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  1. I just got off a Scenic river cruise. All of their boats, except 3, have single cabins. I can attest the service is exceptional. There was at least 1 single on our sailing and she was never alone. There is a write up on Scenic cabins here: https://www.rivercruiseadvisor.com/2015/10/scenic-what-are-its-smallest-largest-and-most-common-stateroom-sizes/
  2. Our sail out of Caudebec-en-Caux was spectacular. Most others were still in the dining room and I had the lounge virtually to myself. My husband had gone to the cabin to change so I chose a seat by a window to wait while the bar staff tripped over themselves to get me something. The service is extraordinarily! You can see the reflection of the lounge lights and the colours of the polarized (?) windows but look beyond that to what I saw. 78FFB8B2-D018-450C-B052-4163CC098C1E.MOV
  3. After lunch back onboard and after a bit of a rest DH and I decided to go for a walk around the town. The Town Hall was just a short stroll down the river and, let’s be honest, we were being fed very well so a bit of exercise was necessary! The first thing you will notice about Caudebec-en-Caux is that it doesn’t look like other Normandy towns. The explanation is clear when you understand that the town was 80% destroyed during WWII and saw much conflict during the religious wars of the 1600s. Medieval structures and twisting narrow roads have been replaced with smooth clean lines and ancient brooks that gave the town its name now run in neat stone clad gullies. Flowers are used to soften the modern edges. Town Hall We poked about until we found ourselves gawking at Notre Dame Church. It was built in the 15th and 16th centuries and King Henry IV of France is said to have declared to be the most beautiful in his kingdom. Who am I to argue with a king?!
  4. The collection of old sewing machines alone would have kept my interest for another hour. We finished up our tour and had the opportunity to purchase items made in the factory. You know I just couldn’t pass that up and I am so happy I didn’t. €9.99 for 3 dish towels and €3.99 each for the others. The quality is second to none I’ve seen in the last 30 years. We were were then back on the coach making our way to the cider farm. The skies opened! We we were met by the farmer himself who provided a history of the property, how the drinking of cider has changed over time and had a PowerPoint presentation on his process. We could then go into his shop and taste all stages of apple cider from juice to Calvados. The shop itself was interesting. I’m glad I can read basic French to understand the ingredients list! The end part of the shop has been turned into a museum. On the way home we stopped by a 900 year old oak tree with 2 homes inside!
  5. I could go on and on about this excursion. I just loved it. I have so many photos and videos of each machine and interesting, to me anyway, grouping of thread balls and old sewing machines. It is my hobby that has enabled me to stay sane over the past 4+ years and I know some people who will love to see them. But I don’t want your eyes to roll back in your head so I will be brief. We were toured through time right from the spinning wheel and hand loom to computerized weaving. This is the noise of only one mechanized looms. Can you imagine over 170 of them in a room for 14 hours straight with no ear protection? 4B499782-C8EF-4D1D-B4C1-289E35474BCE.MOV The origin of the mill’s wealth was its ability to produce indiennes which I call chinz which is a printed and glazed cotton fabric.
  6. It’s Tuesday and a very pleasant surprise awaited. When choosing excursions at home the visit to the textile museum was unavailable. So when given the opportunity to choose again once on-board I was excited to see it back as an option. As a quilter (until I got sick 4 years ago) and now as a bag maker, I was very interested in seeing the museum and it was something different. I was surprised that so many others were also interested but on the way to the coach an Australian shared the definition of ABC or another bloody cathedral which may explain the interest! The morning was beautiful with fog coming off the river. It was beautifully sunny at the moment but we were warned to take one of the golf umbrellas as we scanned off of the boat. Caudebec-En-Caux is a beautiful town that we looked forward to walking around in the afternoon. Our guide was from this town but was also a guide in Rouen and Honfleur. Very knowledgeable and personable. On our way to the town of Bolbec she explained how the town developed because of the mills which lined the river banks. At the height of the 19th century there were 14 mills in town. Each mill provided housing, schools, church, etc for its workers who stayed within the mill boundaries. Workers put in 14 hour days and, until school became mandatory in the later 1800s, children worked alongside their parents. Little remains of the textile industry in Bolbec except for this museum on the site of the Desgenétais works. The mill was was on one side and the looms on the other. Now run run by a group of volunteers, the museum has recreated what textile manufacturing was like through time. The whole process was explained from how raw cotton is turned into thread, ribbons, cables and fabric. All the machines are in working order.
  7. As the sun was setting on the Seine estuary I took this video by lowering the window in our cabin sun lounge. Not great quality but gives you an idea of how peaceful it was. Hundreds of birds settling in for the night. Symmetrical trees lining the shore...or are they in the water? We still can’t tell. 5B4305F8-B392-4FB6-9BC1-7FAD4E853C6E.MOV
  8. After dinner we sailed out of Honfleur. I was in the lounge with my double hot chocolate (I know, big drinker here) and after such a long and emotional day I didn’t have the energy to go outside and up to the sun deck. So the following photos were taken through the window. Back into the English Channel for 5 minutes. Movement was barely noticeable. The beautiful Bridge of Normandy marks the start of the Seine.
  9. Many of the soldiers killed in the actions of June 1944 are buried in the commonwealth war cemetery at Ranville and the adjoining churchyard. The cemetery is 10 km away from the village of Caen. Rainville was the first village to be liberated in the D-Day landings. The Cross of Sacrifice is central in this cemetery as it is at Bény-sur-Mer. The grounds are beautifully landscaped and immaculately kept. The cemetery contains 2,236 commonwealth burials, 90 of them unidentified. There are also 323 German graves plus a few from other nationalities. The churchyard contains 47 commonwealth burials, one of which is unidentified, and one German grave. There are 76 Canadians interred at Rainville War Cemetery including 9 members of the RCAF, 3 CANLOAN officers and 57 members of the 1st Canadian Parachute Battalion. Along with the the Cross of Sacrifice, we decided to leave a flag beside the grave of the most decorated airman of WWII. One of our Australian travel companions had left hand made poppies at every gravesite in this row of heroes. It was very moving. I had also brought poppies from home and left them in the greenery at the base of some of the Canadian graves, including 2 brothers. Time to return to the boat. It was an emotional day. We would be sailing out of Honfleur after dinner and back under the Bridge of Normandy.
  10. From the Juno Beach Centre we travelled to the the village of Bénouville and the Caen Canal, the site of the Pegasus Bridge. The original bridge was built in 1934 and was replaced in 1994 when the canal needed to be widened. On the night of June 5, 1944, 181 men in 6 gliders took off from Dorset in England to capture this plus Horsa Bridge a few hundred yards to the east and land, 3 gliders by each bridge, to take both bridges intact and hold them until relieved by the main British invasion forces. The successful capture of the bridges played an important role in limiting the effectiveness of a German counter-attack. 5 of the gliders landed within 47 yards of their respective bridge at 16 minutes past midnight completely surprising the Germans and captured the bridges within 10 minutes. 2 men were lost in the process. 1 glider landed 7 miles off target at a bridge over the river Dives. Most of these soldiers were able to move through German lines and eventually rejoin the British forces. Wouldn’t you know it, as soon as we were ready to cross by foot a boat caused the bridge to lift. What a treat to get to see in action! The owner of this (now) cafe was liberated by the British and to this day will not serve German tourists. On the other side of the canal the actual glider landing sites are marked and commemorated. A short walk brings us to another plaque commemorating the bridge. And the museum holding the original bridge.
  11. Thank you for your kind words. It is still difficult to document so I appreciate all your comments. I had 2 appointments this morning then had to take DD to shop for dorm-room linens. Move in is Sunday! Now to continue. After leaving Bény-sur-Mer we drove through more stunning Normandy countryside to our pre-arranged lunch. It was in a beautiful hotel with stunning gardens. We had preselected either meat (beef), fish (sea bass) or vegetarian. Our cruise director had distributed cards to put in front of our plates so staff would know our preferences. I also had a card that said no cream. Scenic took care of everything for me ahead of time. It was lovely. After lunch we drove to The Juno Beach Centre. The Centre was conceived in the 1990s by Canadian veterans and is a result of grassroots fundraising. The building itself was inaugurated on 6 June 2003. All guides at the centre are young Canadian students experiencing life in Normandy while sharing canada’s military history. The first exhibit in the museum is a standing movie simulation of a landing craft. One of my uncles spent 3 days bobbing on the English Channel waiting for orders to proceed to the beach. This was very moving as we heard letters from/to home read aloud during the movie. It really puts you in the mindset of these young Canadians about to see battle for the first time for many of them. The movie room opens into the museum which was interesting but once again I just wanted/needed to get outside and onto the beach. The museum is segmented into rooms: - Canada in the 1930s - Canada goes to war - Road to Victory - Some came back, others did not - They walk with you They walk with you is a 15 minute movie. DH went but I did not as I knew I just couldn’t as it is very emotional. I passed through the obligatory gift shop (nothing I hadn’t seen in Canada, unfortunately) on my way outside. This land saw intense combat on June 6, 1944. There are still many remnants of German defences that were part of the Atlantic Wall. R666 bunker was uncovered and its access cleared as part of building the Centre. Hard to to tell it had started to pour rain as I walked towards the beach. That was okay, it hid my tears. Statue entitled Rembrandt and Renewal. You our can visit the centre’s website at junobeach.org
  12. Our next stop was the Canadian war cemetery of Bény-sur-Mer. Here 2,049 headstones are enclosed by pines and 6 majestic maples. The cemetery is actually in the town of Reviers and is taken great care of by the townspeople. As our bus travelled the narrow streets from town to town my mind traveled back in time as it doesn’t look like much has changed. Then I began to notice homes flying Canadian and/or British flags. That was humbling. But nothing could prepare me for the overwhelming emotions of being in that cemetery, seeing the 6 huge maple trees standing on sentry duty then row after row of headstones. Each and everyone impeccably cared for. We left one of our Canadian flags bought from the Canadian Legion here. As incredible as it sounds, the rain stopped as our bus pulled into the parking area and the sun stayed out until we got back on the bus.
  13. After a bathroom break we went into the museum to view a movie about the temporary portable harbours towed over from Great Britain on June 6 to facilitate offloading cargo onto the beaches. We then had the opportunity to walk through the museum itself. It was overwhelming. But my desire was to see, and hopefully walk on, the beach itself. And I did. A front moved in making the experience even more poignant. A segment of the bridge
  14. Monday. The day I had been both looking forward to but a bit afraid of at the same time. I didn’t know how I would feel being confronted with the sites w had been brought up hearing and learning about since my father’s 3 brothers landed on Juno that day. My dad was the youngest and too young to enlist but he had to leave school after grade 8 to find work to support the family. I fell in love with the Normandy landscape. Please excuse the window reflection. As as we drove along the coast the memorials are a common sight. The white chalk cliffs was our first destination for the day; the D-Day museum in Arromanches which is located off Gold Beach, one of the two British landing beaches. The remnants of the Mulberry harbour are still visible.
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