We took a train to Paris last week to see Dudley's exhibition in Montmartre and to meet for lunch with old friends the following day.
On day one, it poured with rain - heavy rain which prevented us lingering in the Place du Tertre or on the Butte. Standing on the steps of the Commanderie du Clos-Montmartre, we could see the Sacré Coeur but there was no question of traipsing any further in the wet.
Dudley's painting of the Commanderie at night. The building was converted from an old château d'eau - a water tower - whose original height was reduced by removing three levels.
Round water towers make excellent spaces for exhibiting art. (There is a very grand one in Bourges which serves the same purpose).
Dudley showed us some of the artefacts used by the members of the Commanderie for their meetings and celebrations.
Members swear to be loyal and worthy compagnons, lovers of Montmartre, its dignity and its history. It is only in drinking well that we can be happy! they say.
Our hotel for the night was in the Saint Martin quartier. In spite of the rain, people were dining out on the pavement below.
Next morning, all signs of late night suppers were gone and we could see children hurrying to their school nearby. The Canal Saint Martin is at the end of the street.
We set off early to explore. This is an area we never grow tired of. Although it's popular with young Parisiens branchés (trendy Parisians), there is a serenity that comes from the quiet water and the uncrowded quays.
Friends were being photographed.
A rabbit was the subject of a photoshoot.
The shop windows were full of delightful gifts and souvenirs.
Bread is freshly baked at least twice a day.
We caught up with trends in shirt design.
And we admired the chocolates on display for Hallowe'en. Spooky! I don't think I could eat finger bones, even made from the finest chocolate.
The macaron is still a popular motif. These look very real.
Design taken to great lengths in the production of fabulous pasta.
Where else but in Paris would you see a tiger lounging in a shop window wearing a diamond crown?
Or servers like these, ready to dive into your salad bowl?
These days, groups of tourists are taken round the old streets on bikes. Fine, so long as you can ride one (I can't).
There are always your Mum's arms to carry you from A to B.
This little chap held out bread for the sparrows which crowd in the same spot every day. They know that a man will come there with crusts for sale to doting parents.
This tiny girl wanted some sparrows to come to her hands too.
We walked to Notre Dame and found the huge square in front of the cathedral completely transformed.
This year Notre Dame celebrates its 850th anniversay. All sorts of improvements are planned for December including the installation of nine new bells (we've seen these being made on tv), new interior lighting and renovation of the great organ.
Tourists made use of tiered seating to sit and wait their turn to go into the cathedral.
A few streets away, city cleaners were having a chat as they rested their brooms - authentic copies in green plastic of twig besoms.
And some of the pigeons of Paris were making use of yesterday's torrential rain to bathe in the puddles.