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A bridge too far?

September 5, 2012

For some weeks, that nice lady decorator has been looking forward to visiting Castelnaudry, a town to the south-east of Toulouse. Whilst she was set on seeing the wonderful fortress which she excitedly thought would be similar to the spectacular Carcasonne, I was more interested to visit as it is the home of casoulet, a renowned local dish consisting of a combination of beans, pork and duck which has in the past provided me with top quality raw material for noxious methane production.

I am not really into castles, old architecture or the Cathare Castle thing that so captures that nice lady decorator, however, in return for a quiet life, I am prepared to go along for the ride and pay the whole thing some lip service. But how should I react when we arrived at the much vaunted Castelnaudry only to find the it had no castle? With joy and amusement? Clearly not.

I was unwise enough to suggest to her that the French word Castelnaudry might literally mean “no castle”. In the immortal words of Basil Fawlty, “I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it”.

The town is quite charming and stands on the banks of the Canal Du Midi from where I took this picture yesterday. A more artistic shot from your friendly local Currencies Direct representative is hard to imagine.

Can you see what it is yet?

I was suffering a little as we commenced our trip leaving Valbonne. Not because I had a slight hangover (although I did) but because reports began filtering in and I was becoming painfully aware that I had missed some events of interest the evening before due to being overcome by a bout of extreme tiredness. I had conked out at about 9pm after a long lunch, drinks at the Wingco’s and further drinks in the pav, but there were those amongst us with better staying power. Inevitably that nice lady decorator was at the forefront of the reports of bad behaviour that reached me yesterday. By forefront what I should perhaps be saying if two-front as she stands accused by more than one person who was there of exposing her breasts, but not, as she said in her defence, until quite late, and after some skinny dipping by at least one if the stragglers, so that’s all right then. I cannot reveal who was the miscreant who it is alleged was the ringleader of this particular activity but I have in my possession some underwear carrying the name Dangerous Jackie Lawless (not her real name). I have a suspicion that the two are connected.

This is a heinous crime. I should have been awoken immediately. Not to put a stop to it but in order to have been able to photograph the event for this column to act as a warning of the dangers of over imbibing. Anyone suggesting that I would in any way derive some small titillation from such combined bad behavior, as the Reverend Jeff did in the comments section yesterday, is as insulting as it is wrong. It would have been a lot of titillation.

Today then we head further west to the home of the best wine region in the world, Bordeaux. It has long been my desire to visit the seat of red wine and to pay homage to the area that has brought and continues to bring me such pleasure. I am told that it is a pretty place, but even if it was a bland concrete jungle I will love it. I am sure I can find a little space in the packed car to collect a few viticultural trinkets on my way through, I just may have to jettison a suitcase or two.

Chris France

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