We spent the four days of Easter drowning in sunshine, great food and fine wine - toasting Alan's imminent decrepitude. Helen, Katie, Lydia, Alan, Dina, Todd and I were in sunny Provence, France. Specifically Les Baux-de-Povence; a very pretty, fortified town that lords over the surrounding landscape. Lydia's parents live in a beautiful house near the town, and were kind enough to act as our local guides, showing us the ruined castle, their wonderful garden, and taking us hiking through the neighbouring hills. They even posted my wallet back to the UK for me after it was stolen from our hotel room - thank you Morris and Mila!
My natural tendency when I'm on holiday is to descend into a state of minimal energy and maximum intake (actually it's my natural state - period). Think wine. Think wallowing. So it was with some surprise that I found myself traipsing through the town as Mila took us on a private tour of the old castle at the top of the village, where we could look out over the surrounding countryside. A landscape we were to trek over the next day. Fortunately I was able to salve these bouts of activity with judicial applications of cheese and wine.
The next day we visited the markets in a nearby town. The plan was to congregate at a nearby cafe if we got lost or when we had finished with shopping. Todd and I immediately decided that we were lost and high-tailed it for the cafe, leaving the girls to their foraging. Eventually everyone made it to the cafe/restaurant, and we overcame the somewhat laissez faire attitude of the staff long enough to order some paella. Bull-fighting had been performed in this town for generations, and the current arena was shadowed by an ancient Roman ruin.
Alan's birthday dinner was celebrated at the hotel's restaurant, where the chef unveiled course after course of delicious food. I'm not quite sure how we managed to stand, afterwards. Was there some kind of ejection mechanism built into the chair? I kept trying to judge whether Alan was senile enough yet that we could stick him with the bill, but he had sensibly positioned himself nearest the door, blocking any attempt at escape.
Obviously not as senile as he looks!
The next day we met at Mila and Morris' place for a hike into the hills. Apparently there are wild boar in them thar hills, so Mila strode out in front to defend us against any attacking wildlife. Meanwhile the French sun was playing havoc with my London pallor. I considered knotting a handkerchief on my head as English people do when they are on holiday to fend off the elements, but decided against it as I am not English and I don't own a handkerchief. I would just have to put up with getting a tan, damn it!
Morris gave us a tour of his garden after the hike. There were lots of roses, a cherry tree, lavendar, a weeping willow, a bamboo forest, and amongst it all were bees performing nature's dance of fertilisation. There was one giant rose tree that was buzzing with bees, and Morris had calculated the number of roses ornamenting it at around 10,000.
We piled into the car and made it into another nearby village to eat lunch in the town square. Dinner was held at the Goldberg's, with Lydia and Mila treating us to duets on the grand piano, followed by lounging around and watching a DVD.
The holiday was marred by only one event; on the last night someone sneaked into our hotel room while we were sleeping and stole my wallet, and Helen's belt-purse with all our credit cards! To add insult to injury, because my wallet was recovered a few hours after we left France - minus the 2 cards the thieves racked up the charges on - the gendarmes refuse to believe our stuff was actually stolen! Apparently they just listed it as "lost". This was despite my sending them a list of transactions that occurred on my stolen cards in the wee hours of the morning *sigh*. A shame to have the holiday end on such a note.
You can see my photos from this holiday on Flickr.