24 March 2010


I am fairly choosey about who I tell we have a holiday home in France. When I do I usually point out that it doesn't have a swimming pool, a vineyard, outbuildings or a boathouse. It cost us about as much as some people would spend on a sportscar.

Not that it is anyone else's business, but I find the pointing finger of the jealous types who think we must be very rich to own it, rather unpalatable. I hate trying to explain to people something they will never understand and don't really want to hear. Some of those people who would immediately brand us as wealthy, have actually spent more on their most recent caravan. It's all relative.

Then there is the other kind of person who just doesn't understand why. Why bother owning a piece of French history? Why commit yourself to taking holidays in the same place? Why take on all the work of doing it up and maintaining it, when you could be having a fortnight in Tenerife one year and a week in China the next? These people would never understand the fascination of owning somewhere that was first renovated in the year of the French revolution.

In a way I can see their point. There are always lots of other things we could be doing or places we could be going with our money. But for these people there is no satisfactory explanation. Some obviously thought I was completely barmy for going skiing. How can you explain to someone the feeling of being on top of a mountain, in brilliant sunshine, when all you can hear around you is the sound of skis scrunching on snow. They can't think beyond the idea that it is horribly cold. True, it was often uncomfortably cold but I wouldn't have missed the experience for the world.

Some people would think I am mad for riding a motorcycle. Why put yourself at risk amongst the car drivers, especially when it is pouring with rain? I have to admit, riding in the rain is without doubt absolutely miserable. But the thrill of riding over the Alps on a crisp spring morning, or in a parade of 500 other Harleys, is something I will never forget.
Each to their own. Horses for courses. Whatever wrinkles your prune.

We are about to visit our little maison au pied du château after an absence of 12 weeks. That's an awfully long time to be away from something you really, really like. It isn't a villa with umpteen rooms and a swimming pool. It's a scruffy little cottage built of a mixture of rubble and flint, like most of the other older houses in the village. It has scary plumbing and dodgy wiring and zillions of spiders. But when I get settled on that little terrace, looking out over the rooftops of the village, with the Grand-Pressigny bat formation team swirling round me as the light fades, I might as well be in heaven.

All photos are from August 2008 when we spent virtually an entire week in the village because it was too hot to go anywhere on the motorcycles. In any case, we were so content and busy pottering about or relaxing in our own little place that we just didn't feel the need to do anything else. I did lots of reading and Nick did lots of fishing. We got all the shopping we needed in the village and it was absolute bliss.



  1. Sums up our feelings exactly!
    Enjoy your stay Jean.... methinks we'll miss you again as we've got to start the 'rabies jab' cycle for the cats' passports.
    Despite the cold, Xynthia and the blackout and sore knees and hands my last visit was great.
    I've just started a blog called "Touraine Flint" to tell the story of Man's occupation of our part of France.
    NB: The 'Birtday Party' has now become a Birthday Year party thanks to the allotment having the AGM on the 25th!! [As if I need an excuse!!?]

  2. Jean, We don't own a house in the Loire Valley ... yet ... but it's our ultimate dream. I'm SO with you on this one. I think people should just respect other people's preferences and habits. My former brother-in-law never understood why we would pay so much money to spend one week in a 4 star hotel when you could have a four week stay in your own caravan for the same amount of money. Although I wouldn't be caught dead in a caravan, I always respected and never critized his choice, while he kept picking on us!

    Have a lovely stay in your charming cottage and have a glass of wine on me! Hope the weather will cooperate :)

  3. Jean, you just tell those critical people that you're not doing it for yourselves, you're doing it for US, your blog fans. If it were up to you you'd just stay in your back yard mowing the lawn, but your fans now demand your presence in LGP. We have a voracious appetite for photos and news.

  4. There's nothing wrong with caravans or swimming pools or chateaux or hovels for that matter. No guilt complex please. Touraine is, in many ways, 'God's acre' as all those old aristos knew very well.
    I particularly like your pictures this time and the steelwork from Milwaukee looks magnificent. I was a Norton-Honda-ist once!
    With best wishes. HC 37120

  5. I think your post says it all Jean!
    My mother used to say "this is your life and not the rehearsal for your life".

    Live it to the full, the way that best suits you and allow others to do the same.

    My parents hardly left Wales, apart from venturing into England to visit us. We bought our property in France with the proceeds from the sale of their home when they died. They would never have done it, but would have supported us all the way!!

    Keep up the good blog...

  6. Looking forward to seeing you in your country castle very soon.

    Please remind the servants that we enjoy tea and coffee in the mornings, but not too early. We must rest up for all the polo matches, n'est-ce pas?

    And yes, we will be coming down in our jet, newly acquired from Bransen's private fleet. He didn't want to part with it, but we made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Young upstart!

    Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go instruct the new inside woman on how to polish the silver properly. As you know, the kitchen's in the south wing and I simply must have a lie down before I walk all the way over there. Ta.

  7. Well said Jean! They say exactly the same about us. Have a great time.I know exactly how it feels to be on your way again and I can't wait to be doing the same in 7 weeks.

  8. Only someone who has sat and daydreamed away the afternoon sitting on their French terrace with a glass of something nice can possibly (easily) understand the magic of having a little corner of this beautiful country.

    Something seems to happen to time here - it just drifts along in a cloud of, well, a lot of nothingness really. Fancy clothes labels don't matter, the latest car - who gives a hoot? The must-have gadget - don't need it here.
    Nature gives us all we need when we also sit outside under the gazebo or on the balcony.

    So you just make the most of every minute you spend in your lovely little cottage and I hope that one day you can be there all the time.

  9. Jean,
    Popped thru to you village - beautiful. Bought pate from the local marketer and had coffee at the bar. Know I probably bore people with my cycling obsession but imagine my surprise when on the way out of town I saw the local velodrome in the sports ground.
    Our only disappointment was not meeting you as we wandered off to meet Susan and Simon.
    Leon and Sue

  10. Hello Jean.... ;D Great!

    Not long now and the sun is shining here in leGP. See you soon.


  11. Tim - sorry we will miss you - have a great birthday !

    Martine - some people are so judgmental aren't they ?

    Carolyn - there's an idea, a public service !

    HP - that is my favourite picture of all, the one with the Harleys in it.

    Gaynor - life is too short not to make the most of it n'est-ce pas?

    Walt - oops - I have given the servants that day off so it's all down to us.

    Ken and FF - I knew you would agreee with me somehow !!

    Leon - so sorry to have missed you but I'm glad you liked the village.

    Nic - Hi. Pleeeease keep that sunshine for us !!

  12. I get it.
    Have a great time.
    Mad x

  13. Hi from an ex-Harley owner. I spent a few years touring France on my Harley. To cut a long story short, I now live here 95% of the time, with my new partner, who has lived here 10 years.
    Sadly, I had to sell the Harley to do it. We live a simple life compared to some, and all the fancy holidays are out of the window. But I am happier now than I have ever been, despite many people thinking I was crazy.
    I did it because I have a heart, just like you, and didn't want to die having a fortune in the bank.
    Live for today, just like you seem to do and stuff the knockers. Oh and yes I will get a new Harley again in the future.

  14. Steve - welcome - once you've had a Harley, nothing else will do and if motorcycling is in your blood you will be bound to get another one soon.

    Mind you, I never got to grips with horse-riding. At least a motorcycle doesn't have a mind of its own and largely does what you tell it to !!