Alex had very few of them during this past school year, because he was working with Insight School of Washington (an online school).  I am proud to announce he got all A’s and B’s this year!  Previously, his teachers and counselors had often changed him to a straight pass/fail scheme because he found it so hard to concentrate on class and homework, but this year he had no accommodations at all (except the school-permitted ones, like being allowed to retake a quiz) and did remarkably well!

I guess it helps that he has a hardass authority figure hanging over his shoulder barking out orders all day.  Hahahahaha.  Just call me Sergeant Pick.

Brittany on 5 Euros a Day

(still not)

Feeling a little more refreshed.  Here is a selection of the best photos I took on the trip.  I have a lot more, but my camera’s focus got bumped to manual at one point, and a lot of the pictures from that day are hideously blurry.  We figured it out later (after taking 4 hours to download the manual because wifi was so bad at the campsite), but I’ll have to get back to Suscinio Castle someday and take better pics.

Many years ago I took a photo of Alex standing in the Pacific, looking out towards the sunset.  This is the same pose, standing in the Atlantic, looking west.
Many years ago I took a photo of Alex standing in the Pacific, looking west. This is the same pose, standing in the Atlantic, also looking west.
clam cartoon
Chris’ new friend.


At Concarneau.  Clare is wearing the white shirt, Ant in the blue.  You know the other guys.
At Concarneau. Clare is wearing the white shirt, Ant in the blue. You know the other guys.
Flowers at the entrance to Concarneau, the walled city.
Flowers at the entrance to Concarneau, the walled city.
Chateau de Keriolet, easily the cutest castle we saw.  Excellent private tour in English!
Chateau de Keriolet, easily the cutest castle we saw. Excellent private tour in English!
A rose in the gardens at Keriolet.
A rose in the gardens at Keriolet.

I have 2 stained glass photos to show you (one from Auray and one from Vannes), but they are still not playing nicely with the rotation software.  Stay tuned.

France on 10,000 Euros a Day


Well, here we are enjoying our first European vacation since 2011. This time, we’re camping in Brittany, near the coast, but I demanded a couple of days in Paris first. (Camping is so not me, even when it’s done in an RV with showers and a kitchen.)

We started things off at the Trianon Palace Versailles. Nice hotel, but we didn’t get to stay in the nice part. We stayed in the newer, more generic building across the courtyard. Still, it was good enough.  Excellent free breakfast, too.

Front of the Trianon Palace.
Front of the Trianon Palace.

This is a picture of the old palace part. Those are my boys in the picture.

We felt a bit rushed because we arrived on Sunday morning, and the grounds and palace of Versailles itself are closed on Mondays (and we had to leave for the coast on Monday). Sunday was our only option.  So, jet-lagged and hungry, we bought tickets and made our weary way through some of the famous gardens.  Eventually we ended up in a boiling mass of people in the courtyard of the palace, all waiting to get in. Frustrated, we went back to the hotel to nap with a promise to return later in the day. Which we did.

This being the 300-year anniversary of Louis XIV’s death, there are numerous extra celebrations, and the associated increase in tourists as well. Our tour of the palace was less than ideal, because it was (a) very hot and (b) very packed. Basically the whole place was stuffed with people and we had to move along with the flow; so many people crowded into the best areas of the chambers that we couldn’t even see much.  We kept getting poked with selfie sticks, too.

A piece of interior décor.
A piece of interior décor.
Yes, that’s the Young Master in orange shirt. See if you can spot my reflection and Chris’ in the mirror!

DSCF1259 DSCF1276

Monday morning we took a taxi to the Versailles office of Avis, and picked up our rental car.  I drove in France!  (I drove a lot in France, after we managed to change the GPS to an English voice.)  At first it was terrifying, because we picked up the car at the train station and had to get out of the city to find our road to Brittany, listening to French GPS directions.  Chris heroically navigated me out of the maze of streets – with only a few wrong turns – and we finally got on the toll road at 130km/h (80mph).

There was a tricky situation when we reached the end of the toll road. Chris was driving by then, and we’d pulled into a pay lane that didn’t take credit cards.  But we didn’t know this.  He tried his Amex and then his MasterCard, both of which got rejected.  As he pulled out some Euro bills to pay with, the machine ejected our ticket and the wind blew it away!  I got out of the car and started hunting for it, but there were tickets and litter all over the place, and the line behind us was getting very long and people were getting impatient.  The “press button to speak to an attendant” didn’t seem to be working, and finally a nice truck driver got out and came to help us.  Twelve minutes later we were through the gate and heading onward.

We got to the campground well in advance of the UK Picks, who had been delayed on the channel crossing.  But eventually everyone was in town and we were beginning to get over our jet lag.

Our first outing was to a small town called Auray.  Quite typical little French town.

A house I liked.  Right on the river.
A house I liked. Right on the river.


I did get some good interior pictures of stained glass windows in the church, but my software program is still not rotating them correctly, so later on I’ll come back and post them.  The USP’s had a little luncheon at a creperie:  we had bacon/ham/egg/cheese galettes (salty crepes) and a crepe with chocolate and butter.  I was absolutely certain that this crepe was the beginning of a long avalanche into dietary hell, and I was right.  I ate more bread and carbs and sugar over these two weeks than in the previous two years combined.  Crepes, ice cream, cookies, croissants, pastries, fruit, and more.

The good news?  I didn’t even gain a whole pound!

Next day Vannes, which is where Aramis became a bishop after giving up the Musketeer business!  Bigger than Auray, but still a similar kind of place.  River, shops, church, creperie.  We then split off from the UKP’s so that we could go to the Vannes Aquarium, and an unsuspected treat was the included admission to the butterfly house.  I only got one pic before the lens fogged up.

Before the fogged lens.
Before the fogged lens.
After the fogged lens. Same breed of butterfly.

We also tried taking pics in the aquarium, but the fish were generally too lively to have their photos taken.

Tiny fish.


I didn't know the Great A'Tuin lived in the Vannes Aquarium.
I didn’t know the Great A’Tuin lived in the Vannes Aquarium.

I’ll write more later, but am still suffering from jet-lag.  Have pity on me.  Maybe when I get back, the photos of the stained glass windows will have rotated themselves.