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Chateau heaven

September 9, 2012

By the time you read this I will be sitting an a ferry from Caen to Portsmouth either; nursing a glass of champagne, maybe a Bucks Fizz or even a Bloody Mary in the sunshine on a flat calm or; sitting on deck depositing a very early breakfast over the side of the ferry for the enjoyment of the sea gulls if we find ourselves in a squall.

Not being a very good sailor for much of my life has in the past made it imperative that I use the Channel Tunnel to travel between France and England. I give the Master Mariner Mundell the credit for reintroducing me to the possibilities on water transport when we he invited me to help crew his boat to victory in the Bistro Rally, an annual race for sailing boats from Port de le Rague to the Isles Des Lerins off Cannes last September,  but for very little else except a master class on bullying. So far this rather worrying latter trait has come to the fore only once, when my first book was ritually abused, and before that abuse developed sufficiently to take in the destruction of my luxurious beard (see columns passim). The next Bistro Rally is 24th September, I hope once again to be there with my new moustache.

Yesterday was another astonishing day. Chateau Rochecotte was as pretty as a picture, as was the face of that nice lady decorator when it came to ask for the bill. We had an arrangement you see. I paid for the hotel whilst she paid for dinner and drinks from the night before. My bill was a mere 204 Euros, hers was half as much again. Boy was she cursing that second glass of champagne at 18 Euros a glass! I believe she may need the services of Currencies Direct again sooner than she had hoped.

Following a tour of the grounds we set off to take in several more Chateau’s along the delightful Loire valley, one of which Chateau de Champchevrier, I picture below, before heading north, it has to be said, in hot sunshine reaching Caen around 5pm. That’s when the trouble started. We had thought we would book a hotel on the coast with a mile or so of the ferry port and breeze down there this morning ready for the return to blighty. It was after the 6th hotel we tried was fully booked that we came to the conclusion that most of the other passengers had made a similar decision but a great deal earlier. No choice than but to head the 7 miles back into Caen with the expectation that it would be as dreary and unappetising as Calais. It was nothing of the sort. It has a delightful canal area, and there was a latino festival in full stride.

Chateau de Champchevrier

So our extended exile back in Britain commences today. We shall backslide a little with a flying visit for that Rally, a trip to the Galway Bay Oyster Festival later this month, then Australia in late November. It is a tough life but I will try not to complain.

In the meantime I am determined to complete the writing of my second book provisionally entitled “The Valbonne Monologues”. Whilst it will provide me with a great deal of satisfaction, it will also irritate my coterie of public schoolboy friends who are still unhappy at the obvious success of my first book with sales now standing at 200 and not rising. I say success because the break even point was 120 sales. Perhaps I should not have been so vociferous in ensuring that my better educated peers were well-informed about this position. Some may say that I could have been a bit less immodest about the whole thing, but the wind up was too tempting to resist.

Chris France

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