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THE visit to France!

JanF | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

Back home after a short visit to France!
Rain, thunder, lightning and the works.
Pete started with a bad asthmatic -type reaction the first night trying to sleep in the RV – and no doubt those of u with husbands will know what I mean when I say – “No-one – but No-one has had it like this”!
To be fair – he was like this a bit when we went camping/caravanning when the children were young – so with no sleep – no decent parking places in the “whole” of France (his words)and I’m afraid a very jaundiced view of the French – I’d better not go into this as I might be thought of in a very poor light – I finally said “ur not enjoying this r u”?
Arrived home 2day – after 8 days and absolutely kna….red.
Versailles was fantastic – as was Chartres but paris made me ill – and that was just trying to navigate the French road system – and I have always prided myself at being a fantastic map reader.
I’m going to sound very parochial, but today I am glad to be home.
By the way the first decent sun was yesterday when we went to Canterbury Cathedral – which was fantastic.
When Ive got myself together i might post the odd photo – but don’t hold ur breath for lots of posts regarding our “Jollies” ‘cos I suspect the RV might be returning to its parents.


  1. jatman | | #1

    Hi JanF!  I saw your other posts and wondered what had happened to your trip.  Big bummer.  Still, it's always good to be home and if it's not, well, then you need to make a change!  I got back from the UK today, too.  Went to the V&A museum and saw the costume part of it (last time there I spent the whole time in the textile section!).  I came back with several books and also some fabrics from my stroll down Berwick Street.  LOVED IT!  I was there during Christmas and every blasted one of the shops I wanted to visit was closed the entire week I was there, but this time they were all open. 

    I'm sorry your trip was cut short.  I hope you enjoy the rest of your vacation in the comfort of your home!


    1. fabricholic | | #5

      Hi JT,Where is Berwick Street? Will you be posting any of your fabric finds for us to see? By the way, I love your personal quote.Marcy

      1. jatman | | #6

        Hi Marcy!  Berwick Street is in Soho in London and intersects Oxford Street.  There is a ton of fabric/notion stores in that area and about 4 or 5 of them just on Berwick Street (and maybe more, I stopped after I found that many!).  You can see from this site that there are a lot of them around there:


        (I actually just discovered this site today - good thing I didn't know about it before my trip).

        I can post a picture of my fabrics but it will probably take me a couple of days.  I bought some really pretty things and all of them were remnants.  I wasn't surprised by the prices but it did keep me from going crazy!  Still, I was absolutely blown away by the quality of the fabrics I found and unique notions.  It was awesome!

        And I like your quote, too!  Cinderella was right! 



      2. jatman | | #13

        Hi Marcy!  I posted some pics in the Photo Gallery under the heading "What's in your stash?"  Hopefully other people will post pictures of their souvenirs, too!


    2. JanF | | #11

      Sorry - just accessed ur post - yes a big bummer - but worse things happen at sea - as my mother used to say. So forward and upwards. I'm glad u enjoyed the V and A. Its my favourite place in London and I particularly like the costume galleries. I'm not really into all the tapestry stuff - in fact even as a teacher of textiles - I could easily say - u see one tapestry - you've seen them all. Probably that's heresy to some posters on Threads, but I don't find tapestry that inspiring to look at, somehow.
      A pity lots of the shops were closed on ur 1st. trip - but its too easy now for shops to close over the long holiday from Xmas Eve to day after New YEar's Day.At least u managed another shopping spree. Did u find our fabric cheaper then? It always appears to me that fabric is cheaper over where u r!

      1. jatman | | #12

        Hi JanF!  It's always disappointing to come home from a vacation early.  I have to admit that the 'new car smell' that so many people love gives me a near instant painful headache and I also have asthma.  It's not bad often which seems to make the times that it is bad really scary because I'm not prepared for it.  Finding that I suddenly can't breathe really makes everything else seem so unimportant!!

        The V&A was fantastic.  Back in December I had spent a couple of hours in their textile room.  I found a ton of tapestries in there but I also saw lots of other things.  They had these boards that were stored vertically and you could pull them out and look at the fabric that was attached to them.  They had a ton of embroidery examples, lots of laces and silks and also some Asian silks and on and on (you've probably seen all this stuff many times - it was just so COOL if you haven't seen it before).  I could spend another week in that part pulling out the samples to look at them and still not see it all.  It was fascinating and I don't think I've ever seen such a large collection of textiles.  The costume part of it was really fun to go through.  I really enjoyed that.  They are having a display called New York Fashion Show right now that was interesting.  I prefer the older items that were actually worn by people vs. the things made for rock stars, etc. but it was interesting to look at the use of leathers and textiles for some of the items in the current display.  I can't believe that admission is free.  I think if I lived in London all of my spare time would be spent in that museum.

        And as for the shopping - I suppose I should have figured the stores would be closed for the holidays.  After all, people are done with their gift sewing and the busy season had ended and it's a good excuse to shut down and give everyone time off all at once but I just can't get used to that.  I'm from the US and there are only a few industries that shut down that week and retail (of any kind) isn't one of them so I was surprised.  Pricing was awful.  It really was expensive but not much more expensive than in Sweden where I currently live.  There is only one high-end fabric store near me, the others sell mostly cottons and a few wools but not many silks, etc.  So the selection there with so many fabric stores so close together was phenomenal.  I got some beautiful things.  I also found a fabric store close to our hotel that had nearly a whole wall of Liberty cotton remnants.  Would be great for people making children's clothes or quilting.  The remnants varied in size - some were 3 meters, some only a 1/3 of a meter.  I could have gone nuts in there but prices kept me from doing that.

        Sorry - didn't mean to write a novel - just really happy with what I've found in the UK over the last couple of years.  Earlier this year I also got to go to Bath which I loved.  The costume museum there was fantastic.

        Anyway - enjoy the remaining time before school starts at home relaxing.  Sometimes those vacations can be the best ones!

        By the way - when you go on a trip with students how on Earth do you keep track of 50+ of them?  Yikes!


        1. JanF | | #14

          Thanks for your chatty post - I like ones that seem as if I'm reading a letter.
          RE. taking trips with numerous kids - I sometimes shudder to think how I have made trips - both at home and abroad with such youthful optimism. Nowadays, however, school trips are becoming a little more fraught and age (for me that is) has dulled the optimism somewhat. I now start to worry about all the things that could go wrong - whereas in my younger days it didn't seem to be a large feature for me eventhough it has always been something which you had to have contingency plans for. I worry about kids being sick (I tell the younger, often male colleagues"I don't do vomit") but it is nearly always me that does have to deal with it, probably something to do with being a mum. I don't travel that well on coaches myself now either. Got to be careful re DVT!!! so have to keep moving. In fact I seriously wonder if my days of school tripping are over because u add to it all the risk assessment stuff we are required to have done even before we see if we have takers for trips I think myself - and unfortunately lots of other teachers - can be forgiven for thinking twice about going on any trips at all. I think this is sad and to a certain extent kids miss out because we are such a "blame culture" now and sueing someone cos u forgot to tell kids they are going on escalators(or something equally inane)is spoiling freedom for lots of things.
          However, younger teachers do still take up the travelling gauntlet and I take my hat off to them.
          Re. keeping tabs on 50+ - lots of rollcalls and doublechecking!
          Re. V+A textiles on boards etc. these are what I get slightly fed up of looking at really - I think Ive seen 1 too many somehow - even though I do appreciate the skill etc.
          As for costume - I can never see enough.
          We're all different and long may it continue to be so.
          No doubt u see a lot of Swedish embroidery? Do the youngsters do lots of it there at all?
          Jan - sorry poss too long a post.

          1. Stillsewing | | #15

            we all get bad weather on holidays...... we had to retreat from a camping holiday in June in France this year ...... from what I can see the weather has been very odd this year all these Americans complaining about the weather being at 100f can't complain about a bit of rain and temperate weather. While it has been wet it has not been a cold Summer this year ...most days have been nearly 20c.

          2. woodruff | | #16

            We talked to a lot of French people about the weather (heck, it's a great conversation starter in any language), and what we heard--most notably from people in their seventies and eighties, was that no one could ever remember such a strange, wet summer there.

          3. Stillsewing | | #17

            I think you've hit on something here! we spend a lot of time in these parts, just talking about the weather, which after all is rather boring -- it rains, sometimes we get fine weather, but we don't have many storms, no snow worth talking about (once every ten years or so) no earthquakes .....so its boring but we still manage to talk about it. I always try to keep my sewing projects to the darker Winter evenings but this year I have competed a number of sewing projects simply because it has rained so much. However here in Ireland the rain has not been as bad as France which is a real turnup for the books. There have been terrible floods in the UK as well which makes one question the theory of global warming I begin to think its more like global wetting!
            I am planning a visit to New England in the Autumn and I hope that the rain does not get there before me! otherwise I'll spend too much time and money in shops -- hopefully if that happens they will be fabric ones!!!!

  2. Gloriasews | | #2

    Welcome back!  That was short (but, unfortunately, not sweet, eh)? 

    If your camper is new, Pete's asthma could have been from the plastic & new fabrics off-gassing.  We had that problem years ago with a new camping trailer - terrible!  (especially if it was hot).  It took weeks to get rid of the smell - all you can do is open all vents & windows & hope for the best. 

    Were there no decent campgrounds in France?  Or any that you could reserve a space?  Sounds like a rather miserable holiday - & you were so looking forward to it.  Bummer!  Guess you didn't hit any fabric shops, either, eh?

    Yah, it's always good to be home in your own bed again.  Now you can buckle down, sew & enjoy the rest of your holiday.  We missed you.


    1. JanF | | #3

      I think u are probably right, but Pete is so adamant that he couldn't do that again we have decided to cut our losses. U live and learn I suppose, but just to add insult to injury we find that back home they have just had the best week for sun this year.
      We did see some lovely things in France, don't get me wrong , but on balance a happy husband is better.
      Talk some more once Ive got back into the swing of things - got to drag out the meals out this week - not that I'm making Pete feel guilty or anything!

      1. Gloriasews | | #4

        Yes, fortunately, you do live & learn - some things you just have to experience yourself, not go by what everyone says.  Now you know for sure yourselves.  And yes, the happy husband is more important - but you'll just have to jolly him along as he takes you out for supper every night (after all, it's not HIS fault that he was sick).  Sometimes, though, the guilt thing is irresistible, eh?  Enjoy your week, anyway.  The weather can change at the drop of a hat, so you might see sun yet.


  3. DesignandSew | | #7

    Sorry to hear your trip was less than perfect...but wasn't Versailles fabulous? Charters was delightful.   I took some of my high school students to Europe in June and we loved Versailles.  The buildings were very crowded but once you stepped into the gardens it was another world.  Talk about inspiration for sewing!  I must admit my entire time in Europe (16 days in three cities) I did not buy any fabric.  I have some left from a trip to Italy in 2001 and felt I should use the fabulous fabric I have before I add more to my stash.  I hope your RV adventures improve.  Our trips over the pond and back were horrific but we had a wonderful time once we finally arrived.

    1. JanF | | #8

      UR correct - Versailles was the highlight of my trip this year - in fact I could have spent more time in the gardens as we did not see all of it - too big in one day I think.
      I cannot imagine taking a school trip around France from "across the pond". Ive been to the south of France a few times on art trips - which was lovely I might add. Beautiful artwork in Nice and walking around Les Arcs just outside. However it took us ages to get there - 24hr coach trip - not funny with 50+ kids but what an experience! Funny what little bits u remember from those kind of visits too - not always cultural either. or there again perhaps they were good for pupils swapping their culture for the French way of doing things!
      But oh the toilets!

      1. DesignandSew | | #9

        50+ students!?  You are superwoman.  I could've easily spent several days in the Versailles gardens.  We were fortunate to have a beautiful day when we were there. The big ride on our trip was the train ride from Paris to Rome (14 hours).  When I scheduled the trip I didn't realize how long that part would be.  In our part of the US we seldom use trains for transportation so most of the participants had never ridden a train, I was glad they had that experience.  I'm hoping to take a group to the South Pacific next summer that would include Sydney, New Zealand, Fiji, and Hawaii.  Several students have already expressed an interest so I hope we can take it.   My husband is contemplating a trip through a section of the Alps with stops at the villages and small towns instead of the big cities, I think it sounds wonderful.  We have friends who took four weeks to do it and have written a travel book their experiences.  I hope we can do this as well.  I hope you will be able to work out your problems with your RV, I'm sure you don't want to go through that again!

  4. woodruff | | #10

    It's too bad the trip didn't work out better for you. We just got back from two months in France, and had a wonderful time, even though it did rain for about seven out of the eight weeks. Fortunately, I love rain.Man, did we eat and drink well--but I only bought one length of fabric on the trip. Gotta rearrange my priorities, obviously.

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