A Romanov in a Pau Garden: A Glorious Last Moment in Living History

One sunny morning in Pau, one of the neighbors came to take some plants for his garden.  The elderly gentleman in the photograph on the right is Monsieur Romanov — a  descendant of the Romanov family, rulers of Russia from 1613 until the Russian Revolution in 1917.

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The Last of My Treasures from Pau

These are little treasures as opposed to the wonderful wooden artifacts and furniture I was gifted, they are personal gifts to me from Mr P’s mother that she squirreled away for me as a thank you for my help.

She knows of my love of glass, especially as she heard all about our adventures in Murano several times over!  In light of this, and Mr P’s love of wine, we were gifted a beautiful set of cut crystal wine glasses that have been in the family for many years.

They have followed her on her travels from France to Morocco to Portugal and then back to France again.  I am so glad that after all that traveling I managed to get them back to Portugal all in one piece. They are quite exquisite and have a gorgeous feel to them and an incredible tone when “pinged”

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Wooden Yoke Treasures from Portugal via Pau

As well as my beautiful fountain, I accumulated some more treasures from Pau which I promised to share.  These are both made of wood, a material I have a great affinity for in all its states. I love trees and what they are crafted into. I love having pieces of history around me and our new house allows me to do just that.

Once again, these are huge, heavy, pieces of wood that were once fully functional equipment in rural Portugal.

In its previous life, this piece was a yoke for oxen who were attached to it and then were used to push – as opposed to pull other equipment around.

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The Nunnery Door

As you know by now, I spent some helping clear out the aged aunts house at Pau.  The upside of this was that I was offered my choice of the goodies on offer — i.e first dibs on the treasure. There was one thing I particularly wanted, and I had the perfect space for it.

The piece looks unassuming — like a tired old door — which it is. In itself, it is an interesting object — showing its history in the layers of paint and the markings where the ornate hinges were once placed. It was recovered by Mr P’s aunt from a derelict nunnery in the south of France.

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Science Park: A Last Look Around Pau

Pau is a small provincial city, it has long been a haven for the British wanting to escape Blighty for the good of their health. There are many spas in the area and the climate is reputed to be good for your health. The older architecture is a mix of “alpine’ grand villa and a good dose of British garden. There is a cathedral and a university and the small provincial airport is now opening up to fulfill Pau’s emerging status as the gateway to the Pyrenees.

The airport’s development and the expansion of the scientific departments at the University have led to the development of a science park on the outskirts of the city.  I have, on past visits, caught tantalizing glimpses of some of the buildings and was determined to explore further before we left Pau for good.

After one particularly frustrating afternoon, I declared a time out and went exploring and headed straight for the science park.

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On Being AWOL: End of an Era in Pau

The second contributory fact for my 80 day absence was the premature closure of Mr P’s family house in PauMr P’s aged aunt’s health had deteriorated  to a stage where she needed more in-depth care than his equally elderly mother could provide.

We have always been aware that this situation would arrive in the near future — but were caught napping when it rapidly loomed upon us out of the blue and we had to take a dash to France.

Finding a suitable nursing home for elderly people is difficult at the best of times — finding one that accepts patients with Alzheimer’s, and provides compassionate understanding care for them, is even worse. Luckily, we had the help of one of Mr P’s brothers who took care of most of that for us . A deal was struck he would sort out their aunt and we would sort out their mother.

A suitable residence was found for their aunt, not far from where the brother’s family lives — which would enable him to visit her whenever he went to see his daughter and granddaughter.

We then had the task of packing up mother and her possessions and returning her to the apartment in Lisbon.

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