Le Moulin des Landes

On the western coast of France, sort of halfway between Nantes and La Rochelle is a tiny community that is tacked on to the village of La Chapelle Achard. This collection of houses in the middle of farmland is where our good friends Danielle and Sylvain live with their four kids and menagerie of animals.

Stone farm house of Danielle and Sylvain.

Stone farm house of Danielle and Sylvain.

This is our second time visiting and we love the slow pace of country life mixed with the chaos of four kids, two cats, a dog, and three sheep. There is never a dull moment in this house, even though it looks sleepy and peaceful from this angle.

Indi the English Pointer

Indi the English Pointer

This is Indi, quite possibly the sweetest English Pointer that ever pointed. He’s still quite young, only three, and is full of pep and energy. I’ve been told when he is out on the hunt everyone calls him “The White Bomb” because he tears across the fields with incredible speed. When he’s home, he thinks he’s tiny because he will try to crawl into your lap for a belly rub. He is not tiny. Nor is he fixed, and his plums are often the source of mirth in the house because they are so… well, plummy.

Who's a good boy?

Who’s a good boy?

Pan the sheep

Pan the sheep

This is Pan. He has a wife named Grovey, and a son named Lamb Chop. All three had just been shorn shortly before this picture was taken. Pan looks delirious with relief her, mostly because we had just been through a heat wave and I am sure he was feeling the burn.

Danielle's hydrangeas

Danielle’s hydrangeas

Danielle has incredible hydrangeas growing next to the garage right on the road. Tourists stop to take pictures of them. This tourist stopped to take pictures of them. They are truly splendid.

Well hello, my deer.

Well hello, my deer.

Sylvain is a part owner in a deer farm. There are three types: Sica, Red, and Fallow deer. These are the red deer. We went to visit them all and bring them lunch, which Mr. Himself is munching on here.

 

Our hosts, Danielle and Sylvain in Nuremburg.

Our hosts, Danielle and Sylvain in Nuremburg.

And this post wouldn’t be complete without Danielle and Sylvain themselves. We found we traveled very well together. They are wonderful friends and Kosta and I love them both very much. It would be nice if we could see each other more than every few years. But (!) they want to visit Greece with us in 2018. It is ON.

Note: I didn’t post any pictures of the kidlets because I haven’t asked permission from their parents yet. If they say okay, I’ll tell you about all four of them in turn. They’re pretty fantastic, as far as kids go.

Bamberg and Munich

There are certain things I can say about our time in Germany. Large quantities of pork, cabbage, and beer were consumed, the last being my favorite:

Munich: Beer good.

Munich: Beer good.

 

We spent two days in Munich. One coming into Germany, one going out. On the day we arrived Kosta and I took the train from Salzburg. We got to our hotel in the early afternoon and parked our stuff. Then we headed out to the center of town to look around. That’s where the above picture happened. We ate pork. (Surprise, surprise.)

Sir, do you have any pork?

Sir, do you have any pork?

We walked through the beer garden at the Food Market, and I am sorry to say we didn’t stop, but we had a plane to meet. Even so, it was tempting:

They keep the line moving. They're very precise.

They keep the line moving. They’re very precise.

Bamberg was our last day in Bavaria. We drove over in the morning and the first stop was the cathedral. We wandered around inside and out. It was a strange placement on the top of the hill and set so there were two west entrances instead of one with a big chapel separating them.

See? It was odd to see that chapel stuck in the middle there.

See? It was odd to see that chapel stuck in the middle there.

The Adam and Eve portal sculptures were also rare and interesting.

The Adam and Eve portal sculptures were also rare and interesting.

We had lunch in the rose garden of the Imperial Palace which was right across the oddly shaped square from the cathedral. And I will not shock you, I am sure, to tell you beer and pork were consumed.

The rose garden. A lovely spot for lunch.

The rose garden. A lovely spot for lunch.

The garden itself was very pretty and had a series of Greco-Roman statues. I thought Hera with her peacock was the prettiest.

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The great and wise Hera.

After we had sufficient refreshment we wandered down the hill and found the old town. The neat thing about Bamberg is the Town Hall. In the Middle Ages the townspeople wanted a town hall but the Prince Bishop would not grant them land to build it. So the ingenious people of Bamberg created an island in the middle of the Regnitz and built their town hall on that.

The town hall in the middle of the river.

The town hall in the middle of the river.

Bamberg was charming. There was ice cream. We had a nice day.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Werewolf of Bamberg by Oliver Pötzsch. I read it earlier this year and wrote a review of it here. It was really cool to visit a place I had read about like that. It was fun because I looked like a rock star (albeit a totally nerdy one) because I already knew the name of the river and the fact that the town hall was built into the river.  The entire Hangman’s Daughter series I recommend as a whole.

From one nerd to another.

(Because let’s face it, rock stars in general do not read my blog.)

 

Wurzburg and Rothenberg ob der Tauber

The four of us only spent a morning in Wurzburg, had lunch and then went on to Rothenberg in the afternoon.  A few hours of the morning were spent at the laundromat, as we were all beginning to offend with our not so fresh clothes. Afterwards we took a look at the palace and had lunch:

Palace at Wurzburg

Palace at Wurzburg

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Palace at Wurzburg

Lunch

Lunch

Then we made the trek over to Rothenberg. This town was the whole reason for this trip. I had seen a famous picture of the town and said to myself, “I want to be THERE.” And so we went. Rothenberg ob der Tauber is the most well preserved medieval town in Bavaria. It was largely spared from bombing in WWII and still remains as charming as hell. Case in point:

The money shot. This was the place I saw that I wished to stand and gaze upon.

The money shot. This was the place I saw that I wished to stand and gaze upon.

Main square of town

Main square of town

There was also a tour I wished to take: the Nightwatchman’s Tour. The guy who has been giving this tour has been doing so for over 20 years. He’s got a dry delivery and is very funny. The tour itself was highly informative and massively crowded. But well worth it.

George the Nightwatchman.

George the Nightwatchman.

Rothenberg is lousy with charm and I wish we’d had more time to spend there. We did manage to eat at a restaurant that was in a garden that was lovely. Sylvain stole my camera and took some photos, one of which is a favorite snap of my husband:

My happy husband.

My happy husband.

The garden restaurant.

The garden restaurant.

It was a long day full of fun, history, shopping, picture taking, and walking everywhere. Let me leave you with this stinking cute hotel in Rothenberg:

Looks like something out of a fairy tale, doesn't it?

Looks like something out of a fairy tale, doesn’t it?

Bad Windsheim and Nürnberg

We spent four days visiting the “bergs” of Bavaria: Nürnberg, Bamberg, Würzburg, and Rothenberg ob der Tauber, with a day in Munich on either end. We traveled with our good friends Danielle and Sylvain, who flew in from France to join us.  We stayed in the charming little town of Bad Windsheim:

Bad Windsheim

Bad Windsheim

We chose to stay there because it was centrally located to what we wanted to see, and also because my friend Niki used to live there when her husband was stationed in the military nearby.

We rented a house off AirBnb and it was adorable. It had a patio where we sat every night to eat, or have a drink:

Sylvain and Kosta sample the schnapps.

Sylvain and Kosta sample the schnapps.

So. Nürnberg. It was the first city we visited and it was charming for all the notorious reputation is has received from the post WWII trials. We saw the Imperial Palace, walked the city wall, had lunch next door to Albrecht Dürer’s birthplace, and saw some beautiful churches and half-timbered houses.

On the river.

On the river.

Danielle and Sylvain

Danielle and Sylvain

My husband's herring. Ew.

My husband’s herring. Ew.

View from inside the fortified palace on the hill.

View from inside the Imperial Palace on the hill.

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Doofus.

Market Day.

Market Day.

Birthplace of Albrecht Durer.

Birthplace of Albrecht Durer.

One more thing we did was visit the Zepplinfield, or the Nazi Party rally grounds. Sylvian is a huge WWII buff and was intellectually interested to see the spot. We stopped there on our way out of town. The concrete risers are still there, although crumbling. I have no pictures of the spot because I did not want to honor it with a photograph. It was interesting, in a morbid way, but I definitely had the creeps being there. Kosta said he felt like he needed to wash the bottoms of his shoes after we left. I still can’t believe it hasn’t been razed.

On a lighter note to send you along your way:

I'll just leave you with this picture of a busker playing the accordion with his dog hanging out on top.

I’ll just leave you with this picture of a busker playing the accordion with his dog hanging out on top. Like you do.

 

 

 

Never Never Never Give Up

never never never give up

Today is an anniversary for me. One year ago today I spoke on the phone with Alex Slater at Trident Media Group and accepted his offer to represent me as a literary agent.  It had been a phone call that was years in the making: two books, and hundreds of queries later and I had done it. I found someone who was head over heels in love with my novel.

I was ecstatic. I had finally broken through a door on the road to becoming a published author. Many times along that journey I had become discouraged and hurt from all the rejection (trust me, there was A LOT). But there was a fire burning in my heart that kept me going. I love writing. This is what I want TO DO with my life. And of course, I have my husband, my parents, and all of my family and terrific friends who have supported me and bolstered me along they way when I got down. I finally felt I had arrived.

Now, a year later, I am still waiting to arrive. My agent, Alex, has been amazing. With his enthusiasm and drive he has worked so hard to find a home for my novel. He has sent it out to over thirty young adult editors and ten adult editors. And while the reaction has been that it is great writing, it just didn’t find a place for one reason or another. In fact, we are about to shelve this novel and I am going to concentrate on writing my third. (I’m about 40 pages in so far.)

Yes, I did the amazing, almost unheard of feat of finding an agent. But the submission process was no less brutal. True, I do have a champion fighting in my corner, and for that I am so grateful and lucky. But this level of rejection is even worse than trying to find an agent. It’s funny because they don’t even use the word rejection–it’s a “pass.” But that doesn’t make it any easier.

As sad as I am that my novel didn’t sell, that fire still burns within me. As much as I am dragging my ass around and moping today I am still going to get my butt in my chair and write tonight. Winston Churchill might have been rallying a nation to fight the Nazis when he said the above quote, but it can apply to anyone and any situation. I will not give up. I will write another novel and I will try again. And if that doesn’t sell I will try again. This is still what I want to do with my life. That will not change.

I may be bruised and tired. But I will never, never, never give up.

Back at it…

It was my first day back at work after a month of vacation. It wasn’t so bad, there were some good things and some not so good things that happened while I was gone, but nothing out of the ordinary. Manageable.

I meant to do more live blogging from the trip but it was very hard. We were running all day and at night I was so tired it was hard to put two thoughts together. A coherent blog post? Not in the cards, not in the stars, not in my brain.

I got a suntan, spent time with great friends, ate some delicious food, and took a couple thousand pictures. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing these with you as I look back on my trip. I hope you’ll stop back and see the photos.

For now, I am going to leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip. It isn’t of a famous landmark, work of art, or anything much. I just thought it was lovely when I saw it for the first time. I hope you do too.

Field of wheat - Vendee, France

Field of wheat – Vendee, France

 

P.S. My Dad came through his surgery beautifully and is recovering by leaps and bounds.