was in terms of upkeep and general skulduggery. That said, I do recall my mother saying she could knit us all jerseys from the hair she brushed off him, so he was mostly likely pretty high maintenance as well.

Then, when we went to South Africa, we had other dogs during the years we lived there. They were mostly all short haired (see first photo), so less of a nuisance when they got mucky, which was also not as often because of the generally dryer, sunnier weather. The one exception was Polly the Collie, who was high maintenance not just for her long coat but for a number of reasons, the most awkward of which was her obsession with herding. Nothing, and I mean nothing, that gathered in groups of more than two was safe. This included swans and geese. Foolish dog. Even more foolish was yours truly who plunged into a frozen lake to rescue her when she decided skating on thin ice after a pair of swans was fun. It wasn't. For her or for me. 

However, it was when I got my Labrador/Dobermann cross, Sindy, that I really began to experience the meaning of having a high maintenance hound for whom I was 100% responsible.

As those of you who've read Living With My Sin know, Sindy (or Sin as she was aptly known) had issues, one of which was her somewhat bizarre relationship with cars. She totally wrecked the interior of our little Renault 5. I clearly remember the scrapyard dealer looking at the remains of our seats in amused amazement when we realised they, and the car, were completely beyond repair. 

"Your dog did that?" he asked, shaking his head. "Well, you'd better take it back."

"Why?" we spluttered.

"Because there are bits she hasn't finished yet," he said, grinning.

Sindy wallowing happily. Luckily, this time it was clean

Sindy with a mischievous bounce in her step

Naturally, we didn't; even so she also did some severe damage to the crate we made for her in the van we bought to replace the Renault. 

But when she wasn't being a one-dog-car-demolition expert or demonstrating her other anxieties in extreme ways, she could also enjoy normal doggy fun – such as charging through muddy puddles, sending filthy spray all over us. Now Sindy was largely black, so it didn't look too bad on her, but I can't say the same for our coats, jeans, faces and hands.

And now we have Zoe. Would you just look at that bundle of cuteness? High maintenance? Surely not! Well, think again. I don't think I've ever spent so much time brushing, snipping, cutting out knots, washing off mud, cleaning ears and generally keeping my little munchkin from looking a total ragamuffin. You see, she's just as fond of dashing through the mud, and being so close to the ground the mud seems equally fond of attaching itself to her. To make matters worse, she hates water, avoids any enticement to go swimming and resists being bathed with vigour. So once again, I end up wetter, dirtier and in even more of a mess than her when I manage to persuade her into the shower. 

A bundle of cuteness

And cute though she looks, she has some revolting predilictions. Every time she dips her nose into something awful (which is often), so do her ears...just saying it is enough, isn't it? Her eating habits would rival those of a Labrador, which is quite a statement, I know, but I'm often reminded of the website where I read that 'spaniels are always hungry'. What they didn't say was that spaniels will eat absolutely anything to assuage that hunger; there are no limits.

Of course, I always forgive her. How can I not? One pleading look from those limpid dark eyes and I'm lost.

So that's it. The story of my family life with high-maintenance hounds. The years between Sindy and Zoe were the longest I've ever lived without a dog. Reading this, you might wonder why I missed having one in my life so much, but the joy they give is so much more than the trouble they cause. Seeing Zoe scampering along the woodland paths ahead of me and feeling her constant companionship as she snuggles on the chair behind me when I'm teaching makes it all worthwhile. High maintenance our pooches might be, but they're also very high reward.

Enjoy your weekend, allemaal. There's one more week before the holiday, so I'll squeeze in a Christmas post before signing off for 2023. Till then, keep warm or cool, wherever you are!

Tuesday, December 05, 2023

The London Canal Museum

Last week, I mentioned the London Canal Museum in my post but didn't write about it then because it is really worthy of its own post. So, without further ado, here it is.

Just to recap, we were doing a day trip to London courtesy of the Eurostar, something neither Koos nor I had ever done before, so it was something of an experiment. Given that we only had six hours between arriving in London and departing again for home, we didn't want to spend too much time travelling from one place to another. As a result, we confined our wanderings to the areas around St Pancras and King's Cross.

Having feasted our eyes on our usual suspects – the Regent's canal and all the boats thereon (see last post) – as well as the gasometers,  we weren't quite sure what to do next.

"Look, the London Canal Museum is just a short walk from here." I pointed it out to Koos on Google maps. Its position was shown next to the harbour called Battlebridge Basin (also mentioned in my last post).

"Hmm," came the less than enthusiastic response. Koos, like me, doesn't really like museums, preferring to see history in the wild, so to speak. However, a canal museum appealed to me.

"Well, let's just walk to that harbour, anyway. We haven't been there before."

And so we set off, meandering through the back streets in what looked to be the general direction of the canal. I say 'looked to be' deliberately since I have zero sense of direction and it wasn't the same way we'd walked earlier in the day. What I'd forgotten was that in the morning, we'd crossed over the Regent's canal to the north side and turned west. This time, we were staying on the south side and turning a little east. 

However, since I don't know my north from my south, let alone east from west, and imagining we were already on the other side of the Regent's Canal, I was taken by surprise when we walked up a side street and saw the entrance to the museum. Yes. I know. It sounds silly, doesn't it? Well, try living in my brain for a while and see how I feel.

Anyway, after some minor discussion about whether to go or not to go, I clinched the deal by saying to Koos, "Come on. I'll pay. At least it'll be warm in there!" 

And what a treat it was.

The first item on display we noted after paying our dues was a beautifully restored towpath tractor. This one was built in 1960, and did the job horses were previously used for– towing barges along the canals.

I've always loved old tractors, and this one was a delight to see. The details of its background and purpose are just visible on the information board in the last photo (thank you, Koos). I had to wonder if the horses minded being made redundant by modern technology – as it was then. I could imagine them sighing as they hung up their harnesses for the last time, but I couldn't decide if the sigh would have been of relief or regret.

As I also mentioned last week, this museum was on the site of two ice wells, the inspiration for which came from one Carol Gatti, a Swiss Italian immigrant who came to London to make his fortune in the 1850s and did so. He was a café owner, but he realised money could be made by supplying ice to all sorts of different businesses. His story, and that of the ice wells, is detailed on the Canal Museum's website, which you can find here. In short, though, he started importing ice from Norway not only to supply local business and hotels, but also to provide clean, natural ice for Italian ice cream makers. The imported ice was stored in these wells before being distributed. Previously, ice from local ponds and lakes had been used, but I dread to think how unhygienic that natural ice might have doesn't really bear thinking of, does it?

Another aspect the museum focused on was about the children who both lived and worked on the canals. I was shocked to read that children were even employed to dig canals. In fact, I almost didn't believe it, but the photo below of the child navvies who helped dig the Manchester Ship Canal was somewhat chilling evidence of the truth.

But then children had to help the boatmen as well. The pictures below show a very young boy leading a a donkey along the towpath and a tiny girl tied to the roof of the narrowboat to prevent her from falling off. 

Another photo was of a small girl tying two boats together in readiness for loading. I believe Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, made laudable efforts to reduce child labour, but the legislation he inspired clearly didn't reach the canals. These photos are undoubtedly from the 20th century.

There were numerous other fascinating photos and information boards on canal life in the museum, but I found the two below especially interesting. The decline of the commercial canal traffic naturally began with the advent of train travel, and was further exacerbated when road transport grew. What I didn't know was that the winter of 1962/3 was the final death knell for canal boat transport. With the waterways frozen for months, barges were completely ice bound, leaving it to the trucks and trains to wrest the final slice of the commercial cake from the narrowboating community.

Nevertheless, revival was already happening in quite a different area – that of the pleasure craft industry. It's a heartwarming story of volunteering enthusiasm, but without the teams of eager canal lovers, the English network would not be half as extensive as it is today. The photo below tells the story of how the IWA (Inland Waterways Association) was founded in 1946 and how, with the help of thousands of volunteers, many of the cuts have been reopened, used now by happy cruisers across the country.

We must have spent well over an hour reading these posters, after which we stepped through the back door into the serene haven of Battlebridge Basin. It was hard to imagine such a peaceful place could exist in the heart of London's inner suburbs, but a resident we spoke to told us it really was as blissful as it looked.

"I used to gaze at this place from the café in that building on the other side," she told us, gesturing across the harbour. "I used to stop for a coffee on my way home from child care with my daughter, and I was determined that one day I'd live here."

Well, now she does. She said she'd had to wait a year to find the right boat to buy in the harbour, but when it came up, there was no stopping her. Was she happy with her decision? The smile on her cheerful face said it all. I've borrowed the photo below from a website titled Battlebridge Moorings, which gives some background to the basin. It's lovely to think these boats will still have the right to moor here for generations to come. Have a read and see its history for yourself.

Photo thanks to The museum is
on the right-hand side of the photo.

Well, that's it again allemaal. I hope you enjoyed browsing through the museum with me and learnt as much as I did. Next week, I'll catch up with more local doings. Enjoy the rest of this one, wherever you are.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

London past and present

As a child in north London, I was fascinated by the gasometers, more formally known as gas holders, that were scattered around our environs. These massive circular structures stored the gas that used to be made from coal right up until the last quarter of the 20th century. As a small thing, I used to love watching how the holders inflated and deflated according to the demands made on them. Sunday lunchtime, for instance, was a time when they would always deflate, as the whole of London cooked their roast dinners – with gas, of course.

When my father moved into sheltered housing in the 1980s, the view from his flat looked over the rooftops to a gasometer, and I have a watercolour sketch he painted of it, which is very dear to me.

My father's watercolour of the gasometer in Redbridge

Imagine my delight, then, when we arrived at St Pancras for a day trip to London this last Wednesday and the first thing we saw after heading for the Regent's Canal was the newly renovated area behind King's Cross with its transformed gasometers. The story of how the area came to remain home to these landmarks from my youth can be found here. However, I didn't know that when we arrived.

As is always the case when Koos and I go somewhere, we head straight for the waterside, and coming into London on the Eurostar made this easy for us. The Regent's Canal is just a short walk from the station and it was in the area around St Pancras and King's Cross that we spent the day, absorbing the canal, the locks, the new developments and the old Battlebridge Basin with the London Canal Museum.

Our first sight of the canal was limited to a short stretch of towpath where a number of residential boats were lying. I always enjoy seeing these somewhat motley collections of liveaboard craft, so here are a few 

Looking west from St Pancras

A liveaboard? Hard to imagine, but who knows?

These two were definitely home to their owners

The floating garden

And more boats

I loved this old mooring ring

Realising we couldn't go further along this particular stretch, we headed back off the towpath and almost immediately found our way into a shopping complex created from the re-purposed Coal DropsYard. This was the name for the warehouses where coal was received from South Yorkshire for both the nearby gasometers and for transhipment onto the narrowboats on the Regent's Canal. The yard had fallen out of use over the years with the increased use of electricity, as had the gasometers, so it was wonderful to see how these old 19th century buildings and structures have now been renovated to serve another, more modern, function. The gasometer frames are being used to contain apartment buildings as well as a very special small park.

What I loved was that you can see them from so many places and angles, just as we could when I was a child.

Here they are behind the Coal Drops Yard where we had lunch

And again as we entered the shopping centre

A view from the towpath that we reached from Coal Drops yard

The original mechanism for raising and lowering
the holders

And lastly, the park in a gasometer frame,
which is there for everyone to enjoy

The gorgeous old St Pancras Waterpoint 

The lovely St Pancras Waterpoint above is also visible from many different angles. It has a special history as it was designed by the famous architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott and was built in 1872 as the water tower that served the King's Cross steam engines. However, its existence was threatened when the Eurostar tunnel to St Pancras was planned, but being such a historically important building, a decision was made to move it. The story of its relocation is here. I have to say I so admire British historical societies for their determination to maintain their heritage even at what, in this case, must have been considerable cost.

And, of course, we cannot have a canal without a lock
This is St Pancras Lock

After lunch, we took a look at King's Cross Station, which is one of my favourites. We didn't get to see the Harry Potter Platform, unfortunately, although I believe the fact it was at King's Cross was a mistake on JK Rowling's part. Apparently, she was thinking of Euston Station a bit further along the road. What's in a name, eh?

Our final stop of the day was at the London Canal Museum on Battlebridge Basin. I think it deserves a post all of its own, so I'll finish here with a photo of the residential moorings in the Basin. If I ever had the chance to live in London again, this is where I'd want to be. What a lovely, tranquil spot it was and right in the heart of the city too. Heaven on a boat!

So that's it for this time, allemaal. We only had six hours in London, but we had a wonderful day. Next time, I'll tell you all about the Italians who brought ice to the city. Now that's another story...

And this is for Rebecca, an entirely gratuitous
photo of Zoe.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Haute-Marne, the height of French rural loveliness

Well, here is the post I promised you all about our new destination in France. To recap, my daughter has bought a house in the Haute-Marne department of France's Grand-Est region. According to that wonderful source of all superficial knowledge, Wikipedia, Haute-Marne is one of the 83 departments created during the French Revolution in 1790. It was made up of parts of the Champagne, Burgundy, Lorraine and Franche Comté provinces, but is dominated by the beautiful Marne valley which runs through the department from its source just south of Langres to Saint-Dizier in the north before continuing out of Haute-Marne west on its way to Paris. The map below shows the course of the river along with all the tributaries that feed it.

The Marne and its feeder rivers

All the department's major towns are on the Marne. I say 'all', but there are only five of them: Langres, Nogent, Chautmont (the prefecture), Joinville and Saint-Dizier. Of these, only Saint-Dizier and Chautmont have populations over twenty thousand. The other three boast numbers well below ten thousand, with Joinville being the smallest at just over three thousand. 

Koos and I visited Chaumont and Joinville and were impressed by the sense of important urban life that both places exuded. Just as an example, our local town on the Dutch/Belgian border, Sas van Gent, has a larger population than Joinville but still feels like little more than a village. Joinville, on the other hand, seems to have bigger muscles and has more self-assurance as a town of substance. 

It also has a more aristocratic history than our Sas van Gent. Joinville was originally the site of an important castle in medieval times and gave its name to the title, Prince of Joinville, adopted by the renowned House of Guise. Its heritage is visible, giving a nod to classical French urban architecture in the centre and the delightful shuttered houses lining the Marne’s banks. There is a formal park, the remains of the castle and some gorgeous ancient backstreets, all the more delightful for their air of shabby chic.

Chaumont, a much larger city as well as being the department capital, also has a long and noble history. Dating back to the 12th century as a seat of the Counts of Bassigny and later of Champagne, there is not much remaining of its early origins, but the basilica dates from the 13th century and there's also the Tour Hautefeuille, an 11th century castle keep, the only morsel left from the chateau of the Counts of Champagne. I was sorry we didn't see as much of Chaumont as we'd have liked, but we've promised ourselves we'll redress that situation next time we go. That said, we had a good look at the amazing 19th century viaduct (as mentioned in my previous post) and had a drive around the town before Karen, our Google Satnav lady had a digital meltdown and got us lost (also in last post). The photo below was the view from the city at the top of the hill where we stopped to give Karen time to reflect on her shameful loss of control. 

View across the Marne valley from Chaumont's
city heights

I liked Chaumont back streets too. The local stone in Haute-Marne is limestone and I loved its pale colour with the gorgeous traditional shutters.

One of the back streets in Chaumont

Closer to where we were staying, the commune centre of Colombey-Les-Deux-Églises is a picture-perfect, very well maintained village famous for being the home of Charles de Gaulle. His family home was there, it’s where he is buried, and the Cross of Lorraine just outside the village commemorates his distinguished wartime career. I was expecting a town of some size, but it’s small, cosy and very pretty in a neatly manicured way – probably because it attracts so many tourists to the museum that bears De Gaulle's name. The memorial was inaugurated in 2008 by Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel, presumably as an act of reconciliation. I remember my parents talking about De Gaulle when I was a child, but their comments weren't generally complimentary. 

For me, coming from the red brick environs and eclectic architecture of the north, Haute-Marne offered a serene uniformity in its villages and towns. The overall impression they gave me as we drove through the region was an uncluttered grace, even though many of the rural houses were run down and some were completely dilapidated. 

It took me a while to notice something else too: the sweep of the land is unbroken by farmhouses or barns. I can only assume the farmers have their homes and 'granges' in the villages and go out to their farms by tractor. Almost every house in my daughter's hamlet has a barn next to or at the back of it; many of them seem to be full of hay and machinery. Maybe this is the Haute-Marne way? If any of you reading this know, feel free to fill me in. The lack of buildings on the land adds to the impression of remote tranquillity, which I loved. In fact, I am itching to go back again. 

So that's it again allemaal. Hopefully, by next week we'll have some dryer weather and I can report on  outdoor activities that don't involve replacing broken roof tiles or placing buckets to catch the drips from our leaky sunroom roof. For those who haven't seen it yet, I'll finish with a photo of the Legend of the Ladder himself, Koos, doing the final touches after replacing five tiles that went west with the wind.

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Autumn: normal service resumed

Since we came back from France on October the 22nd, life has reverted to the usual autumnal offering of wet, windy weather. We were blessed with some gorgeous sunny days down in the Haute-Marne, but it's true to say that the day before we left even the weather there changed and our drive home ended in ploughing through the back spray from speeding cars on the highway north to the Netherlands.

From that day on, it's been hard to find moments to walk Zoe without getting drenched. My poor little pup doesn't enjoy being wet, so even though I've got her a raincoat, she runs so close to ground, she's pretty much always  a soggy, mud-spattered sausage by the time we get home. This sad and sodden state is usually brightened somewhat by the great game of 'fight the towel'–a romp she enjoys with gusto – but it takes ages for her to dry, by which time we have to go out again and repeat the process.

Of course our dug-up road, which is still not finished, isn't helping matters. The company doing the work is supposed to have completed laying the new surface by the 10th of November, but owing to the daily downpours, they can't do much other than turn up every morning, inspect the sandy base, decide it's too wet and go away again. Sometimes, like today, they scrape the sand smooth and do a few more metres, but then the rain starts again and off they go.

Maybe I should explain why the process takes so long. Here in the Netherlands, almost everything is built on sand and that includes the roads. Being a country that was largely wrested from the sea, our soil lacks the kind of substance that 'real land' has. While the tarred main highways and through routes are constructed on solid bases of hardcore that has to be added to the sandy loam, our village street is made up of bricks laid straight onto sand. There is a layer of rubble-type material to give some firmness to the base, but  above that is thick, smooth sand onto which the bricks are laid in a sort of hounds-tooth pattern. It looks great when it's finished, but it takes forever to lay when the weather is inclement. The men tell us they cannot work on wet sand because it has no 'give', which seems to be important. I admire their skill, however. It's fascinating to watch them work so neatly and speedily when they have the chance.

The current status, but they still have about 300 metres to go

They first dug the road up at the end of August, two long months ago, but I honestly don't see them finishing it before the end of November. And so we trudge through our own personal beach every day, bringing mounds of it into the house every time we come in. Such is life.

Boat work has also reached a hiatus. There's nothing that can be done when it rains at least part of every day. My dearest wish would be to have something like a large boathouse where we could just work on under cover; wouldn't that be great? If anyone knows of one for hire in this area, do let me know.

By the way, I know I promised you all some more on the area around my daughter's new French home, but work has been very busy this last week, so I haven't had time to do any further research. Next time, I promise. For now, we're just waiting for storm Ciarán to move on. Like a hyper-active child on the rampage, he's made something of a mess on our country roads, but so far, no other damage. My thoughts are with all those on the French and British coasts who've taken the worst hammering.

That's it for this time then, allemaal, so here's a gratuitous photo of Zoe, courtesy of Koos, and a boaty pic or two to remind you of where my interests really lie.

Update on the storm: we've lost most of the edging tiles off one end of our roof, one of which also smashed the windscreen on Koos's scooter as it went flying. Fingers crossed Ciarán has finished with us now as we'll need to get up there and replace them asap.

On the tidal Schelde/Scheldt in April
What a wonderful trip that was

Monday, October 23, 2023

Further forays into France

In September, you might remember we made a trip into the southern Champagne region of France to see the house my daughter has bought in the Haute-Marne department. We were struck then by the loveliness of the area, but now we've just spent a full week there, it has struck us even more. 

Koos and I drove down on October the 15th, a month to the day after our previous visit. This time, we went in our own car, our venerable 28-year-old Opel Astra, which cruised sweetly through the rolling French countryside as if it enjoyed stretching its wheels. There's no denying it's quite a long drive at approximately 500km, but it's not a hard one. The most taxing part is around Lille, which encompasses a huge urban sprawl, but we were able to escape most of that by ducking a bit east and following the road around Tournai. After that, there's a relatively short stretch of the A1 to Paris before we turned off onto the A26 south to Reims. I must say I was highly entertained by our Google maps lady (whom I named Karen), telling us to take the exit onto the A26 and just stay on it for 157km. As soon as she said that, she shut up and went to sleep until we reached the ring road around Reims.

I've never been much of a fan of these Satnav apps before, but I was very grateful to Karen on this trip. She was very useful everywhere except in the city of Chaumont, the capital of Haute-Marne, where she definitely got several wires crossed and had us going down a tiny track we could barely find a way to extract ourselves from. After that, she got in a total tizz and we had to switch her off to recover herself. But apart from this brief fit, she was a tower of strength and led us not only to my daughter's village, but also to Joinville, the Marne river and various other locations in this stunning part of France.

For most of the week, we stayed local, as we were there to help with the house and start cleaning the junk of ages from the barn and workrooms attached to the house. There's a lot of clearing up to do, some roof repairs needed and some serious decorating to be done, but the house itself is perfectly fine. While a bit cold and lacking in creature comforts, we were all grateful for the furniture that had been left behind. But even that mattered little when given the lovely environs, kind people and tranquillity of the farmlands around the village.

The French have not had the best reputation when it comes to welcoming strangers in their midst, but Haute-Marne has to be the greatest exception to this (underserved, in my opinion) rule. The villagers are warm, welcoming and very friendly. We've had lovely exchanges with many of them, but the absolute highlight for me was our visit to the local council offices (the Mairie). My daughter is at the early stages of learning French, but they were so kind and so encouraging when she explained what she was there for. The mayor himself joined in, asking her which house she'd bought, and when she told him, he was full of congratulations. It really was a joy to experience.

As for our brief excursions, Joinville is a beautiful town on the Marne and still more attractive to us because of its parallel canal. It reminded me of a mini Seville, with its narrow streets and ancient, shuttered houses. Chaumont, on the other hand, is an impressive city with a jaw-dropping railway viaduct. Set on a steep hill with its basilica at the top, it overlooks the Marne valley with stupendous views. Unfortunately, the afternoon we went there, it was rainy and overcast, but I can imagine the scenery and the city are stunning on a sunny day.

Here are a few of the photos I took:

The canal through Joinville

Lovely traditional blue shutters on the houses

A park next to the canal in Joinville


Restful tranquillity in the Joinville park

The canal between Champagne and Burgundy at
Gudmont in the commune of Villiers
The railway viaduct at Chaumont
Looking through the viaduct at Chaumont

Altogether, it was quite an intense but very enjoyable week in the heart of France's Grand Est region. We'll definitely be spending more time there in future. There is so much history and so much beauty in the area. I haven't even mentioned any of it here, but there will be more to come, that's for sure.

Have a good week allemaal, and I'll fill you in on some of the history we encountered next time.