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July 23, 2013

I caught House guest Charley the Spy yesterday reading the personal column of my Sunday Times and suspected he was up to his old spook like tricks. These columns in newspapers were often used in the world of subterfuge in the old days to pass on coded messages. I wondered if he had anything to do with Iran because it seems they are using a lot of subterfuge to make enriched uranium.

There, that has got the sparkling wit and prose for which this daily column is justly unrenowned off to its usual dodgy start. I do like to set the bar low from the outset as I find I do not have much to live up to.

Yesterday That Nice Lady Decorator brought her new toy, a Pimms dispenser, out to play. It is a large glass bowl with a tap, enabling one to prepare a vast amount of this traditional English drink to save all that irksome mixing every time a jug is finished. It is also important to have the lemonade quite cold but never wanting to do things by halves, she decided to put some bottles in the freezer, for far too long as it turns out, and as my picture today captures. When opening frozen lemonade, apparently one should expect a fizzing maelstrom of bubbles and liquid. She did not expect it and had to hold the bottle in the container until the storm had abated.

Pimms dispenser

How not to prepare a pimms

So over several large goldfish bowls of Pimms, we discussed what delights from Valbonne we should embrace with out house guests and decided that the traditional dinner in Valbonne Square was a must. We decided to avoid the Cafe Des Arcades whose kitchen does not seem to be able to maintain its usual high standards when the tourist season is at its height, so we decided instead to go to Terra Rossa on the other side of the square.

Over dinner, discussions were wide ranging but the subject I recall the best was tantric sex. The lovely Lizzy, wife of the Spy, said that she did not really understand exactly what it was. I explained to her that it was based on delayed gratification and she said that it was all gradually coming back to her. Rather ungallantly, I found that amusing but covered it up by saying that I thought 30 seconds was about as much tantric as I wanted to enjoy, and was rewarded with a stern look from that Nice Lady Tantric Decorator.

With a fine post diner cigar in hand whilst we lingered over the last of several bottles of Bandol, a digestive seemed to be in order and I suggested that a limoncello might for the bill. However, that Nice Lady Decorator described this as “sickly and disgusting” and would not countenance the idea unless it was free, in which case that was entirely different. When the offer was not forthcoming, The Spy and I decided on a cognac, which, much to her continuing disgust, was, when we called the bill, on the house. A free drink had been missed and she was not best pleased.

We retired to the pav to consider a plan for today should Charley The Spy not recover from his gout (as seems likely given that the worst thing you can do when suffering with this affliction is to take alcohol) my intended extraction of 10 euros (around £8.50 at today’s Currencies Direct exchange rates) on the golf course, and, in the absence of retail therapy recently, the female contingent decided that we should visit the market at nearby Mouans Sartoux. To balance this out, I insisted that we should do something of my choice thereafter, so with luck we shall be initiating the Spy and his beautiful associate into the joys of the set menu at the Auberge St Donat.

Chris France

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