THIS was to be a holiday with a difference. It all came about when Marg Clarke of Murchison was getting ready to celebrate her daughter’s 21st birthday.
Her daughter, Kendall, didn’t want a big party instead she wanted to travel and celebrate her birthday overseas, Marg was about to have a birthday too so they decided to celebrate together.
Their first stop was London. Yes it was winter and yes it was cold, but the show that London put on all draped in snow was just wonderful.
Hyde Park was all white, so they just had to walk through it, the snow felt all crisp and clean under their feet.
Something was going on, barriers were being put up, they made enquiries and to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee the cavalry was to perform a 21 gun or in this case a 21 cannon salute.
The event took place right on midday, the mounted horsemen raced through the parkland towing their cannon behind.
What a spectacle it made as they rode through the snow, cannons were put in place and the 21 firings took place, Marg says it was just great to see.
They stayed with a friend at St John’s Wood and from there toured London seeing its history and of course getting in some shopping.
Next they stopped at Oxford and again snow was everywhere, but it didn’t stop our intrepid travellers from enjoying themselves.
Kendall, as part of her university studies, is looking at the early history of Australian soldiers at war, so what better place to visit than France.
Boarding the Eurostar they travelled to France, where they changed trains and made their way to Amiens, this was to be their base for the next few days as they visited various sites.
It wasn’t easy getting around when you do not speak French and it was winter so many of the tourist sites were closed, but they somehow managed to hire a car and visit the areas they wanted to see.
At Dunkirk it was snowing the day before, but had stopped when they arrived. They visited the sandy beach, which is so big and wide, Marg could only wonder at the plight of the soldiers crossing the beach under open fire.
They found a memorial to the fallen with the names of the Australian soldiers who had given their all, Marg says it was very moving.
Their next stop was Paris and it was everything they expected. The ‘hop on hop off’ bus was the best way to get around and get your bearings.
They stopped at all the major sight seeing locations, at the Louvre they saw the Mona Lisa and found the famous painting to be much smaller than expected.
The Eiffel Tower stands proud, but even in winter the long queues of tourists meant standing out in the cold too long to go up.
They saw the Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the big one, the Palace of Versailles. Marg says it’s over the top, especially when you think how poor people suffered as the royals lived in utter luxury. From the massive gardens to the chapel and the King’s quarters and the opulent hall of mirrors it’s so massive, an attack on the senses.
One special thing they had booked before leaving Australia was a cooking course in Paris, the course was in French Pastries and Desserts. Marg and Kendall were in heaven, no calorie counting here, it was full on and they learnt so much. Since returning home they have been practising on their friends and haven’t had one complaint.
Both Kendall and Marg would like to thank Tara at Jetset in Shepparton for arranging everything for a birthday celebration to remember.
Until next time,