Sunday, April 15, 2012

Biking, Pre-Historic Times, and Glass Blowing

04/14, Saturday, Jake's 15th Birthday
Our morning routine includes reading a chapter or two from our book "Queen Without a Country". Then we hope to go bike riding. I rode down the path by the river yesterday to two different villages, but Dick's bike had problems and didn't go.
It is as picturesque as riding around Kezar Lake.

A few days ago I pumped the tires, but one does not hold air. There is a bike/motorcycle shop a short walk over the bridge. There we meet Fabien, the owner, and his friend Alexes, who speaks great English. He spent year in Prince Edward Island as an exchange student. He's using Fabien's shop to repair his old motorcycle.

Fabien concludes it's that the inner tube needs replacing. Mom rides her bike along the river to the nearby town of Conant. I begin to work on the tire, but need to borrow some of John's tools. I'll finish it later today after our outing with J&M this afternoon.

Fumel has an old steel smelting factory that John has told me about. We pass it on the way to the bike shop. It's closed now. I guess steel is cheaper to produce in other countries. The buildings are still there along the river and the railroad tracks. The River Lot was used to bring raw materials from a short distance up the river...iron ore. The train was used to ship out the finished product. During WWII the plant was used to support the French army with materiel. As a museum, it contains a Bessemer oven which produced the heat to smelt the ore into steel.

Just down the street from J&Ms is the old, unused Fumel train station. the town has bought it with plans to resurrect it as the Tourist Center which will be a nice improvement for the neighborhood.

J&M had thought of buying it themselves a few years ago to renovate as a B&B. The price was right...€15,000 or about $20,000. Sure, it needs lots of work, but they had done it before in Port Angeles, WA. It has a great location on the Lot River banks, several out buildings for a cafe, and an small length of track...perfect for an old sleeping car and, maybe, an engine. if only they had been 20 years younger!

This afternoon, J&M took us on a five-sight tour, all within 20-minute drives from one another. The first stop was at a Pre-historic museum in , but it opens for the season tomorrow. Beautiful ride in the rolling countryside though.

Second stop, Monpazier, is a very pretty town. It has lots of marvelous stone archways, winding streets and alleyways and seems vibrant. They have a big tourist center and we have learned never to pass on a tourist center or a WC when you encounter them.

M&J wanted to go to a glass blowing shop for a gift and they were making a decorative vase when we arrived and followed the process till it's completion. Very artistic pieces and reasonably priced. Of course in Euro though.

On to a town M&J have never explored, but have noticed perched on a hill. Some beautiful views and they were hosting some sort of a run/bike ride. Saw lots of people with sore legs.

Back home around 8pm and they invited us to watch the movie "Sarah's Key" and have homemade John's pizza. Both were excellent. I was able to provide lemon pie that I made. Then we watched a BBC program called Dateline. Another great and interesting day.

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