Before we all set off on our holiday I gave my dad a guide book to the Loire and suggested he pick out a few places he would like to see and things he would like to do. He said he would like to go to Chinon and Tours and would leave the rest up to us. That was a good plan. We love Chinon so a trip there would be no hardship.
We decided to go on the Monday and arrived there in time for lunch. It was perfect weather; warm and sunny. We were so glad we had not taken our holiday the previous week, when temperatures reached 40°C in the area for several days. That would have been no fun for any of us.
I don’t think Dad would mind me telling you that he is, officially, well past his sell-by date. He has had heart bi-pass surgery, not once, not twice but an incredible three times. The last time was when he was 66 and he was told he could expect the effect to last him ten years. At the age of 83 this means he has had almost two decades for free !!
However, he is careful not to do too much so we had to pace ourselves on holiday accordingly. For example, although our little house has two bedrooms the only bathroom is downstairs. So we decided to let my dad sleep downstairs, converting the coat cupboard into a temporary wardrobe for his things and packing his bed away in the cellar every night !! It worked very well.
In Chinon we had a lovely long, typically French lunch, in the sunshine, watching the world go by, enjoying a delicious meal and a drink. Afterwards we took a gentle walk to the elevator that takes you up to the château where my dad marvelled at the view over the rooftops of the town and spent ages just looking at life going on below.
Then we took the lift back down to town and a steady stroll along the river, enjoying the sights and the sunshine.
We nodded to Rabelais, as we always do. Nick and I must have walked or ridden past his statue hundreds of times in the years we have been coming to Chinon. My first visit was in 1994. Nick had been there once before and he said “you must come and see this place”. We camped on the site across the river from the château and had a wonderful time. Since then there has never been a year when we didn’t visit at least once.
Walking along with my dad I hoped he could see what we keep coming back here for. Chinon was the place where we really wanted a holiday home but that was not to be. What we have now is even better, I think. A cottage in a small and friendly village with all the facilities we could ever want and all our favourite places less than an hour’s drive away. Perfect.
We explained this to my dad as he was gazing across the road at the florist’s shop on the main road through Chinon. “Isn’t it pretty?” I said. “And it’s closed for lunch.”