If this is what diary mismanagement is like, I’ll take some more please. Spending two weekends on the trot in France initially seemed like poor planning, but the second has proved one of the most relaxing of the year so far.
After a busy few days in Paris last weekend, this weekend in rural Pas-de-Calais couldn’t have offered a greater contrast.
Our friends Colin and Michael invited us to their French country retreat, La Maison Blanche. They bought a longère last year and it’s clear they have been busy since then bringing the house up to their standards – and giving it a sense of style.
Inside, the nicotine-stained walls, ceilings and exposed beams have been scrubbed clean. Years’ worth of hoarded junk has been cleared out, woodland-scene wallpaper has been painstakingly scraped off the doors and walls, and the dark, coloured glass removed from all the windows.
Now, with its fresh white walls, soft grey furniture and inviting cushions and throws, the house has an overwhelming air of calmness.
Lunch on the white-washed terrace, shaded from the sun, followed by a walk through the countryside, only served to increase our sense of relaxation.
Dinner was a barbecue of fish course after fish course – scallops, clams, sardines and salmon and cod kebabs – again all on the terrace. A gramophone playing old 78s of Édith Piaf songs provided the accompaniment to our chatter.
La vie en rose indeed.