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Thuis

May 15, 11 Thuis

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

Home again after a great holiday in Holland, Paris & the Provence

😀

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Provence au Printemps

May 12, 11 Provence au Printemps

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

Some impressions and images of places we’ve experienced in Springtime Provence … Fontaine de Vaucluse [09/05] Source of the river ‘La Sorgue’. The river seems to spring from inside a huge cave within a sheer rock cliff face. The water is cool and crystal clear. Le Luberon [10/05] Despite the often heavy heat and dry air Provence is pregnant with lush growth and ripening fruit. Everywhere you go there are vines and fruit trees, mainly cherries hanging from rich green foliage. The Petit Luberon and Grand Luberon are two hilly areas to the east of where we’re staying. The plains and valleys between the peaks are full of springtime richness. Perched on the peaks between them are the sandstone villages and churches that make up the particular and distinctive look of Provence. Many of the communities date back to the middle ages when they were positioned here for defensive purposes during less than stable times following the fall of the Roman Empire. Aix-en-Provence [11/05] Aix-en-Provence birthplace of Paul Cezanne the 19th century Impressionist painter. We went simply for a look around. Les Beaux [12/05] Les Beaux is a hilltop village and castle. Set amongst the ‘Les Alpilles’ hills Les Beaux is a beautiful village accessible only via winding roads up the hillside and between the plains where vineyards, fruit trees and olive groves are laid out in proliferation. The village and castle look as though they’re hewn from the solid rock that they stand on. Everything in the village is stone, cobbled streets, alleyways, alcoves, houses and shops all look like they’re springing out of the ground and are all a part of one solid mass. Winding streets lead you up through the village and up to the castle at the pinnacle. It is totally charming. The village and castle dates back to about the year 900 A.D. The castle was decommissioned in 1631 but occupation of the village has continued on. Les Beaux was the former feudal home of the Grimaldi family (now...

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Cyber-crimewave hits Provence

May 10, 11 Cyber-crimewave hits Provence

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

Have you seen this man? Caught on camera by his shady Dutch accomplice secretly priming his iPad hidden in his rucksack to download ‘The Times’ newspaper by hijacking unsuspecting locals unprotected WiFi networks. Whenever this man walks down the street lights dip and power surges as the “Bandwidth Bandit” strikes...

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Our Gite

May 09, 11 Our Gite

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

Our gite is located quite near to Avignon this time in a small place called Les Vignieres, about 25km to the south east. Ideal for exploring further to the east in the direction of Aix-en-provence this time around. The gite itself is in the heart of the countryside and set amongst orchards of cherry trees, some of which are ripe and ready to pick. Our hosts have said we can take as many as we like … and they are “delicieux”. The inside of our gite is typically rustic French in character. That is to say “a bit tired and in need of a clean!” 😀 Lovely all the same...

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Provence en Grande Vitesse

May 07, 11 Provence en Grande Vitesse

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

Another first for us … travelling on the French TGV (Train de Grande Vitesse) The experience was a delight. In just 2.75 hours we traversed practically the whole length of the country in smooth and elegant comfort. We travelled at speeds of up to 320km (200 miles) per hour through grand vistas of French bucolic tranquillity. Merveilleux ! France is a beautiful and vast country and during our trip we hardly saw any conurbations of size at all. Viewing the large green patchwork of fields, gentle rolling hills and somnambulant villages that flashed past our window was superb, especially for a lad from a small island in the English Channel ;-D The TGV itself was clean, smooth, quiet and comfortable. I’d heard about the famed speed and comfort of the TGV before and I have to say it is all they have said it...

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La Bonne Vie

May 06, 11 La Bonne Vie

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

Our hotel room, although the size of a large closet, even has a very small balcony which we can sit on overlooking some typically Parisienne street life, cafes and terraces (tres chic :- D) We’ve thrown ourselves into Paris with abandon combining some regular touristy stuff with some “haute culture”. Over our 3 days here we’ve visited Note Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel tower, Montmartre and Le Sacre Coeur as well as “La Musée du Moyen Age” (Museum of the Middle Ages) which contains the famous “Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries” and of course the Louvre. We resisted the obvious of going to see the Mona Lisa and instead opted ( well Annelies opted seeing as I’m the original cultural barbarian who can’t tell the difference between a Reuben and a Robin) to go and see the old Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Vermeer and Reubens to mention but a few. The Louvre is truly a stunning and massive edifice. The entrance via the famous glass pyramid was very impressive. Underneath the pyramid it houses 2 floors all excavated out out into separate underground galleries. These in turn take you up into the main Louvre buildings ( the open quadrangle that surrounds the pyramid) via escalators. It’s all very modern and yet quite harmonious with these centuries old buildings. We also visited Le Musee d’Orsay which houses an impressive collection of Impressionist paintings by Cezanne, Degas, Monet, Renoir, Manet, Gauguin and van Gogh. Being able to see these famous art pieces so close up was even for me exciting. They were truly spectacular. The museum building itself was also impressive. It was a former railway station but even the restaurant was a 19th century fantasy spectacular with gilt edged encrusted decorated mirrors , chandeliers and classical sculptures … the prices weren’t 19th century though … £8.50 for a piece chocolate cake ! That said I could definitely get into Paris cafe culture. All our meals have been gastronomic delights and our many cafe...

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Tot Ziens Oldebroek … Bonjour Paris

May 03, 11 Tot Ziens Oldebroek … Bonjour Paris

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

Goodbye Oldebroek and hello Paris. We took the train from Oldebroek in Holland to Roterdam, from which we took the high speed Thalys train and … bingo, 2.5 hours later we’re in “la belle Paris” … Amazing! An hour after that we were walking along the banks of the river Seine admiring the huge gothic cathedral of Notre...

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Terschelling

May 01, 11 Terschelling

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

We’re in the lovely, but windswept, island of Terschelling for a couple of days with Ma en Pa. It’s a totally charming place, “heel gezellig” as the Dutch would say (“very cozy”). It’s about twice the size of Guernsey but only has a population of 4,000 … most of it though is sand dunes! A speciality of the island is cranberries, believe it or not. During the 19th century a cask of the berries was washed up on the island. One of the locals who opened the barrel and tried the strange berries inside was so disgusted by the taste, as well as being disappointed that it didn’t contain brandy or wine, salvaged the barrel and emptied the contents into the dunes. Over the years they quietly grew and expanded to the extent that they’re growing everywhere now, in the sand dunes, alongside all the cycle paths as well as being cultivated on various farms. Of course a plethora of modern cranberry products are also now available aimed at all the tourists: cranberry cookies, cranberry candles, cranberry soap, cranberry wine and even cranberry beer. In true Dutch style we hired bikes and proceed to cycle all over the place like mad things. The network of cycle paths, as you would expect in Holland, is truly remarkable. It’s a cyclists paradise. The weather’s been great apart from a consistent gale force north easterly. As you can imagine cycling into that across flat open countryside and amongst the sandy dunes is tiring and has proved to be an excellent exfoliant! We all have new bright & shiny grit blasted faces...

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Gefeliciteerd

Apr 28, 11 Gefeliciteerd

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

Gefeliciteerd (congratulations) to Ma en Pa on their golden wedding anniversary. We had a reception for (nearly) all the family members in Wezep, unfortunately Mariëlle, Sylvan, River & little Lukas weren’t able to make it over from Norfolk Island, way down there in the South Pacific 🙁 In the evening just the 6 of us went out for a meal to the totally “gezellig”(cozy) little town of...

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Back in Holland

Apr 24, 11 Back in Holland

Posted by in Holland-Paris-Provence 2011

Back in Holland again! We’re on a bit of a European extravaganza this time. We’ve come over to initially celebrate Ma en Pa van Emous’ golden wedding but we’re also planning a few days on the Dutch island of Terschelling, with Ma en Pa, before heading off to Paris and then on to Les Vignieres in Provence. Holland in Spring is as beautiful as ever. We flew in to Schipol airport over a patchwork of brightly coloured bulb fields. They looked so much like a child’s paint by numbers sketch pad with vivid blocks of crimson, mustard yellow and bright purple. Oldebroek, where we’re staying, is in the heart of the countryside and Spring is definitely in full force with newly born lambs, horses, calves and kids frolicking in the fields as we cycled passed...

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“Beer Fest” …

Apr 01, 11 “Beer Fest” …

Posted by in Miscellaneous

Another good business trip to London to meet up with “the chaps”. We also managed a good night out where Kieran took myself, Declan and Faheem to a Pub specialising in Belgian beer. Between us we manged to try out a few of the more exotic ales … I tried out 3 that were new to me : Hoegaarden; Franziskaner Weissbeir  and Frulli Strawberry beer ! (Ironically I think only the last one is Belgian & the others German...

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iPad Deux

Mar 26, 11 iPad Deux

Posted by in General Tech Stuff

The eagle has landed … well the iPad at least !!!!! The iPad 2 has arrive in the UK & in the island … I’ve just picked up a 32Gb Wifi model … only trouble is … it’s not mine !! 🙁 It’s Kieren’s. When he was last over in the Guernsey office I weaved my magic on him and pursuaded him into ordereing one. To be fair he didn’t need much pursuading at all ! So I’ll be acting as “courier” and bringing it over to him in London on my next buisness trip. … still … I’m tempted myself ! 😉...

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Buses, Beer and Belly Dancing …

Nov 12, 10 Buses, Beer and Belly Dancing …

Posted by in TechEd 2010

After leaving the TechEd at about 1 we headed back to the hotel from whence we were determined to launch an assault on Berlin’s pleasure spots. We started with a bus tour of the city which took in most of the sites. One of which was a stop at “Check Point Charlie” , the famous crossing point from East Berlin to West Berlin in the American Sector. I guess nothing could symbolize more the triumph of the western allies over the Soviet East than the fact that right next to the check point was a MacDonalds, actually on the eastern side of the old divide, with a Starbucks 50m further down the road! Traces of the infamous Berlin wall erected in 1961 could still be seen preserved at certain places on our route. We hopped back on the bus only to be deposited at 5 o’clock at the furthest point from our hotel that you could get, when the tour buses stopped running for the day. Not to be deterred we sought out the nearest German Bier Keller. Luck was with us … we found one of the best pubs I’ve ever been into. Each table had its own set of beer taps which allowed you to pour your own drinks as you wanted, whilst it recorded how much we’d decanted. After this we hailed a cab and headed off to an Egyptian restaurant near our hotel. Kieran volunteered to do a belly dance for us so you can imagine our relief when 2 real belly dancers appeared to dance among the tables. The meal was excellent and the dancing fantastic especially as one of the dancers pulled Jon on stage to dance with her! …. [Check out the video...

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TechEd Day5 – The Final Day

Nov 12, 10 TechEd Day5 – The Final Day

Posted by in TechEd 2010

It’s been a long and rewarding week. But I definitely detected a weariness in the slow trudge of the herd as the usual hundreds of people were disgorged from our train and made their way to the conference centre for the last time. Today I went to 2 final sessions : Inside Windows Azure WCF Data Services – A Practical Deep Dive Whilst they were very interesting and it’s useful to keep abreast of all the current technologies I don’t think that we’ll be using them in the near future, but you never know. TechEd has once again proved to be a fantastic and enriching experience. So all I can say is ” Sehr Gut” and “Bis bald!” * *Very good and see you...

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